4 Aces Diner: celebrating an American classic

The fall issue of our baking magazine, Sift, is launching in just a matter of days. It will be on newsstands and available for online purchase on August 25! Packed full of delicious recipes and photos from writers and photographers all over the country, reading the magazine is like going on a foodie road trip.

As a matter of fact, one article in the issue DID engender a little road trip, as we stopped and enjoyed meals at classic diners along the East Coast. Easily identifiable by their barrel-shaped roofs, there are still quite a few original buildings up and thriving: holding on to that historic shape and serving up classic dishes for new generations to discover and enjoy.

I was inspired by the journey. So my friends and I took a visit to our local diner, which has been feeding the masses for over half a century. One of those friends just happens to be Julia Reed, who artfully photographed our brunch date.

Having breakfast or lunch at the 4 Aces Diner is a little like stepping back in time and eating in a different era. That’s probably due, in part, to the rich history that surrounds this quirky diner.

4 Aces Pick Ups -3

You can still see the shape of the original building, where the smaller roof lands, on top of which a larger shell was built.

Built in the early ’50s, the building originally rested up the hill from its current location. Back then, it was a classic 1952 Worcester diner car (#837), with a “rail car” shape.The remainder of the building is a wooden outer shell built around it back in the ’80s, providing extra seating, storage, and office space for the management.

Stepping into the front door, and taking a seat at the bar, you can tell you’re sitting in the original building. The signature rounded roof, with its recessed lighting and stainless steel backsplashes, is clearly visible.

Inside the original diner car.

 

Ordering lunch.

Leann Briggs, who co-owns the diner with her brother, Steven Shorey, grew up in the area and has been coming to the diner as a patron her entire life, before buying the restaurant first in the ’90s, and then again in 2011.

4 Aces Diner via @kingarthurflour

“My brother and I appreciate the community and the people,” said Leann. “I think we’ve had such great success because (the diner) has been a fixture in the community since back in the ’50s. I’d like to think the food had a little something to do with it, too.”

4 Aces Diner via @kingarthurflour

Serving a wide variety of items, with everything from Bubble and Squeak and breakfast burritos to BBQ burgers and classic Reubens, there are many ways to satisfy your dining desires. There’s also an expanded weekend specials board, offering higher-end options, that keeps the line flowing out the door from opening until closing time.

4 Aces does their best to use local ingredients and products whenever possible. In fact, they proudly use King Arthur Flour in all of their baking, including their mouthwatering homemade doughnuts, fried up daily.

4 Aces Diner via @kingarthurflour

Undoubtedly, the item that brings the 4 Aces Diner the most recognition is their wide array of Benedicts. There are typically 4 to 6 on the menu, with more offered on the daily specials. On National Eggs Benedict Day (April 16), the staff goes all out, offering over a dozen different appropriately-themed items on the specials board.

Homemade muffins

If you’re captivated by the history and lore of historic diners like these and the magical, homey communities they create – not to mention a great meal! – look for our feature about Northeast diners in the fall issue of Sift.

 

Gwen Adams
About

Gwen Adams grew up in northern New Hampshire, on top of a mountain, surrounded by nature and not much else. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 2010, Gwen sought a career that combined her passion for writing with her love of baking. She found ...

comments

  1. Dmajor

    I don’t suppose there’d be any reason to mention that the diner is located at 23 Bridge St, West Lebanon, NH, would there? It’s still a pretty good article without that detail.

    Reply
  2. Cathy

    I am so happy to see another issue of Sift was there a summer one that I missed?
    I just reread the spring issue
    Cathy

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      No, you didn’t miss a summer issue; we’re still taking our time to make sure we get things right, and Fall and Holiday are more baking-intensive times, so we put our energies there for now. Soon! Susan

  3. George Chapman

    Four Aces arguably made famous by Bill Bryson in his book A Walk in the Woods (it is also mentioned in other of his books). Bryson is portrayed by Robert Redford in the film of the same name being released nationally early next month.

    Reply
  4. Candace

    Ahh, the Aces lives! During my Mary Hitchcock School of Nursing/Dartmouth era I enjoyed many a 3AM breakfast or burger there, or over across the river at the Dot (Polka Dot diner). Thanks for featuring this memorable place!

    Reply
  5. Laura Rider

    We stumbled upon the 4 Aces a year ago June. The food was wonderful, what a treat to eat there. And to see it written up.

    Reply
  6. Reg Jones

    A nice article that brought back many memories. As a Dartmouth student in the early 1960s I paid many visits to the Four Aces and the Polka Dot. Good food at a reasonable price was always a factor for students on a budget. Two other restaurants on the New Hampshire side of the river that are now long gone were the Riverside (where you could get a liver and onions dinner for less than two dollars) and the NuBridge. Hal’s in Hanover was on the list as well. Harry and Ginny Nostrant who lived in Hartford, Vermont, ran a very nice restaurant just a few miles north of the current KAF location. It was on Route 5 (there was no Interstate then) right along the Connecticut River. The name of the restaurant is escaping my aging memory. I hope someone reading this can remind me of the name. And the best restaurant of all of them for quality of food and value was Landers Restaurant that was run by the Alafat family in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Long live the memories.

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Wow, Reg, thanks, we love hearing the history of places where food is at the core of community.
      Susan

    2. Barbara

      I asked a couple of long-time residents and they both mentioned “The Log Cabin” restaurant. Perhaps that was it..

  7. Leif KY

    Nice article, I am planning an RV trip to the NE this fall, maybe we’ll stop. Thought I was blind, looking for the obvious, where is it!! Thanks Dmajor. Wouldn’t it be novel to include, address, phone and hours of operation.

    Reply

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