Chez Ben Diner

Diner
excellent
Worth a detour
Save

It’s not easy to find Canadian cuisine in the U.S., unless you head up to our northern borders. Hell, most Americans probably don’t even know there IS such a thing as Canadian cuisine! Don’t they eat the same things that we do? Yes, they do, but there are also a surprising number of specialties unique to our northern neighbor, and many of them can be found at the Chez Ben Diner.

We paid a breakfast visit and were overjoyed to find a breakfast version of everyone’s favorite Canadian dish, poutine. Usually based on French fries, poutine at breakfast substitutes home fries and adds breakfast sausage. Along with the requisite cheese curds and gravy, this is a breakfast that will keep you well-fueled until dinner. We also enjoyed cretons and toast, a breakfast specialty of French Quebec that was new to us. Cretons is a cold pork spread, which sounds like the sort of thing you had to have grown up eating to appreciate, but it’s much easier than that. The meaty, finely minced spread is touched with sweet spices, and we found it addictive. We’re not the only ones, we gather, as Chez Ben sells it by the pound to go.

We look forward to returning for lunch, where the bulk of the Canadian selections come into play (most of the menu features standard American and, presumably, Canadian diner fare along the lines of burgers, sandwiches, and omelets). There’s a good selection of poutines, including one that features chicken and peas, and an Italian version with something the menu calls “Canadian sweet sauce.” But there’s more, like tortiere, the Canadian meat pie, and salmon pie, both of which are also available whole for take-out (at very reasonable prices). The menu also features guédille, that strange French Canadian sandwich on a toasted hot dog bun. This one features chopped egg and vegetables with mayo.

Chez Ben is a haven for homesick Québécois (Manchester is only about 220 miles from Quebec). We heard French spoken at many of the other tables, and most of those customers seemed to be well-known to the house. The Ben in the restaurant’s name comes from the founders, Benoit and Solange Quirion. The restaurant is now owned by Joel and Anne Quirion, presumably son and daughter, or son and spouse. Their diner is casual, comfortable, and welcoming, whether you speak French or not.

One other note: like any self-respecting Canadian diner, they serve pancakes with (for a small surcharge) real maple syrup!

What to Eat
Chez Ben Diner, Creton, Toast & Coffee
Creton, Toast & Coffee
Must-Try
A traditional French Canadian breakfast: creton and toast. Creton is a cold pork spread.
Chez Ben Diner, Small Breakfast Poutine
Small Breakfast Poutine
Poutine for breakfast! The French fries are replaced by home fries and the meat is breakfast sausage.
Directions and Hours
open now
Sunday6 am - 2 pm
Monday6 am - 2 pm
Tuesday6 am - 2 pm
Wednesday6 am - 2 pm
Thursday6 am - 2 pm
Friday6 am - 2 pm
Saturday6 am - 2 pm
Information
Price
$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • K. LaMay’s Steamed Cheeseburgers

    Meriden, Connecticut

    The steamed cheeseburger is unique to central Connecticut, and Meriden is home to several purveyors. K. LaMay’s steamer is the biggest and one of the best.

  • Mo’s Midtown

    Hartford, Connecticut

    Mo’s Midtown is a small, cozy diner just outside Hartford serving excellent pancakes, including crusty potato pancakes worthy of a fine eastern European chef.

  • Glenwood Drive-In

    Hamden, Connecticut

    Hot dogs and hamburgers are cooked on a grate over charcoal at Hamden, Connecticut’s Glenwood Drive-In, where every meal should also include onion rings.

  • Wentworth’s Ice Cream

    Hamden, Connecticut

    Ice cream at Wentworth’s is rich but not cloying. Fave flavors: Creamsicle, Mounds, strawberry shortcake. Hot fudge is superb, as is hot peanut butter.

  • Lunchbox

    Meriden, Connecticut

    The Lunchbox is a best source of Meriden, Connecticut’s unique steamed cheeseburger, which is extremely juicy with tangy molten cheese on a sturdy bun.

  • Super Duper Weenie

    Fairfield, Connecticut

    A firm-fleshed local hot dog, split & grilled, is served with homemade condiments. Whatever you eat at Super Duper Weenie, get French Fries. They’re the best.