Updated Diner Food
Dennis Leary's riff on a Reuben uses locally made corned beef and fresh focaccia, but the sandwiches are just as delicious with top-quality deli corned beef and store-bought flatbreads.
BLT Salad with Blue Cheese
In his cute version of the BLT sandwich, Michael Schwartz replaces the mayo with a wedge of blue cheese. He cures his own bacon, but the salad is delicious with any good artisanal bacon. "They can never be too thick," he says.
Root Beer Float
This soda-fountain favorite has become a best seller at restaurants like the CommonWealth, a gastropub in Washington, DC. That version relies on Virginia's honey-based Dominion Root Beer, but any artisanal root beer will do.
Cinnamon Polenta Pancakes
Using polenta (cornmeal) in addition to white flour in these pancakes makes them especially satisfying, as the ground whole grain delivers lots of fiber and a good amount of protein.
Barbecue Sloppy Joes
In contrast to its mod white tables and neon-red lamps, Ketchup dishes up old-school diner food. Before serving this hearty sandwich, which is spiked with the restaurant's signature condiment, chef Christopher Tunnell ran it by his mom. "When she tasted it, she was proud," he says.
At the excellent little restaurant, Park Kitchen in Portland, OR, Scott Dolich serves these crisp-outside-tender-inside jumbo fries with homemade pumpkin ketchup, but they'e also wonderful on their own. He spikes the fries with sambal oelek, a bright red Southeast Asian chile sauce available at Asian markets.
Meat Loaf with Red Wine Glaze
Shea Gallante brushes his meat loaf with a red wine glaze, which caramelizes as it bakes. The glaze also makes the meat loaf especially easy to pair with red wine.
Bacon, Tomato and Cheddar Breakfast Bake with Eggs
This breakfast bake topped with runny eggs by F&W's Grace Parisi develops a terrific texture as it cooks slowly in a glass dish (which makes it easy to see when the bottom is perfectly browned). As one F&W editor remarked on tasting it, "I worship the crisp bottom and the chewy, moist bread."
Not Your Usual Lemon Meringue Pie
In her version of lemon meringue pie, Gale Gand forgoes a traditional crust for quick-baked sheets of sugared phyllo dough, which she layers with house-made lemon curd and a brown-sugar meringue. Instead, use good quality store-bought phyllo dough and lemon curd. The recipe, a classic at Tru restaurant in Chicago, appears in Gand's book Butter Sugar Flour Eggs (Clarkson Potter).
Bacon Burgers on Brioche Buns
The burger at Tyler Florence's Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco is called Le Grand with good reason: It's a custom blend of ground prime rib, brisket, skirt steak and tenderloin, topped with Nueske's bacon and Cowgirl Creamery's triple-cream Mt. Tam cheese. The recipe is also delicious with a mix of chuck and sirloin.
Multigrain Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Seamus Mullen's gooey Spanish version of a grilled cheese contains Mahón, Manchego and Idiazábal, as well as tomatoes that are roasted slowly overnight. Instead, opt for more accessible cheeses and quick-cook the tomatoes in high heat.
Lemon-Brined Fried Chicken
To make this juicy and delectably crisp chicken, chef Thomas Keller soaks it in a lemony brine, then coats and fries it. The chicken, which is served every other Monday at Ad Hoc, is one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant. "Since Fried Chicken Night only happens twice a month," Keller says, "people have a wonderful sense of anticipation."
Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches
A giant step up from a fast-food breakfast sandwich, this biscuit is topped with eggs, cheese and country ham, jam optional.
39 Degrees bartender Denis Côté created this drink as a warmer-upper for guests who've just returned from skiing or snowboarding on Aspen Mountain, which is right outside the lounge.
Apple-Butter Ice Cream with Ginger-Chocolate Ganache
Folding apple butter into vanilla ice cream is a great way to add elegance. Green Aisle Grocery's Adam Erace also adds grated ginger to melted chocolate to make a fast sundae topping; for a more caramel-like sauce, substitute dulce de leche for the melted chocolate.