I really wanted to start off my reviews section on a positive note, but given the difficulty with which I’ve had in getting myself to finally sit down and write as much as I’d like to, I’m going to go ahead and give myself a pass on this one. After all, integrity is more important than sunshine and rainbows, right?
That being said, let’s talk about The Factory Diner on 1st St., in Farmington, MO. It’s in something of a building complex, with a pretty neat architectural lay-out. I think the building used to be an actual factory of some sort, and it has been redesigned into a multi-purpose, multi-business sort of micro-mall. There’s a local cultural shop, formerly a tattoo-shop, a little place selling kitsch, and something like a bath-and-body-type store– and of course, the Factory Diner.
My first impression with this place was pretty positive. It had a nice (while fairly light) 1950’s-style diner atmosphere, plenty of seating space, and was pretty clean and quiet. There was a sign as my date and I approached, reading “Please Wait to be Seated” written in chalk on an actual chalkboard.
We were seated pretty quickly, and the server– a friendly, middle-aged woman– immediately asked us what we’d like to drink, promptly hustling off to fetch those drinks as soon as we sat down. She remained attentive, checking with us every few minutes to see if we were yet ready to order, but she wasn’t pushy. Her service remained great throughout the experience.
As we waited for our food, I suddenly felt nature’s call, and excused myself to the rest-room. That was a huge mistake. The rest-rooms are not in the diner itself, but elsewhere in the “micro-mall”. There were no signs, and so I had to wander the long, poorly-lit, mostly-drab hallways until I eventually found them, tucked away in a little alcove as if they aren’t meant to be found at all. The men’s room was very oddly shaped, with a small opening directly to the sink and mirror for washing your hands, and a single toilet down a long, narrow stretch (and around a rather obtrusive corner from the only source of light) so it seemed like a punitive hallway. The toilet itself had clearly not been cleaned in a while, and there was quite a mess on the floor as well, but I really had to go, so I sucked it up and did my business. (On a second visit to this diner, I had to simply forgo using this bathroom, as there was so much urine pooled in the floor around the toilet, it would have actually come up over the soles of my shoes and touched my pant-legs.)
After sitting there for about five minutes, the light (around the corner at the end of the “hall”) suddenly switched off. It was apparently motion-sensitive, and I apparently hadn’t been animated enough in my toilet-piloting, so I had to finish in the total dark. Fortunately, there was a lock on the door, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone “helping” me by walking in so the light would come back on. Fortunately also, was the fact that I had my phone with me, and used the light on it to finish up. It turned out, the motion-sensor didn’t even point down the hallway, so sitting there for more than five minutes or so will always result in the light going out.
After washing my hands (they had soap on this visit) and getting back out to the Diner area, I found my food had arrived. I ordered the Mediterranean omelette, which was one of the very few options which didn’t contain pork (I don’t eat pork). The food was cooked well, but there were strips of mystery-meat in this particular omelette, which I suppose was meant to be lamb, but tasted more like something scraped off of the under-side of a high school cafeteria table. It was pretty obvious that none of the ingredients were fresh (except perhaps, relatively: the eggs and cheese), and the feta cheese which was supposedly a part of the omelette was so sparse I could hardly tell it was present.
My date wasn’t so lucky. Her eggs were a bit runny (under-cooked), and they completely forgot to make the side that she ordered. Over-all, the experience wasn’t horrible as the waitress gave us great service, even if the kitchen fouled up a bit, but the food portions were decent, despite some of the items being disproportionately overpriced. (Something like $8.00 for the entire meal around the 3-egg Mediterranean omelette, with a large helping of hash browns, toast, and another side– but somehow $4.00 for a single grilled-cheese sandwich which didn’t even use real cheese!)
Still, I wasn’t willing to let a single experience ruin my opinion of the place, so a couple of weeks later, I went back to the Diner with the same date. Suffice it to say, the second time around, we had almost exactly the same experience. Great service, decent food portions, disproportionate pricing on menu items, and kitchen foul-ups. Over-all, I’d give this place a pretty disappointing two out of five “stars”. ♦ ♦
Later still, that same date and I went to “The Factory Diner 2” on Market Street in Farmington, and we had a much more pleasant experience. The food was precisely the same level of quality (not good), but we discovered that we could specifically ask for certain substitutions which made it more bearable (real cheese in the Grilled Cheese, for instance), and my other concerns from the first Factory Diner were abated as well. The Kitchen cooked everything correctly, the service was still great, the decor was nicer than at the first Factory, and the bathroom was clean, well-lit, and easily-accessible. If you’re in Farmington and looking for breakfast, there aren’t a lot of choices besides fast food or Huddle House– so if you choose the Factory Diner, be sure you hit up The Factory Diner 2. It was pretty good. Three stars. ♦ ♦ ♦