I’m still looking for the perfect diner experience. You know, the one where you were dress up in your 50s finery, all circle skirts and petticoats, jump in a classic car and head off to a place with the perfect decors, shakes to die for, burgers that melt in your mouth. A place where you admire the period cars outside the window and where you think that, as soon as you’ve eaten, you’re going to get up and jive or swish away to your heart’s content. So my perfect diner is a place run by people who understand that the vibe is as important as the food, who know how to give vintage looking lads and lassies not just a good meal but a couple of hours in the 1950s. Rock 66 in East Birmingham is the latest to disappoint, all the more so as, with a little care and attention to detail, it could have been good.
The diner is a small place on a corner just opposite the Aldi at Ward End, where Alum Rock Road meets the Outer Circle. A trek into the East Birmingham Badlands for me. First impressions are not bad. Décor wise it looks like a proper diner and if the colour scheme is a bit odd at least you feel encouraged as you sit down. .
And the food really wasn’t bad, at least to begin with. My shake was good, thick and creamy, making me glad I’d been for a run earlier to burn up the calories, whilst my partner and I shared a starter of king prawns fried in breadcrumbs that was just about perfect, crispy, tasty and brought to the table piping hot. The burgers didn’t quite reach those heights but were satisfactory, if not much more than that.
But what about the vibe? This was the big disappointment. The service was desultory and inattentive and I really don’t appreciate having to try to attract the attention of the waiting staff every time I want something. Should I really have to ask for the menu if I want to order a dessert?
Did I say the décor looked reasonably authentic? Well two televisions playing MTV were really out of place. This is where imagination and attention to detail come in. How about a period jukebox? How about some proper period music? I asked about this and was met with blank looks. And this is the problem with Rock 66. It is run by people who are really going through the motions, who don’t feel the vintage vibe as you and I do, people who don’t have it in their soul. So it may (Alum) Rock but it just doesn’t roll.
Verdict: I would eat there again if I happened to be in the area but it is not worth a special journey. Score 5 out of 10