While recently driving up U.S. Route 1, and looking for a place to eat with my friend Dave, he said “Hey! Look at that place! Do you want to try it?” As the Skylark Diner appeared on the horizon. “Sure,” I said, and there we were.
The Skylark happens to be in a congested location on an already congested Route 1 northbound in Edison, NJ. Its claim on your attention from the highway is its futuristic, flying-saucer-like architecture, a sort of early Howard Johnson’s liberally cloned with a 1960s “Jetson’s” aesthetic. At night, it glows with sci-fi neon lighting easily seen from the highway. Inside, the theme is carried through seamlessly. It is bright, shiny, and clean (as we imagine the future should be), as Hollywood programmed us to believe it would be. It is large, but divided into cozy, manageable areas with many seating options (banquettes, family tables, booths, etc.). We arrived for an early dinner recently, so the diner had plenty of natural, ambient light, which was a pleasure.
Our waitress appeared instantly with menus, and took our drink orders. Naturally, our diet Coke orders were met with the traditional, “Is diet Pepsi okay?” (Is it an alien conspiracy, we wonder … ) A good-sized glass of soda arrived, with just enough ice and a wedge of lemon. Being a diner, there were many dining options. Dave opted for the Sky Blue Burger ($12.00), with chipotle mayonnaise, crumbled blue cheese, and crispy onion, while I opted for The Lump Crab and Avocado Tower ($13.95), with ruby red grapefruit vinaigrette, mesclun greens, and grapefruit supremes. I glanced at the cocktail menu. (Yes! A diner with full liquor service.) The “Greyhound” cocktail called out my name with its seductive mélange of Grey Goose Vodka, Saint Germain elderflower liquor, and grapefruit juice. I figured the grapefruit cocktail would complement my grapefruit-themed dish quite well. (And I was correct. It was delicious.)
The dishes arrived simultaneously, with an almost immediate appearance by the waitress asking us if everything was to our liking. The presentation was attractive for both the lobster tower and the burger. We enjoyed our meal in relative quiet for such a large establishment, and conversation was easy. No loud, obtrusive music, and no noisy neighbors sitting too closely by made for a delightful and fun eating experience.
After we finished our main course, the waitress asked if we wanted dessert, but we chose to forego anything else. The check arrived promptly. It was a clear, straightforward document which helpfully stated to please pay your waitress. A nice touch, since so often one is unsure where or how to pay the bill, especially in a large eatery.
When heading north on Route 1 (or even if you’re heading south – just make an easy turn) in Edison, choosing the Skylark Diner will not disappoint whether you’re dining solo, duo, or with a large group or family. As with most diners, it’s open early and closes late. Most days (according to its website) it is open from 7 am to midnight or later. It may not be interplanetary travel to Mars, but unlike the one-way trip to Mars, you can always return home well fed and happy.
The Skylark Diner, 17 Wooding Avenue, Edison, NJ 08817, phone 732-777-7878. http://skylarkdiner.com.