In addition to being an up-and-coming food blogger, I am also a Seahawks season ticket holder. When they somehow managed to make it into the playoffs this year, I was definitely excited to go to the game. And when I found out is was a 1:30 start, I thought it was a great opportunity to drag one of my friends, Andy (www.andyboyer.com) with me to some restaurant that I had never been to before. I debated something like Boka or Bacco Bistro, but those were a little too far away from the stadium. We decided to find some place in Pioneer Square, and while there are staple like the J&M Cafe, we opted for something a little more low-key in the Planet Java Diver.
The Planet Java Diner is a bit of an anomaly. For starters, you walk past all of the hustle and bustle of Pioneer Square (especially pre-Hawks game Pioneer Square), and keep going toward the viaduct. It gets to the point where you wonder if there is a restaurant or a storefront or anything between you and the parking area other than a brick wall and maybe someone asking for some spare change. Then there on the sidewalk is a small sign, pointing into a doorway that says “Planet Java Diner”. When you walk in, it’s like you are going back in time to a ’50s diner. There is the black and white checkered floor, signs on the walls, formica topped tables, and over-stuffed booths along the walls. Definitely not what you would expect when seeing it from the outside.
We took our seats and started looking at the menu. I ordered a cup of coffee while I pondered whether I wanted to do breakfast or lunch. It was a short decision process…the breakfast menu looked better, and it was still before noon. I leaned toward the biscuits and gravy, but ultimately went with the Joe’s Special figuring it was lighter, and remembering how good it was at Four Spoons.
After we had ordered the server brought by my coffee, and at that point the charm began to wear off. The coffee really wasn’t good. I guess it was kind of what you would expect from “diner coffee” (something resembling Folgers), but in the coffee-crazed, independent roaster, cafe dominant city that is Seattle, there is just a different expectation for coffee. I added some sweetener and fought through it to get my caffeine fix. Then, when our food arrived, I got the Joe’s Special that I had ordered, but when I looked over at Andy, he had a confused look on his face. Apparently when he had said “Texas Chicken” our waitress heard “Malibu” (hey, they are close, right?) We were able to eventually flag down the waitress and get the desired toppings for the sandwich.
Once both of our orders were right, I dug in. I was actually a little disappointed. The eggs were a little over done, the hamburger was bland and the spinach was almost non-existent. After a couple bites, I stopped, grabbed some of the jalepeno Tabasco sauce and sprinkled it all over my breakfast in the hopes of getting a little more flavor. It worked, and I finished my meal.
It wasn’t that the food was terrible at Planet Java, it’s just that it wasn’t that good, especially since I was coming off a great version of the same dish recently at Four Spoons Cafe. Where the eggs were light and fluffy at Four Spoons, they were more heavy at Planet Java. The hamburger was more flavorful, the spinach wilted nicely and adding a freshness, and the parmesan added the saltiness that it needed. I didn’t feel the need to add additional flavor at Four Spoons, whereas it was required at Planet Java. And I didn’t even touch on the home fries vs. hashbrowns (really it was the difference between homemade and frozen from a bag).
In the end, it wasn’t a bad place to grab breakfast, but there wasn’t anything that really has me wanting to go back again.