A quintessential part of the New England dining experience is the Worcester Diner Car, and quite a few New England towns have at least one Worcester Diner Car-based diner, typically with a long service counter, stools, tables, and lots of chrome. And, despite being designed on a wagon and/or train car style chassis, they typically don’t move. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the earliest Worcester Diner Cars weren’t this way. Early Worcesters had the stovetop, food prep, and service counter in the end of the car, with seating at the other end. And the cart was mobile, typically stored during the day and pulled out at night to serve factory workers. However, it’s extremely rare to find examples of these early Worcester Diners. Gilley’s PM Lunch in Portsmouth, NH is, however, a good example…
Where Offbeat Eats has been:
In general, I really enjoy that each part of the country has food specialties that they excel in, it gives me something to look forward to when I travel, like a good proper posole in New Mexico, or a proper Cuban sandwich in Miami. But it also leaves me with the occasional hard to satisfy craving. Like when I want a good, quality biscuit. Nominally, this shouldn’t be too hard, considering that within a 50 mile radius of me are about a dozen places that have biscuits on the menu… But I’ve learned that, like the phrase “New England Barbecue”, “biscuit” is a term to be treated with a certain amount of skepticism in these parts. I could get a nice, flaky, buttery biscuit with a bit of crumble… but I’m much more likely to get some sort of stale, leaden lump of dry dough that’s only vaguely suitable as a substrate for a biscuits and gravy. In short, most New England biscuits, well, suck. It baffles me a bit, since biscuits aren’t that hard to do… when I lived in the South, the vast majority of kitchens were able to put out a decent biscuit, without any products labeled with “Bisquik” or having any sort of canned dough being involved. But it’s something that most New England kitchens haven’t mastered, enough so that I’ve joked many a time about opening “Rich’s Remedial Biscuit School” and inviting local chefs. I was in that frame of mind when I was checking out reviews for some new places in Montpeliers, and I had noticed several good reviews for Philamena’s, a new Italian place that opened this year on Montpelier’s west side. Most importantly, more than one review mentioned great biscuits. Hopeful, but still skeptical, we decided to check them out for breakfast.