Last week, Meredith and I made the quick trip down to Biddeford to try the newly reopened Palace Diner. There had been no shortage of buzz about the delicious food coming from Maine’s oldest diner car in the past weeks, and the social feeds of our friends in the food industry have been overflowing with pictures of heavenly glazed doughnuts and piled-high breakfast sandwiches, so when we finally found a little room on a random morning, we decided it was time to give Palace a try for ourselves.
Co-owners Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell have created something special in the old mill town. Taking one of the most classic of American dining styles and establishments, and then injecting an attention to detail and flavor completely foreign to the prefabricated diner world, it’s easy to see what all the fuss is about. The menu still has the diner staples holdover patrons have come to expect – pancakes, bacon, eggs, and coffee – but take one bite of the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Deluxe, an english muffin breakfast sandwich with baked eggs and jalapenos, and there’ll be no question about the value added by that extra care for ingredients and preparation. The Brown Butter Banana Bread, Palace Potatoes, and Tandem coffee are just further examples of this that we tried during our visit, but we’d be willing to bet that every menu item holds true to the same standard. After spending some time speaking with Chad and Greg, hearing about the adventure that opening a diner has provided, the passion for creating and serving their take on an American classic, and their excitement about the upcoming Palace dinners, we couldn’t be more impressed with what Palace is quite literally bringing to the table.
The vast majority of us probably have one memory or another about visiting that ‘locals only’ breakfast joint in our hometown as children, maybe that same hole-in-the-wall place every Saturday throughout college, or even that quick stop on the way to work these days. While stepping inside the 1920’s rail car in Biddeford does feel comfortable and familiar in that wonderful déjà vu way, we’re almost certain that your meal will completely redefine the way you look at a diner breakfast going forward.