Saturday Dinette is a modern take on the classic diner - though here, the deep fryer has been retired, while hearty comfort foods still reign supreme. Chef/owner Suzanne Barr adds a feminine aesthetic to the space, adding candy-coloured illustrations, candlelight and velvet upholstery to the predominantly white and chrome room that was once the Logan Restaurant and, more recently, Hammersmith's .
More integral to the story is that the kitchen is staffed by young women from YWCA training programs. Barr has taken a pair of 20-somethings under her wing and is overseeing their on-the-job education. Does it show on the plate? Not at all. But you can tell via the hospitality; staff are clearly brimming with pride in the knowledge that this is the kind of place that deeply wants to take care of its community.
The opening dinner menu features an eclectic assortment of snacks, starters, burgers and hearty entrees. First up there is a chilled cauliflower soup ($8) served in a patterned china tea cup. The creamed vegetable purée is dressed up with a crisp parmesan wafer and smattering of lardons for added richness and texture.
A rustic charred romaine salad ($7) develops sweet and smoky notes as the lettuce is wilted under heat. Paired with roasted tomatoes, garlic and sharp but creamy stilton, it's just one of several vegetarian-friendly dishes on offer.
The menu is also set to feature a daily savoury pie ($14). Today it's a miniaturized, flaky butter pastry fully encasing a chicken, tomato and rice filling. Set over a bed of minty fresh peas, it's a cozy dish perfect for the impending fall weather.
The 80/20 beef and lamb burger ($12) is an easy favourite. Built on a seeded bun, it's piled with two thin patties seared on a flat top so that the exterior is caramelized evenly while the inside is still blushing. Like all the condiments at this diner, the mayo is housemade. Rendering ketchup unnecessary, it's stained pink and sweetened with the addition of beets. Toppings like daikon slaw and a chiffonade of lettuce offer cool and crunchy counterpoints.
French fries are not on offer as there is no deep fryer on site. Alternative side dishes include candied plantains, polenta cakes or herbed smashed potatoes each sold for $6.
The cocktail list is a work in progress, though the classics can be mixed up on request. Beer and wine lists are both brief, though points of interest include a lineup of Side Launch tall cans ($6) from the recently debuted brewery in Collingwood, as well as select wines mainly from Ontario and France sold by the bottle ($42-$52) and 5oz glass ($9-11).
Photos by Natta Summerky