"The best calamari" ($8.95) isn't, but it's far from the worst. It has fried rings of mildly hot pepper and few olives. A great bit of frying is the appetizer of onion rings ($5.50) because they are "over-breaded" but that batter seems to hold more of the onion flavor. Chipotle mayonnaise is an addictive dip, too. My favorite entrée is chicken pot pie ($9.95) despite it being deconstructed so a triangle of puff pastry floats in a baking dish of chicken chunks, peas, carrots, and potatoes in cream sauce. This isn't the real idea of letting the ingredients stew together in a starchy enclosure, but it all tastes good, so okay.
The meatloaf dinner ($10.75) is more traditional, although gloopy gravy of lower quality could be obtained to complete the effect. You've got the bland meatloaf, whipped potatoes, and optional steamed vegetables of your memories and dreams. A side of sweet potato fries ($3.95) is handcut into near shoestrings; they're tasty and not too greasy, though they never get crisp. Grilled simple salmon ($13.95) is just that, with a twist of being served on mediocre Johnnycakes (or pretty good polenta, depending on how you parse it) and you pick two of a bewildering list of sides.
There's more — the whole deli/diner theme means that there is a plethora of choices, like Greek burgers, vegan stir fries, fried chicken, club sandwiches, calves' liver and chicken livers, steak tips, a $14 steak, steak-and-eggs, pasta, chicken picatta. You get the picture. It is a wide-angle picture of many, many things to eat, all competent and decently priced, few outstanding (except those drinks). And so we come to desserts, where I found Station Deluxe a little sub-par even at the "diner pie" level. The pudding of the day was bread pudding ($4.95), which had a good custard flavor without evident custard. But a crisp of the day in apple-cranberry ($5.95) was short on fruit, with not enough crisp stuff on top. Pecan pie ($4.25) worked; cherry crumb pie ($4.25) did not, again for lack of fruit. Chocolate truffle cake ($4.75) didn't belong here, but it was good in that melty, low-flour, undercooked style. Boston cream pie ($4.95) does belong on this kind of menu, but even with three cake layers, the pastry cream filling did not taste enough of custard.
Service is quite good even when the place is getting packed. Some early problems with temperature control in an 1886 brownstone railroad station had been solved by our two visits. Inside, the 18-foot ceilings are broken down for the open kitchen and storage space above, so noise is not a problem, but one wouldn't mind more seating as there are often waits, and no reservations, although you can call ahead for a short-term place on the list.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at email@example.com.
70 Union Street, Newton Centre | 617.244.2550 | deluxestationdiner.com | Open Sunday-Thursday, 6:30 am-11 pm; and Friday and Saturday, 6:30 am to 12:30 am | AE, DI, MC, VI | Full bar