Garbage omelette

Spotted in the Clinton Station Diner in Clinton, NJ: a "garbage omelette" with "anything the cook can find."


  1. The word “garbage” probably shouldn’t appear on a menu, and I wouldn’t order this. But the idea of a “garbage” concoction incorporating whatever leftover ingredients (in usable condition) can be found in the fridge is something of a staple of home cooking.

  2. It’s just a colorful way of saying an omelette with a ton of random ingredients.  Where I live, they call a pizza with everything on it a “garbage pie”.

    Also, they taste fantastic.

  3. Newly married, I used to make a casserole I called ‘Garbage Casserole’, whilst cleaning out the fridge.  Somehow, it always ended up pink in color and delicious. This usually included some combination of cottage cheese and tomato sauce. I hate pink.

    It may be called a ‘Garbage Omelett’, but there’s an extra .75 cent charge for creativity.

  4. Here we call it “pytt i panne” (translates to “whatever in a frying pan”) because you put whatever you find in a pan and fry it with lots of butter. It tastes great as long as you don’t oversalt the potatoes. (Norwegians always have potatoes. It’s a rule.)

    1. That explains a thing or two. There’s a nearly identical dish in Finland called “pyttipannu”, but I never did understand where the “pytti” part came from. The Finnish version usually contains some kind of meat, and is commonly served with a fried egg on top, and eaten with ketchup.

      I don’t know that I’d be brave enough to try a “garbage omelette”, but I would be very curious to know what it’s like.

  5. They’ve got a Garbage Burger at this tready eatery in Yellow Springs, Ohio, which is a small, liberal arts town in South West Ohio.  I’ve ordered it before, it was great!

    1. “Trendy” and “Yellow Springs, OH” are two things I never thought I would see in the same sentence. My grandparents owned a farm there; “quiet” and “forgotten by the rush of time” were usually how I’d describe it.

      1. how long has it been since you went to Yellow Springs? It’s definitely been pretty happening for a couple decades. Heck,Dave Chapelle lives there!

        1. Gotta agree with dculberson, lots of trendy stuff going on in Yellowsprings.  Artists, head shops, a couple of indie book stores, and a half dozen interesting eatery.  Maybe not trendy in a upscale/New York/last 5 minutes ago, but definitely not your usual sit down restaurant either.

          Oh, and I think that Dave Chapelle grew up there, and might still live there.

          1. Yellow Springs has always had a strong showing of artists, head shops, and the like due to it being the home of Antioch College. However, I just never thought of it as ever becoming mainstream enough to be called “trendy”. My uncle still owns the farm, so I might need to go back and spend a little time there.

            Back on the actual subject at hand, I have friends who make “garbage dogs” at picnics. Similar to “garbage plates”, it is a hotdog with whatever ingredients on the table you can fit on the bun. Cabbage, onions, chili, tomato, lettuce, bacon…the list is as long as your imagination. And, they care quite delicious!

        2. Well, it’s been about two decades, so that might be why. I went to Earlham College just an hour or so away, and we used to mock Yellow Springs for being even more dead than Richmond, IN.

    2. I came here to post this very thing, as I’m a cook at said trendy eatery. Was quite surprised to see it already mentioned! 

      Every cook tends to have a different approach or philosophy when it comes to a garbage burger. Some will just grab the first five items in the fridge, others will pair ingredients into interesting and unusual combinations. 

      That’s what makes it so much fun to eat!

    1. Garbage is probably local homegrown, wheras Mexican is all brown and compressed.

      Nope, not even that approach works. I’m afraid there may be no joke in there. 

    1. I’ll second the Tahou’s Garbage Plate!  My poor arteries still haven’t recovered!  Mmmmmmmmmmm………

    2. I came in to make a similar comment. I went to the University of Rochester – most local restaurants have their own version of the garbage plate (though Tahou’s is supposedly the original and best).

      Actually, I always wanted to try one but never did in the four years I went to school there! I rarely ate off campus because I didn’t have any money (but I had an on-campus meal plan). I’m from Buffalo though and will try Tahou’s eventually (though I live in CA now, family is there).

      The thing is, though, that the garbage plates in Rochester are generally pretty specific – it’s not a random selection the cook tosses together. You can choose from a list of items. I suppose you could ask for a surprise, but it really can’t be as much of a surprise as a “garbage omelette” would be because the selection of possible ingredients is known.

    1. Do you remember when it used to be a fancy restaurant called Union Gap Station ?

      The train car even has an interesting history …

      1. I seem to remember it being called something like Sherwood Crossing before it became Clinton Station.  Maybe that was in-between?  They used to have a really good horseradish chicken dish that I liked.  I was in Clinton from 1994 through 2008, so it would have been at the early part of that interval.

  6. If you go to Montreal’s Chinatown restaurant late in the evening, say an hour before a closing, and order a ‘rice special’ (usually not on the menu) you’ll get a bed of rice and whatever the cook finds near at hand piled on the rice, all topped with a fried egg.

    If your timing is right, you’ll get lots of expensive ingredients that the cook doesn’t have the heart to throw out.  The half-a-dozen times I’ve ordered one just before closing, I’ve almost always gotten thirty bucks worth of ingredients for $7-8.  As they say in Montreal: “Beau, bon, pas cher”.

