Akum vs. The Machine at Uncle Dan's Diner

machine akum composite

You know it's serious when an order requires multiple condiments.

By Akum Norder

So, you resolved at the start of this year to eat less/eat better/lose weight/exercise more/be healthier/whatever. And good for you -- that's very admirable. But it's almost the end of February. You've given it a good shot. Maybe it's time for you to tell that resolution to go, ahem, "forget" itself. All this week on AOA: foods that will send that resolution to its timely end (or at least sidetrack it). It'll be more fun this way.

If you're going to blow your diet, you'd better start it off right. Start with breakfast.

And not just any breakfast. The largest, most all-encompassing, most alarming breakfast in the Capital Region.

The Machine.

machine whole view.

It's on the menu at Uncle Dan's Diner in Albany. For $14.50, you get:

One waffle.
One pancake.
One piece of French toast.
Half a fish fry.
A 4 oz. Strip steak.
Two eggs.
Home fries.
Bacon or sausage.

That's it? No sweat. (nervous laughter)

The waitress at Dan's, Sheila Adams, says they sell only about one Machine every other week. Usually, two people order it to share.

condiments for the machineHas anyone ever finished the whole thing solo? Yes, she says, only twice. Two different guys, on different occasions, came in and took on The Machine and Ate. The. Whole. Thing. I'm impressed just hearing about it. Who are these men -- Albany's anonymous breakfast titans?

You have to train for overeating like this. Sadly, I might be up for it.

Sheila brings out two syrup bowls, butter, steak sauce. Tartar sauce. Ketchup. Even the condiments are daunting. But they're nothing compared to the parade of dishes that follows. The food arrived about 22 minutes after we ordered. Considering there were other customers to serve as well, I was impressed.

machine akum three plates

What a beautiful golden parade of food! Let the match begin.

Round One

I started with the eggs, since they get cold the fastest. I put 'em on top of the toast to knock that out of the way, too.

Two eggs, three triangles of toast: Done. And now ... Oh my, are those four pieces of bacon? Pause for just a little bacon nibbling. Life does not contain enough bacon.

Yeah, okay, I just ate all the bacon. Bacon does that sort of thing to people.

machine nearly end of round one. The match in progress -- one piece of bacon away from the end of Round One.

On to ... Round Two

The bread products! These are what I'm most looking forward to. I don't usually allow myself to eat bread breakfasts -- I'm a big believer in protein. I know carbs'll leave me hungry by 10 a.m. -- but oh, do I miss them.

Aw, man, I got syrup on my fried fish. Sopping up the spilled syrup with a piece of waffle. Waffle now tastes like fish spices. Which is surprisingly not bad; I might have to try that at home. I'll whip up a secret recipe of fake maple syrup and fish spices and become famous. Don't tell anyone.

Netbook keyboard getting sticky from typing while eating. Note to self: Lick fingers more often.

A few bites of pancake, and -- okay, this is starting to feel like work.

Pause. Gotta retreat to my corner for some shoulder rubbing and a pep talk. Drink a little water. Take a few deep breaths.

machine after round 2. The results, end of Round Two.

Okay, here we go.

Round Three

The cute little steak is tender! Tenderer than I thought it would be. You know, steak could be surprisingly addictive as a breakfast food. But with this much food in front of me I'm easily distracted. I detour to the fish: tasty, with a nice light breading. Dunked in syrup it's even tastier. But isn't everything?


... That was the sound of Rounds One and Two hitting my stomach. Realization: It's time to call in the reinforcements.

Anticipating that this moment would come, I brought the husband along.

Husband takes some pancake, some waffle, a bit of fish, the rest of the steak. He's been nibbling at the grits all along.(I'm sorry, AOA: I just couldn't do the grits. I lived in the south for years and somehow never learned to like them.)

Husband is equally impressed with the steak. And he pronounces the home fries very good. Ack! I'd forgotten about the home fries. I try them -- they are good -- a bit dark for my taste -- and by this point, a little cold.

Losing focus. Come on, girl, hang in there. A sip of coffee and back in the ring.

Round Four

The remaining waffle triangle is cold, too. But I get it down.

What? The husband's throwing in the towel already?! "I'm full. That's it."

You're letting me down here, man. Where's your fighting spirit? Not me. I'm woozy. I'm swinging wildly. But I'm taking one for the team today. I can choke down a few more bites of pancake.

No, actually, I don't think I can.

Sound the buzzer. The Machine has beaten both of us. Hold high its syrupy fist.

I don't think I'll be eating again. Like maybe, all week.

machine final results.The final results.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Uncle Dan's: diner food, with a helping of history
+ The Capital Region's best diner breakfasts

Find It

Uncle Dan's Diner
465 S. Pearl St.
Albany, NY 12202


I used to patronize a restaurant in Chicago's loop district that offered a similar selection and price: eggs, bacon, sausage, french toast, steak. In addition they had "Compote" which was just cherry pie filling. I ate several over a weekend- but that was at least 20 years ago.

This is something I must try if I ever feel the urge to break my resolution!

The Google Maps insert is showing Uncle Dan's Diner as located off Sand Creek Road. Or is that where you jog to from South Pearl Street to run off the calories from devouring The Machine?

Editors: Erp. Fixed. Thanks. You might have to run farther than Colonie to burn off all those calories.

Bacon OR Sausage? What kind of pansy breakfast is this.

But seriously: This is why they hate us. And it is delicious.

This could only be more American if you stuck a sparkler and American flag in the pancake/waffle/french (sorry: freedom) toast stack.

Um, I think I just died a little a little inside-- from the internal battle of desire and self-loathing. Which will win? Stay tuned.

I look forward to future installments of Akum vs. Food.

Did no-one realize that this post had to be called 'Akum + the Machine'? We could all be making bad puns about lungs, rabbit hearts and dog days. Or maybe not.

@the_exile: We off-loaded the pop music puns to Twitter today.

How could you leave the homefries? Tsk, tsk.....Going to take my nineteen-year old son with the wooden leg to eat here.

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For a decade All Over Albany was a place for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. It was kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who could help you find out what's up. AOA stopped publishing at the end of 2018.

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