Church Street Diner (555 Church, at Wellesley, 416-324-8724) Complete meals for $17 per person, including all taxes, tip and a coffee. Open Monday to Friday 8 am to 10 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9 am to 10 pm. Licensed. Access: eight steps at the door, washrooms in the basement. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Like any good diner, Church Street offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Formerly the Five Alarm Diner, it was taken over in November by new owners who revamped the decor: cross-dressing urban bachelor and playful retro.
Breakfast options are satisfying examples of typical diner fare, except for the more French-inspired baked eggs ($7.95): three oeufs stuffed into a ceramic dish, baked until just soft with tons of garlic, herbs and Parmesan cheese. It's rich but not overwhelming.
At lunch, among other classic sandwiches, there's the no-fail Reuben ($8.75), served with Dijon, coleslaw and plenty o' fries. A whole punchy dill pickle instead of two wimpy slices would make it even better.
Vegetarian chili ($6.95) is a not-too-spicy bowl of veggies and legumes with garlic bread. I'd recommend the mains if only they were a few dollars cheaper. Three-cheese spinach lasagna ($10.95) is oozy and delish, but the side iceburg-lettuce salad is all oil and no vinegar.
Avoid the meat lover's mixed grill ($15.95). The grade AAA ribeye, ordered medium rare, arrives well done, and the whole chicken breast is as small as a quail's. But the Debreziner sausage is good and greasy. Sides of mashed potatoes (where's the butter and cream? these spuds are dry) and frozen mixed veg should be left aside.
To finish, dessert couldn't be sweeter, literally. The traditional Quebecois sugar pie ($4.95) is maple syrup at its best - baked into a pastry shell without bells and whistles. Perfect for an instant sugar high during a summer day's parade.