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Circle E Diner

97 E. Front St., Hancock, NY - (607) 637-9905
Posted By Michael Stern on 4/12/2008 12:13:00 PM
The Circle E is a good ol’ diner just a hop off of Highway 17 in New York’s southern tier. It’s the type of place that serves breakfast all day, boasts of homemade pies for dessert, and offers French fries with cheese, gravy, or gravy and cheese.

We arrived mid-day Sunday and the place was packed, with a line out the door of people waiting for a booth or counter seat. No big deal: service is fast, and it is not the kind of restaurant where customers tend to linger over after-dinner coffee and chocolate peanut butter pie.

Stephen Rushmore said the two must-eat dishes on the menu were the corned beef hash and the Circle E Burger. The hash proved to be good and oily, glistening brick-red and dotted with potatoes. The finger-wagging nutrition nannies at the Center for Science in the Public Interest would have a cow over this stuff, but for diner aficionados, it’s a hash-house icon. We also enjoyed our corn muffin, a fine-grained hunk of sweetbread with a gnarled top. And we admired, but did not sample, stacks of blueberry pancakes and Texas-thick French toast on their way to other people’s tables.

The Circle E Burger, which we ate before photographing (hence our sad photo of a plain hamburger) is mighty fine. The patty itself isn’t extraordinary – it’s a machine made circle of beef – but the cheddar cheese and grilled onions piled on top transform it into a roadside burger to remember.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Fries with cheese and gravy are a Northeast diner staple.  The gravy is commercial, of course, but the fries stayed crisp to the bottom of the plate.
"Fries with cheese and gravy are a Northeast diner staple. The gravy is commercial, of course, but the fries stayed crisp to the bottom of the plate."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle





No diner menu is without this traveler's favorite: the hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy.
"No diner menu is without this traveler's favorite: the hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy."
Michael Stern


The Circle E Burger with bacon; this is a very good diner burger.
"The Circle E Burger with bacon; this is a very good diner burger."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Nothing fancy, the simple chocolate cream pie tastes more like diner food than home cooking, but it is a satisfying wedge.
"Nothing fancy, the simple chocolate cream pie tastes more like diner food than home cooking, but it is a satisfying wedge."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


The Circle E burger without the extra-cost toppings features enough well-fried onions to obscure the burger below.
"The Circle E burger without the extra-cost toppings features enough well-fried onions to obscure the burger below."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Milkshakes are served in the icy cold steel mixing vessel.
"Milkshakes are served in the icy cold steel mixing vessel."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


This is not a combo meal we would necessarily recommend. On the right is corned beef hash; on the left is a bare burger. The burger one should get is the Circle E Burger, with grilled onions and cheese. Or, for the really big appetite, a Colossal Circle E Burger, which is twice as big.
"This is not a combo meal we would necessarily recommend. On the right is corned beef hash; on the left is a bare burger. The burger one should get is the Circle E Burger, with grilled onions and cheese. Or, for the really big appetite, a Colossal Circle E Burger, which is twice as big."
Michael Stern


Yes, the photo gives the appearance of a curdled rice pudding, but Circle E's version, obviously baked in house, is particularly good.
"Yes, the photo gives the appearance of a curdled rice pudding, but Circle E's version, obviously baked in house, is particularly good."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


An advantage of sitting at the counter, rather than in a booth, is that you can meditate upon the potatoes always warming on the grill, plus whatever eggs happen to be cooking there at the time.
"An advantage of sitting at the counter, rather than in a booth, is that you can meditate upon the potatoes always warming on the grill, plus whatever eggs happen to be cooking there at the time."
Michael Stern


Apparently, the shakes give much pleasure, to look at Sue's 87-year-old mom taking a swig as soon as the container hit the table.
"Apparently, the shakes give much pleasure, to look at Sue's 87-year-old mom taking a swig as soon as the container hit the table."
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle


Homemade Dishes Prepared Daily is the house motto.
"Homemade Dishes Prepared Daily is the house motto."
Michael Stern



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