Westwood Diner Pancake House

Visited Sunday, December 2, 2018
Location: 301 Old Hook Road, Westwood, NJ
Hours: Mon.–Sat., 5:30 a.m.–midnight; Sun., 5:30 a.m.–10 p.m.

With the Seville Diner, formerly in Westwood on the corner of Broadway and Jefferson Avenue, now long dead and replaced by a pharmacy, the Westwood Pancake House Diner (make up your mind) is the last, best hope for diner-lovers in the Pascack Valley. Of course, “best” is a matter of context, because we didn’t find much good here.



Main Dish

Canadian Pita Burger

In our diner adventures, we’ve learned (confirmed?) that diners are to Greek-American culture what hand-talking, gold chains, and mafioso culture are to Italian-American culture: they’re irrevocably linked, and it may be just a superficial stereotype, but also…maybe not. Dan, can you vouch for this analogy?

I say this because I thought the Westwood Diner was more Greek than the average diner. When we walked in, I caught an Orthodox icon of Jesus on a shelf behind the register and a decidedly Greek mustache on the host, and that theme only continued on the menu, where virtually every page seemed to include an option to put a lil’ Mediterranean twist on things. Case in point: they offer standard burgers but also pita burgers, for the customer who believes a bun is just too bready. I’m surprised Dan didn’t take the option, but I did. I was intrigued.

It was really quite awful. Now, understand that I rarely eat burgers—I can enjoy red meat but usually prefer chicken—so maybe my reaction is just unfamiliarity, but goodness it was greasy and rich, to the point I could barely finish it. For what it’s worth, Dan had only good things to say about the quality of the meat, so I accept that this may be just my aversion as an infrequent burgerer.

However, the other ingredients didn’t help much. The mozzarella made just a token appearance; it’s too mild a cheese to match something rich like ground beef, in my opinion. (I know Dan disagrees strongly.) The only other piece was Canadian bacon, which was the main reason I chose this dish. I expected something a little salty, a little smoky, maybe a little spicy, but instead got a bland, dry flap of ham. Again, giving all benefits of the doubt, I was probably expecting something more akin to Taylor ham (or is it pork roll? New Jersey memes lol). But even taking the dish on its own merits, it had little to offer.

Main Dish

Country Burger

I take offense to this 100% absolutely true stereotype of Italians.

I didn’t take notice of all the little things Buddy saw because I only have eyes for him (and the dessert display). I do agree that this diner was slightly more aggressively Greek than our usual diner experience. (A BURGER—IN A PITA?!) Maybe it’s because I don’t like Greek food much…maybe it’s because Italian food is so deeply ingrained in my life that I bleed Bolognese sauce, but I decided to go with something more predictable. I got a burger with—let’s say it together—mozzarella, mushrooms, and fried onions. Good job being original and trying new things, Dan.

It was okay… The meat itself was quite tasty and char-broiled. Not a greasy taste to be found. It was definitely the star of the disturbingly large sandwich. There were so many mushrooms on this burger that I thought I was looking inside of Buddy’s sock drawer for a second. These guys didn’t mess around when it came to toppings. I was forking some down because so much fell out. It was messy but worth it. The mozzarella was just one of those perfect square pieces that I’m not the biggest fan of, but whatever.

The menu listed this burger as coming atop a “hard roll.” I don’t really care for bread much, and HARD bread even less, so I asked for just a normal burger bun. It was a forgettable bread experience, but overall, my dinner was quite yummy.


Standard diner fries. Extra credit for some good crunch, deduction for lack of salt.


I didn’t care for these fries at all. They were bland and, like, existed on a plane between crunchy and soggy so that neither me nor Bud was happy (our usual states of being). I found a few soggy boys and Bud had a handful of crunch-o’s but I’d prefer if they erred strongly on making them crunchy or soggy instead of a sad mix of the two. The fries were below average of what you’d expect at a diner. This would be fine if I were saving room for some crazy dessert, but…


Baklava Cheesecake

The dessert case didn’t do us any favors: a plain cheesecake that looked like it had sat out all day, a variety of pies and cakes (which we rarely touch), and some big diner cookies, which are just a non-starter to Dan who is very particular about her cookies. Go ahead, ask her.

The only alternative cheesecake on display was a baklava variety (further reinforcing my opinion that this was an unusually Greek place). I get a kick out of baklava while Dan is indifferent at best, but she generously indulged me. I think she regrets it, and I kind of regret it too, because this wasn’t the greatest cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. The baklava did its job nicely—it’s hard to mess up, really, when you have just a crunchy pile of honey and nuts—but the cake was unexciting at best.


Baklava Cheesecake

“Worst Dessert.” Classic oxymoron, or real-life experience of Dan this week? I’ll give you a hint—it’s the latter. This cheesecake had everything wrong with it…so much so that I’m not even sure it still qualifies as a cheesecake. Actually, had this been listed as “block of cheese with some too-crusty Greek pastry on top” I’d be like “well…”

This place though had the audacity to serve us this crusty mess and call it a cheesecake. That’s why it’s getting the “Dan’s Clobberin’ Time” treatment. Where to start? The flavor of the cheesecake itself was gross. It literally had no sugar in it. I am so convinced there was nothing sweet involved in the creation of this cheesecake that I’m willing to bet on it with the stakes being that if I lose I have to eat another slice.

