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Wander to West Haven for Nostalgia and Nourishment at Georgie's Diner

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugIf there’s one thing I love (well, truthfully there are lots of things I love but some things I love more than others!) it’s a classic retro-style diner and when I come across one it makes me happier than a kid with a new toy. Recently I was that happy kid when I paid a visit to Georgie’s Diner on Elm Street in West Haven.

Built in 1956 by the DeRaffele Manufacturing Company, Inc. of New Rochelle, New York and then shipped to Stratford, Connecticut, Georgie’s started life as the Duchess Diner and bore that noble name until 1967 when it was loaded up, moved to West Haven, and renamed the Elm Diner.

A few years after its move, the Elm Diner was taken over by George Anthis and his family who served up delicious comfort food 24/7 from 1971 until 1988 when they decided to take a break from the restaurant business and leased the building to another operator.

The Anthis Family didn’t stay out of the business for too long though as in 1995 they opened the Shoreline Diner in Guilford and in 2001 decided to also take over operations in West Haven again. As the years passed though the diner had begun to fall into disrepair so during the summer of 2009 it underwent restoration to return it to its former 1956 glory. When the restaurant reopened on September 24th, 2009 it didn’t just look new but it also sported a new name – Georgie’s – in honor of George Anthis.

Gleaming silver with aqua-colored trim and even a vintage payphone in the entryway, the diner is now run by Georgette Anthis who, along with her brother Nick, grew up learning all about diner operations from her parents. It's not just all renovated 1950s nostalgia at Georgie’s though as their extensive menu offers a lot more than just traditional diner fare like home-style meatloaf with gravy or jaw-cracking Triple Decker club sandwiches along with Greek specialties like Chicken Souvlaki and spinach pie. Oh no indeedy! If you thought it was going to be easy to pick just one thing wait until you see their organic and gluten-free choices as well as a pretty impressive array of vegan options, too. Old meets new meets delicious and healthy, too!

If you're a traditionalist though and what you really want is a burger, Georgie’s has got you covered with Avocado Burgers (fresh avocado & cheddar), Brutus Burgers (bacon, cheddar, and mushrooms), Blue Burgers (stuffed with gorgonzola), Gourmet Burgers (Portobello mushrooms & gorgonzola), French Onion Burgers (caramelized onions & gruyere on a garlic bun) or traditional burgers with or without cheese. They get their burgers from the man who wrote the book on meat - Pat LaFrieda whose great-grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1909 and opened a butcher shop in Brooklyn in 1922 which then moved to Manhattan and grew to become Pat La Frieda Meat Purveyors in 1964. Currently located in North Bergen, New Jersey, the third generation of La Friedas makes over 75,000 burgers a day from hundreds of custom blends and in September, Pat Jr. will introduce readers to ‘America’s Most Celebrated Butcher’ along with favorite family recipes in his cookbook MEAT: Everything You Need to Know.

All I really needed to know when I sat in a very comfy booth at Georgie’s recently was that one of the “Specials of the Day” available Monday-Friday 11 am to 11 pm is Yankee Pot Roast so even though I dutifully looked over the menu and briefly contemplated the meatloaf, when our friendly server took our orders after bringing us brimming cups of hot, fresh coffee, it was the pot roast that I chose.

Lunch portions of the Daily Special come with a cup of soup while dinner portions come with both soup and salad so I chose a cup of Butternut Squash soup to start my meal with. When our server set it in front of me my first thought was that it was an awfully big cup of soup which was quickly followed by the thought of “Wow, that’s good!” after I had tasted it.  Thick, hearty, and looking exactly as it should, the soup had a slight essence of lemon and only needed a little bit of black pepper sprinkled on top to make it absolutely perfect.

Yankee Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes and Butternut Squash Soup along with a Road Beef Club and Coffee of course!

Before I had a chance to finish my soup (probably a good thing), our server returned with my lunch companion’s Triple Decker Roast Beef Club accompanied by a very generous serving of French fries and my Yankee Pot Roast that had my mouth watering as soon as it arrived in front of me on a very large white plate. The hefty serving of fork-tender beef roast covered in a light tomato-based sauce with carrots and onions - this was the lunch size? Good grief, imagine what the dinner size must be! – was accompanied by a side of mashed potatoes that had a design in it that looked very much like something I had seen recently. Hmmm, could it be?

Excuse me waiter, there's an arrow in my mashed potatoes!  Hmmm, a lot like the one on the floor!

“Pardon me waiter, is that an arrow in my potatoes?”

With arrows on the floor and also on the ceiling, I thought it was rather cute that there was one in my potatoes too!

My meal tasted just as good as it looked and I should probably be ashamed to say that I ate every single bite of it but I’m not and I did! Of course that didn’t leave any room for dessert which rumor has it is also very good as in addition to their other offerings, Georgie’s makes their own cheesecakes – ten different kinds of cheesecakes I might add – at their Shoreline Diner restaurant and generally offer two or three different types available to choose from at the West Haven diner.

Still, no sense overdoing it on the very first visit so dessert was just going to have to wait for another trip another time – hopefully at night when I can check out the neon a little better than during the full light of day! Maybe then I’ll sample one of their famous La Frieda burgers or chicken pot pie or that meatloaf that was trying to call my name or … gee, maybe I’m going to need to go back again more than once, huh?

If you're fortunate enough to live in the West Haven area, not only can you stop in from 7 am to 11 pm daily and order one of their Advocate Best of New Haven 2014 Reader's Poll First Place Lunches but you could also have it delivered - for free - should you so choose.  Now how many diners do you know that does that?  I can think of one ... and it makes amazing Yankee Pot Roast!

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