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The first time I ate at the Blue Colony Diner--late one Sunday night--was the result of a big mistake. I was applying to take the Connecticut Bar exam, but had waited too long to request a driving record. It arrived Saturday evening, too late for me to overnight my application materials, so I had to make the drive from my home to Hartford to deliver my application in person on Monday morning.

I live in Maryland, just outside DC.

It was very late, well after midnight, when I crossed into Connecticut. I made it a little ways up the Interstate when I realized how much I needed coffee and dinner. I passed a billboard for a diner promising "E-Z off, E-Z on" access, and, being both hungry and a connoisseur of diner breakfast fare, I decided to pull off at the Blue Colony Diner, exit 10 off of I-84.

The place was fairly empty at that late hour, so I sat near the counter. My waitress was chatty and personable, and the menu was all I have come to expect from a quality Greek diner: three-egg omelettes, twenty tons of pastries and cakes, house specialties in dizzying quantities, and coffee freshly brewed in an oversized Bunn machine. The placemats were labeled "The Doodler," and had pictures of cartoonish monsters. The children's menu was decorated with SpongeBob pictures.

At some point while reading the omelette options, I noticed there was a jelly omelette listed on the menu.

Now, it was late, and I wasn't at my sharpest, but I knew better than to walk into something like a jelly omelette without checking things out first. So when the waitress returned to take my order (mushroom and Swiss, rye toast, potatoes well done), I asked her about it. She seemed genuinely confused, as if the idea of creating such a thing would only occur in the drug-addled mind of a collegiate pothead with a jar of Welch's Grape and no urge to go to the grocery store. She was shocked when I showed it to her on the menu itself. She told me she'd been working there for years, and never knew it was there, since nobody had ever ordered it. I asked if she'd check with the cooks to see if they knew what it was in more detail, but all that came back was a promise to ask the owner about it when he came in for the morning shift the following day.

Such a mystery cannot go unsolved.

After dropping off my application and spending a day with my sister, her wife and their then-newborn baby (who just had her first birthday party this weekend), I drove back to Maryland via the same route. I timed my departure to land me at the Blue Colony Diner just in time for lunch, and I was prepared to face down whatever they had to offer.

Let me just skip to the denouement here: it was absolutely delicious. It reminded me of the blintzes that my mother used to make order at restaurants when offered. The filling was jelly with cream cheese, and the eggs were fluffed a little differently than the standard omelette. And while the potatoes could have used an extra minute and another squirt of oil on the griddle, the meal was definitely a winner.

*

That jelly omelette is what I was thinking of when my wife and I drove past a big billboard for the Blue Colony while driving home yesterday. We had been back up around Hartford for the first birthday party for the aforementioned niece, and yesterday was the long ride back south.

Bad diners are depressingly common down here in the mid-Atlantic region, so being able to treat my wife to a good one seemed like an opportunity that shouldn't be squandered.

What I hadn't noticed before, and what I didn't realize until we were pulling off the Interstate, was that the Blue Colony Diner is in Newtown, almost exactly one mile from Sandy Hook Elementary School.

*

The joint was, in a word, jumping, but the manager found us a booth in the noisy main room. Our waitress was handling at least four full tables, and it took a few minutes before she made it to us. That's usually fine in a diner with a seven-page menu, but I knew what I wanted before we sat down, so I spent the time surveying the dining room and the other guests.

Children's voices carry. I had noticed that all too well when my niece had fussy moments around 7 a.m. both mornings we were staying across the hall from her nursery, and I noticed that again at the Blue Colony. I started counting how many kids were elementary school-aged (seven that I could see), and how many of those appeared to be in kindergarten or first grade (three).

I began scanning the tables without children at them, to see if any looked like...Christ, there really isn't a way to finish that sentence without sounding ghoulish, is there?

I looked out the big front windows, overlooking Church Hill Road and one of the I-84 off-ramps. I thought about what it would have looked like out those windows, with Christmas decorations hanging down. (While writing this, I found a New York Daily News op-ed about the diner that had a few photos of these windows with their white Christmas lights hanging down like they did on the day of the shooting.) People working there, and the few customers who were having breakfast there when the emergency responders started swarming the town, they must have pressed up against those windows, watching Hell unfold around them through their own reflections in the thin, cold glass.

*

I listened in on conversations, trying to pick out sentences amidst the din and clatter of forks on plates and fifty voices talking at once. The first one I heard clearly was someone complaining about the UCONN game from the day before (whether it was the men or the women I'm not sure). The waitresses at the nearby station were joking about how one of them thought she'd heard the boss say to "'take ten,' like we were making a Hollywood movie or something."

Take Ten was our waitress. She took our orders--me the broccoli omelette with Swiss, my wife the vegetable panini, coffee for us both--and hustled back to put them in. I caught my wife up on the parts of the audiobook she had slept through. We made the sort of idle small-talk universally known by married couples. The food came, and the waitress asked if she could bring us anything else. "No, we're all set," I said, "go ahead and take ten."

She laughed. "We don't take ten at the Blue Colony."

*

My wife happily declared that "my panini restored my faith in diner food." The vegetables in her sandwich were marinated in balsamic vinegar before being pressed in the cibata for just the right amount of time to melt the cheese and give the bread a toasty crunch. High praise following the very disappointing diner experience we had on the way up while still south of Baltimore. As for my potatoes, they were right on the cusp of being burnt, as crispy as possible. And the rye toast had the perfect amount of butter.

