"I grew up in a small town, where diners were more numerous than fast-food restaurants. I even worked for one and had a blast. I got to chat it up with regulars and learn a thing or two about life from my boss "Granny." I also learned about what it took to put out delicious dishes that people love.
The diner is a unique slice of Americana, and a great number are tucked away nonchalantly across Oklahoma. Usually family-owned, cozy and serving up good eats, when you find a great diner, you tend to return. Maybe because its identity is unfettered by corporate branding rules or interior design pretension. It is a representation of the owners, proud and true. I surmise that it feels like grandma's kitchen -- full of well-meaning kitsch and love-filled food. There is one such diner in Jenks that lives up to diner mystique -- Jenks Restaurant and Amazing Clocks.
So the first question, what's with the "amazing clocks?" Surprisingly, it has withstood the test of time for over a decade. Jenks, America's Main Street is known for a variety of antique shops, and unique retail line the road, perfect for a slow walk after a good breakfast. Jenks Restaurant and Amazing Clocks may be a short-order style diner, but there is certainly no shortage of clocks -- and they are available for purchase! They say you "gotta have a gimmick," but for this breakfast club, the array of timepieces that adorned the walls, ticking away pleasantly, did not distract us from the vast breakfast menu.
If people are seeking breakfast fare, diners have always been there, serving early-bird meals to the coffee drinkers and sweet relief to hung-over masses on the weekends. Breakfast is almost a luxury in our society, where pop-tarts and coffee is considered a feast most mornings. Jenks Restaurant has all the breakfast favorites in any combination you can think of, like One Egg ($5.29) or Two Egg Platters ($6.19) with choice of meat, Pancakes (Single Stack $3.99), Waffles ($4.79) and a full line of omelets. Ohhhh my!
The omelet may be the best an egg can get. At home, my omelets may be delicious, but they aren't beautiful. So it is always something I love to order from those who know how to do it right. Jenks Restaurant was right on time with their omelet. The construction was fluffy, like an envelope with the perfect letter inside. Not a hint of grease, no sign of over-cooked egg.
I love the freedom of the omelet. You can stuff anything you want in it, like ham, bacon, sausage, bacon, hamburger, chicken, swiss, cheddar, mushrooms, peppers. OK, I think you get the idea. A creature of habit, I got the Ham and Cheese Omelet ($6.89) with home fries. The egg-to-filling ratio is of utmost importance in an omelet. Too much filling? Total egg blow-out. Too little filling? An omelet by accident. Mine had a healthy portion of chopped ham -- not too salty or smoky -- with an even-handed smattering of cheese.
The home fries were a gamble, because hash browns are like a delicacy to me. A good home fry, however, can go a long way. Jenks' spuds were spot-on, cooked to a light golden-brown, tender and flavorful. I chose the biscuit and gravy as my side, and was not disappointed. The biscuit was flaky yet dense and the gravy had a nice flavor.
My breakfast buddy did something quite controversial at the diner, though. He ordered the Southwest Chicken Omelet ($7.29) with mild green chiles, swiss cheese and chicken. Is there anyone else out there that sees this as some sort of moral tragedy? Or is it the ultimate answer -- chicken and egg, working simultaneously? Whatever the cosmic case may be, it's not a favorite of mine ... usually. However, I couldn't deny the flavor combinations in the Southwest Chicken Omelet at Jenks Restaurant. The green chiles did exactly what they came to do -- add spice! The cheese and, yes, the fresh shredded chicken breast molded perfectly into the contours of the egg.
The other clear winner for the morning was the hash browns. In all their forms, rather scattered or caked, smothered or covered, hash browns are a culinary conundrum for this at-home cook. The 'browns at Jenks Restaurant were tall and round, nicely browned on either side, steamy and full of flavor inside. Hash brown heaven has been found, my friends!
Jenks Restaurants and Amazing clocks offers breakfast all day, which in diner terms means until 2pm. That also means that they offer a fabulous selection for lunch, with Hamburgers ($4.99) and Cheeseburgers ($5.49), but also a robust selection of sandwiches, like Southwest Chicken Sandwich ($6.79), Corned Beef Reuben ($5.49) and, a personal passion of mine, the Hot Beef ($6.79), an open-faced sandwich with slices of roast beef and covered with gravy. They also have a "liter side" menu with some salads, even a small salad bar if the Hot Beef is a little intimidating.
Jenks Diner and Amazing Clocks passed the diner litmus test with flying colors. From the lightning fast service, pitch-perfect breakfast and a quaintly quintessential diner experience, the short jaunt to Jenks will guarantee a bright morning at Jenks Restaurant and Amazing Clocks.
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