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STEAK QUEEN 345 Rexdale Blvd, at Martin Grove, 416-742-5806, @steakqueen Complete meals for $18 per person, including tax, tip and a domestic beer. Average main $9. Open 24/7. No reservations. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NN
Pulling up to Rob Ford's Steak Queen in a Smart Car is a dead giveaway that we be interlopers. Sure enough, we're spotted the moment we walk through the front door and whip out our Polaroid.
"You here to take a selfie where the mayor hangs out?" asks an inquisitive teenage boy with as many facial piercings as zits.
Well, no. As NOW's resident restaurant critic, we've trekked all the way from downtown to an industrial park in barren Etobicoke to understand exactly why Hizzoner is drawn back time and time again.
From what we've read in the papers, we're expecting an outlaw cantina frequented by gang-bangers armed with either semi-automatic machine guns or digital video recorders. But, by the arctic-cold light of day, we find a rather anonymous-if-friendly fast-food resto full of young families knocking back $3.99 three-egg ‘n' bacon breakfasts instead. Think a dilapidated Harvey's complete with plastic plants, cheap domestic beer and inexpensive Greek-ish grub. Souvlaki on a bun ($6.65) and a Bud ($3.25), my friend?
Making our way to the top of the line, we order what we imagine Ford might scarf down if he'd had a few wobbly pops. Though famous for watching his "waste," we doubt Ford would opt for the Queen's relatively low-fat Greek salad ($6.15) when there's double pork chops ($8.95) and 16-ounce T-bones ($16.95) to be had. Sadly, both proteins arrive thinly sliced, unevenly cooked and overly salted, their sides of fries frozen and salads of the iceberg variety.However, the kitchen - if you can call a couple of deep-fryers and a flat-top that - sends out proper onion rings ($3.25), crispy of crunch and grease-free.
Better yet, for an extra 50 cents, they'll put gravy on anything!