Blue Colony rises above the crisis in diner land
There is a crisis in diner land. I am using the Blue Colony as an example of what diners once were and why we loved them so much. It is also a warning cry for other diners that have slipped below the line to try and get it together before it is too late.
I have long been a diner lover. From tiny humble railroad car diners to vast chrome extravaganzas, there were few that I left grumpy or hungry. That is until about 10 years ago when a dreadful shift began to take place. Instead of being made on premises, the food all looked and tasted like it had been prepackaged, and filled with preservatives, rather like airplane food.
The most obvious example were soups, a diner standard that you could always count on for being hearty and homey. I would go to my favorite diners and order a bowl of beef barley or chicken noodle or potato soup and it tasted like someone had fussed over it for hours. The vegetables were hand chopped, the broth rich, the meat tender. I am not going to name names but returning to some of my favorite places was a disaster.
Diner X had soup that tasted like it had been made in a hospital kitchen, Diner Y’s soup was the dupe of what is served in coach, Diner Z’s soup made the local high schools’ cafeteria food taste yummy. In short, they were all bland and tasteless and terrible. Out back where the garbage was placed was the telltale clue: empty boxes from Sysco and many of the other “Big Box” portion-controlled food companies that supply en masse to restaurants, hospitals, airlines, etc.
The Blue Colony is still one of my favorite diners because all the food served here (not just soup!) tastes made-from scratch. Like many diners, the Blue Colony is a rather glitzy chrome structure right at exit 10 of 1-84. It is open 24/7 and the service is lightning swift. The menu is encyclopedic, as thick as a small town Yellow Pages. There are booths and tables, and no matter how packed full, it seems that there is never a wait. When you are handed the menu don’t spend too much time in contemplation because the waitress will be by your side very quickly and it is bad form to not know what you want.
If you trust me, I will streamline the process for you. Start with soup. They are all good and in the middle of a frigid New England winter day nothing tastes better. If pea soup in on the menu this is a must! No better pea soup exists. The soup comes with delicious homemade bread, a yolky pale yellow challah-like loaf. This great bread also provides the makings for French toast or the platform for the hot turkey sandwiches. The hot turkey is not the abominable compressed deli “turkey roll” but broad slices of roasted breast meat. The mashed potatoes are the real thing, lumps and all. It is one of my favorite orders.
Because the Blue Colony is Greek owned, you can be sure that ordering just about any of the Aegean inspired meals will be worthwhile. Top of my list is the Greek salad, a vast plate loaded with green and red peppers, stuffed grape leaves, red onion, scallion and anchovies along with big ivory hunks of feta cheese. The dressing is a herbaceous vinaigrette with a citrus tang.
Blue Colony Diner
66 Church Hill Road, Newtown
Also on my hit list is the Greek farmers omelet. Three or four big eggs scrambled together with vegetables, sliced potatoes and bacon. No delivery food service could even attempt something so delicious. Same with corned beef and cabbage, three juicy pink slabs of meat that will make you wish every day was Saint Patrick’s Day.
Sometimes I think people forget that the simplest dishes like an omelet or pea soup or a bright fresh salad may be a hundred times better than a fussed-over “gourmet” delight. No matter what you order, at least give a nod to the Blue Colony’s pastry case. Danishes the size of a boxer’s fist, lemon meringue pie six inches tall and quivering, rice pudding that tastes like your Greek nana made it.
Enjoy the Blue Colony, one of the last best diners in our state.
Jane Stern, a Ridgefield resident, co-authored the popular “Roadfood” guidebook series.