Beyond the flavor, or maybe adding to it, it tasted OLD. The outer sides of it, which are normally my favorite, just tasted hard and were also kinda shiny? Also, the baklava on top was too hard and tasted kinda fake. Like, instead of honey they used Aunt Jemima’s maple syrup. It was too sticky and didn’t have that nice airy crunch that legitimate baklava should have. Overall it was kinda soggy and very solid…so much so that trying to fork a piece off ruined the entire integrity of the cheesecake into a more disgusting mess than it originally was when it was cake-shaped.


In the immediate aftermath of our visit to Westwood Diner, Dan and I had a serious discussion about our ratings method for the “service” category. I’ve noted that she values an outgoing server who’s quick with the banter, while I put more emphasis on speed and technical ability. Case in point: our waitress was not the most charismatic person I’ve ever met, but she got our orders right, didn’t miss anything, refilled my drink before I even had a chance to ask, and was super speedy with the food and the check. Sure, we’ve had the blessing of certain waiters who can both bring the banter and nail the service (Tom and John are classics)—but if I had to choose one or the other, I think I want my food quickly and correctly.


I’ve picked up dog poop that was more charismatic than this waitress. She was never rude, and was very competent, but offered nothing in terms of personality.

There are some jobs, like mine, that emphasize how important it is to talk to your clients in an amicable way. To make them feel comfortable and find you trustworthy. Unfortunately, waitressing is one of these jobs. I know we all have “off” days and can’t be as obnoxiously perky as I am with my clients all the time, but this seemed egregious. Like…I literally overheard her complaining about another table to her coworker. I try to keep my problems at home (with the many exceptions of the times I’ve cried in my cubicle), but this lady seemed to be genuinely upset or angry about something, and you could see it.

Sure, the food came out correctly, and with little wait, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I like the banter. I like a chat with a stranger. If it weren’t for this benefit, diners might as well have customers order from some sort of iPad. I guess that’s why I take it so strongly when our waitstaff behaves coldly. I’m paying, in part, for some human interaction. If I wanted utter indifference turned into disdain toward me, I’d hang out with my mom. I know my clients would find it unacceptable if I behaved in a way to them similar to how our waitress behaved toward us.


Sure, I wasn’t thrilled with the quality of the food, but at least it was fairly priced. For the burger (topped with a second meat) and fries, $12.95. For the dessert, $5.95. Only the first drink refill was free—especially irksome this time because the glass was unreasonably small—but I suppose that’s better than no free refills at all.


No amount of money could justify this food.


This is another point where I suspect Dan and I will diverge strongly. I’m even divided in my own feelings about the place. The good: Westwood Diner is exceptionally clean, tidy, bright, homey, comfortable. A nice place. The bad: on a Sunday night, where we were one of maybe four or five parties in the whole place, it was dead quiet. It really, really needed some music to give the place life. As it was, it felt a little sorry. The ugly: the upholstery, light fixtures, and other décor. Floral patterns a la grandma’s house. Nothing inherently wrong with that in a diner—if the place were hopping, it would’ve been quaint, like this is the old-timey joint that the locals know and love. But that was not the case.


This place is the physical embodiment of where your thoughts go when you daydream and also suffer slightly from anxiety. The lighting wasn’t dim enough to be romantic and calming, or bright enough to lend to a fun & high-energy ambience. There were only, like, two other families there, both of which clearly hated who they were with (or am I projecting?). There was an intimidating (ALMOST CERTAINLY mafioso) man sitting at the bar area, chatting it up in low whispers with the manager. To top it off, there was no sound but for the huffs of the annoyed waitress and the muffled [what I’m assuming to be] body-dumping plans for the weekend from old-man-Tony Soprano sitting up front. It was eerie and uncomfortable and I kinda had the feeling I was intruding on something the whole time.


Westwood Diner is maybe five minutes from my childhood home, and I’ve been there countless times and would love to love it. But this is a serious diner review blog, not a charity, and I can’t honestly say I liked much of anything about our visit, except the competent service.


Every time this diner was mentioned in the presence of Buddy’s parents, the whole mood would shift. His parents would grow silent. The room would grow darker. Mumbles of “bad soup” filled the uncomfortable silence.

Despite it being very, very close to Bud’s family home, they never go here. I get it now. This diner started out promising with a pretty tasty burger, but by the time I tapped out with no more than three bites of my “cheesecake” I vowed I would never eat again for the rest of my life. It was emotionally scarring. It was stomach-upsetting. At the end of the day, unless you’re a part of the mafia and want to talk business, please find some other place to go.


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2 Replies to “Westwood Diner Pancake House”

  1. Bad soup

  2. Years ago, it was the place to go, and used to be very good. I don’t know what happened, but no more weekly visits from us in a few years now. Very sad, since I am not very picky with my food, especially if someone else is making it.

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