120 Diner, the casual downstairs sister to Church Street mainstay Club 120 , hopes to add a new dimension to owners Mandy Goodhandy and Todd Klinck's party destination. Once the pair found that the space beneath their club was due to be turned into a parking lot, they intervened to purchase it themselves and offer something they felt the neighbourhood could enjoy more.
Mandy and Todd have done little to alter the interior of a space formerly home to a Spring Rolls. The decor betrays the diner aspect, though it's by no means an ugly room. The sharp rectangular shapes that divide up the space keep things clean and simple, while bright vivid reds punctuate the black and grey tones.
There's ample seating for at least 60, with booth seating, and a stage for live music, which is in use every night. From open mics to jazz brunches, there always seems to be something going on here, and though it's nothing like as raucous as the parties on offer upstairs, the atmosphere is anything but sedate.
We stopped by the Latin Live night (Wednesdays), and it was packed! Sangria and custom cocktails were on offer to round out the whole experience. It'll take a lot more visits before I can get a real feel for what this place is like all week, but the menu, at least, is a constant.
Chef Richard Henry has been tasked with offering a menu that can complement the hours of the upstairs club (with food served until 4am on the weekends, 2am Tuesday through Thursday), alongside regular dinner and brunch services, and he's really taken to the diner theme: burgers and cheesesteaks sit alongside chili and poutine, though he's taken a few liberties here and there.
The chicken skins ($7/$10) are served in lieu of chicken wings, and there's plenty here. They're sizeable crispy chips of skin that apparently take two days to prepare. Dished up in the same manner as wings, with an optional blue cheese dip for an extra buck, these might be my favourite part of the whole visit.
The tuna melt ($10) is vast, slapping albacore over a multigrain Ace bakery panini bun before melting heaps of cheddar all over it. Served with fries, for ten bucks, you're not getting short changed - it's big enough to split.
The coconut shrimp ($10) are another sizable portion, again enough to split. The jumbo shrimp are served up with a chili aioli. I'm a little sad that it's not served with a chili jam, as the mayo is a bit heavy for the coconut, but I might be a bit prejudiced from the coconut shrimp I used to enjoy as.
The poutine is fabulous value for seven bucks, with a rich chicken gravy (answering my question from earlier) and salty, crispy fries. As with everything else we tried, the portion sizes are more than ample, and it's conceivable that you could leave here absolutely stuffed and happy for south of twenty bucks with a drink, which is becoming a rare thing downtown.
Drinks are a reasonably simple affair, with draft beer in the six dollar range, and a martini menu offering 2oz cocktails for only $8.40. Pleasingly, fountain sodas ($2.50) are bottomless, meaning that a post-club carb-fest is possible with not much more than the small change jangling around your pocket. Hopefully, 120 Diner will be sticking around to serve late night treats for some time to come.