When we arrived at Augie’s Sunrise Diner just after 10 a.m. on a recent Sunday, the place was packed. The servers were scurrying and breakfasts were flying out of the kitchen. We stood for a few minutes just inside the door of the restaurant at the end of Mil-Pine Plaza, which used to be a Quiznos. The room is pretty plain, with a drinking fountain on one wall and the decor limited to a small selection of historic Niagara Falls photos, maps and prints. Then, as if there was a schedule posted somewhere, all the customers at two large tables and several smaller tables stood up, put on their coats and headed for the door.
We visited Augie’s Sunrise Diner years ago when it was on Military Road and had a very good Italian dinner. We noted at the time that the booths were lumpy from thousands of people settling into them in precisely the same spots, and as soon as we were seated, we realized that the booths here are the same. It was funny.
But neither the decor nor the seats have much effect on where people choose to eat. Food, price and service have much more of an effect, and in those categories, Augie’s did fine.
Augie’s serves breakfast any time, lunch and dinner – everything from a daily special of two eggs and toast for $2.99 to steak dinners, which range from $13.19 to $14.49. Along the way, there are sandwiches, subs, burgers, hot dogs, soup and salads.
The fact that this is a neighborhood place is reflected in the menu, which names friends or family in several dishes. Augie’s Italian sub, made with ham, salami, capicola and provolone ($7.99) is Lou Marcantonio’s favorite; the breaded pork chops ($9.99) are Bob Rotella’s favorite; and Ted Viele likes the four-piece fried chicken dinner ($9.79).
We trusted all those guys, but were in the mood for breakfast.
We admired the thought behind the Freedom Delight ($9.49), which included French toast, two extra-large eggs, toast, home fries and bacon, ham or sausage, but felt unequal to the challenge. The stuffed French toast and home fries ($8.69) also looked good.
We started with the Number 6 breakfast ($8.29) of two eggs, corned beef hash, home fries and toast. The eggs were scrambled, the plentiful serving of hash crispy on the edges. The home fries, perfect squares of potato browned on every side, were oddly bland, but added some crunch.
We ordered the three-egg omelette ($4.69, with $1.49 for each extra ingredient) with cheese and mushrooms; it is served with home fries and toast. It was very nice, served hot, stuffed with sliced mushrooms and cheese that tasted like cheddar.
There was a temperature issue with our third dish, a Belgian waffle topped with blueberries and whipped cream ($6.19). The waffle was warm but not hot, probably because the sweet blueberry topping was cold. Of course, the whipped cream on top of that was cold, too. It was good enough, but would have been better served right out of the waffle iron.
Those breakfasts were all served on round plates, mismatched and colorful. But the “My Way,” a breakfast so bodacious that it has a philosophy, took up a platter. It’s made of scrambled eggs mixed with onions, mushrooms, sausage, sweet and hot peppers, cheese and potatoes and served with toast. A half-serving, which our waitress said was actually more than half, was $7.19; a full was $8.29. We went for the full, because that’s why foam take-out boxes were created. It was delicious, served just slightly less than steaming but still hot enough. The hot peppers were left out, as requested, and everything else was delicious. The sausage chunks were especially good, and the onions and sweet peppers added a lot of flavor.
Augie’s Sunrise Diner
Where: 8207 Niagara Falls Blvd. (298-4288)
Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except for Sunday, when it closes at 2 p.m.