Corned Beef Hash at Duncan’s Dairy Bar

 

Corned Beef Hash

My journey to find the best homemade hash in the Capital Region has led me to Duncan’s Dairy Bar on Hoosick St. in Troy. I figured I’d write this up after my abysmal experience at the 76 Diner followed by my rant on Facebook yesterday. Breakfast is not something that a lot of quick eats places and diners put a lot of effort into in the Capital Region, unfortunately, so my search for good hash has been met with several disappointments. I can’t count how many places around here serve this shit from Sysco (or the like) out of a can and have the audacity to call it hash. It’s fucking awful.

After mourning the loss of my latest favorite hash place, Johny’s Diner (previously held by the now defunct Miss Albany Diner), DerryX suggested trying Duncan’s Dairy Bar to get my homemade hash fix. It’s a greasy spoon that I’ve been to a fair amount of times but it’s definitely been a few years and I have never had their hash before. It even has its own highlighted space on their plastic covered menus touting their homemade hash, instead of on some menus where it’s tucked away in some Sides section. Things looked promising. On an early fall Saturday morning I took the trip there with Elise for breakfast.

I do not know what the process of how they make their hash is, but I will surmise how I imagine it is done:

  1. Boil corned beef until all flavor has been removed from meat
  2. Boil onions until soft but still heavily dominating in flavor anything it comes in contact with
  3. Boil potatoes in the onion water
  4. Put all three ingredients in a food grinder
  5. Poop “hash” out on to a plate

As you can see from the photo, this hash has no browning or crispiness anywhere to be found. If it spent any time on a griddle it was done only to the point where it was warm, but removed with great speed to make sure no fancy maillard reaction got in there and screwed things up by imparting any actual flavor. The dish is completely flavorless except for the palate raping that the onions bring to the party. “Seasoning” is a foreign concept to this chef (the black pepper pictured above was of my own doing). There is not enough rooster sauce in the world to make this dish edible. I ate less than half before we left.

I do not foresee any reason to go back to Duncan’s. There’s nothing imaginative on the menu, as it is the same exact menu that’s available at any average diner in the Capital District. And by “average” I don’t mean good, I just mean Capital Region breakfast places “on average” have a really low expectation of food quality and deliciousness. Feel free to go and make your own assessment on this hash, though, as DerryX’s opinion differs greatly from mine.

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Duncan’s Dairy Bar (link) | 890 Hoosick Road, Troy, NY (map) | All Corned Beef Hash Posts

 Corned Beef Hash at Johny’s Diner

– When Johny’s posted about their breakfast specials for the weekend, something caught my eye: Homemade Corned Beef Hash. I don’t know if you guys know this about me but I’m a hash fanatic. On our travels, if a diner lists hash you can bet your ass I’m going to get a side of it to see if it’s the crap out of a can or if it’s the real deal. Unfortunately, it’s out of the can more often than not, so when I see the good stuff I’m pretty ecstatic.

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There’s a couple of places that come to mind in the area that have homemade hash like Cafe 217 and New World Bistro, but at the time Johny’s was the only straight-up diner that I knew who served it. (I was later notified by derryX that Duncan’s Diary Bar also does homemade hash as well, so I hit them up for a taste this past weekend. More on that soon).

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We split the order of hash, while Elise got a breakfast wrap that was on special and I went with the All Meat omelette. The hash was without a doubt the best I’ve had from a diner in the area. Johny’s was perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of browning and crispiness, without the added pretentiousness of some of the uppity-up “brunch” places that also serve hash. This is the stuff I grew up on, but better. The corned beef is cured and ground in house, just like the sausage found in both of our main dishes is ground and seasoned in house as well. These are such simple steps to make your dishes pop I’m not sure why any diner would serve the prepackaged versions. Add on top to that some stand out cheeses in both of our meals and we left with very full bellies.

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Of course no visit to Johny’s would be complete without a look at at the Burger Challenge Wall of Shame. Failing miserably at the omelette challenge is next on my radar.

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Johny’s Diner (link) | 66 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12206 (map) | All Johny’s Diner Posts