On the way out, I overtipped our waitress, bought two black-and-white cookies for the road, and checked the license plates of every parked car we passed. As close as we were to the New York border, ours was the only one from out of state.

We forgot to buy the wristbands that all the waitresses were wearing and that were being sold behind the cash register. The cookies were really good, though.

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Comment Preferences

  •  yep, that's the Blue Colony (12+ / 0-)

    my kids grew up here (high school hangout, along with everyone else) and it's not only EZ on and off, there's a gas station next door.

    Sorry, couldn't resist dropping in for a comment.

    There are quite a few good diners in town (like 3 brothers in Danbury, new colony V in bethel and this joint).

    This is my home town.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 10:07:23 AM PST

  •  I was thinking more along the lines of (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnieR, JBL55, chimene, ek hornbeck

    crepes. Mmm crepes (In Homer Simpson drooly voice)

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 10:16:50 AM PST

  •  My favorite diner... (7+ / 0-)

    ... I used to live very close to there, in Southbury.  In 15 years of visits I don't think I ever had a bad meal there, and staff and owners were awesome as well.  Whether it was packed or slow, they always tried to make you feel welcomed.

    I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

    by Hey338Too on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 10:21:53 AM PST

  •  As a Newtown native (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JR, JBL55, chimene, ek hornbeck, RiveroftheWest

    I spent plenty of time at the Blue Colony.  Great spot for skipping out of 3rd period study hall at the High School.  And the Jelly Omelet is the perfect thing to order at 3:00 am.

  •  Jelly omelet! LOL! (5+ / 0-)

    My relatives (My dad's uncle/grandfather's brother) had strange tastes when it came to breakfast. I visited them in Brooklyn when I was about 6 and they put grape jelly on their eggs! First time (and last) that I'd ever heard of it (and no, I didn't try them).
    Fast forward to 1977 when I went to England to see the Queen's Jubilee and stayed with another relative. They were very nice (actually entertained my dad once or twice when he was stationed in Sudbury as a bombardier with the 486th). I wanted to take them something quintessentially New England so I decided on maple syrup. The minute I gave it to them my "aunt" said, "Oh, look, Eric! Maple syrup for our eggs!" "No, no, I said, for pancakes, French toast, that sort of thing."
    As it turns out, my Brooklyn relatives had visited the year before and introduced them to maple syrup on eggs!
    My grandfather also had a strange concoction that I've never heard anyone (anywhere, ever) speak of. It was shredded wheat with black coffee and grape jelly (no milk, just the two toppings). Sounds mighty strange, but it really is pretty good.
    Lord only knows where these dishes got their inspiration!

    Lovely story, BTW. There's NOTHING like a good diner breakfast. Nothing.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 11:48:35 AM PST

    •  Red currant jelly is the best in omlettes. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JR, ek hornbeck, RiveroftheWest

      Used to be a staple in dining cars on CPR trains in Canada when I was a kid, with all the fancy silver, sparkling glassware, linen  huge napkins on the linen tablecloth. Sceond best, spanish omlettes (reduced tomatos, onions, celery).

      Spent lot of time on trains going to see grandparents (a few hours) and did the cross country thing to Vancouver in the Sixties by CPR and CNR routes, first class, dome car, all meals, roomette, etc.

      Great, great memories. Sorry to intrude, your omelet post just called them all up for me.

      "...stories of past courage can define that ingredient..... But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul." JFK Profiles in Courage " Ontario

      by ontario on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 01:44:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps that's where the jelly and eggs comes from (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ek hornbeck, RiveroftheWest, ontario, JR

        My great-great grandfather emigrated from Canada. Perhaps it was brought with him. I've certainly never seen it anywhere else until the Diner diary here!

        Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

        by MA Liberal on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:13:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Blue Colony is a long-time favorite. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JR, chimene, ek hornbeck, RiveroftheWest

    I first discovered it when I lived in NJ and drove to visit my sister who had just moved to Massachusetts.  There is a gas station right next to it, and I found it was conveniently situated for a first stretch of the legs and a trip to the bathroom after having made it across the Hudson.

    Over the years the Blue Colony became an integral part of the trip to my sister's.  I'd leave work early enough to beat the commuter traffic on the TZ and have a nice supper at the diner and let the commuters in the Danbury area have Rt. 84 to themselves.  Or, I'd get something to go and munch on it in the car along the way.  And while it wasn't exactly halfway between her house and mine, it was still a good place to aim for either coming or going.

    Now I live in New England north of my sister, but the Blue Colony is still a big part of the occasional trip back to NJ.  Last year I bought one of their giant coffee cups (everything is big there!) and it's a great reminder of a great diner.

    Thank you for this diary -- you really captured the spirit of the place!

    "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

    by JBL55 on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:02:00 PM PST

  •  That's the last gasp on the way out 84. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, ek hornbeck, RiveroftheWest

    Trailer friendly, huge gas stations at that exit, great food (of course) and high speed busstaff. DON'T get in their way.
    And locally owned, IIRC.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:46:37 PM PST

  •  Their website... (0+ / 0-)

    says they are known for their waffles.

    Don't believe them.  Go for the Greek specialties or standard diner fare instead.

    It's an incredibly convenient place to meet people willing to dip over the New York border, though I prefer Newtown Pizza 100' feet farther up the road on the right.

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