2011 was the start of the Food Truck craze in Adelaide, and the whole thing can be traced back to Burger Theory and their truck Pearl. After countless calls for a more permanent location, Pearl's Diner is the answer. A collaboration between Burger Theory and La Waffle, takes a bit of your typical American diner and throws it together with Belgian waffles and their own originality.
The diner is tucked away in Felixstow, just off of Payneham Road. Pearl's does the whole diner thing without resorting to the 50s paraphernalia style that a few Hungry Jack's outlets around Adelaide have embraced. The space is actually nice and bright, with large windows along one wall, and the colourful counters could almost be at home at a beachside bar.
Some of the personality of the joint comes from the murals painted inside and outside the store. Outside a bare wall is brought to life with four bizarre looking burger lovers. Inside you'll catch the bouffant diner lady, no doubt named Pearl*, serving up food with a wink in her eye.
(*Speaking of 'Pearl', the name takes a little from Burger Theory and La Waffle. Pearl is not only the name of the Burger Theory truck, but pearl sugar is what's used with the waffles. It's a suitable name considering the diner is the best of both worlds.)
All that aside, there's one thing that's more important than the fancy murals and stylish setting: the food. The menu starts with the usual suspects that you'll find on the Burger Theory truck. Burger no. 1 is an angus beef patty served with lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and truck sauce. Burger no. 2 is the same patty with onion confit, pancetta, and blue cheese sauce. The burgers are a bit more expensive than on the truck, but they do come with a side of fries.
Recently the burger menu has expanded, meaning there is now a much called for vegetarian burger available. It's similar to burger no. 1, but instead of a meat patty they use swiss brown mushrooms. A simple kids burger is also available, but expect to pay a bit more than your usual kids meal and McDonald's. For a while you could also grab the Burger Theory artburgers at the diner, hopefully some of these start to make a regular appearance in the future.
The buttermilk fried chicken is your other main meal option, especially after mac & cheese and the omelettes were unfortunately recently taken of the menu. The chicken wings are crunchy and tasty. You can also grab them as a side if you want to grab a burger as well.
Finally there are the pork buns. These fit the definition of moreish to a T. The pork is smoked for 14-hours, meaning that it's tender and juicy, it's also slathered in a delicious barbecuey/tomatoey sauce that has the perfect balance of sweet and savoury. There's no denying that this style of pork bun is the 'in' thing at the moment, but this is one fad that you should shamelessly support.
Finally there are the waffles. You can choose from a range of different from the simple cinnamon sugar, to classic maple syrup and ice cream, or the more decadent chocolate sauce. It's hard not to be tempted considering the smell of waffles fills the entire store. If there's one downside, it's that there's only one waffle to a serve, it's fine if you've already eaten your share of burgers and pork buns, but if you're coming in especially for the waffles, it can be a bit disappointing.
Service at the diner is friendly and efficient, but if you're after a quick meal consider coming in at the beginning or end of a shift. During the middle of service things can get pretty busy, and it's not uncommon to have a little bit of a wait. The diner is open Wednesday to Friday 5:30pm till 9pm, Saturday and Sunday 11:30am till 3pm, and recently they also started opening 5:30pm-9pm on Saturdays. Bookings aren't available, so you just have to turn up and hope for a quick table.