Guy Milnes checks out Crystal Palace’s latest offering – Antenna’s American Diner – and discovers great burgers, great service and a refreshing lack of clichés 

Crystal Palace lost both its MacDonald’s and Pizza Hut in recent years, which is a cause to be celebrated, since the Triangle now offers a plethora of exotic culinary experiences including Brazilian, Thai, Portuguese and Cuban. And they’re all independent.

There is often an excited murmur among Crystal Palace locals as empty premises begin to take on new life, Facebook groups lighting up with rumours and speculation as to what it might become. When it was announced that the long-empty building on Westow Hill was to be an American Diner – and another project by the Antenna Studios Team to boot – it was as if a 1953 Cadillac Eldorado had roared into town.

The Antenna Studios team, which runs the popular Café Thing at the front of their Haynes Lane premises, saw a gap in the market for a family friendly, ecologically sound American burger bar with ‘healthy unhealthy’ food. On opening in February, Facebook went wild…


Antenna's American Diner, Crystal Palace. Photo by Guy Milnes

Antenna’s American Diner, Crystal Palace. Photo by Guy Milnes

Stepping into Antenna’s, I was immediately struck by how narrow, yet strangely roomy, the diner is, which just seems to add to the Americana experience. But this place is no cliché. The counter isn’t chrome, cherry pie doesn’t feature anywhere on the menu and there’s no jukebox in sight. Instead the layout and styling is tasteful and contemporary. 

We arrived, baby in tow, and were immediately offered a highchair by our waitress, Selina, for whom nothing was too much trouble. She was chatty and attentive, even bringing toys for the baby and taking him off our hands for a wander.

Seated in a booth, we set about perusing the very pink, all-American menu. I’m a vegetarian, but thankfully the diner caters for non-meat eaters with two veggie burger options. Sadly there’s no veggie hotdog yet, but it is in the pipeline. I opted for the Antenna Veggie Burger, made with black beans, chickpeas, garlic, onion, cumin and halloumi, and my partner went for the Big Cheeseburger with cheddar and Monterey Jack. Both came with fries and coleslaw.

The Big Cheeseburger comes with cheddar, Monterey Jack, fries and coleslaw. Photo by Guy Milnes

The Big Cheeseburger comes with cheddar, Monterey Jack, fries and coleslaw. Photo by Guy Milnes

My burger was delicious and slightly aromatic – I’ve never tasted a veggie burger like it, but if I’m being picky there could have been fewer fries and a small side salad instead. For dessert we had a stack of pancakes with raspberry sauce and ice cream and a delicious cheesecake.

The diner is an all-American gourmet experience with an ethical conscience. It isn’t cheap, but nor is it expensive, given the ethically sourced ingredients.

22 Westow Hill, Crystal Palace SE19 1RX; 020 8676 4316;