Diners are as distinctly American as bistros and cafes are French and pubs are British and Irish. They are a haven for the weary traveler, for someone in need of comfort food and friendly people, for families on limited funds, for someone who doesn’t just doesn’t feel like cooking.
Service is almost always caring, and food variety and quality are usually predictably good. Dependable is the word I’m looking for. Walk into a warm diner and you are home.
A diner can be found almost anywhere, both city and country, and often easily identified by its resemblance to an old railroad car, shiny in an art deco manner with chrome, glass and neon.
And so it was with Gibby’s Diner in Delanson, still serving loyal patrons after opening July 9, 1952. My understanding is that Mrs. Gibby is in her 90s and continues to live in the area.
Johnny P. and I are both decent cooks, but there are evenings when our ambition, like the light during short winter days, ebbs early. So we headed toward Gibby’s in Delanson on a recent Friday evening.
Cordial Server Sarah sat us in a booth, gave us menus and took our orders for hot tea ($1.95, Stash’s Orange Spice Black Tea for me; varieties came in a little basket allowing the customer to choose the flavor) and a Dr Pepper ($2.50) for my dinnermate.
A miniature loaf of warm whole wheat bread arrived on a small wooden board with butter and packages of crackers. John had opted for New England clam chowder with his fried seafood dinner ($19.25), while I chose the southern fried chicken dinner ($13.75).
J.P. described his chowder as “creamy and loaded with clams, potatoes and other vegetables.” My garden salad with bottled Italian vinaigrette served on the side stood out primarily because the ingredients were super fresh.
Without any consultation, we both had selected dinners of comfort food. John’s platter included representatives from most of the Atlantic: large cocktail shrimp; butterflied and breaded fried shrimp; fried scallops and clam strips; and a rectangle of fried haddock more akin to a prepared patty than to a hunk of fresh haddock recently purchased from a fish market.
Along with pickled beets, the large platter was accompanied by tartar sauce, cocktail sauce and a dish of bland mashed potatoes, suspiciously missing the telltale little lumps of whole potatoes.
My mother made Hungarian fried chicken — crispy on the outside, juicy, tender and steaming on the inside.
Gibby’s southern fried chicken was similar. Clearly, regardless of the recipe’s origin, good fried chicken possesses similar qualities.
House-made (not too vinegary, no overpowering clove flavor) pickled beets and macaroni and cheese almost as good as friend Lois’s accompanied the four pieces of honey-battered chicken breast, thigh, wing and drumstick. A small cup of jellied cranberry sauce added color.
“How is it, guys?” Sarah asked. Sometimes I get a little sarcastic and point out that I am not a guy, but this time I was tempered by her earnestness and bit my tongue.
It should be noted that although most of the tables were filled by the time we left, food came out of the kitchen fast, though by no means could it be considered fast food.
By now you have probably gathered that we enjoy desserts, often foregoing appetizers to save room for a sweet ending and coffee.
Desserts run from $3.50 (tapioca pudding or ice cream) to $5.95 (monster sundaes with a brownie, cookie or hot fudge). Homemade pies are $3.95 or $5.25 ala mode.
John requested peach raspberry pie, while I ordered the large hot fudge sundae ($5.95, $3.95 for small) without heeding the warning by server Sarah: “The large sundae is really quite big.” Still, I ordered it. Halfway through, I faltered, but nevertheless, I persisted, noting a feeling of accomplishment when I reached the bottom of the bowl.
Gibby’s size is deceptive. From the road, it appears to be a small diner. But it has increased in size with two or three small additions, accommodating at least 15 tables and booths along with a counter seating several customers.
WHERE: 10040 Duanesburg Road, Delanson, NY 12053, 518-895-2063. On Facebook.
WHEN: Wed.-Sat. 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Sun. 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mon.-Tue. closed
HOW MUCH: $51.25 for two people with one soft drink, one hot tea and two coffees, but without tax and tip
MORE INFO: Accessible, parking lot in front, takeout, cash only but ATM on premises