When one cafe closes…a new diner opens. Mike and I were bummed when Mimi’s Cafe on Memorial closed. We often took advantage of their “buy one, get one free” entree coupons I’d receive via email, but we could tell by the dwindling of patrons it wouldn’t be long before they shuttered the doors. Not much time had passed until we saw work being done to the property and noticed the banner that declared Black Bear Diner – Coming Soon! With a Grand Opening on April 23rd, we made plans with our friends, Jay and Nadine, to check it out on the 2nd official day of business.
According to their “Our Story” place mat, Black Bear Diner started in 1995 in Northern California. It is a family friendly establishment decorated in rustic art, wild life murals, and, of course, lots of black bears. Serving up HUGE portions from their menu, they have bukoos of options to choose from. For those who crave breakfast for dinner…you’re in luck as they serve breakfast all day.
Although the staff were super friendly, we had a few hiccups right off the bat. Our table didn’t have enough place mats and silverware. Once new silverware was brought to us, those dreaded water spots were all of over them. Jay tried to wipe them off, but the water spots weren’t budging. I pulled two sets of pristine silverware from the table next to us. We had a long wait for our drinks and refills. The waitress poured the tea and when Jay took a drink…he just about jumped out of his seat from all that sweet! Multiple mishaps with Sweet vs UnSweet tea…had to have new fresh glasses made to avoid the tainted tea.
The menus come in newspaper form, complete with old news stories featuring the development of Quail Springs mall and other local articles. Once you open up the menu, you have a lot of options to consider. After perusing for a while, we all made our selections. Nadine chose the pot roast with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. She enjoyed it. Very tender with good flavor. Jay chose the Bigfoot Chicken Fried Steak. He felt it was truly homemade, but it doesn’t live up to the name “Bigfoot” – expected it to cover much more of the plate than it did. He also noted that his steamed veggies included crunchy carrots. LOL! Mike chose the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans. He loved it and would get it again, although there are so many choices on the menu, he’s interested in trying other things. I chose the breakfast tacos. They’ve already taken it off the menu…which I don’t blame them. They were underwhelming. The tortillas were soggy. The flavor…eh…the hot sauce sorta helped. The country red potatoes were bland and boring – pass the salt and pepper, please! The star of the night was the delicious sweet cornbread muffin that came with the dinners. (I had to order mine in addition to my meal.) This yummy golden baked goodness was extra tasty with butter and the choice of the natural jams provided. Strawberry and Blackberry were favorites.
Black Bear Diner brags on their homemade desserts so we took the opportunity to indulge. Jay had the Huckleberry ice cream. He offered us all a taste, and it was absolutely delightful! A refreshing and light way to end a meal. Nadine had the apple pie which she felt they grabbed straight from the fridge as it was cold. Mike went for his usual peach cobbler a la mode. He sent it straight back to the kitchen as the cobbler was cold. It came out again, and it was tepid, at best. He talked to the manager before we left and let him know that they need to figure out how to correctly serve the cobbler. I chose the chocolate cream pie. It was rich and creamy, yet lukewarm. When I order a cream pie, I expect it to be ice cold. This experience had some hits and misses. We felt like they needed more time to work out some kinks, but we all agreed that we’d go back to try it again.
Fast forward nearly two weeks later, Mike and I, along with his Aunt Violet, went to Black Bear Diner for breakfast. First thing we noticed was the water spotty silverware…again. The coffee is strong, and I was grateful it had a nice flavor. The orange juice is fresh squeezed and was very well received. Violet chose scrambled eggs, thick cut bacon, hash browns and a biscuit. I love trying corned beef hash at different places so I gave theirs a “go”. It was ok – I’ve had better. I chose the hash browns since I was disappointed with the country red potatoes on the last visit. Violet and I, both, agreed the hash browns seemed under cooked even though they don’t appear to be in the pictures. Mike chose the Southern Scramble which came with sausage, scrambled eggs and gravy on top of a split biscuit. He didn’t care for the sausage as he thought it was ultra salty. He ordered an extra biscuit on the side to slather with some butter and Strawberry jam. We REALLY wanted to love the biscuits as much as their sweet cornbread muffins, but we found them to be super dry and crumbly. Violet had to eat hers with a fork because it wouldn’t stay together.
Again, more misses than hits. Maybe they are still working out some kinks? The portions are huge, and the staff is very friendly. I would encourage anyone to go try it and form their own opinion. Mike and I will most likely go back to see if the third time is a charm.