I met a friend at the Silver Diner located in Tysons Corner, Virginia. This classic looking diner with its mirrored front and 50's-style font looks resembles the diners from the Fonzie ages. As soon as I walked in and they heard that I was an invited blogger, I got the red carpet treatment, so I will tell you that I'm unsure of whether the service here is always great as I got special treatment up front. The server informed me that they had recently surveyed their customers who asked for healthier meals with vegan and gluten-free options and they obliged by revamping their menu. They seemed very excited to introduce the new menu to me and mentioned they'd been getting a lot of positive feedback. Okay - you got me excited.
I started by taking a look at their wine list - of three winerys' wines. They are all about buying fresh and local so they offered two Virginia winerys' wines and only one other (Argentinian) winery's wine. Having only had one Virginia wine that I've ever liked, I played it safe with the Argentinian Malbec. After I tried it though, I wasn't sure I should have ordered anything as it wasn't that great. But, I was at a diner. Shortly thereafter, I realized there was a Chocolate Raspberry vegan shake made with Silk soy milk and soy ice cream. Dammit. I missed out.
The new menu is very colorful, but very confusing. On page one, they emphasize that they buy from local farms and that Executive Chef Ype Von Hengst has created a flexitarian menu of healthier choices that incorporate the highest quality, all natural ingredients available. So as I started looking through the multi-page menu, I noticed that everything is labeled vegetarian, vegan, and/or gluten-free. That is spectacular. Then I noticed that there are lots of vegan options and I was truly impressed -- such variety. The reason I say the menu is confusing is that some of the vegan appetizers and salads are listed on two pages -- they are listed on the Starters, Salads, and Soups page, then again on the Healthier Flexitarian Recap page. I find that to be a bit confusing. Then there is the Warm Roasted Local Veggie Salad that is listed on the Salads page, but not the Flexitarian Salad section even though it is vegan. I was so confused. I think it would be better to just list each dish once in only one section.
As diners are known for their all-day breakfasts, I was slightly disappointed to find that there was not one vegan option on the breakfast pages. As I turned to the lunch and dinner pages though, there were plenty. From appetizers and salads to chili and entrees, there were plenty of options. We started with the Black Bean Hummus priced at $7.99. I will say that I really thought the prices for this small diner were high until I saw the size of the portions. Everything is huge. The name of this hummus is deceiving though. I've had black bean hummuses before that are made with pureed black beans. This one could more accurately be called hummus with black beans as it is a hummus with whole black beans mixed in. It was served with oven-toasted ciabatta and fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. And it was so delicious. There was just the right amount of cumin and fresh herbs to make this hummus nearly perfect. It wasn't too thick or too thin and had a great texture. It was topped with kalamata olives as well. This was a great start to the meal.
Since we were offered up to $60 to spend, we decided to order 4 entree-sized meals to share in order to sample the menu. So, we started with two salads. The first salad we ordered was the Summer Citrus Salad priced at $10.49. This salad was enormous and could have been shared as our entree. You will notice a trend if you keep reading. I was really impressed with how fresh the salad looked and tasted. It was loaded with fresh baby spinach, mango, strawberries, carrots, pecans, and dried cranberries tossed in a fat-free citrus vinaigrette. I thought it was just perfect while my friend found it a bit too sweet. This is a salad fit for an entree.
We also ordered the Warm Roasted Local Veggie Salad priced at $10.99. Wow - this dish was huge! It was a ton of roasted veggies including Brussels sprouts, beets, squash, eggplant, red peppers, rocket greens and kale tossed with basil, sunflower seeds, pecans, and dried apricots in a housemade champagne vinaigrette. It was very good. This is a great vegetable-based healthy entree.
For my entree, I went with the Pesto Veggie Pasta listed under the Vegan Entrees heading priced at $11.99. Do you know how much I love that they have a heading called, "Vegan Entrees?" So much. This dish was not as good as it sounded or looked as I found it to be a bit too oily and the pesto not tasty enough. It was definitely missing something. It was made with garlic roasted eggplant, butternut squash, roasted red pepper, spinach, basil, whole wheat angel hair, lemony pine nut pesto, and sunflower seeds.
For my friend's entree, she went with the Santa Fe Roasted Veggies priced at $10.99. Again, this was a large-sized meal. I was a bit disappointed when it came out as I realized it used most of the same veggies that were in our Warm Roasted Local Veggie Salad. They redeemed themselves though when I realized the taste was completely different. The veggies were all seasoned with chipotle and served with oaxaca black bean salsa, salsa roja, and cilantro over quinoa. We really enjoyed this dish and felt it was perfect as is.
I should mention that each table has its own personal jukebox so we were jammin' to the oldies while we enjoyed our meals. Other vegan options that we didn't try include the veggie chili, mango vegetarian stir-fry and many of the sides including southwest quinoa, garlic spinach, edamame beans, and brown rice. We were so full by the end that I neglected to notice that there is also a vegan dessert! Wow! There is a Soy Dream Sundae made with vanilla soy ice cream, chocolate syrup, and raspberries. So it is quite similar to the milkshake.
I must say that I am particularly impressed. The Silver Diner has gone out of its way to accommodate vegans and gluten-free diners and has gone above and beyond with the number of dishes it is offering to this market. I can see how this chain has already grown to 15 restaurants in only 22 years. It is evident that they listen to their customers and care enough to offer healthy, locally sourced options. Now when I'm in Tysons Corner, I will choose to eat at Silver Diner and I can't say that I would have said that in the past. Their salads and entrees are all vegetable-based and loaded with antioxidants. Good work, Silver Diner. Keep it up!
8101 Fletcher St.
McLean, VA 22101
Full Disclosure: Although the meal was provided to me for free to review, that in no way influences my veracious opinion.