Munch goes to the Hot Metal Diner
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The greeting was swift and authoritative. Like an admonition from the bench of a testy judge.
"I haven't had any problems yet today, and I'm not gonna start with you."
And a good day to you too, madam.
So went Munch's introduction to the Hot Metal Diner.
Were the words not coming from a waitress wearing a Cheshire grin, Munch might have walked out. But the fact that the diner was packed and had the euphoria-inducing aroma of bacon crackling on a greasy griddle ... well, the waitress could've spat in Munch's hat and we would've stayed.
Besides, the occasionally biting banter is part of the charm. Picture a wait staff comprising a team of Flos from Mel's Diner (except with Pittsburgh accents) and you'd about have it. They bicker back and forth with one another and tease customers -- with a wink, of course. Besides, how seriously can you take a woman who has sunny-side up -- err, dippy eggs in these parts -- painted on her fingernails? At least that was the manicure that our waitress, Carol Ann, was mackin'.
Our correspondents in the PG South tell that the HMD is the creation of Wendy Betten, a diner queen of more than three decades who recently sold her last successful diner, Bob's, in Green Tree, in 2006. The great ones never stay in retirement long, and neither did Wendy, opening the HMD this past fall.
The name, by the way, does not come from the eponymous bridge a few miles away on the South Side, but rather from the Hot Metal Plaza in West Mifflin, where it is located, across the street from the Hot Metal Harley-Davidson dealer, a source of inspiration. The diner has a bit of a 1950s motorcycle theme, and at least one menu item bears a bike name, the "Fatboy Sammich," two scrambled eggs with choice of ham, bacon, hot or sweet sausage on Italian toast ($5.25).
Which brings us to the food. Traveling with known accomplice BFOM (Blondie Friend of Munch), Munch set about gorging on the namesake HMD Omelette made with sweet sausage and green peppers ($6.99). Munch added mushrooms and cheese for 50 cents per ingredient. Served with a side of home fries, the comfort food was just that -- perfectly comfortable -- and should have been enough to feed a battalion, but this is Munch we're talking about. So after piling that down the esophagus, Munch added a single pancake. Sounds easy, except the models at the HMD are as big as a hubcap. Good yes. But at this point Munch could've been wheeled out in the sidecar of one of the Harleys from the dealer next door.
Meanwhile, BFOM belied her pretty petite nature by gorging on a Breakfast-zilla creation called "The Hog" -- a plate of eggs, home fries, choice of bacon, ham, hot or sweet sausage, and toast.
All was washed down with bottomless cups of decent coffee ($1.50).
Munch and BFOM liked the food and loved the vibe of the place -- cozy, but with attitude -- and we anticipate a return trip.
So long as we don't give Carol Ann any trouble.
First Published January 3, 2008 12:00 am