O’Rourke’s

Diner
legendary
Worth driving from anywhere!
Save

Brian O’Rourke’s diner just keeps getting better and better. It almost perished in 2006 when it was ravaged by a fire. There was no insurance, but regular customers loved it so much that a fund was created and enough money raised to bring it back to life. A lustrous Mountain View Diner that has been a Main Street fixture in Middletown, Connecticut, since 1946, it supplements familiar diner fare with the local oddity known as steamed cheeseburger, and, best of all, with unpredictable meals from relentlessly creative chef Brian O’Rourke. For example, the menu describes an item listed as “Brian’s Breakfast” thusly: “No two breakfasts are ever the same, and you do not know what you are going to get. Neither do your servers, so do not even try asking!” A few possibilities on the petit déjeuner degustation: duck hash, a waffle topped with barbecued pork, poached eggs with smoked salmon, a Dubliner omelet (corned beef hash and Irish cheddar), banana bread French toast with clotted cream.

Brian O’Rourke, who grew up in the diner started by his uncle John O’Rourke, loves to talk about the food he makes. One spring he enthralled us with a clever story about how he traded meals with a local fisherman to get fresh shad and shad roe for his dinner menu. Another time, he explained in mouth-watering detail how he made an all greens soup because he came across a good supply of fresh collards and mustard greens and the caraway in his garden was ripe for picking; he combined these with sweet kale, sorrel, and ricotta cheese, sour cream, and yogurt to create a thick, invigorating brew as hearty as vegetables can be. “I’ve been doing a lot of drying lately,” Brian told us one September, holding up an plastic carton filled with chili powder made from hundreds of dried, ground, golden cayenne peppers. “Here, smell,” he said, opening the top. The aroma was dizzying – sharp, earthy, sunny. “This is a season’s worth,” he boasted. “All I need is a pinch for my soups or sauces.” Then, even though we had just finished dessert, he brought out a little crock of chili so we could taste. It was zesty, tongue tingling but not scorchingly hot, with a deep savor from the red wine he had included. Wine in chili? It’s not the true-Texas way, but O’Rourke’s is nothing if not original.

What to Eat
O’Rourke’s, Soup
Soup
Must-Try
Vegan soup is extraordinarily rib-sticking.
O’Rourke’s, Steamed Cheeseburger
Steamed Cheeseburger
Must-Try
Mid-Connecticut specialty: steamed cheeseburger
O’Rourke’s, Omelet
Omelet
Must-Try
Omelet topped with smoked mozzarella and roasted peppers
O’Rourke’s, Swordfish Cakes
Swordfish Cakes
Must-Try
Chunky swordfish cakes atop thin fried eggplant and topped with sweet zucchini-poblano chili relish.
O’Rourke’s, Bacon & Eggs
Bacon & Eggs
A traditional breakfast of bacon and eggs is accompanied by slices of toast made from one of O'Rourke's made-here breads.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday7am - 1:30pm
Monday7am - 1:30pm
Tuesday7am - 1:30pm
Wednesday7am - 1:30pm
Thursday7am - 1:30pm
Friday7am - 1:30pm
Saturday7am - 1:30pm
Roadtrips
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
4 stops | 16 MILES | 24 min

We're not saying that the steamed cheeseburger is the best burger variation on earth, but if you care about regional specialties, it is something you must have. Limited to a small region of central Connecticut and dating back to the 1920s, when anything fried was considered unhealthful and steamed food was the nostrum of the…

Information
Price
$$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch
Credit Cards Accepted
Yes
Alcohol Served
No
Outdoor Seating
No
Website

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