When you enter this diner, it is like stepping back into time onto the set of Happy Days but on steroids. I was joking with a mate at the Collingwood-Carlton match last night that the Hungry Jack's at Wynyard station in Sydney has been decorated with 50's memorabilia, photos of Elvis, Marilyn, old American license plates: a supposed reference to a more innocent and bygone era where us human beings were not attached to smartphones, Facebook and R&B. Given that I did not see a patron in Misty's Diner, let alone ever in that Hungry Jack's that has lived through the 50's and 60's, we are left to romanticise this era and relive it in brightly coloured booths with a menu of pure comfort food that can easily be used as an answer as to why there is an obesity problem not only here but in the United States.
After entering the diner, I immediately noticed the volume of rubbish left behind on tables that had previously been vacated. It was lunch time service and it looked rather busy however a fair amount of the tables were dirty which was off-putting We were greeted with "how can I help you?" by the server in costume. A vexing question to be asked in the diner. Was I there to deposit a cheque like I did at the bank some days past? No. Was I there to discuss why my power bill went up by $500 this quarter? I think not. What did we want to achieve here? Oh, I remember now... lunch. So I asked for a table for two and we were taken past the warzone of filthy tables and around the corner next to the kitchen and seated in a corridor of sorts that provided access to the car wash.
We were left to our own devices for about twenty minutes to read the indulgent menus and fortunately for me, I was able to watch a replay of the Andy Murray match at Wimbledon as the television was within eyesight. When service finally came around to take our orders, I thought an "Alabama Slamma" alcoholic beverage would be a good way to start, along with some buffalo wings with a side of bleu cheese dressing. The Philly Cheesesteak also spoke to me as I had not had one in years, and it certainly wasn't anything close to being authentic back in the day so I was excited knowing that one was on offer.
Whilst waiting for food, a few other patrons were seated in the corridor next to us and after being ignored for a while, they got up and left. It would seem they were not interested in pleasant conversation like we were and of course the tennis so given the wait not only for service but also food, which was confirmed by the waitress later as she didn't actually write down our order when she originally took it.
When the access door to the car wash began to open and close repeatedly and strangely the people would move from the car wash to the kitchen via the thoroughfare that we were sitting in, we would be hit by a blast of air but it would be forewarned because of the squeaky door. An early warning alarm in a way.
The "Alabama Slamma" was pretty much pure tomato juice and fortunately I ordered a side of salsa which I used to liven this drink up. Yes, I put salsa in my drink. I didn't taste any vodka. I am not saying that there wasn't any in this specialty drink but the tomato juice certainly disguised the meager shot, if that, which was added. The buffalo wings were in fact very small chicken wings with little meat on them. Certainly not the huge wings that you can purchase at Costco, and I reflected that I could prepare something much better (and cheaper) at home. There was nothing special about the bleu cheese dressing and appeared to be mass produced.
Although the Philly Cheesesteak was decent enough, it did not "wow!" me. The side of chilli fries was bland and I needed to use the side of salsa that I was using to liven up my alcoholic drink to add some zing to the American style chilli. I had high expectations for big tastes considering the carbohydrates that I was consuming and I was left feeling that I just ate for the sake of eating. Although the ambiance is amusing and the theme, like visiting the Dracula cabaret needs to be experienced at least once in your life, I will remain haunted by the characters of Happy Days that star on the wall that I was forced to look at when my eyes did not find my food, dining companion or tennis that exciting. These are images that would scare children. Richie, Potsie, Ralph and the Fonz all look like they survived a dose of radiation after a nuclear attack and not even the confectionery on display by the till could get me to stick around long after it was decided that drinks and conversation should be enjoyed elsewhere.
The scene from Pulp Fiction comes to mind when Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace are both eating at Jack Rabbit Slims when the discussion turns to the quality of a $5 shake. You will not find anything that cheap at Misty's Diner and despite the comfort food and costumes, you will be left with a laugh or two along with a memorable experience, however for me, they will be for all of the wrong reasons.
103-105 High St., Prahran VIC 3181
My Rating: 11/20
Value For Money: 3/5
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
When I made this post originally, 71% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon liked Misty's Diner.