Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Sage Diner

Elmhurst, NY
Review by Diana

Do you remember that Jewish woman -- Linda Richman -- that Mike Meyers always played on SNL? With the big hair-sprayed hair, and Elton-John-style glasses? She really exists -- she's his mother-in-law, and she lives in Queens, a borough of New York City. She frequents the Sage Diner because the food is good, the portions are good, and they don't give you angst.

Generally, that's true. They have a lot of booths and tables, and even when the joint is jumping, there is always another table where you can fit in. They are a "Greek-style" diner, meaning they do a million different dishes, but the best stuff is what's written out as "combos" or "specials." Those tend not to come in vacuum-sealed or freezer packs.

They do excellent breakfasts, and their potatoes are dry grilled, not fried in orangy colored oil like at other diners. They do an "Irish Breakfast" which includes bangers (the grain-based British style sausages), blood sausage slices, two rashers of UK-style bacon (including the streaky/American belly bacon and the loin/Canadian bacon bits together), and slices of tomatoes that are grilled. It's served with eggs any style and the aforementioned potatoes. Not exactly a real Irish Breakfast, but it's not bad. Since Bloom's burned down and Irish Cottage got passive, this is the remaining accessible meal of this style in Queens.

Another reason I remember this place fondly: I was headed out for a romantic dinner, but the paramour in question was called out to a workplace emergency on a very, very rainy night. So instead of jumping puddles or enjoying wet t-shirt gropings, I sat in the car reading a magazine by the light of the glove compartment while he negotiated the emergency in the rain as quickly as he could. The rain was torrential, and it matched my mood that night. We lost our reservation at the swank place, which did nothing to make me happy. And by the time he got back, he was well-rumpled, to put it politely. I doubt the swank place would have been impressed and we would have been relegated to a table by the bathroom, if a table at all.

So we went to Sage instead, because they have a parking lot (rare in NYC restaurants), they were near the emergency location, and they would not likely mind that we were grumpy and wet and windblown. The workplace of my paramour were sorry for the dating fiasco, and offered to pay the tab for dinner. So I tried to order the most expensive stuff to try and lighten my mood, but at a diner, it's hard to exceed $15 for anything. So I ordered like three different things, packing our booth with steaks, chops, specials, etc. They all came with baked potato or fries. This was depressing. But the food was good, even though I just had a slice of this or a bit of that. The staff happily packed up everything. We still couldn't spend more than $80, even though we ordered 6 main dishes with everything and four desserts! And some fried appetizers, too, and a couple of drinks. It was frustrating.

I don't cook much, so I brought the leftovers to SuSu, who reheated everything or made it into new food in that magical way she has. So the food is good served there, but also good reheated -- important to know sometimes!

So though the date was not consummated in the manner intended, we found a new place to eat when we wanted breakfast (no matter what did or did not happen the night before). Not an equal tradeoff, but not a bad one either. (I did give him another chance, but that's another review, or maybe another fanfic ...) Sage at least saved the evening! (Wasn't that a nice story?)

If one was driving down Queens Boulevard -- the 12-lane so-called "highway of death" that is actually Highway 25 -- the Sage was a good, safe bet for getting a bite before heading to the end of "the Island" or even to "the Hamptons" if you were going that far, or en route to "the City" before spending too much at a nightclub. Or just on the way "home," wherever home is for you. They had those big "Hellenic" diner menus designed for picky eaters, and they also did have big steaks and Irish breakfasts. The waiters were grumpy and efficient and the surly-ish cashier had cookies by the cash register for one final "nosh" before you went on your way. But now they've sold to a developer who is doing something circus-like and horrendous to the building. Do I even want to know? As you read in this review, the Sage gracefully saved a bad date situation, and for that -- as well as it's good value food -- well, I'm far too farklempt. Okay, here's one: "New and improved, is neither new nor improved ...!" Go off and discuss while I pull myself together ...

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