THERE’S ONE REDEEMING FEATURE of Interstate U.S. 1 as it runs from southern New Jersey to New York City — unless you count the colorful, post-modern Michael Graves Miele factory near Princeton, always a welcome sight. Then there are two.
The one I’m talking about is the retro-styled Skylark Diner in Edison, N.J. It’s not an old diner that has been restored, but a recent one that’s at least as attractive, to my eye, as the vintage stainless steel thing (and I love the originals). The Skylark is screaming ’50s, with all the starburst, Sputnik, and ameoboid motifs that implies.
I often stop at the Skylark for a plate of eggs or a Greek salad on my way back to Brooklyn from Philly. It’s Greek-owned, and the food is way, way better than diner-normal, and reasonably priced.
I always gawk and marvel. I love the extent to which the decorative theme was carried out, partly with familiar mid-20th-century furnishings like fiberglass Eames chairs, below, but mostly with custom seating and lighting cannily designed to mimic a ’50s look.
Last Sunday night, I asked, finally, who designed the place.”Someone from Canada,” I was told. Not very illuminating. Also wrong. The interior design turns out to be primarily the work of Josh Nathanson of the Pawtucket, R.I.-based firm Morris Nathanson, which specializes in hospitality projects like resorts, cruise ships, nightclubs, and restaurants. Makes perfect sense.
Heading north, the Skylark is about a mile before the near-impossible-to-find turnoff to 440 (Outerbridge Crossing/Staten Island), on your right. It’s a place worth stopping, whether or not you’re hungry.