Birdseye Diner, Castleton, VT
Birdseye Diner in Castleton, Vermont, is a real beauty both inside and out. It is a Silk City Diner, manufactured in the 1940s by the Paterson Vehicle Co. of Paterson, New Jersey, and has been lovingly restored to its original condition by the current owners. In 1996, they removed a pitched roof and barnboard siding covering the outside so that once again the entire diner, including the curved roof, is visible in all its 1940s glory.
Much of the interior chrome added in the 1960s to “modernize” the diner was also removed. Ceramic tiles in aqua, cream, and black cover the walls beneath the windows and the vertical surfaces of the counter and footrest. The terrazzo floor is intact, the vaulted ceiling gleams, and the continuous line of windows keeps everything bright inside. This diner is long and sleek, with twenty stools at the counter and several booths along the outside wall. When seated in a booth, the long line of windows makes it feel like a diner car on a train. (For more photos, go here.)
The current owners also extended the seating by adding what looks like the interior of a smaller Silk City Diner perpendicular to the original at one end. That diner is enclosed within the building next door and is only visible from inside. Outdoor seating along the sidewalk is also available. Parking is on the street.
Cooking is done in a kitchen added onto the back, and does not occur behind the counter. The diner was busy, and the servers were as friendly as time would allow. Food delivery was very fast. When I expressed interest in the diner itself, they graciously gave me a postcard of the diner and a quick synopsis of its history. Hanging behind the counter is a framed copy of early advertising for purchase of a Silk City Diner, promising potential owners “financial independence” and “big profits” for a “modest investment.” All in all, the place was fun and the food was good.
BLT: My BLT was excellent with plenty of flavorful bacon (bordering on almost too much), tasty tomato slices, lots of deep green lettuce, and plenty of mayo on store-bought whole wheat bread toasted just right. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excellent and 5 being average, I gave it (9). Homemade bread would have pushed it all the way to a 10.
Burger: Don’s burger was very good, cooked just right and not too chewy (a problem in some previous diners). It came with a choice of handcut French fries, cole slaw, or chips, and he chose the fries. It was accompanied by deep green lettuce, a tomato slice, and pickle slices, the whole thing on a golden bun with more character than average. (9.5)
French Fries: The fries were unremarkable but get extra points for being handcut. (7)
Dessert: Don chose the lemon meringue pie which he rated an (8).
BLT: $4.95, included chips and dill pickle slices
Burger: $8.75, included lettuce and tomato, pickle slices, and a choice of chips, French fries, or cole slaw
Root beers: $2.00 each (large), refilled
Total bill before taxes and gratuity: $20.95
Restrooms: The restrooms were very small, single-use, designated by gender, and clean. Photos of other diners were featured in the restroom and the little hallway. (10)
Service: Pleasant and fast. (10)
Overall experience: 9.5
590 Main Street
Castleton, VT 05735