The Spirit of HH Richardson

All Aboard! The Deluxe Depot Diner is Open! (by Susan Petroni, Framingham Patch Editor)

After months of anticipation and a soft opening last week, the long-awaited Deluxe Depot Diner in the former H.H. Richardson train station in downtown Framingham is open. 

Framingham Patch first published Don Levy’s plans to open his third diner in Framingham back in March of 2013. Since then, extensive renovations have taken place inside the historic train station. 

Designed by Richardson in 1885, the train station features many of his architectural trademarks, including high-vaulted ceilings. The diner highlights those elements, but with a steam-punk theme.

“The depot diner decor is very lively, a mix of the original Richardson design elements and a decorative overlay of Victorian inspired details,” said Framingham State Rep. Chris Walsh, an architect.

“The care that the new owners took to stabilize, uncover and honor the original work is by itself to be commended. Adding colorful and fanciful infill to create the needed spaces and elements of a restaurant makes for a vibrant detailed space that is definitely unlike any other restaurant in the area,” said Walsh, who had lunch at the diner last week during its soft opening. Walsh said he had Reuben sandwich, and he will be back again to eat at the diner.

Check out the light fixtures and the hand-laid Scrabble tiles in the booths. You’ll find the initials for Richardson on the tiles in one of the booth’s closest to the kitchen in the diner. 

Peter Thibeault was installing a couple of light fixtures last Friday at the diner. One of his fixtures was constructed from a pizza pan, a 1955 Ford Pickup truck hubcap, a Christmas tree stand, among other items. Thibeault worked with Mark Fisher, who was the primary designer of the new diner. 

“As the latest addition to Framingham’s nascent downtown restaurant scene the Depot Diner is definitely staking out new territory and is well worth coming down to visit,” added Walsh.

He is not the only one singing the praises of the diner, already.

The “Deluxe Depot Diner in Framingham is a place I can take customers for breakfast lunch and dinner,” said Michelle Drolet. ”The sweet potato pancakes are the best I have ever had.”

Since the soft opening Drolet said she has had an omelet, with a side salad, and eggplant fries with a mile-high Reuben sandwich. “ I can’t say which I liked best, as they all were so good.”

The diner, which seats about 220 patrons, will be open seven days a week. It will serve breakfast all day, and dinner after 4 p.m. It has a full bar, that looks out to the train tracks, through a beautiful glass window.

The menu is the same as the diners owned by the husband and wife in Newton (Deluxe Station Diner) and Watertown (Deluxe Town Diner). 

There are winter breakfast and dinner specials, including apple fritters and fisherman’s stew.

“Eagerly awaited, highly anticipated, thoroughly enjoyed,” said Melinda Moses, who ate at the diner Monday with her husband. 

She had homemade corned beef hash, perfectly poached eggs, rosemary garlic toast, along with a side salad (a free option) dressed in “house-made maple vinaigrette with a slight kick,” instead of home fries. 

“The food rocked. But it was the interior that got our attention. Totally decked out in unique elements created and built by the Deluxe Depot Diner’s own design team. It is a toss-up. Feast for the belly or feast for the eyes? I say it’s a tie,” said Moses.

Two-egg omelettes start at $9.50 and come with home fries or a mixed green salad. You can also make your own omelette.

The flapjacks are a favorite on the menu. Try the blueberry or the New Orleans style sweet potato ones ($6.75 for short stack or $8.75 for full stack of three.) 

There were a steady stream of customers for the soft opening, including Town-wide PTO co-president Kim Comatas. 

“Our waitress recommended the bacon, raving about it. It was thick like a jerky and crispy without being oily. Seriously, The Depot has the best bacon in Framingham,” said Comatas. ”The coffee was also outstanding, our waitress said it’s from PA and would soon be for sale to take home. If only the bacon was! The Depot is another great restaurant downtown to not be overlooked. The interior remodel alone is worth the visit. I’m excited they rehabilitated this antique property. Come for the coffee. Stay for the bacon. ”

For lunch, the salads are already popular said Daryl Levy. She said every one on the menu had been ordered in the few days the diner had been open. Her favorite is the Cobb salad, with a house balsamic dressing ($13.95).

Not sure what to order off the two-page lunch menu, consider a burger or the crispy fried chicken sandwich ($8.95), said Levy.

The grilled cheese is great for kids and adults, on a cold winter’s day. Pick from four different cheeses for $4.95 or add bacon, ham or tomato for $5.95.

Daily, there is beef chili, “Mom’s chicken soup,” and a homemade soup. 

Editor’s Note: On Friday, it was cheddar-broccoli, and it was delicious.

If you visit after 4 p.m., the diner serves dinner. Besides winter specials, there are three blue plates served anytime after 11 a.m. that one would expect at a diner - meatloaf, turkey dinner and fish ‘n chips.

There is a kids menu, for children age 10 and under. Most items are under $5 and everything is under $7. 

Framingham residents Tracy and Dan Lampl went to the diner with their son and daughter.

“Some of us had breakfast food and others chose from the dinner menu and it was all fantastic,” said Tracy Lampl. “While you could tell that the waitstaff was still learning the menu, they were all friendly and enthusiastic. The renovation is very nice - still had the flavor of an old train station but was comfortable and cozy. We really hope that the community will turn out to support this new business! It’s a wonderful addition to the downtown.”

The diner takes cash, debit and credit cards. No checks.

There is parking to the left and the right of the diner, but the entrance is on the side closest to the ATM machine and the Route 126/135 intersection. Across the street, there will be about 3 dozen parking spaces designated for diner patrons. Signage for those spots are expected to be posted by the end of the month.

The diner is open starting as early as 7 a.m., and has a take out counter for commuters taking the train. At the counter, guests can pick up coffee or a muffin to go. Or they can purchase the diner’s famous pancake mix or a coffee cup for home.

The diner will be open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays; but hours are subject to change, so call ahead.