A few years ago when a new owner vowed to make this old Route 7 hash house something special, Wooster Hollow Diner took on an aura of enthusiasm. Two steps in the door and I was greeted by proprietor Ron Herman, who directed me to a table and soon arrived to pour coffee. My cup never went empty; in fact, ten minutes into the meal, Mr. Herman came by with a full, fresh cup, whisking the old one away and explaining that he had just brewed a batch so there was no point in drinking the older stuff. When I praised the pancakes, he explained that just the other day he had turned away the pancake-mix salesman because he prefers to make his own.
The from-scratch pancakes are tender lightweights, available full-size or as silver dollars. My stack with bananas and walnuts at first looked disappointing. All I saw were pancakes. But as I eased my fork down into the top flapjack, I hit paydirt: a tremendous load of just-ripe banana slices and crisp walnut halves cooked right in. They were delicious, even if the syrup wasn’t true maple. Among interesting breakfast dishes are eggs with brisket and a breakfast bowl of home fries, eggs, cheese, bacon (or sausage or ham), and sautéed onions and peppers. Virtuous eaters will appreciate a “light and fit platter” that accompanies eggs whites with fruit salad rather than spuds; and there’s a breakfast wrap tortilla that holds egg whites along with scallions, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, spinach, and hot sauce.
Breakfast always is available, but starting at 11am, lunch also is served. There are sandwiches and burgers, the latter not all that interesting unless you get it Brazil-style, meaning topped with a fried egg, bacon, and cheese – a lollapalooza of a meal in which the sum is greater than each of its parts. There is pizza, too, cooked in the manner that Northeasterners know as Greek, meaning it bakes in an iron pan and has a crisp, lightweight crust. It’s enjoyable pizza, so long as you are not expecting the muscular chew of one from the Neapolitan / New Haven places. I’ve yet to try dinner, which is served Wednesday through Saturday nights. Mr. Herman told me the menu always includes a steak, a fish, and a chicken.
What I like best about this place is not the food, which is in the pretty-good category. It’s the attitude that wins me over. This is a restaurant on a mission that goes beyond food, its website promising, “We are always honest, friendly & appreciative, respectful & trusting, clean & safe, and hard working.”
Note: Wooster Hollow Diner is open every day for breakfast and lunch. Dinner is served Wednesday through Friday.