Gram’s in Adams: A Diner with a Difference

In most cases, the only difference between one town's diner and the diner in a neighboring town is the amount of grease on the spoon.

Breakfast will be eggs, pancakes, french toast, meats and at least one form of potato. Lunch will be sandwiches, burgers, soups and perhaps a few specials. Dinner, if it's served at all, is usually more sandwiches and maybe a few more entrees.

But Gram's isn't like all other diners. The unassuming diner behind the brown wooden sign onMain Street in Adams does serve the classic two eggs, home fries, meat and toast breakfast ($7.50), but on weekends, they also an interpretation of eggs Benedict that changes weekly and a waffle or French toast special that seems to involve beer or liquor in some regard.

In other words, Gram's is my kind of diner.

Watertown (NY) (Images of America)
By Donna M. Dutton

The brunch specials, such as the blueberry lemon poppy seed pancakes, breakfast macaroni and cheese or the french toast spiked with Irish Cream and Cointreau orange liqueur, are too good to ignore, but it was lunch I was after this day.

I went for the haddock sandwich with homemade macaroni and cheese, ($9). The specials are posted on their Facebook page weekly and change daily, but the fish and mac and cheese combination is a Friday staple.

So I took a seat at the bar, placed my order, and waited. The bar really is the best seat in the house at a diner and Gram's is no exception. It's probably no surprise that I'm also a nosy diner and the bar gives a great vantage point to steal a few views of the kitchen and watch as the food is prepared. It's like dinner and show on a budget.

It's good that I could find interest in watching the kitchen staff work, because the wait can be long. It was a packed house this particular Friday afternoon, so I cannot blame the 40-minute wait on the waitstaff, as the two or three waitresses were bustling from table to table the whole time. And my sly peeks confirmed that the kitchen staff was working hard as well.

But the old adage of good things coming to those who wait is true sometimes. The thick, properly seasoned filet was hanging off the plate and flaky and tender the whole way through. Gram's uses large rolls for its sandwich, which leaves fewer fish-only bites and more of the proper fish and bread bites that nature intended. It's proof that Friday fish fries are not just for Lent.

I'm usually pretty finicky about the firmness of my pasta. Firm to the tooth and don't you dare rinse it after. Remember my ongoing list of food tragedies? Rinsing pasta is on that list.

But mac and cheese is the exception to that rule. The noodles at Gram's are soft, yes, but full of cheese, which makes everything more than OK. The mac and cheese may only be made on Fridays, but it's worth the wait. I cannot remember a version that had so much cheese packed into each bite as this and it's no tame American cheese either. I cannot attest for the exact ratio, but sharp (and I mean sharp) Cheddar is the main player here and retains all the characteristic bite, even when melted into a creamy sauce. 

Maybe it would lose its appeal if it was offered everyday, but man, do I wish this was offered everyday.

But wait, there's more.

All their desserts are homemade and change frequently. There were three or four choices when I went, but the one I remember most was the peanut butter pie. My dining hall at college served peanut butter pie and I thought it was pretty tasty, if only because it was easily-accessible pie. But Gram's puts it to shame.

The filling looks light, like a peanut butter mousse, but instead, it's more like a whipped cheesecake and extremely creamy. Just like the mac and cheese, Gram's was able to pack maximum flavor into each bite. There's no doubting that it was peanut butter and there's no doubting it was delicious.

I was full from my lunch, so I opted to take the slice of pie home. I just wish I took the other seven slices too. 

The diner is open for dinner during the week and if the fried shrimp and clams are anything like the haddock, you'll be eating well. There's a variety of steak, chicken and Italian dishes, plus my dad's favorite: liver, bacon and onions. A proper diner dinner, if ever there was one.

They do milkshakes too and at least on my visit, Stewart's ice cream was used, the proper choice for any upstate New Yorker. Since I visited, Gram's added bottled beer, wine and cocktails. I'll guess have to come back another Friday afternoon.


Address: 13 Main Street, Adams, N.Y.

Phone: (315) 232-4881


  • Monday-Friday: 6 a.m. To 8 p.m.
  • Sat: 7 a.m. To 2 p.m.
  • Sun: 8 a.m. To 2 p.m.