    I find it funny that Scott Edelman is scared of eating what is undoubtedly perfectly good food, but has no fear of relinquishing his private life out there on the ‘Net…

  7. Out of curiosity, what do omelets cost in your neck of the woods if $8-9 is expensive? (I’m not sure how to ask this without seeming snarky, but I promise that’s not my intent.) I confess to a bit of sticker shock when I first moved to the Northwest, but the prices on that menu seem reasonable to me now. Is eating out really that much cheaper elsewhere?

    1. I’m in NC, and I can say that you’ll find the range of places to eat with a range of prices to match.  I know in a 5 minute radius from my house you can find a $4 omelet up to a $13 omelet.  It all really depends on the place, atmosphere, and “quality” of food. 

      But there is a chance that cheapy omelet is better than that expensive one, but you just gotta know the place.  I’d say on average we eat breakfast at “nicer” places just cause we don’t do it much and an $8-9 omelet would be perfectly reasonable.  That and my wife loves eggs benedict, which isn’t usually available from the country kitchen places.

      I just want to know why so few places don’t have a waffle combo.  I need some protein with my waffle.

    2. Locally, at a moderate, average, boring sit down diner that sells omelets I’d expect to pay $5-6 and get a side of toast (maybe hash browns) and a beverage included. 7$ if it’s a super cool omelet.

      1. I often wonder why food in the US is generally of an (how to put it kindly) inferior nature than many other parts of the world – huge generalisation I know, you guys have plenty of good eateries and know about your food as much as any one else (apart from cheese, what you guys call cheese is what we call plastic).

        But if you can expect to get an entire meal, with a drink for $5 then it kinda makes sense.

        I mean, good food has a base cost, plus profit, and that aint gonna cover it – either someone’s being seriously exploited for that food, or the restaurant isn’t making anything off it.

        1. Breakfasts are expected to be inexpensive because their components are usually dirt cheap. Eggs are probably the cheapest protein source available, at least short of buying dried beans in bulk. Potatoes, bread, vegetables, even breakfast meats are relatively inexpensive. And the drink is going to be coffee or soda or something that costs literally pennies. This isn’t a high-class, multi-course meal we’re talking about.

  8. We always called this sort of delicacy ‘kitchen sink’, as in everything-but went into it.  If you make it once a week at home, it saves money and your refrigerator smells nicer.

  9. I love a garbage plate or a breakfast mess, any name’ll do as long as its delicious.

     @pereubu  This jersey girl will have a side of Taylor Pork Roll with hers. Oh the things I miss now living in the Great White North.

  10. In some parts of California, there’s a chain called Taco Bravo. The simplest explanation is that the owners liked the food that Taco Bell used to sell, before they started using fancy ingredients, so they resurrected that menu, at similarly inexpensive prices.

    Also, Taco Bravo is usually open the latest of any restaurant nearby, and the salty, savory, cheesy, greasy fare goes well on a belly full of cheap beer and local bands, so it’s a very popular destination after the bars close.

    If you are lucky, and charming, you might be able to order a “Bone Yard.” Everyone should, once, if only to see what it actually comprises.

    1. Redbones BBQ in Somerville (next to Cambridge, MA) had some sort of plate available cheap at the end of the night (say, a half-hour before closing) consisting of whatever hadn’t sold out that day. I knew folks who lived in the neighborhood, and swore by it (I, on the other hand, never ha the opportunity to try it). I don’t think it was on the official menu, and I’m not sure what it was called, but your name of “boneyard” rings a bell.

    1. My first thought was the Jerry Diner Garbage Burger! 25 years later & I can’t recall exactly how many times I ate one. But I knew a lot of the staff there in 85-90…

  11. Growing up, my family had a staple dish called ‘Everything in the Refrigerator Soup,’ which was an excellent way to use up assorted veggies and leftovers. Despite its ramshackle nature, it was invariably delicious. :)

  12. See also, “chef’s mercy”.

    Live a little. Trust a professional cook’s desire to create smiles in exchange for the simple trust that s/he knows how to do their job well.

    Upon entering a new restaurant, tell the server to “feed me like I’m your mother/spouse/etc.” and refuse them any further direction than that. Marvel at what the world has to offer your belly when you let go of the handlebars.

    The closest thing to bad that “feed me like I’m your mother” has ever brought me for dinner was a large glass of Bud and a shot of Jim Beam, neat.

  13. I often make garbage bin soup, but with the weather warming up, I think there’s a garbage bin omelet on the menu this week. I used to go to a cafe that had a garbage milkshake – they didn’t call it that (and I’m hurting myself trying to remember what they did call it) but with a similar, random assortment of flavours. Was always nice, but a little nerve wracking.

  14. @ user1234567

     >> There’s a joke in there somewhere….

    The point being that the contents of the garbage omelette are not likely to be significantly more random than those of the “Italian” or “Mexican” omelettes.

  15. Back in the day when my parents would have dinner parties or just informal evening gatherings they had a recipe for something called “garbage snacks” that my father concocted out of things they happened to have on hand. They were made from shredded cheese, chopped black olives, and chopped-up processed sandwich meat (turkey or chicken being preferred), all bound together with mayonnaise. The concoction was spread on a Triscuit and baked in the oven at 350 degrees for twelve to fifteen minutes.

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