Decade, schmecade - the Chef-O-Nette does not acknowledge the passage of time.

Decade, schmecade - the Chef-O-Nette does not acknowledge the passage of time.

Nope, it's pretty much forever stuck on 1955 in there, i.e. the year in which this U.A. mainstay fried its first little burger. That's what I was thinking the other afternoon when I popped in to see how the Chef-o-Nette was holding up and found out it was business there as usual. By the way, that's a good thing.

For me, a visit to the Chef is akin to an anthropological view into the way-back window of an all-but-vanished America.

I mean, independently owned diner/hamburger houses like it used to line the streets and highways of our still-burgeoning country. Nowadays, unfortunately, these types of pies-baked-on-premises mom-and-poppers have become replaced by highly impersonal, corporate chains.

Impersonal is the last word I'd use to describe the Chef-O-Nette. No, this is the kind of place where you're likely to hear, as I heard last week, a waitress uttering something like (while pointing to a strapping lad clad in a letterman jacket and lowering her other palm), "I've been waiting on that guy since he was this high."

As befits a family-friendly neighborhoody diner that time forgot, the Chef-O-Nette's convivial servers usher out comfort food vittles from an era before supersized portions and supersized prices were commonplace. Yeah, just one look at the Chef's chuckle-inducingly anachronistic menu will quickly clue you in that this place is downright stupid cheap.

Naturally this sort of joint should have good chili, and the Chef doesn't disappoint ($2.55 for a big bowl). Served steaming hot, it's tomatoey rich and thick and filled with very finely ground beef, a few beans and - best of all - it delivers a surprisingly bold spicy punch.

The Pork Tenderloin sandwich ($3.45) is pretty popular and it'll surely please the kid in you. Though it's more golden brown, crunchy and greasy breading than piggy, beneath all that easy-to-eat stuff is a real piece of meat.

Another thinnish slice of meat anchors the Chef's signature sandwich, the Hangover ($2.75). On a routine toasted bun comes a little diner-style burger with melted American cheese, a hunk of raw onion and (here's the brilliant part) a sliver of griddled ham.

Of course you can make that a "plate" by adding on slaw (minced cabbage with a bit of carrot and an old-school sweet and creamy dressing) plus fries (crinkle cut, from a bag) for a nominal charge.

Match that with a milkshake (sweet, not too thick, milky) that's probably quite like what your mom used to make, and you'll be taking a trip down memory lane - well, maybe your mom's, not yours.

You want retro? You want cheap? Then try the Chef-O-Nette, because this place ain't fakin' it.