HIGHER GROUNDS (1564 Queen West, at Sorauren, 416-516-6606). Complete meals for $12 per person, including all taxes, tip and a coffee. Open weekdays 8 am to 8 pm, Saturday 8 am to 5 pm, Sunday 8 am to 4 pm. Unlicensed. Access: one wheel-chair-accessible washroom on main floor. Rating: NN Rating: NN
I can't decide which bothers me more at Higher Grounds, the decor or the food.
I guess I'd say the decor: a greyish colour scheme and the drone of a news station blaring from one of two TVs. Even with the noise, it seems almost eerily still. And somehow the neighbourhood grill feels more like a small-town sports bar; in it's previous incarnation it actually was the sports bar Mezzrow's
The best thing on the menu is the fries, served with all the sandwiches and burgers. They're the fantastically crisp, hand-cut, chuckwagon style. The over-boiled, under-fried potato chunks masquerading as home fries, served with the Hungry Man's Breakfast ($8.45), do not follow suit. The rest of the brekkie's components, though - three perfectly cooked eggs, three pieces of bacon, two sausages, slice of fried ham, a thick buttermilk pancake and toast - make up for the sad spuds.
Fried with bacon and served with sour cream, the potato-and-cheese perogies ($5.95) have a fresh, homemade quality.
French onion soup ($3.95) is a bowl of watery stock and floaties of onion, cheese and croutons.
If you want to fill up, order a sandwich, but be warned that the Philly Melt ($7.95) with mozza, onions, mushrooms, roast beef and gravy, and the grilled chicken sandwich ($7.50) with jack cheese, iceberg lettuce, tomato and avocado salsa both bypass the taste buds as they sneak down to the belly.
And if it weren't for the Yves patty, the veggie burger ($6.50) might be a lost cause. It's not like the tiny piece of tomato, one ring of onion and little bit of lettuce give it much body.
If the folks at Higher Grounds really want to pick us up, they need to shrink the menu and do fewer items more competently.