The Olympos Diner, Meriden, Connecticut

Sometimes great discoveries are accidental. Think of Archimedes’ overflowing bathtub, Newton’s apple, and Columbus bumping into the Western Hemisphere. And think of Nancy and me finding the Olympos Diner.

We were on our way to Maine, eager to see friends, eat lobster, and escape the Washington summer. (Stay tuned for more posts.) We managed to dodge tornadoes in the DC area, and stayed one step ahead of Hurricane Elsa as it moved up the coast. We stopped overnight to let a second storm pass eastward toward New England, and managed to say in its wake until we hit Meriden. Then the storm hit us. We took that as a sign to stop for lunch, and left the highway.

A benevolent Providence led us to the Olympos Diner, a small building with an enclosed porch and a faded sign on the front.

It looked promising, so in we went.

A cheerful, outgoing server seated us, got us water, and told us the highlights of the menu, which are many. The hamburger is ground daily and everything seems to be made in-house. She touted Aaron’s corned beef hash, and I didn’t need to hear anything else. Nancy ordered a two egg omelet with all manner of vegetables. Here’s her plate. (She declined the home fries.)

And here is my plate. I pointedly did not decline the home fries.

Look at that crust! Oh, you can’t see under the eggs? The potatoes should give an idea of the beautiful caramelization. And that reddish hue, that’s good Hungarian paprika, the smoky kind that does so much for so many dishes. It had just the right amount of onions, and while each element retained integrity — there were chunks of corned beef and potatoes — the distinct elements were so mixed that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, “This is a corned beef hash!”*

If you think that’s enthusiastic, Nancy was positively giddy over her omelet. She poured forth compliments, and impulsively promised that we’d stop for another meal on our way back from Maine. And we did. I had another round of corned beef hash, and Nancy, transitioning out of Maine, branched out to a blueberry pancake. The food was great, and our new server was a treat. In addition to the great, great food, Olympus is a delightful place. They know their customers, and rather than being upset by special orders, they anticipate them. A customer who likes carrots in his chicken noodle soup got a serving loaded with carrots as he stepped inside the door.

I’m giving the Olympos Diner the coveted Top Places tag. If you find yourself traveling on the Merritt Parkway or I-91 in Connecticut, make a point to stop at the Olympos Diner. And if you’re traveling on I-95, you’re probably thinking of leaving I-95 anyway, and the Olympos Diner is well worth a detour.

*Okay, okay. I listened to Julius Caesar while on my First Upland South Carolina Barbecue Tour, and, well… that Shakespeare fellow could turn a phrase.

***

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