Rte 17 and Williams Road
Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey
The Bendix Diner has the best cherry pie we have tasted so far. Sweet, tart, ruby red cherries, and a crust that settles once and for all that this dense, heavy pastry is a style, not some disregard for good taste. Now it is certain that we are not eating the same pie again and again. This pie showed handiwork: uneven fork tine impressions, and irregularities in the thickness of the crust. It almost seemed as if the rolling pin method had been eschewed for hand shaping. This crust, though there was too much of it for our taste, and too much of it to finish, tasted like good, familiar ingredients: flour, shortening, salt. A neon sign that was not fired up for our afternoon visit, declared "good coffee." We had no argument with the sign.
The Bendix Diner was manufactured in 1947 by Master Diners in Pequannock, New Jersey. We are sure it has been cleaned since then, but suspect it boasts original flooring, stools, displays, and dispensers. On this wintry, inaugural Tuesday, snow is melting off the roof and dripping onto towels lining the interior windowsills. There was a friendly diner banter underway, half in English, half in Espanol, among the blue collar clientèle, and at one odd moment someone behind us started doing an impression of a pig, and an overweight man with an eczematous neck, sitting alone in a booth across the diner, began replying with his own pig impression. We don't know whether the two knew each other.
Our Miss America experience taught us to call ahead for pie. The Brownstone Diner, Frozen Monkey Cafe, Carlos Bakery, Red Hawk Diner, and Tops Diner are not serving cherry pie today. (The Red Hawk Diner's recorded message announces that the only thing on the menu today is an egg salad sandwich.) The friendly woman who picked up the phone at Bendix Diner answered yes they have cherry pie in a tone that seemed to say, silly, of course we have cherry pie. We asked if it was good, again, she said yes. And Jersey Pie agrees.