Our last stop on our two day tour of San Diego was the Studio Diner. This place was a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives Must Try, especially since I am an East Coast diner snob.
On first blush the Studio Diner definitely looked like and old school diner with its metal plating and huge signage. It is located in an industrial area but also has a back patio overlooking a cliff and beautiful view, not a bad start to what would prove to be a successful meal.
We went in after a short wait and sat at a table with a view of multiple flat screen TVs. This was a great thing because it was Saturday and college football was in the great match-up stage of November. We met our server and to our surprise she grew up only a few miles from my wife’s home town. After talking for a little while about life in New Jersey and Philly Cheese Steaks we decided to order. My wife ordered dessert and an ice cream milkshake. I ordered two full entrees because I just couldn’t decide and was pretty overwhelmed by the huge plates that arrived.
First on the docket was the clam roll made up of whole belly Ipswich clams fried and served on a traditional New England roll, fries and coleslaw on the side. They asked me if I wanted sweet potato or regular fries. Funny question and one I’ve addressed before. Never pass up sweet potato fries. Ever. This clam roll was no joke, supposedly in a roll but it was no where to be seen under what must have been a full pound of luscious fried clams.
With two dipping sauces and a fresh lemon wedge at the ready I dove in to the clams. They were delicious! Fried perfectly so they were crispy with only a hint of oil. Soft and chewy on the inside as a clam should be. The breading was really flavorful with a great blend of spices that I could not put my finger on. I think I got halfway through the fried goodness when I needed a break, you can only eat so much of rich clam meat without needing a different flavor profile on which to munch. I moved onto the thickish cut sweet potato fries. These were good, though not the best I’ve had in my travels. Somewhat crispy but a little wobbly when held straight up. I think when it comes to sweet potato fries I may lean to the thinner crispier variety. I ventured back into the clams and worked my was down to the soggy and pretty useless bread (Though I guess it did soak up a lot of unwanted grease). It was then that I realized it was time to move on to the next entree or I would be taking that one home for dinner.
Next I moved on to the main course, the Samson Steak Sandwich! This glorious sandwich was made up of sliced and marinated prime rib sauteed with spinach, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and onion, topped with mozzarella and served on a grilled roll. What made this modified cheese steak so unique was that the prime rib (Not whatever random cut is served on a traditional cheese steak) was marinated in Teriyaki sauce. This marinade gave it a nice tangy sweet flavor that elevated the dish to a fine dining experience.
The steak was juicy and full of flavor but it was the combination of flavors added to the dish that made it all come together. The sauteed spinach added the bitter notes needed to go along with the Teriyaki marinade. The mushrooms and onions provided earthiness and depth of flavor to go along with the melted and crispy mozzarella. The dish was obviously and brilliantly put under a salamander or a broiler because you can see the bits of browned cheese if you look closely. My absolute favorite part of any cheese pizza is the caramelized bits of cheese and I never get it on a sandwich. I was so happy to see it on this dish. Everything tied in perfectly together including the bread. Nice and crispy and just the right size for this sandwich. Cut in half I could fold it over and get every piece of the sandwich in every bite. There is something to be said about getting a sandwich with equal parts bread to filling. I get the trend to over stuff sandwiches but there is a reason why they are on bread. The bread is a key component and it is a note that needs to play just as loud as the rest of the hypothetical chord. Really a great sandwich and a great ending to a fun trip to San Diego.
I did get a chance to try the vanilla milkshake that my wife ordered and it was awesome. I love it when they serve you a cup and then give you the rest in the freezing cold metal mixing container. And we all know the best part of the milkshake is in that metal cup. I wonder why that can’t just dispense with the pleasantries and serve the whole thing in it. All in all a great diner a bit north of San Diego check it out if you are in the area.
Overall Review: 8/10