Who Serves the Best Oatmeal in My Neighborhood?

By Don Lafferty | Life

Dec 14

I need breakfast, and since pancakes and sausage, or a sausage McMuffin with egg every day are bound to eventually kill me, oatmeal is my go-to superfood for starting the day off right.

I prefer oatmeal, prepared simply, with a tablespoon of brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and an ounce or two of milk depending on the temperature and consistency when it’s served. I’ve been known to include fruit and nuts when I cook oatmeal at home, but I don’t always have the time before work.

Consequently, if I’m not working from my home office, then I’m hitting Wawa for a Sizzli or maybe a bagel at Redhouse Bagels in Bensalem.

Good stuff, but not good for me.

So a few months ago, I set out on a mission to find the best bowl of oatmeal between my home near Holme Circle and my office near the Cornwells train station Bensalem. Here’s how it went.

#1. Tiffany Diner, 9010 Roosevelt Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19115

Tiffany Diner and The Dining Car are about the same distance from my house, so they are the two I have frequented the most.

I give Tiffany Diner high marks for their oatmeal. They cook it with some milk, which gives it a thick, creamy texture and their serving size is pretty consistent. The total cost of what you see here is just over $6.00.

Tiffany Diner

#2. Liberty Bell Diner, 8445 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19136

The largest of the portions, Liberty Bell Diner serves a great bowl of oatmeal. My only beef with Liberty Diner is that there is almost always a wait, even during the week, which eliminates them from serious consideration unless I have some time. Which I don’t.

Liberty Bell Diner

#3. Bob Evans, 1369 Bristol Pike, Bensalem Township, PA 19020

Bob Evans is right around the corner from my office in Bensalem, so I eat breakfast there most frequently, although at right under $10, they are the priciest of the bunch. Make sure you order a bowl because there’s a big difference between a bowl and a cup of oatmeal.

#4. Michael’s Family Restaurant and Diner, 3340 Street Rd, Bensalem, PA 19020

Michael’s Family Resturant is another spot I go to frequently, even though it is not the shortest route to my office. Their serving size is on the smaller side, so while I will order oatmeal when I’m there for a breakfast meeting, Michael’s is not my go-to spot when I’m just trying to get some fuel in the tank.

#5. The Dining Car, 8826 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19136

I want to prefer The Dining Car, I really do, because they are the most conveniently located spot, but they are all over the place with their consistency on all fronts.

I’ve gotten serving sizes like the one in the picture below, while at the table next to me someone was served a heaping, practically overflowing bowl. You will also notice in the pic that they served me cinnamon mixed with white sugar, not brown sugar and cinnamon. Both of these things are dependent on the server, which really should not be the case. This makes The Dining Car my least favorite choice.

#1B. Kelly’s Kitchen, 2363 Bristol Rd, Bensalem, PA 19020

Kelly’s Kitchen does not exactly fit the criteria for this project because of its location, but I meet my daughter there for breakfast on Saturdays, so I can’t write a blog about oatmeal without mentioning the best bowl in lower Bucks County. And at under $6.00 for this breakfast, I definitely tip heavier here.

The Science of Oatmeal is Inexact

The search for a dependable, affordable bowl of oatmeal located between my home and my office has been hit and miss, and disappointing in a number of ways.

1. Consistency of the Oatmeal

The consistency of oatmeal I’m served seems very much dependent on the time I show up and, I’m going to guess, the chef on duty. Every restaurant seems to have the same challenge when it comes to this, but as long as it’s not runny, a little bit of warm milk helps me achieve the consistency I prefer, which brings me to the next point.

2. Cold Milk vs. Warm Milk

This is another weird inconsistency between diners and again, I think it’s all about the server. For the life of me I don’t know why anybody would think I want to pour cold milk on my oatmeal, and yet…

3. Consistency of the Serving Size

Since oatmeal is usually ladled out by the server, the size of portions can vary dramatically, which is maddening. In a world where companies are obsessively focused on predictable processes, you’d think diners would have figured this out.

4. The Cost of My Breakfast

I always place my order the same way. I ask for the “…biggest bowl of oatmeal I can get, with a little bit of brown sugar, cinnamon, and milk, with a side of rye toast.”

The range of prices across the diners discussed here ranges from just under six bucks at Kelly’s Kitchen to almost ten bucks at Bob Evans.

Who Serves the Best Bowl of Oatmeal?

This is not meant to be a review of any of the places included in this unscientific study, nor did I base my findings on a single visit to any of them. I gave them all plenty of opportunities to show me their stuff.

I also never mentioned this project to any of the servers so as not to impact their typical serving style or presentation.

I’m left with the impression that restaurants serve oatmeal because they have to, and none really take any special pride or care to ensure they are serving the best bowl of oatmeal possible. They slap it into the bowl and then on the table without much thought to how much I look forward to it.

If you know about a great bowl of oatmeal somewhere between Holme Circle and Cornwell’s Heights train stop, I would love for you to tell me about it.


About the Author

I'm a father, a son, a grandfather, a brother, an ex-husband and a friend to many. I am born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia where I still live, work and play. My cup runneth over.