Updated: Apr 22
Don't Spend £14 on French Fries
This was going to be a standard review. The Diner in the Old Spitalfields Market is a standard American Diner offering the standard American spreads. The burger tasted like a burger, and there was nothing to distinguish it from numerous other better-than-average burgers that have found a home in Central London.
But that’s not what this is about. I’m not here to talk about another burger. I’m here to talk about the single most frustrating eating experience of my life. It’s a tale of gluttony, suspense, and a delicious banana milkshake. This is what happened when I spent £14 on french fries.
It started out like any other meal. We were seated by the waiter and began perusing the menu, which, in typical American style, was packed full of choice. Hot dogs, chicken wings, you name it they did it (usually with bacon). I ordered a banana milkshake as a treat on a hot day, and considering I hadn’t had breakfast and it was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, anything was better than nothing.
Whilst I was slurping this down the waiter came by to ask us for our order. My friend and I both ordered different burgers, but something on the menu had caught my eye. On the right side of the menu there was a small sub-section entitled ‘Fries and Side-Packs’.
For £14 I could order a side-pack that included chilli cheese fries, hangar fries, waffle fries, and garlic butter fries. The waiter warned me:
‘That’s a lot of fries’, she said. But I didn’t mind.
‘Good,’ I said innocently. ‘I’m starving. Plus it’s between two people so it shouldn’t be that bad.’
When the food finally came I was shocked. I was expecting maybe one or two baskets of fries with the toppings mixed together in an unholy kaleidoscope of carbohydrates. What was placed in the middle for the table were four separate baskets of chips, each topped independently, and each basket enough for any one person. To add to this, the burgers themselves were sizeable, and when coupled with the milkshake…it was just too much.
I couldn’t even finish the burger, although it was never the main event. One quarter lay unceremoniously in its basket. The fries were a whole other story. We tried our best. We really did. We just about managed to eat the waffle fries and dent the garlic butter ones, but it proved too much. The worst part was that they were all delicious! I would have happily sat there and eaten all of them, had the circumstances been different. As it was I found myself leaning forward, defeated, with sweat on my brow. This was too much. God is dead, and french fries killed Him.
When I finally made it home I almost fell asleep, akin to a Sunday afternoon after a roast dinner. I was exhausted from my trial. For the next few hours I combated lethargy, and finally beat it with patient sips of tea. I was thoroughly shaken by the whole endeavour. Hours later I made dinner, but it was a bitter experience. There was no consolation, and a £14 hole in my wallet.
There are moments in life which define us as individuals, and I like to think that this was one of mine. For years I had thought myself a good eater: I have happily worked my way through an entire pork belly before, with naught but apple sauce to encourage me. I’ve eaten whole cheesecakes and assailed unassailable lasagnas. But this meal proved to me that I am not who I once was. Maybe it was the milkshake. Maybe my stomach had shrunk after not eating any meals for two days. Whatever the reason was, those fries will live on as the meal that entirely beat me.
Or I’ll just go back next week better prepared for it.