CUISINE: Diner ADDRESS: 1677 Dundas StreetDATE: September 11, 2013
It was a Dark and Stormy night…
Literally. Do you remember that Tornado Warning last week? That day it was 34 degrees in September? Always a good sign.
This is what the sky was like the night we headed out the the ol’ Del Mar:
Partly sunny, partly AN EVENING OF MURRRDER.
But we were determined to get out to our diner dinner at the DelMar. We missed the first Friday of the school year because of our annual date with TIFF.
If there’s a thing I love more than dinner, it’s movies.
[SCENE: The year is 2011. Ian and are lazing on the couch. On the TV, JLo is prettily emoting over the plight of a wheelchair-bound woman on the set of American Idol].
MEGAN: That is so sad. They had just gotten engaged. And now he never gets to be married to her but he feels obligated to, like, bathe her.
IAN: (with a modicum of attention) Hmm?
MEGAN: This guy. His fiancé was in this terrible car accident and she can’t move or talk, but he’s still with her. It’s not fair. I wouldn’t want you to stay with me if I was like that.
IAN: Because that would look good. I would go ahead and divorce you while you’re in the hospital.
MEGAN: Honestly though. If that happens to me, honestly, just leave me at the hospital with a laptop full of movies and I would be SO HAPPY. It would actually be a good chance to get caught up on movies!
IAN: (staring, in horror)
IAN: So, in this scenario, you would be HAPPY? That’s dark.
MEGAN: Oh. Well. (Pause) This guy isn’t even that good a singer.
So, going to the Film Festival trumped the blog, but a little tornado would not. As we drove to pick up Becca, I gazed at the rapidly-darkening sky, I wondered if it was safe.
But Ian assured me that since the DelMar had survived 50 years, it was the safest place we could be.
Becca, running for her life, umbrella in tow…
By the time we got over to Dundas East, the storm had reached its apex. The sky had the lights turned on for seconds at a time, followed by a huge rumble of thunder. The rain was a deluge. And the retro neon sign of the Delmar viewed through the windshield wipers on active duty made me feel like we were entering the first ten minutes of a closed room mystery.
And if they could survive they night, they would learn the identity of their host…
Surprisingly, the restaurant wasn’t COMPLETELY empty.
There was one other guy. And two waitresses.
And a bucket to catch the dripping ceiling. Classic. The pathetic fallacy was as obvious as an M. Night Shyamalan plot twist.
In the dog days of the summer of 2010, Ian and I decided to catch a matinee of Scott Pilgrim vs The World over at Westmount. A trailer for a fall horror movie appeared, and the crowd around us was noticeably intrigued.
It featured people trapped in an elevator, tight editing, and that scary old lady that is in many classic 80s films. It looked like it could be interesting.
But then, the scariest thing of all happened: the name M. Night Shyamalan popped on the screen, the intrigue deflated and the entire crown audibly groaned.
I only wished I could have captured the moment on video to prove to Shyamalan what his ridiculous hubris has cost him.
But anyway, the DelMar.
The DelMar, named for original owners Del and Marie, has been in East London since 1953. This location has been updated, but still has that classic old diner vibe, complete with weird lighting (but cool light fixtures) and a broken spring jutting into my bum.
What’s that sound?
That makes it sound like I didn’t like the vibe. I found it perfect.
The menu was HUGE and filled with diner classics like burgers, turkey dinner, liver and onions and meatloaf. But of course, the first thing that Becca and I noticed was that the DelMar is licensed.
$2.80 for a vodka shot?!?
Sign us up.
I even splurged the extra .75 for some juice in it.
Our waitress was young, not the sassy diner waitress the movie fan in me was hoping for, but she was nicely low-key and very prompt without lurking like a hawk.
We asked what was made in-house, as I was wary of “freezer dining”, but was pleased to hear that much of what they serve, especially the meat, were all cooked and carved in house. The hamburgers are also made fresh daily.
We poured over the menu, trying to choose the “dinery-est” options. I will almost always go for turkey and stuffing if given the chance. But when Becca chose that, I decided to go with the outrageously cheap bacon cheeseburger, priced at 4.80. I added a “side of pickles” because pickles are my favourite diner thing.
We ordered onion rings to start, which came out beer-battered, perfectly crisp, and in a generous portion for $4.
This was the probably the best part…but I love a good onion ring.
Ian couldn’t resist the call of the “tomato macaroni” soup of the day, which came EXACTLY as described, and complete with Premium Pluses to crunch into it. And since Ian is apparently my Grandpa, that was appealing to him.
That is tomato and macaroni. The end.
Becca and Ian’s meals both came with salad, which they got with French (BECCA: Who offers FRENCH?) dressing.
As you might have predicted, it came in a clear glass bowl and featured iceberg lettuce, and a big, grainy tomato.
And soon after, the majesty of our diner delights were upon us.
By the time Becca got her turkey dinner, the waitress had come back to report that they were out of stuffing, and cranberry sauce, but Becca stuck with it. Turns out, but had more than enough gravy to make up for it.
BECCA: These vegetables are frozen, disgusting and perfect.
Ian’s ham dinner looked grandma-epic. And while the inclusion of onions and peppers in the homemade scalloped potatoes cause Ian to dub them “non-traditional”, he did admit he enjoyed them.
My hamburger was huge, and was topped with a good amount of bacon and onions—yum. But the burger itself was a tad overcooked, and definitely more charred than I like it on the outside. The fries reminded me of the ones they served in the residence cafeteria at the University of Windsor, the veryyyy exclusive restaurant, Cafe Chez Vanier. They are not anything that I expected to feel nostalgic for, but considering they were the only edible item in that cafeteria, I reminisced nonetheless.
And look at my side of pickles! Also “non-traditional”.
The fact that they had clearly just emptied the contents of a bottle of Bick’s Sandwich Savers onto a plate did nothing to disuade me from eating almost all of them.
I had to finish the meal with a coffee, as almost nothing is more viscerally pleasurable to me than coffee in a white diner mug, so we decided to try out their homemade coconut cream pie and rice pudding.
FACT: I will eat anything made of coconut.
(That’s a teaser for the next blog!)
So I loved the toasted coconut. But I am a pie crust snob, and can see a store-bought crust from a mile away. So this was only sampled, not devoured.
Ian thought his rice pudding tasted exactly as it should: normal.
Becca said later that while everything at the DelMar was diner-rific, the food was some of the worst-tasting that we’ve had so far.
By the time we headed out into the dark night, the storm had mostly subsided. And we left the DelMar with the same feeling you have after an October horror movie: it was OK if you’re in the mood for it, but it was pretty predictable.