Livingston Diner

Livingston Diner
Livingston Diner
NJ Town: Livingston
Cuisine: Diner

I’m not sure what circumstances brought us this low. I believe it was after a very late doctor’s appointment at one of Livingston’s many, many health-related buildings, and the hour was such and our hunger was so tweaked that we just looked for the closest place that served food items. This should never be the criteria for anything. Especially stuff you’re going to put in your body.

First, the Livingston Diner clean the way a public restroom is clean. Like you can smell that someone came through and maybe scrubbed it. But there is just so much history there that there is no way it’ll ever get like clean-clean. And, man, I’m not here to be a dick about a clearly family-owned establishment that may or may not have had better days, but there still needs to be some modicum of care put into the preparation of edible goods. Everything felt homemade. But not in the bespoke, homemade way that might be appetizing. No, it was more like homemade in the way your childless, unmarried aunt who has never cooked for anyone else but herself for the past forty years might make stuff. An omelette completely devoid of airiness. Just a flat, somewhat pummeled egg with a rubbery slice of American cheese sandwiched in there (though I asked for cheddar, so maybe it was like cheddar-food?) The whole thing a couple millimeters thick and lifeless on the plate. The home fries were somewhere between raw and al dente. I think the toast was fine. But, honestly, if you can’t do toast, why bother?

Food aside, I think the actual restaurant itself was the more interesting thing to talk about. Markers of the pandemic abound. And, let me say that having hand sanitizer on the table — a table where you are going to take consumable things and put them in your mouth — isn’t great. They’re not the only joint to make this mistake, but theirs seemed haphazard. The diner itself feels more like a rented apartment than a restaurant in some ways. There’s an oddly placed flat screen that seems like its there more for the employees’ enjoyment than the customers’. And maybe some DIY counter extensions and bussing stations and stuff that look temporary and not exactly planned out. Not the mention the pièce de résistance. Which is almost indescribable in its weirdness. There is what I can only guess is a Greek statue garden stuck in the corner of the diner. It literally has columns and life-sized ladies in togas. And giant urns. And maybe a cherub. Bizarre doesn’t begin to paint a picture, as it’s so incongruous with the rest of the joint that I sat with my mouth agape as my skinny-ass omelette went cold. Jersey: it never disappoints.

360 E Northfield Rd. — Livingston