Monday, January 21, 2013

Hot Metal Diner

It's sad how many businesses have left West Mifflin.

I remember being young and realizing that everything that we could ever need was right in our little borough - a mall, an amusement park, plenty of restaurants, and even an airport.  Going shopping someplace else was an excursion - Monroeville Mall was a treat, South Hills Village was like going to the high-end markets, and Ross one went to Ross Park (too many bridges to cross).

I've also mentioned that this is why I never went to restaurants other than chains, as the Century III Mall area was full of them - Applebee's, Chili's, Denny's, Bob Evans.  Any national chain that you could think of was within 5 minutes of the area (yes, including Taco Bell).

Unfortunately, so many things have changed.  Pretty much every Pittsburgher knows about the decline of Century III Mall, which is supposed to be changing now that Simon Malls no longer owns it.  However, its assessments have declined DRAMATICALLY over the past several years, therefore cutting a deep hole into West Mifflin's tax base.  In addition, P.J. Dick & Company pulled out of West Mifflin, along with many smaller businesses.  I thought that it was devastating when the penny candy store behind my house closed when I was about 7 years old, but these businesses leaving our borough have done much to drain our financial resources.

This is why it is so important to patronize businesses in your own hometown - without stimulating your (very local) economy, it will only cause tax increases, program cuts in your town and school district, and overall business collapse.  I know.  I've seen it first hand from many angles.

Knowing this, I found it important to have my usual Sunday brunch at a West Mifflin business - and what better place to do so than the well-revered Hot Metal Diner.

Hot Metal Diner

Recently, Rick Sebak featured the diner in his PBS special, Breakfast Special 2: Revenge of the Omelettes (the segment can also be seen on the Hot Metal Diner's webpage as an In Pittsburgh special).  I was happy to see something so local on TV, but I was surprised to see my 7th grade Science teacher (who is now retired) talking to the camera.  Wow.  Talk about keeping it local.

A friendly warning as you enter
James and I arrived late in the morning, and the entrance was full of people.  However, tables were being turned over quickly, and the line was reducing just as quickly.  An older couple was in front of us, and the hostess offered to seat the 4 of us together at a bigger table.  "You don't even have to talk to each other," she offered.

Counter seating with more humorous decor
The older woman declined.  "We'll wait."  Oh, ok.  Thanks, lady.

Luckily, the younger couple behind us had no problem co-habitating a table with us, so we sat at a table for 6, with this looming over the wall cut-out from the private room next door:

The Chicken Creeper next door
We made our introductions to the couple across from us - they are from Carrick, and he is a Pittsburgh Firefighter.  They had been to the diner once before and knew how the place worked.  James struck up a conversation, as he is so good at doing, making the awkwardness of dining with complete strangers disappear completely.

As we reviewed the extensive menu, the table to our right received their order - including a massive pancake.  I had wondered why one single pancake a la carte would cost $3.00...well, this was definitely $3.00-worth of pancake!  James and I decided to split one as an "appetizer":

One pancake.  Yes, one.
Oh, yum, pancake!  Very fluffy, and definitely split-able.  With some syrup (which you can also request hot), it was scrumptious.

For my "entree", I ordered the BB Breakfast (formerly known as "The Hog"): 2 eggs my way (over easy), home fries, bacon (my choice), and Italian toast.  When the waitress took my order, she literally said, "homefriesItaliantoastsayyes", to which I replied, "I'm sorry?" and she repeated, "home-fries-Italian-toast-say-yes".  How dare I say no (I wouldn't have any way!)  The waitresses describe themselves as a bit "saucy"...but I wouldn't ask for extra sauce.

BB Breakfast (aka "The Hog")

It was a classic diner breakfast - not overpowering on flavor, but not by any means bland.  Greasy - a bit, but I've had much greasier at Denny's (it IS breakfast, after all!).  I don't know HOW they cook their bacon, but I wish I did, because it was crispy and AWESOME.  The Italian toast was great for dipping into my egg yolks.

James decided to go the lunch-route and ordered the Best Burgher Ever with the whole kit and caboodle: bacon, cheese, onions, mushrooms, and BBQ sauce:

Best Burgher Ever with the whole kit and caboodle
I tried a bite, and it was one darn good burger.  It was served with potato chips - not a favorite of his nor mine, so they went untouched.  We sat in fear that we might get yelled at for not eating them, but...we didn't, thank goodness.

While eating and still conversing with our table mates, Wendy, the owner, decided to play some music on the Touch Tunes machine to liven up the place.  Well, heed this warning, which is at the register:

It even says "True" in the top left corner...
Her song selections included a polka classic, "Grab Your Balls (We're Going Bowling)", followed by "A--hole" by Dennis Leary.  Not exactly a family atmosphere, but if you want to dine there, you'd better get over it and find a sense of humor.  I've read reviews online about the "horrible service" that people received - well, we got our food quickly and without any mistakes on a busy Sunday morning.  The staff did their best to seat us quickly, and we ended up meeting a very nice couple and having a nice conversation.  So you know what?  Thumbs up to the Hot Metal Diner.  I hear and deal with much worse as a high school teacher, and I'll deal with your waitresses - along with having a great breakfast.

Do as I tell my high school students - follow the rules, and you'll be fine.

The Rules

Hot Metal Diner
1025 Lebanon Rd.
West Mifflin, PA 15122


Hot Metal Diner on Urbanspoon

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