The drive to the Vincentown Diner always feels vintage, like a trip to a place time forgot. Farm stands, endless fields of crops, farmhouses, more farm stands, dairy bars straight out of 1950s Americana. Oh, and my cell usually loses reception, too. (Smartphones just don’t fit in with the scene there.)
The diner’s doors first opened more than 70 years ago, and since then it’s been passed down through generations from father to son. Its classic Jersey diner atmosphere always feels comforting to me, a nostalgic assurance that things don’t always have to move so fast. The menu features the classic comfort foods you’d expect at a Jersey diner—burgers, pot pie, spaghetti and meatballs. But even with its quintessential old-fashioned vibe, somehow it still manages to surprise me with new menu items every time I visit.
Nowhere is a perfect balance of old and new reflected more than on the diner’s menu, which features all the classic comfort foods you’d expect at a Jersey diner—burgers, pot pie, spaghetti and meatballs. Tucked within the menu, however, is a page filled with surprisingly creative dishes that constantly evolve to highlight whatever local crops are seasonal at the moment.
One year ago, Burlington County local Jason Edgar took on the role of head chef at the diner. And while the locals have made the Vincentown Diner one of their regular destinations, they’re not the only ones who have taken notice of Edgar’s culinary talents. Just last week, Guy Fieri and the Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives team paid a visit to the diner, and sometime in the next few months, we can all catch up with Edgar and his team on the Food Network, which will air an episode filmed at the Vincentown Diner.
Big-time TV appearances aside, Edgar’s favorite part of the job is when he gets to dream up the restaurant’s original Chef’s Specials. On the night I dined there, Edgar’s creativity truly shone on the menu, which included dishes like Jersey steak salad and crab cakes with corn and blueberry salsa. When my friend and I decided to sample the jalapeño corn fritters served with avocado ranch dressing, Edgar served them to us himself, proud of his creation and the fact that his kitchen is “almost entirely scratch.”
With so much delicious and inventive food, I had a tough decision to make. Finally, I settled on the Soco lime chicken, classic, crispy fried chicken topped with sweet Southern Comfort lime and orange glaze, and accompanied by Jersey mashed sweet potatoes, Jersey corn on the cob, and homemade cornbread (pictured at top). My friend heard from another friend that the Vincentown Diner’s burgers were the “best.” After I confirmed that rumor, she ordered a burger and wasn’t disappointed. As with nearly all the other menu items, our waitress informed us that all the burgers are local, too—and grass fed.
I can’t imagine a world where I’d have enough willpower to resist dessert at the Vincentown Diner. In fact, I spent most of the meal staring into the restaurant’s dessert display case, which features lots of —you guessed it!—local ingredients. Taking advantage of the final stretch of Jersey blueberry season, my friend ordered a plate of hot blueberry pie, and I went with a generous slice of blueberry mousse cheesecake. I regret nothing.
As guests stop on their way out of the restaurant to pay their bills, they’re once again tempted to support their local food scene. Next to the register an array of Jersey Fresh goods—locally roasted coffees, house made pies, Jersey wines, pasta sauces, and honey—shout, “Take me with you!” As we exit to the parking lot, I know I’ll return soon. And when I do, I’m certain to discover something new.
Routes 206 & 38