Goody's Diner is like some sort of surreal, comfort food oasis. It's not in a desert with sand dunes however; it's hidden amidst a labyrinthine enclave of auto repair shops and commercial warehouses in Scarborough. Also, instead of water, this oasis features greasy spoon fare such as veal meatloaf and burgers the size of your face. So, yea. That was kind of a terrible analogy. But seriously, this place is in the middle of nowhere.
Despite the diner's limited hours (Mon-Friday, 9am-7pm) making just getting there on time a logistical conundrum, I arrange my schedule accordingly and pull into the parking lot (free parking! take that downtown!) with my stomach ready and rumbling.
Crossing the threshold beneath the diner's utilitarian signage, one is greeted with a surprisingly quaint interior. Typical kitsch is present in retro paraphernalia (Betty Boop statues and old gas station signs anyone?) hanging from the walls and a chalk menu with daily specials scrawled across it.
Belying the concrete and metal scrap heaps surrounding it, the cozy restaurant is decidedly warm -- clean, white wood panels and black painted hardwood flooring do well to convey a small-town-Ontario vibe. The friendly service does nothing to dissuade you of this impression.
After receiving our drinks (a run of the mill cream soda float [$2.50] uses olive oil vanilla ice cream) we are helpfully told in meticulous detail what exactly is in each of Goody's specialty hamburgers. Other options sound tempting; a steak sandwich ($9) and mac and cheese ($10) both give me pause, but my companion and I are both sold on the burgers.
As we wait for our orders to arrive, the banter in the small restaurant between the owners and other patrons gives a good idea of the establishment's personality.
Regulars swing through and offers are made to prepare off-menu items "however you want" should they so crave. The friendliness and customer service really deserve special mention. It wasn't crowded when we were there, but it's tough to fake that kind of congeniality.
My Highway Man burger ($11.95) arrives looking monumental. An 8oz patty seasoned with a "secret spice" mix is topped with pastrami, onion rings, lettuce, tomato, onions, cheese and a fried egg.
The patty is firm and arrives with grill markings. It's borderline too savoury, but forgiven when it crumbles in my mouth just so. The pastrami is equally moist and tender, but ironically lacks the flavourful kick I've come to prefer from my smoked meats. Notably, the
lettuce and tomato are colourfully fresh produce -- not something you expect from vegetables serving a decidedly token role. The fried egg adds an indulgent flavour to each bite and helps tie each component together.
The experience of eating the burger is probably half the fun, as squashing it down still leaves you attempting to shove spherical mess into your maw roughly the size of a small child.
A delightfully spicy whole pickle and a side of sweet potato fries accompanies my burger. The fries are well seasoned and crispy without being overcooked. The potatoes don't seem fresh cut but I can't be sure -- regardless they're hearty and served with a side of addictive chipotle mayo.
My companions Farmer John burger is equally huge, substituting pastrami for bacon and stacking a few more onion rings into the mix. The rings too, seem from-the-bag, but any skepticism or foodie nitpicking is swept aside by some adept deep frying skills. Additionally, the onion is neither burnt nor frozen, a low standard that a surprising amount of rings fail in our fair city.
With a small but diverse menu of items, my biggest disappointment is that I don't get to try more dishes this evening. The location will be a not-insignificant hurdle for many, and though the food is solid in terms of quality and certainly quantity, this isn't exactly destination dining.
If you're in the area and looking for unpretentious, fun food with friendly service though, Goody's is a solid option. Considering it's been open less than a year and already seems to have regulars, it seems it's a welcome addition to the neighbourhood as well.