No matter what New York neighborhood you find yourself in, if you take a stroll around a couple of blocks you’ll most probably find a neon diner sign that has been perpetually turned off. Once a New York City staple, diners now seem to be capsules of the past where newly moved transplants crawl out of their three-story walk-up in loungewear and dine when they’re too hungover to go out for brunch.
But the Lower East Side seems to defeat the phenomenon. Though heavily gentrified, the spirit of the neighborhood’s old-timers remains and is constantly fueled by long-standing businesses. On brick winter mornings, Remedy Diner seems to be just that: a remedy to the “New Transplants” wave where lower-east-villagers find refuge from the waves of Soho and Chinatown.
Located on East Houston Street – past gentrification and the latest trends – the New York style diner serves coffee that gives you the sensation of waking up to a family-wide hungover breakfast. Watery but with enough kick to still have taste and not be burnt, it’s concentrated black-tea appearance sends your synapses into a body-length tingle.
Compared to a stereotypical hollandaise sauce, their Eggs Benedict are a little starchy, but the generous amount of scallions pull their weight at save the job.
The hash browns allow for flexibility: they are not oily nor overly salted, slightly seasoned with almost invisible pieces of red pepper and onions, inviting for the eater to drown them in yolk or splattered with ketchup.
Eggs were poached to the point that excessive but savory yolk oozed out of the path the knife traced on the perfectly cooked egg white. After drowning the English muffins, Canadian bacon and hash browns in mouth-watering yellow mix of hollandaise and yolk - and eating the entire plate - there was still more than enough yolk to submerge another piece of bread.
Their scrambled eggs were a bit flat; thoroughly cooked, no raw yolk nor white, but tasted unseasoned. However, nothing a little salt and pepper couldn’t fix while at the table. The orange juice isn’t revolutionary, but similar to the scrambled eggs, when paired with the rest of the breakfast table, it’s an agreeable filler.
Their buttermilk pancakes are fully-cooked, blonde-toasted but not charred, cloud soft and have a delightful spongey bounce when you chew. The lack of flatness and goop-like quality feels like their hugging your palate, form the inside out.
Was it a lucky shot? That the griddle was at the perfect temperature-to-butter ratio that there was no excessive fat nor raw centers? On another occasion, their blueberry buttermilk pancakes stood to the test: again, fully cooked, no signs of sogginess and the blueberries were warm, juicy and sweet.
In my family, weekend breakfasts have always been a ritual: the gradual consumption of coffee, eggs and pancakes has become a Sunday morning staple when we are all under the same roof. It had been a long while since my sister and I had found a place like Remedy. "My parents would be proud," said my sister as she cut into the pancakes. "They're so fluffy." Undoubtedly it felt like home.