Cadillac Diner, Wellington - 6/10

Note 19 December.  I just saw in the paper earlier this week that Cadillac Diner had closed.  I guess I wasn't too far off the mark.  Anyway, I believe in creative destruction.  This failure was necessary and creates room for another one to do it right...

Maintaining a burger blog in New Zealand is a little bit tricky because in general in New Zealand, a burger is usually an item on a wider menu at a cafe or restaurant.  However, there are a few places that focus on burgers and you would expect any burger blog worth its buns to review those places.

Cadillac Diner fits that description.  Modelling itself on an American Diner, it has a range of burgers on its menu.  Unfortunately, the feedback on the place means that I have been avoiding going there, even though a review would be an integral and expected function of this blog.

So biting the bullet, I ventured there a couple of weeks ago.  So i wasn't overwhelmed I took my good mate Matt along.

Matt has been with me on a number of these reviews and provides great insight into the relationship between quality/quantity and price.  We do tend to disagree slightly on the weighting of price/value in the final burger rating.

As expected, there were few people in the diner, which was magnified by the fact that it is quite a big space.  However, the space does look pretty cool, with lots of Americana and the whole diner decor thing going.

Having seated ourselves, the menu was pretty confusing.  They had burger combos that were half the price of their standalone burgers.  We worked out that these were a different standard of burger, which I thought was an interesting marketing approach.  "Hey if you want quality then pay more!!  If you want your tummy filled then pay less!"  For me its all about quality all the way.  You can have cheap but quality and expensive but quality.  Otherwise you are just bastardising your brand.  But hey!  I'm just an economist who likes burgers and not a marketing expert or salesman...

So to the burger itself.  I ordered the closest thing I could find to a cheeseburger.  I couldn't pass up on the double pattie.  I will always go for the double pattie...The burger came with a special sauce so I was fairly intrigued to see what that might be.

  lets just say I was pleasantly surprised by the burger.  It looked good.  Opening it up it looked like it had been lovingly constructed.  Everything was placed and stacked nicely.  The bun was toasted.  And there did seem to be a sauce that looked a bit like thousand island dressing.

What let this burger down was the patty (ies).  While homemade, they weren't very well made.  They were quite dry and crumbly.  Having two of them sort of doubled the trouble.  The sauce only just gave enough moisture to counter the patties but not enough to add to the flavour of the burger.

Matt would not have bought his burger if he was not with me.  It was OK but he could get OK for $9.50 at Colonial Cafe on the Terrace.  Value wise, this was not a winner.

So lets be frank.  This was an OK burger. There was nothing special about the sauce.  The pattie was poor.

As I had predicted, this was a disappointment because Cadillac Diner could be so much more.  I just hope that these guys can get their act together because there is room in Wellington for a dedicated American style diner that serves quality burgers.  Based on what we saw, it is unlikely that Cadillac Diner will deliver this.

If you want the diner decor go to Burger King.  The burgers are just as good and at least they are half the price. Right Matt? 6/10.


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