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Fair Oaks

In a word: More Fair than Oaks.

The specs: #0170
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; snappy little review by Jennifer Garrett; reviews at Yelp; Fair Oaks Diner on Urbanspoon

Latest Fair Oaks Diner news and reviews

Amanda ate the popeye omelet.
Carlos ate the bomblet.
Emo had a pancake and chocolate milk.
JM ate the steak sandwich.
Nichole ate the Fair Oaks skillet.
Sabi ate the grilled cheese.
The bill was $33, or $5.50/person, plus tip.
Nichole gave Fair Oaks a B-; Amanda gave Fair Oaks a C+; Carlos and JM gave Fair Oaks a C (see our grading rubric).

We ducked into Fair Oaks on a rainy Sunday, incognito.

Fair Oaks exterior

"Cozy" is an understatement. The dining room seats about 25, but it's OK because it's such a friendly place.

Amanda's popeye (spinach & cheese) omelet was good, but the potatoes were kind of flavorless and not impressive.  Carlos said his bomblet didn't really explode. What did was JM's steak sandwich. Even a pickle would have gone a long way to help out what was literally meat on toast.

Fair Oaks steak sandwich and grilled cheese

They usually have raisin toast, but they were out this time. Since the spread didn't seem to be real butter, though, maybe we didn't miss out on much.

The Fair Oaks Skillet seemed to be the best value of the bunch, with a scramble of various meat, veg and cheese that was quite filling (especially at the same price as the infamous steak sandwich).

The kids seemed to have the best time. Sabi liked her grilled cheese a lot. Emo had fun with the animal spoons & forks (and the camera).

Fair Oaks by EmoFair Oaks by Emo

We may have experierenced better diners in Madison, but Fair Oaks is authentic and the food lives up (or down) to the diner philosophy.  All in all, your mileage may vary.

There's no denying their sign is perfect, though.

Fair Oaks Eat sign


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Love this place! It's the stereotypical greasy spoon: yummy and filling. The waitresses are cute too!

My boyfriend and I just tried this place for breakfast before market this morning. We are just a few blocks away and have been wanting to go there for a while. It was the worst meal either of us has ever had. The omlets were ok. The coffee tasted like burnt cigars and the pancakes (blueberry and banana) were so flavorless not even syrup could save them. We ate 2 bites each of the 2 HUGE plate sized cakes we both got. What a waste of money and time. And how do you ruin fried potatoes?! Flavorless. We told the waitress the truth when she asked how everything was. She didn't seem to care. The best thing about this place is the EAT sign outside. Stay outside. Don't go in.

Okay, so... evaluating a diner like this versus, say, a Food Fight diner takes a certain modification to the standards.

Coffee: Like what my mom makes now that I've moved out. Marginally decent (again, for diner coffee), begs alteration. C-

Eggs: Cooked the way I asked, good size, reasonably flavorful. A-

Bacon: Press-cooked, which kinda takes the life out of bacon. I like my ripples and contortions. But it was still tender, and the strips were good n long. B

Toast: Just right in terms of doneness, coulda had more butter. A

Pancakes: Friggin' huge. About two inches more in diameter than the furthest reach of my open hand. A little bland, though, and the butter dollop on top was remarkably devoid of butteryness. B-

Service was friendly, interior was just clean enough (although my syrup jar could have been wiped down a bit), value was pretty good. Would I go back? Opportunities are slim, with a 6-1:30 schedule. But I wouldn't say "no" if someone asked. C

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