by Alice Levitt
85 Pearl St., Burlington, 862-3220
DoughBoy's Coffee Shop may have been the ultimate old Burlington diner. With a clientele split mostly between seniors and college students, it was a kind of spiritual cousin to Bove's Restaurant across the street. When it closed last summer, it left some big shoes to fill.
But Pearl Street Diner's owners, Pam Scanlon and Michael Niederer of Radio Deli, aren't trying to recreate DoughBoy's. Their tack is a little smarter. Along with diner classics, they're also serving up more creative fare with local ingredients.
One need only look at the condiments on the counter to get an idea of the aesthetic. Beside the ketchup, salt and cinnamon sugar, there's also Sriracha.
I didn't need any of the above for the breakfast or lunch dishes I tried on Sunday. I give extra points to any diner that serves breakfast until closing — 3 p.m. in the case of Pearl Street Diner.
The generous omelette I ordered was fluffy and moist. I was tempted by the omelette stuffed with apples and Cabot cheddar, but instead kept with the season and ordered the version filled with sundried tomatoes, fresh basil and Maplebrook Farm mozzarella.
I found the combination to be a little heavy on the tomatoes, leading with an overbearing kick of acid that at times made it difficult to taste the delicate basil. I can't fault the mozzarella, though. Bouncy and saline, it gave a spring to every bite in which it appeared.
There were plenty of homefries, some crisp, some less so. My dining companion loved the special seasoning, but I found the taste, similar to barbecue chips, quite unpleasant. Maybe it clashed with the flavors in the omelette. So on the side, I stuck to bacon. Our server recommended it over the sausage and I imagine she was right. Each rasher was thick but crisp, with just a hint of melty fat at the edges.
For my lunch sample, I hewed to the traditional — a hot turkey sandwich.
The thick slices of house-roasted turkey breast were tender and moist. Despite its pale color, it was clear that the gravy was made with pan drippings. It tasted like a cream sauce made from a turkey base.
The gravy lent a lovely flavor to the otherwise slightly bland mashed potatoes. They were so silky, I'm assuming they were likely made from potato flakes.
While a cup of whole-berry cranberry sauce added a little color, I would have appreciated a veggie of some sort on the side.
Instead, I ended the meal with ice cream pie. Though attractive, it was pretty much as advertised — chocolate chip ice cream in an Oreo crust. Both arrived at a pleasing temperature — cold enough to hold together but not frozen solid.
My favorite thing at Pearl Street Diner? The freshly squeezed orange juice. Foamy and almost as sweet as a Honey Bell, the thick nectar was a true star. And next time, I'll be sure to order something that goes with Sriracha.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to email@example.com.