THE NEW LAKEVIEW LUNCH (1132 Dundas West, at Ossington, 416-535-2828) Complete meals for $15 per person, including all taxes, tip and a pint. Average main $8. Open daily 9 am to 11 pm. Licensed. Access: two steps at door. Rating: N Rating: N
The Lakeview reminds me of Maria, a septuagenarian playwright who befriended me 10 years ago. Despite her subsistence income, she retained a level of elegance and spirit that I enjoyed until her loneliness and need became a burden. Shamefully, when she died, no one noticed her absence for an entire week.
When this 1947 diner closed over the winter, I hoped someone would seize the opportunity to give it new life. Instead, it’s shabby from indifference. The art deco detailing is gorgeous, the booths and lunch counter original, but the red-and-black linoleum floor is littered with napkins and toast crusts. Garbage overflows the washroom bin, and even the soda lacks fizz.
At breakfast, the Hillbilly Omelette ($7.50) is so overcooked it’s difficult to digest the rubbery egg. It’s stuffed with too much mashed potato and not enough bacon, sausage and corned beef. The toast is barely buttered, and the home fries are greasy slices of fried potato. The hash and two eggs ($6.95) is equally disappointing, with strips of corned beef laid across potatoes instead of a proper mash-up.
Lunch is marginally better. A mango jerk chicken club ($7.95) has good seasoning, but the bacon is leathery. A hamburger with tzatziki ($6.95) is dried out, without enough moisture from the yogurt sauce to help it go down. A soggy pile of fries comes with each.
I want to find something nice to say, because I want the Lakeview to survive. Somewhat reluctantly, I go once more for dinner. A draft, though $3.50, is served at room temperature. The lone waitress is unable to cope. A sloppy joe with fries ($5.50) arrives lukewarm and flavourless, the ground beef haphazardly mixed with canned tomatoes and glistening with grease. The Italian sausage pizza ($8.95) falsely promises Asiago with the mozzarella. It’s doughy and limp, topped with uncooked green peppers, onions and nasty sausage.
Someone needs to rescue this enterprise. A little care for a bit of history shouldn’t be so difficult.