Skyline Restaurant is new again. But Parkdale residents have no need to fret; new owners Jud and Maggie Ruhl want to keep the spirit of the old-school diner intact.
The brother and sister team have never owned a business together, but Jud is part owner at 3 Speed and Wallflower and Maggie opened The Ace and the Dakota Tavern. Their vision for The Skyline includes modest improvements to the interior and a reverential approach to the menu.
The neon sign, veneered counter and chrome fixtures are all original. The place now sports a new sound system and the old milk machine has been converted to pour draught beer, but the diner vibe lives on.
The biggest changes occur in the back room. It's set up like a lounge with new banquettes and seems like an inviting spot to sip on a classic cocktail or a boozy milkshake.
On tap you'll find craft brews like Ace Hill Pilsner ($7) and Junction Helles Lager ($6.50) as well as Guinness ($8.25). There are bottles and cans too, plus a healthy selection of wines by the glass and bottles from $32.
The menu from chef Peter Ramsay (Geraldine) features classic diner dishes, while incorporating French technique. He also sources local and seasonal products when possible.
Regulars will be relieved to see holdovers from the old menu, like the triple-decker Skyline Special Clubhouse ($13). It used to feature chicken salad, but Ramsay is doing his with shredded turkey instead. He mixes it with house mayo and chopped pickles and stacks it onto Silverstein's rye with lettuce, tomatoes and bacon strips.
The banquet burger ($17) is a totally straightforward take on another classic, but it's crafted with a thick patty of house-ground beef smothered in melted aged cheddar and finished with bacon and all the essential fixings; lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and mayo.
What I like best is that these dishes aren't gussied up, bastardized versions of diner food; it is diner food, just done with the really good quality ingredients.
Among the new additions to the menu are fried smelts ($9), inspired by the Ruhl family tradition of late night smelting followed by a fish fry. Here, the oily little fish are served battered and fried with a little pot of tangy tartare sauce on the side.
Mussels and fries ($12) seem a little fancy for a diner, but I see how they could fit with the full spectrum of cravings that Skyline aims to satisfy. These delectable steamed molluscs come swimming in a fragrant white wine sauce laced with butter, fennel and leeks.
A shaved asparagus salad is on special when I visit. This dish features a pile of seasonal veg dressed in a lemon vinaigrette and then dusted with Romano and topped off with a sunny-side-up egg and a crispy cheese wafer.
A daily selection of house-made desserts are on display behind glass at the counter. A slice of apple pie with ice cream and/or whip seems destination-worthy itself.
Even former owner and operate Louie approves; he's been a regular at the counter since the re-opening.
Photos by Jesse Milns