PB Diner: the quintessential college town eatery

PB Diner is in the perfect location – the middle of a college town. Nothing screams “breakfast at ten o’clock” quite like a diner near 10,000 poor young adults.

The exterior of the diner is misleading. The stone steps that lead up to the entrance give it a rustic, almost clichéd diner-feel, though the stain-glassed windows emblazoned with “PB” do give it a slightly distinguished air. That air stops promptly in the lobby.

I’ll admit to eating, in this diner, stacks of pancakes as big as my face. At the time, PB was remodeling the left side of the eatery, leaving the right open. I liked the sunny, gray carpeted area that had a large banquet space in the back for parties. When I returned for dinner on an especially windy Jersey day, all intentions to eating a real, healthy meal (no pancakes for me!), I was astounded at by how much I hated the “new look.”

Both the right and left sides are completed; unfortunately, it looks like either two different designers worked on the diner, or one designer lost inspiration in the middle of the project and decided to go in another direction with the right half. The left half has a feel of country lodge meets fifties kitchen with a shiny brick wall (how is shiny brick even possible?), pea green table tops, and burgundy marshmallow counter seats.

It’s nauseating for the eyes, to say the least.

My poor eyes received a short respite when they landed on the male host, an attractive, dark-haired young man in his late twenties who seated me promptly. Perhaps it was my winning smile or the flirty toss of my hair that warranted such a pleasant and speedy service. It also could have been because I came at a quiet time and I was the only person waiting.

I scanned my menu slowly, this being the first time I was actually ordering a protein that wasn’t in an omelet. My waitress brought me a short glass of water, which I always think is cute.

I was so thirsty from my drive that all I could think about was a glass of water and now here it is! THANK YOU WAITRESS-LADY FOR SAVING ME.


I asked for my customary large glass of water, a perfect compliment for my desire of a healthy diner meal. I knew I could accomplish it as long as I paid attention to what I wanted to eat. The waitress brought me an overflowing glass of water with a lemon slice that should have been in an ice tea pitcher. When the lemon is too big to fit in the glass, someone isn’t paying attention.

The appetizers listed on the menu are immediately out because they’re all fried. I opted to eat my salad as the appetizer, making sure to request the ranch salad dressing on the side. If you don’t specify, the wait staff will drown your poor lettuce before it even has a chance to say hello. I ordered the Virgina Baked Ham, knowing from watching too many episodes of “The Biggest Loser” that’s all about baked foods, not fried. My two sides were mashed potatoes with no gravy and cooked baby carrots.

Not five minutes after I picked my paperback copy of Joanne Fluke’s “Key Lime Pie Murder,” did my slightly flakey waitress come back to my table to inform me that the chef said there was no ham.

No ham. During winter. Is that even possible?

My second entrée order was for roasted country chicken with stuffing. I know that roasting is also an excellent way to prepare meat; however, it’s difficult to fight the temptation to eat the crusty, exceptionally fatty skin.

I tried to concentrate on my book, but I was suffocated by the numerous perfumes melting off the waitresses and blinded by my table top. I could do nothing but wait and sneak peeks at the cute guy who was in the booth in front of me (he seemed very Edward Cullen. I was curious). The salad was nothing extraordinary – two cherry tomatoes, two tiny cucumber slices, and wilty-looking lettuce. It was crisp and cold, though it did seem like my salad had been washed before delivered to my table. It was nestled in a small pond of water that confused me.

My meal arrived about 20 minutes after I ordered it. I can’t complain about the timing, because I had PB sweet bread rolls to tide me over. The rolls really aren’t match for a savory entrée, but I can’t resist the cream cheesy inside!

As soon as I saw my chicken, I made sure to keep a smile on my face and ignore the rest of the wait staff who were standing behind the counter to my right. It felt like they were gossiping about me, examining this massive half of a dead bird on my plate and secretly calling me “fatty.”

How rude.

Of course I cut the chicken in half. That’s one of the many tricks my grandmother taught me. In these modern diner times, she’d said to me, where food proportions are grossly out of whack, one must halve their meals immediately. Take the other half home for tomorrow because it’s just not kosher to eat the whole thing there. It’s just not right.

The chicken was how I expected it to be, slightly dry with the dark meat being the only tender parts. The skin was crisp – I know I shouldn’t have eaten it, but I only ate a small part – and a perfect golden brown with a light hint of rosemary. The stuffing was obviously homemade with raisins and apples – a soggy mess that I would rather not eat again. Serve me Stove Top from the box any day.

Speaking of mixes, the mashed potatoes tasted exactly like they came from a box. Actually, they kind of tasted like the box, no matter how much of the tiny pat of butter I put on it. The baby carrots were a perfect orange though they lacked any kind of outstanding flavor. Anyone ever hear of seasoning?

I really wanted chocolate pudding for dessert. I knew that chocolate pudding was something no one could mess up, would be low-fat, and be chocolate. I couldn’t go wrong!

They didn’t have any.

A slice of German chocolate cake was my second choice, though I know I shouldn’t have. One tiny slice that I didn’t even finish wouldn’t kill me (I hardly put any salt on my food. I felt like I deserved a reward), and it turned out to be the best part of my meal. I love refrigerated cake because it just tastes more moist, which is what the cake was. It was perfectly moist topped with the traditional pecan coconut frosting, though I believe their homemade version used walnuts. Perfectly piped chocolate buttercream icing graced the back edge of my cake, showcasing a side of crushed cookie crumbs.

I was licking my fingers from the cake when my waitress brought the bill. It was $14.95, and with a $3 tip, I felt satisfied that I was paying for the contented full feeling in my belly.

One good thing about PB is that they really cater to Rowan students. A 10 percent discount is wonderful when you remember to pull out your I.D. Apparently; the host doesn’t consider Rowan hoodies as a valid form of student identification.

On second glance, he’s not as cute as I first thought.


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