When a hungry family can’t decide where to go for a meal out, what better way to please everyone than by heading to a diner? The menu is broad, the hours long and the atmosphere familiar. The Family Chow decided a diner was the answer to our hunger on a recent Sunday, and we headed to Tops American Grill Bakery & Bar in Rotterdam. We had visited Tops before and knew that despite its name, Tops is a diner at heart. In fact, Tops started out as a diner in the 1930s and underwent a makeover in 2006 when it added space and the “Grill Bakery & Bar” to its name.
Tops American Grill
351 Duanesburg Road, Schenectady
• Food – 2.5 C’s (out of 5)
• Service – 4 C’s
• Family friendliness – 4 C’s
The place was bustling when we arrived, but we were greeted quickly and shown to a booth beside the gleaming dessert display case. The first thing one notices about Tops is the decor – from palm trees throughout the dining room to big-screen TVs in the bar area to bright geometric patterns on the banquettes to eclectic light fixtures – the surroundings aim to please.
In typical diner fashion, Tops’ menu covers a lot of territory. It was hard to choose among the many options, ranging from seafood to pizza. We opted for something off the dinner menu: Dad ordered the hot open meatloaf sandwich ($6.99), Mom the ½ chicken special ($9.99), Son the hamburger ($8.99) and Daughter the Southwestern wrap ($8.99). Our server was friendly and efficient, and we were sipping our drinks within minutes of sitting down. Mom’s vanilla iced coffee looked more like dessert in a hurricane glass with whipped cream.
Before too long, the soup and salad course arrived. Dad enjoyed his Italian Wedding soup, and Mom liked her fresh salad and creamy peppercorn dressing with just enough bite. The kids’ dishes arrived shortly. Daughter’s Southwest wrap was a hefty portion of Cajun-spiced chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, shredded cheese and sour cream contained in a garlic and herb tortilla. It came with fries and coleslaw. Although Daughter likes spicy foods, the chicken was a bit fiery for her taste. She did like the cooling effect of the veggies and pronounced her fries “good.” Son’s burger also arrived with a nice portion of fries and two large, perfectly cooked onion rings. Being a purist, he skipped the lettuce and tomato garnish and opted for a healthy dose of ketchup. He commented on the “good taste” of the burger and also enjoyed the fries.