I Love Me a Starlite Diner

1999 > Russia

If you visit Moscow, you will wind up here at least once!

Ya know that scene in Pulp Fiction, where John Travolta and Uma Thurmon are
sitting in JackRabbit Slim’s, and Uma orders the “Five Dollar Shake”? Remember
how Travolta was shocked at the price, then tried the shake, and said “That’s
a good shake, but I don’t know if its worth five dollars”? Well welcome to
Moscow’s Starlite Diner, where the shakes are eight dollars ($8)! The shakes
are good, and the cheapest in Moscow, but definitely not worth eight dollars.
Too bad, I still get one every time I go.

Mmmm!The Starlite Diner, know to expats as “The Diner”, is a Moscow
institution, opening up in the early 90’s as one of the first “Western”
restaurants here that had decent service. The original at Mayakovskaya is
still there, with a second Diner at Oktabraskaya. There was supposed to be
a third, but that dream disappeared in August 98. Apparently, the diners
are shipped from a factory in Florida, complete with pictures for the walls
and napkins in the holders, and ready to be bolted down on a foundation anywhere
in the world.

I’m just glad that they are in my little world. Every Sunday I like to go
out for brunch, and usually it’s to the Diner. I’ve had pretty much everything
on the menu, but I keep going, just as we all do to good places, cuz it isn’t
just the food.

The Diner is a foreigner oasis here, with the likelihood of English, Finnish,
German, or French being spoken more often than Russian is. Every time I go,
I see someone I know, whether I want to or not, and we all give each other
space. No one wants the Diner to be a war zone; we deal with enough poop
on the street.

Most Sunday’s find me in a booth with a group of my expat friends, slurping
a shake while trying to figure out what I want to eat. They have an amazing
breakfast menu, filled with blueberry pancakes, Belgian waffles, “bottomless”
bowls of cereals, and interesting egg-based breakfast foods. The only problem
is that the breakfast menu ends at 11am. Yes, 11 am! I have yet to get up
and outta the house early enough to partake in the good eats! Every time
I look at the breakfast menu, filled with all those yummy American delicacies,
I get annoyed at the time limit. One of these days, I’m gonna have to grab
the manager by the arm and give him or her and earful about realistic weekend
rise times!

Well, not too much of an earful, I want to be allowed back! Moscow without
the Diner? Ah! The horror! The horror!