WOW! I just had what is most likely THE BEST breakfast experience I have had since Ray and I began this blog. Van’s Spa, 359 Wood St, Bristol is not a spa…no clue who/what Van is. Hole in the wall, breakfast dive, greasy spoon: Van’s will never be mistaken for Julian’s or The Grange or fit in with any picture perfect neighborhood restaurant. Go, go, go there anyway! Go with the above descriptions, place this place firmly in the 60’s, with no “modernization” what-so-ever, throw in a short, ball-busting senior citizen, Manny, and his (he says) much younger wife, and I haven’t even begun to describe this place. Breakfast? The first cup of coffee just plain sucked. One of the regulars, hearing our assessment, agreed, said no two cups ever tasted the same and that’s why he always drinks Coke with his breakfast, Manny heard him and said something rude, and when we tried a second cup found it was much better. My unusual was all around excellent! Nice! Three links of big, tasty sausage and well seasoned, crispy deep fried homefries. We have to rethink our aversion to deep fried homefries. These were great! Very nice! A great breakfast, yes, but what elevated Van’s to mythical stature in our eyes was Manny and the awesome interaction between he and the customers. And we were included the moment we walked through the doors! He struck up a conversation, wanted to I know everything about us and had a story or anecdote about, well, about everything. Coke guy engaged us with Manny stories, everyone treated us like regulars, and we couldn’t stop smiling at our luck finding this place. If you like low humor, mismatched silverware, good food at very reasonable prices and feeling you’re with old, close friends run to Van’s Spa. My rating? Despite the coffee having a split personality I have to take everything…everything into consideration. One score…9.5! Go, go, go!
Move over Fall River, there is a new top diner in the mix. When Mike told me we were heading back to Bristol, where we have had some mixed reviews, I was a little skeptical since I thought we had been to all the diners in town. I can’t really identify whether it was the food or the setting ( I can’t use ambiance to describe this place, that would be just wrong ). The place is small, probably 20 feet wide, with seating for about 30 including the counter, and the walls are totally covered with pictures of everybody from Louis Tiant to local pols to old family members. At first it reminded me of one of our first diner reviews, Louis on the East Side of Providence. Totally old school. “Menus are on the walls”said Manny as gave us coffee. Lots of lunch dishes that I will have to try, but the breakfast menu was pretty simple. Eggs, or omelets with sides. You all know we love good coffee, but this was really unique. We had our first cup and kinda turned up our noses, believe it or not the second cup was totally different and very good. Two guys sitting near us, part of the appeal of this place, overheard our comments about the coffee, and said it was always like that. That’s why he had a Coke with his omelet. A politician of unknown name came in and ordered breakfast, and the two guys started telling him what he better do when he gets elected, then Manny steps in and gives the guy a plate of toast and sweetbread, telling the pol what he should change. Meanwhile a baker comes in with torpedo rolls and Manny starts arguing with him about his order. What a fun place. The meals came with unique utensils, and we both commented on the home fries which were not very plentiful and were deep fried, not our favorite. However, these were the exception. I really liked the crispness and just the right spices, no need for salt or pepper. My western omelet had amazing ham which was cut right off the bone, with random sizes but just delicious. The whole omelet was perfect with no skimping on the eggs or ingredients. We noticed one other thing about Van’s Spa, the only woman was Manny’s wife, the chef. Never heard her utter a word. If there were such a thing as a “guys diner” this would be it. No one pulled any punches. ( Manny wanted to know where we were from, and when we said, Rehoboth his comeback was, “rich guys”.) A few F bombs were heard and no shortage of “ball busting”. Coffee, ranged from a 5 to an 8, so I will give it a 7; home fries, 8, Overall meal and experience 10; Average 8.8. The numbers may not be the best we have had this year, but it was the best experience of all of the places we have been to in 2018.