THE PIN UP ALL-STAR DINER AT YERBA BUENA....MORE NOT DINER PRICES IN SF
This is what a week of not feeling well does for ya', you don't feel like eating or doing anything. Such was my case last week and why I took a little break. No blogging is not hard, but I only felt like collapsing on the couch and falling asleep in front of the TV. Haven't we all been there before? Anyway, I'm back in action and rolling into a relatively new diner spot in town. Located in the complex that is Yerba Buena Gardens area, sits The Pin Up All-Star Diner. Are they the easiest thing to get to? Not really. Plus, being tucked back into the complex, beyond the merry-go-round and upstairs, to the right of the ice rink (yes there is an indoor ice rink in San Francisco!) you won't exactly stumble across them unless maybe you are headed towards said ice rink. I noted their opening a few months ago and wanted to give them time to get their legs so to speak before swooping on by.
I actually hit this place up on more than one occasion so I could try a few things over time without gorging on it all in one sitting. I know, I even surprised myself on that one. It's not a big menu, but does have that diner food vibe with burgers, fries, shakes and a little addition of fried chicken. I'd seen some favorable chats on the chicken so I decided to try that first time out.
When I got there, they were only a couple more folks there. Once I placed my order, it seemed to take an inordinate amount of time to actually get it. Roughly 25 to 30 minutes actually. And I got one piece and a side first then the other piece came out later. Seems they still haven't completely worked out the cooking kinks yet? This lovely two piece and a side will set you back $12.25 as 2 pieces runs you $9 then you have to pay extra for sides, $3.25. Then if you want a biscuit or something, that is gonna set you back another $3. For me, that is on the pricey side and doesn't exactly fit my whole cost/quantity ratio thing I blab on about. Not to mention, had I wanted a soda, it would have been even more.
What I got was sort of a drumette attached to a breast piece of chicken (both pieces). I have a feeling I got two of the same instead of say a breast and wing since they sort of knew it took awhile for me to get my order. Since it took some time, the chicken did at least come out hot and crisp from the fryer. It had nice crispy skin/batter and it was juicy and not over or under cooked. It was a plump breast with very few bones, so I did feel I was getting some meat to eat. As for seasoning, it was a little on the light side. I could taste a little black pepper and stuff, but nothing along the lines of taste bud flavor excitement. For me it could have been ramped up a bit, as is, it's decent chicken, just not sure it's $4.50 a piece chicken.
The side I chose were the baked beans with pork belly. Duh, you know they had me at pork belly even though I'm not normally a beans person. They are white pinto beans that I'll say are more stewed than baked. They were also a little on the al dente side and a little too sweet. Props though for having some nice big chunks of the pork belly mixed through them. Maybe they should offer up some fried pork belly as a side. One (me) can never get enough fried stuff.
Next time around I went all in for a diner special--burger and fries. Here, the burgers are all $14--that is with no sides. Though they do have a deal where for $18 you get a burger of your choice, waffle fries and a drink--believe it saves you about $5 if ordering them separately. Still a lot when the drink that came with it was in a tiny cup and they didn't offer up any refills. They have 7 burgers on offer, all with some theme. I went in for the Mason Dixon--burger, smoked Gouda, pickled onion, slaw and braised pork on a toasted brioche bun. I even sucked it up and paid $2! to have a fried egg thrown on it. In for a penny, in for $20. Again, I was here one evening and only a couple of other folks where in the place, but it still took some time, bout 20 minutes to get my order. Guess they still have some cooking time issues? But, also as before, it did come out hot and freshly cooked, so there is that.
I know they are the same potato cut a different way, but I do love a waffle fry when I carb out and these were pretty good. They served up an ample portion them, crispy and salty, just like I like them. A side of them alone will run you $6 and for another $2 they'll slap on cheddar and bacon. I could see going back for that.
The burger was nicely cooked to a medium-ish rare, not too red or too done. I will say with all the stuff on here, it is a messy burger and much of the wet caused the bun to come apart. Ended up using a knife and fork to finish like a civilized eater. I'll say the egg didn't really add anything to the burger, but I'll take the onus for adding it. Save your $2 and just skip. The pork with the burger was interesting-- it is not like mixing bacon, that other pork, with a hamburger. It is a shredded, braised pork that was nice and tender and juicy. I really did like the pulled pork on here and it mixed well with the vinegar based slaw. In fact, I almost wish they served just a pulled pork and slaw sandwich without the burger. Not sure I'd pay $14 for it, maybe $9ish, but the pork was good enough to deserve it's own sandwich. Overall a good burger patty, really good pork though not necessarily good together. And at $14 a burger with no sides? That's just a little hard on my wallet.
What can I say, the food at The Pin Up All-Star Diner has some good points that are pretty tasty. Problem is, everything circles back to the price of what I'm getting, which makes it hard for me to get around. This town is chock full of burgers in one form or another and while some are high end, most of the ones serving those up are sit down fancy schmancy places. This is supposed to be a diner, but that only seems to be reflected in the food and not the costs. Yeah, I know I'm harping on this, but it is hard not to when there is a Super Duper just around the corner from these folks. I'm not saying you shouldn't try them, just that you should know before you go.
As a side note--even with all this, I did actually make another visit to them. I'd seen on their menu they do biscuits with bacon and cheese and stuff, and the Southern in me wanted to try it. I'll be covering it later when I do a little round up of San Francisco breakfast sandwiches that I'm able to get to before I have to be at work.