Our Gourmet: Nothing could be finer than Benedict breakfast at Charlie's Diner

October 02. 2018 11:55PM

Charlie's Homestyle Diner
600 D.W. Highway, Merrimack; 262-5693; CharliesHomestyleDiner.com

Hours: Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Sunday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Cuisine: American diner.

Prices: Breakfast $5.99-$9.99; Lunch $5.49-$11.99.

Scores for Charlie's Diner
Atmosphere: 18/20
Menu: 18/20
Food: 19/20
Service: 19/20
Value: 19/20
TOTAL: 93/100

A recent breakfast/lunch outing brought us to Charlie’s Homestyle Diner, conveniently located at the corner of Daniel Webster Highway and Depot Street just south of Bedford Road.

Nice wide parking lot, a handicapped ramp entrance and a welcoming coffee shop/diner atmosphere greets diners, with the kitchen just steps behind the counter seats. There’s a smattering of tables near the windows, and a TV centrally located.

Friendly service is a must for small restaurants, and this busy little eatery has plenty of that while serving up full homestyle breakfasts and a nice variety of lunch sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, early-dinner plates, more than a dozen three-egg omelets, plus fish on Fridays.

Our servers, Danielle and Jenn, seemed to be everywhere at once, keeping all diners happy, and keeping the kitchen on its toes with special requests and to-go orders.

Lunchers in our small contingent dined on two outstanding sandwiches. The Cheeseburger Club ($7.99) was a hefty, well-constructed and balanced presentation, with three slices of sourdough sandwiching a juicy grilled burger, tomatoes, bacon and lettuce. This club sandwich was sliced in half, instead of the usual quarters, and that made for easier eating for its heft and juicy interior.

The Reuben Melt ($7.99) also delivered on taste, with melted cheese grilled inside two sliced of toasted marbled rye bread, stuffed with lean corned beef, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing.

The late breakfast eater at our table (yours truly) feasted on what was perhaps the best eggs Benedict dish we’ve seen in a long while.

A generous slab of smoked ham was laid over the top of a toasted English muffin, with two large and perfectly poached eggs on top of the ham under an equally generous helping of creamy hollandaise sauce.

Many Benedict breakfasts are served after the cook tries to configure the ham and the eggs on top of the two separate halves of the muffin. That’s a losing proposition if you want to create a hearty meal.

Charlie’s eschews the symmetry for the size of the ham steak, which dwarfs the English muffin halves, creating a nice wide workspace for the soft eggs and the sauce. Don’t worry, the muffin is under there, and the hollandaise and oozing egg yolks all mix together into a delightful breakfast.

Served with two potato pancakes (or hash browns, home fries or beans) the Traditional Benedict ($8.99) is one of five variations (all the same price), along with a Reuben, a Southern, a BLT and an Irish.

Kids are cool at Charlie’s, with hot dogs on the menu for under $3, and the kitchen makes its own potato chips that are warm and crisp like they should be. On some lunch plates chips are the standard inclusion and, really, haven’t we had enough fries for a lifetime?

The kids’ menu extends to breakfasts and burgers, and half-sandwiches for little ones. With nearly every meal under $10 for adults, and kids’ breakfasts at $4.49 and lunch $5.99 (includes a drink), Charlie’s value is unquestioned.

And Charlie’s adds specialty touches such as fresh haddock every Friday and “Homestyle Classics” including Spanakopita (spinach pita), meatloaf, rib-eye steaks and homemade pork pie.

After our late-morning visit, we’d offer our motto: Eat large. Have a Charlie’s Benedict breakfast, and a very nice day.

Our GourmetMerrimack

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