By Nora Ibrahim, Staff Writer
Although Portland may not be a large and a modern city, it has the best landmarks in the state. Miss Portland Diner, located at 140 Marginal Way, is a recognizable landmark that is known for its vibrant blue bus-like cart with a golden logo, as well as its breakfast and lunch menu.
The location of the diner is very close to the downtown area which makes it close to the major tourist attractions of the city including the old port, the art district, and the waterfront district. Most these sites are within walkable distance.
The interior of the diner is quite traditional with checkered tiles, blue-green cushioned chairs, and vintage diner booths. It is important to note that in traditional American diners, the color of the seats and the walls are often selected by complementary colors; here, the seats were blue-green, and so the walls were red-orange.
The atmosphere of the diner is very friendly and gregarious. There is a sense of community through the interaction between the waitresses and the guests as well as the touch of Maine that is found within the ingredients (since most of them are locally made).
Around nine in the morning; despite it being a weekday, the diner was quite busy with customers walking in and waitresses sprinting to attend the guests. As the guest heads toward the front desk, they are given the option to take a seat wherever they preferred. If they selected the cart to sit in, the guest would then walk up few stairs to their right to find a retro-themed space, with the vintage diner booths on the right, and bar stools on the left beside the marble counter. The ceiling of the cart is reflective metal that enhances the natural light, and the white blinds cast dramatic strips against the tables. There is so much energy that is heard by the sounds of clicking plates and the chatter of guests.
Upon taking a seat, the guest will be given a menu, mini “specials” wooden board, and utensils. When inspecting the menu, the customer will find a large variety of breakfast and lunch dishes. Lunch is not served until 11 am. Their menu has a large variety of different kinds of omelets and scrambled eggs; furthermore, they serve fruit and cereal, soups and salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, comfort foods, and of course, deserts. As for the guest, they may prepare the order in advance and a custom made order may be made with toasted bagels with cream cheese, slices of cucumber, slices of tomatoes, and a sprinkle of olive oil, accompanied by a cup of water. In about ten to twelve minutes, the order will be ready. The guest will be presented with a small blue bowl with two medium sized scoops of cream cheese (it will be very similar to mozzarella in appearance), a small plate of strips of cucumber slices, three pieces of tomato, olive oil container, as well as a bagel on a separate plate. This order was totaled to five dollars and sixty-six cents.
Miriam Webber, a part-time waitress, and a hairstylist from Portland stated that the diner’s signature dishes are the corn beef hash, sausage gravy biscuit and the famous large pancake topped with locally made maple syrup from Hilltop Boilers. She has been working at this diner for six months. Webber said she enjoys working here, and its fast paced routine, “it is busiest during the weekends in the morning from 8 to 9 a.m.” She said her favorite dish from this diner is the French toast.
Two customers, Barbara Ballard and Gin Ballard, from Chebeague Island, said they have visited the diner several times; Gin said, “I have been coming here since it was on the other side of the road.” Gin continued by stating that she prefers the original cart than the new part of the diner. Barbara added, “I come back here because I love the food, it’s clean, nostalgic, friendly, and affordable.”
The customer service in this diner is fantastic, the waitresses frequently ask the guests if they are in need of anything. Miss Portland Diner accepts all form of payment (cash, credit, debit) except for Discover cards. Despite all that there is, the diner is a little crowded in terms of the small details that impact the overall view of the space. Also, if there were neon lights in the initial part of the diner, it would elevate the decor further and add a very nice pop of color.