Black Bear Diner
255 Second Street
Hours: Sunday to Thursday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday to Saturday 6 a.m. to midnight.
Price: $ out of $, grad student/alum $10 to $15
Ambience: 2 of 4 stars
Food: 2½ stars of 4, Better than my roommate’s cooking
I went to the joint dubbed the Black Bear Diner with the appetite of a bird – which is not even completely accurate because birds eat half their body weight. So, I guess I actually went in with an eighth the appetite of a bird. Given that the restaurant is named after a five hundred pound animal, this was probably not the wisest move.
The time was 8:30 a.m. when I sauntered into the Black Bear Diner on Monday. Upon entering the restaurant I was immediately hit in the face by air that smelt strongly of hot meat. I would not say it was bacon or sausage so the mystery still remains. Either way, I am not the biggest morning person and was not prepared for the smell of cooked animal so early.
On the way to our table, my roommate and I passed furniture fit for a log cabin or some lumberjacks. Log barstools and other rustic décor adorned the diner. There were also too many black bears to count. Not the real kind, folks.
We were seated at a table by a window that faced B Street and handed two newspapers. The front page contained stories about the origins of Black Bear Diner and other articles pertinent to the franchise. After five minutes of waiting for a menu, we turned to the second page – where we found the menu. Oops.
Our drink orders were taken and to my disappointment I was informed they were out of hot chocolate. My accomplice ordered some orange juice after the menu boasted that they used the same orange squeezing technology as Spain. While there was no proof they actually did, she did give her detailed opinion that went something like, “Es bueno”. Although, she thought no glass of orange juice should be worth $3.
After browsing through breakfast titles like the “Hungry Bear’s Breakfast” and “The Grizz” I finally settled on a full stack of pancakes and a side of hash browns. My roommate ordered the Cinnamon Roll French Toast.
The slightly nauseating, hot pastrami smell still invaded my nose as we awaited our breakfasts. I noticed there was a dessert display with some tasty looking pies and fresh-baked cobblers. Also, near the front entrance sat a juke box with Black Bear Diner merchandise surrounding it.
After a short wait and a few minutes of contemplating whether or not the juke box was real, our meals arrived. The full stack should be called the “freaking huge stack.” There were three pancakes the size of my plate that were impossibly thick and fluffy. My side of hash browns took up a plate of their own and consisted of thick cut strips, something I had never seen before.
My friend’s breakfast looked amazing. It looked kind of like a cinnamon roll had mated with French toast to make a delicious new meal. Her portions were also fit for someone with a bear-like appetite.
When it comes to diner pancakes, I have often experienced one of two things. Either the pancake proves to be a sponge as it soaks in the syrup almost instantly, or it is soggy and thin to begin with. These pancakes, however, maintained their fluff and did not turn to mush when I loaded on the sugary sauce. They passed my syrup test with flying colors.
However, after only making it through about half the stack I was stuffed and still needed to conquer the hash brown mountain. The hash browns could have been a meal of their own, but they also lived up to my standards.
I tried some of the Cinnamon Roll French Toast and decided I was happy with my pancake selection. The French toast was as tasty as it appeared, but a little too sweet for copious consumption.
The total cost of the breakfast came to $24.12, with each of our meals costing around $12 once my roommate included her orange juice and I factored in my hash browns. The service was prompt, my water glass was never empty and we left so full we felt like we had eaten a black bear.
The restaurant parking lot was also a nice, little bonus since we all know trying to park in downtown Davis is almost unbearable. Pun unintended.
While I cannot vouch for anything other than the breakfasts, the diner does also offer a lunch, dinner and dessert selection for those late risers.
All in all, the Black Bear Diner was a nice start to my day but I would have probably enjoyed my experience even more if the place did not reek of a mysterious meat. It’s suitable for a hearty breakfast or casual lunch but I do not recommend taking a hot date there. Then again, they may have a thing for lumber and woodland creatures.
AMANDA HARDWICK can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.