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Friday, November 29, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dining Deals

Admiral Way diner: as American as apple pie

Special to The Seattle Times

Admiral Way Cafe


4323 Admiral Way S.W., Seattle, 206-937-9530

American

Recommended

$$

Hours: 6 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

No obstacles to access / major credit cards / no liquor license.

When a restaurant offers "breakfast served all day," you know what kind of place it is.

Sure, probably somewhere in town there's a Chinese restaurant that serves congee all day, but obviously we're talking about an American diner, the kind of place Denny's was based on. We're talking about the Admiral Way Cafe, which has sat at a busy corner in West Seattle for some 27 years (give or take a couple — the staff couldn't quite agree).

There are a few nods to the modern age. The counter sports an espresso machine next to the coffeepots, and you can have a Gardenburger ($7.25). Other than that, the menu sticks to the classics: sandwiches, salads and the usual array of breakfast items, plus unusual ones like crepes with lingonberry butter ($6.25) and a sky-high German pancake ($6.75). (Did I mention breakfast is served all day?)

A full page of the menu is devoted to senior specials, including the Senior Starter (eggs, bacon or sausage, and pancakes, $4.25) and the morbidly named Senior Stopper (twice the eggs and bacon or sausage, hashbrowns and toast, $4.25). At dinnertime you can have country-fried steak and gravy ($8.95), grilled cod ($8.95) or halibut ($9.25) or a variety of pastas and chicken dishes.

For dessert there's pie (the cherry was less than inspiring) or hot-fudge sundaes ($3.50), which I haven't tried, but how wrong can you go with that?

Service at the Admiral is swift and friendly, with the typical diner platoon of women pouring coffee and looking rushed. Try to grab a booth by the front window, because there's a skylight, and it's hard not to smile and finish your omelet when you're sitting under a skylight.

The Admiral makes its customers feel comfortable. Perhaps too comfortable. While I was having lunch, a woman at the next table felt comfortable enough ask the waitress for some ham and cheese to feed to her dog, who was sitting under the table. Canines aside, the clientele is mainly seniors and families (there's also a kid's menu).

My bold prediction: If indeed there is a monorail to West Seattle a few years from now, nothing will change at the Admiral Way Cafe, breakfast served all day.

Check please

Stuffed French toast: A ham-and-cheese on French toast. Seriously. Four slices of good (if slightly dry) French toast with a couple of slices of ham and Monterey jack cheese sandwiched between two of them. I am a member in good standing of the Association of Food Journalists; please do not mention to them that I enjoyed this. With syrup.

Burger dip: A hand-formed burger patty is served on a length of crusty baguette with a dish of barbecue sauce for dipping. This sounds silly, but it's really good — they've picked the perfect bread, about halfway between a hamburger bun and a rustic baguette in crustiness. You can have au jus instead of barbecue if you prefer. Comes with green salad or fries, neither distinguished.

Vanilla milkshake: Your basic vanilla shake, not too thick or too runny. The overflow came not in the usual metal mixing cup but in a small glass, which meant I didn't have to snatch the shake away from my wife to "sample" it.

Cherry pie: Ever since "Twin Peaks," whenever I'm in a diner drinking coffee, I hear Kyle McLachlan's voice telling me to order cherry pie. Kyle always turns out to be wrong — in this case he didn't warn me about the pie filling, which the restaurant claims is fresh, but if it is, they've successfully re-created canned pie filling. The pie crust isn't bad, though.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Stuffed French toast: $6.50

Burger dip: $6.75

Vanilla milkshake: $2.95

Coffee: $1.30

Cherry pie: $2.50

Total: $20.00

Matthew Amster-Burton: mamster@mamster.net.

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