The Skyline Restaurant in Parkdale is the kind of oldschool diner that's been around for ages, and while it tends blend in with all the other shops, one thing about it always catches your eye -- the nostalgic glowing neon sign that hangs outside.
Even last night, as I waiting for friends outside, I watched as a pair of cyclists pulled over to snap a photo of that classic neon. Of course, a sign doesn't keep the place open all these years, especially in a city that is losing spots like this at such a staggering rate. So then, being the diner junkie that I am, I decided to round up some friends and finally check out the Skyline menu.
The Skyline menu has got all the diner fare standards, some greek dishes, a "Campbell's Soup selection", assorted floats and sundaes, and the largest liquor menu I've ever encountered in my life (no, seriously). From starchy comfort food to thirteen types of whiskey, this place has every mood swing covered in three laminated pages.
The waitress seats us, quickly brings over some water and gives us plenty of time to be indecisive with the menu. When we finally make our picks, she offers to write up separate bills, making life that much easier for our party of five.
The Hot Chicken plate ($8.50) is my usual diner favourite. It's done a little differently everywhere you go and this was one of the better takes on the dish I've seen in a while. A huge heap of juicy roasted chicken piled on two thin slices of plain white toast and covered in just enough brown gravy. The side of smashed potatoes were creamy and very much the real thing. Actually, good enough that they shouldn't bother drowning 'em in so much hot butter. The side of vegetables consisted of chopped green beans which were pretty much flavourless -- only worth having for the sake of eating some greens.
From the daily specials menu, we decided to get the recommended Special #1: Corned Beef & Cabbage ($9.75). All specials also come with a salad and drink to start you off, followed by dessert and coffee after the meal.
The salad was a simple iceberg, tomato and cucumber mix. Dressing options were French or oil/vinegar. It was pretty basic but impressively crunchy and fresh.
Drink-wise, OJ arrived along with the salad and we couldn't help but laugh at the tiny little juice glass. The plates here may be hefty, but the juice portion was totally oldschool. In an impromptu height competition, the fries were easily double the size of the glass.
As for the Corned Beef & Cabbage, we were pretty surprised to see the corned beef wasn't the canned variety we were expecting. Pictured here, several delicious slices were piled over an even bigger heap of chunky cabbage, looking pretty mouthwatering, but proving to be more food than we could handle.
Dessert with the special is either jell-o or pudding. My co-diner grins like a schoolgirl as she orders up the jello.
"With whip cream?" asks the waitress.
Now, while I refused have any of the dessert, myself, I'm told the whip cream was, in fact, real whip cream and in no way, the spray-whip we expected.
I'm beginning to see how attention to detail is probably what's kept the Skyline's following in tact all these years.
All burgers are offered on their own or "deluxe" which adds fries and coleslaw with all the trimmings. Pictured here, we ordered the Banquet Burger ($5.25), fully-loaded and deluxe-ified ($2.75). It didn't disappoint. The patty was a good size and juicy though perhaps it hardly really matters in a burger this stacked with fresh toppings.
As for the sides, the massive steak cut fries brought us right back to childhood. They were average, and better with gravy, but don't even bother taking that to the next level by ordering Poutine ($4.25). We picked up a side of the Quebecois fave just to give it a try and it received a thumbs-down around the table. A few shreds of meager mozzarella does not a good Poutine make!
On a more daring note: The Hot Liver plate ($7.75). This one is served just like the Hot Chicken, but you had better love liver to order it. The friend who ordered this badboy was not prepared for the a big thick slab of liver that was about to grace her tastebuds with it's bold presence. Buttered mashed potatoes have never been so necessary.
And finally (are we still eating?), the Club Sandwich with fries and cole slaw ($9.25 + 75 cents for cheese). Highly recommended for a lighter choice that'll still hit the spot. Did I mention the size of those steak fries?
We didn't really have room for anything more at this point, but we wanted to know what a "Chocolate Soda" ($3.50) was. Turns out, it's a chocolate float made with ice cream and plain soda... or was it Coke? We couldn't tell. I blame the liver.
We paid our bills at the cash and agreed that in spite of some weak spots, the Skyline was a lot better than anyone had thought it would be. If you're up for some stick-to-your-ribs food and aren't intimidated by the locals (if you are, well, head east, kids), this is a decent spot for dinner.