Hunter’s Dinerant: Auburn N.Y.

March 18, 2010 at 8:23 am 2 comments

Road Trip Sunday, March 14:

Montezuma Wildlife Refuge

Closed for the season

I now have a co-blogger, my husband Charlie, who will join me on my Finger Lakes “explore.” From this point on, this journey will never get dull. His comments are in italics.

It was a crummy, wet, cold March day. Stopped by the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge between Clyde and Auburn on Route 20. Ducks on the pond, mergansers. Grey skies and water. Ochre-colored grasses.
Sadly, the gate is closed so we can’t drive through. Happily, we walk in the drizzle and take in the wet sights and sounds.

Happily? For a duck. Even the hawks had enough sense to stay dry and warm.

Charlie mistook the telescope atop the observation deck for an owl. We’ll bring our birding book next time so he can get his silhouettes straight.

Really, I thought the telescope was an owl on lifeguard duty to make sure the ducks didn’t drown.

Charlie took films of the signs displaying photos of the rare birds that frequent the refuge. He commented that the eagles, ducks, osprey, falcons and hawks would be arriving as soon as the hospitality suite re-opens.

And why not? The visitors center looks like a private club for fowl and feather alike. They even have a satellite dish. I’m sure there’s a suet bar.

Hunter's Dinerant, Auburn NY

Next Stop, Hunter’s Dinerant in Auburn. An original-style diner car with stainless surfaces polished to perfection. Hunter’s is located at 18 Genesee St, Auburn, NY 13021, 315-255-2282. They are one of the few businesses without a website — so we will fill in cyberspace void.
Don’t let the street address fool you. This dinerant is NOT sitting on solid ground. It’s perched on steel beams above a river (apparently real estate in Auburn is SO expensive they had to create their own piece of property). Charlie talked with the very friendly chef who said that the current diner was dropped in circa 1951. There was a previous diner located perpendicular to this one prior to ’51.

I was impressed by the solid steel construction of the doors, but not the smell of the men’s room. When I mentioned to the chef that the picture of the former diner looked dilapidated, he said, “This one’s getting close.” I’d agree that the place looks a little worn but it’s a timeless treasure, and definitely worth visiting. The food is great!

Riverside view of Hunter's

Had we approached from this side, we might have been more wary!

Note: I did not see this view until AFTER we ate breakfast! Had we approached from this side I would have been more apprehensive.

This looks like a scene from Cape Fear.

If the above photo makes you nervous, the following photos should settle you right down!

Hunter's Dinerant, Auburn NY

Stainless and Peptol: perfect combo for breakfast hash!

All the wait staff were decked out for St Patrick’s Day (we arrived on the 14th), and the restaurant was tastefully decorated. The interior was “Pepto Bismol” Pink — from the stools to the counters and floors, which was a lovely contrast to the art deco-style stainless through out.

I especially liked the placard: IRISH DIPLOMACY: THE ART OF TELLING SOMEONE TO GO TO HELL, AND HAVING THEM LOOK FORWARD TO THE TRIP.

The jukebox played Toby Keith (“It’s All Good”) and Rascal Flats (“Life is a Highway).

I’d hoped to hear the Black Eyed Peas “Ba Bump.”

“De” our waitress served us hot coffee immediately and was very gracious about us taking photos and asking her questions.

Until Barb said we were writing a blog. Then she gave us suspicious looks. I think she thought it might be communicable.

We ordered a freta and the hash and eggs. I still don’t know what a “freta” is but it’s nothing to worry about — totally delicious and twice as much as I could eat. It was fritatta-like. Look at the picture and decide for yourself.

Two heart-stopping specials, and what a way to go!

eggs and hash

Eggs and hash

Breakfast at Hunters: Freta

This is a "freta"

The freta is shown on the left, hash on the right
Aren’t those eggs adorable? Both were great, very inexpensive. Notice that even our place mats were pink! If you want AUTHENTIC diner, this is the place, starting with the neon sign in front and continuing to the bottomless cups of coffee served in true Syracuse China style mugs. All of it was charming, warming and filling — especially after hiking the frigid swamp, but this next photo is the best part.

Our waitress "De"

Breakfast delivered by "De".

This is “De”. I say that “De” stands for “Delightful” — which she was. She greeted most of the patrons by name, and made sure they were seated in their preferred booth, while making sure no one’s coffee cup ever went empty. Visiting Hunter’s Dinerant is well worth the sights and the meal, however we hope that De is working when you arrive to make the experience complete.

I say that “De” stands for “Delicious” but what the heck is a dinerant? At least I did not see any diner-ants crawling around on the floor!

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