The new and very much improved 401 Diner, 401 Fayette St. , Conshohocken, has undergone an impressive transformation from average diner to an eating establishment overflowing with charm and organic comfort food.
With a menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, 401 does a great job of satisfying diner patrons of all stripes — from the vegan and health conscious to the heartiest of omnivores — for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Bring a bottle of wine (there’s no cork fee) if you stop by for dinner because they bring the ambiance and the candlelight when the sun goes down. Seriously, it’s amazing what recycled church pews and a hand-tiled table can do for the look of a diner.
401 starts off with some inventive takes on soup. The BLT soup ($3 cup, $4 bowl), a tomato bisque with bacon, spinach and a dusting of cheese, makes for a pleasant hot alternative to the classic sandwich. The organic chili ($4 cup, $5 bowl) surprised us because we were sure we’d miss the presence of meat, but the results were hearty and spicy with enough black beans, seitan and tomatoes to pick up any slack.
The crispy chicken salad ($12) was especially tasty as the star protein of the dish wasn’t a processed version one might expect, but nicely hand-breaded and superbly spiced.
401’s burgers and wraps hit all the right spots for the lunchtime crowd. The mahi mahi wrap ($9.50) was divine, with grilled mahi mahi, lettuce, tomato and cracked-pepper aoli. The flying Hawaiian burger ($11) was heaven, perfectly cooked and topped with pineapple, cured ham, red onions and a chili glaze. And while there are more traditional wraps and burgers to be had, venturing off the beaten path is well worth the trip at 401 Diner. Moreover, they put thought into the sides as well, as both the hand-cut fries and the Caesar salad that come with these dishes are impeccable.
Desserts at 401 Diner kept the flag of high standards flying as well. By this time of the year, we are just about over and done with anything related to pumpkin [editor’s note: speak for yourself], but we were duly impressed with the pumpkin cheesecake, which was light, fluffy and, most importantly, didn’t go overboard with the pumpkin.
Owners Tom and Peter Richter told us they want 401 Diner to have the kind of atmosphere and food that will make people want to go there three or four times a week and, sure enough, they have sunk their culinary hooks deep into our soft palates. It won’t be long before we’ll all be waiting in line for a table.