My family likes to dine with close friends after church or a movie or a game. But "party of seven" evokes dismay rather than glee from many restaurant hostesses, particularly at smaller places and especially when potentially restless boys are in tow. A spot that takes our group's size and camaraderie in stride is a real find.
On a recent rainy Sunday, we took the troops to the cozy White House, a neighborhood favorite in the Lenola section of Moorestown. The parking lot is typically jammed with diners eager for a spot at the counter or in a red Naugahyde booth. The restaurant has been around for more than 20 years but owned for the last four by Nick Patouhas and Paul Diamantis, who does most of the cooking.
Not only did they seat us immediately, but our two servers didn't miss a beat when the kids shuffled positions between the time we ordered and the food came out. They remembered a passel of special requests - butter on the side, no whipped cream, extra side of bacon - and kept coffee cups constantly full. What a pleasure in an age of mediocre service!
The menu is basic diner fare, served hot, fast and efficiently.
That day, as the Eagles tested our digestion from a corner television, some of us chose breakfast and others moved on to lunch. The Belgian waffle with bacon ($5.99) was perfectly prepared, brown and crispy. Plates were barely large enough to contain the men's omelettes ($5.50), one bacon and cheese and the other green with broccoli.
The Turkey and Bacon Club ($6.55) was plump with both, and the BLT ($4.99) bulged with its contents. The fries were of the "you can't stop eating them" variety, but the tiny cup of bland cole slaw was easy to pass up.
The party's youngest members mulled the children's menu for quite a while, as the options cover the traditional kid gamut: hamburger, spaghetti and meatball, hot turkey, flounder. They opted for chicken fingers and grilled cheese (both $4.95) and added hot chocolate ($1.50).
Four of us stopped back a second day to check on consistency of service, and we weren't disappointed. The coffee monitors were making their rounds; servers happily made substitutions - and the Eagles were losing again.
The tender corned beef in the Reuben Special ($6.20) seemed straight from New York's best deli. The cheeseburger deluxe ($5.99) was pretty ordinary, but the onion rings were deep-fried to caloric delight. Breaded, fried eggplant offered a surprisingly good side to golden fried shrimp ($10.25).
The White House reliably offers a good meal with good service. What more could a party of seven want?
Discreet Diner | White House
Camden and Lenola Roads, Moorestown.
: 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday.