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Halfmoon Diner Draws Crowds To Comfort
By DAN SHER, Special to the Times Union
First published: Thursday, May 31, 2007
Named after the vessel that carried explorer Henry Hudson and his seafaring crew to the New World back in 1609, the Halfmoon Diner & Restaurant is certainly not blazing any new trails.
Backed by an oversized hard-cover menu, the Halfmoon Diner offers an exhaustive range of dining options. You know the drill. If you desire baked scrod at noon on a Thursday, you can get that here. Need a salami omelet, The Halfmoon Diner is your place. How about a tuna salad and sliced egg triple-decker sandwich? Yep, you can get that, too. The options are as wide and vast as the deep blue sea.
A quick aside for you diner aficionados out there: the Halfmoon Diner is a late model DeRaffele construction. Unlike many pre-fab diner makers, the New Rochelle-based DeRaffele Manufacturing Co. is still up and running. The Halfmoon Diner is just one of its many creations.
The decor is vintage 1970s diner. There are mirrors on many of the walls, as well as oddly placed green neon squares that cover large swaths of the ceiling. Shiny details abound, accenting the ceiling and booth partitions. Teal banquettes line the outer walls, with a section of two-person booths (featuring on-table jukeboxes), as well as larger tables for families and big parties. The room is quite functional and able to handle a large number of patrons at any time.
And that's a good thing, too, because at the time of our visit, the place was jumping. The parking lot was so full that people were leaving their cars on the grass. Although braced for the worst, we were pleasantly surprised to find an empty booth waiting for us almost immediately.
It was fitting that we arrived at a restaurant named after a ship on a soggy Saturday afternoon. With rain streaming from the skies, it felt at times as if we were the ones sailing up the Hudson, rocking gently back and forth over the open water.
After drying out and spending some quality time with the thick menu, my wife decided on the spinach, feta and tomato omelet ($7.29). The three-egg invention was full of fillings -- the spinach and tomato were cooked into the egg, rather than being folded in. The feta added a nice bit of saltiness to the dish, but not so much that it became overpowering. Her dish -- in typical diner fashion -- arrived with a side of well-seasoned, golden brown hash browns and an order of wheat toast.
I opted for the French toast deluxe ($6.99). The deluxe normally comes with meat -- lots of it -- and one egg. Bacon, ham and sausage are all part of the dish. In this instance, I ordered just the bacon, and added a second egg scrambled for an additional 99 cents. The French toast was thick cut, square challah, lightly griddled on both sides and dusted with confectioners' sugar. The result was an overly sweet creation that was thoroughly enjoyed by our two children, but a bit sugary for me. The bacon was crisp, the scrambled eggs fine.
Our 4-year-old said no to breakfast (come to think of it, she says no to most things), and went for a hot dog and fries ($6.99). The kid's meals at the Halfmoon Diner offer up plenty of value. Not only do you receive an entree, but a choice of dessert and a drink, as well. Fittingly, the meal was named after a baseball team -- since the hot dog had a definite ballpark flavor. The fries were of the crinkle-cut variety and were not at all greasy. For dessert, our daughter was in a chocolate pudding mood. The rich, creamy pudding was a big hit.
While not one to usually complain about service, in this instance it was unfortunately unenthusiastic and lacking. Our coffee cups sat empty for at least 20 minutes (not something that usually happens at any self-respecting greasy spoon) and the kid's meal -- which we ordered first, so that we could avoid any kid-related meltdowns -- took longer than seemed necessary for a hot dog and fries. They were busy, but our server must have walked past our table a dozen times, never once stopping to ask if we needed anything.
While the Halfmoon Diner is hardly breaking any new ground, many continue to pack into this no-frills eatery. Perhaps there is comfort in knowing exactly what kind of experience you're in for.
Too bad Henry Hudson couldn't say the same.
Dan Sher is a freelance writer from Guilderland.