PETER PAN (373 Queen West, at Peter, 416-593-0917) Complete meals for $56 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $18. Open Sunday to Thursday noon to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday noon to 11 pm. Access: barrier free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN
During Luminato’s recent spirit of 77 Queen West lovefest, all the old bands got together and sang a rousing version of I’m Tired Of Waking Up Tired (After My Nap).
That, combined with the annual amp-?athon of North By Northeast, makes now a perfect time to revisit Peter Pan, whose staff alumni include members of such bands of yore as the Diodes, the Dishes and Johnny and the G-?Rays.
Just to show you how much times have changed, our server was friendly.
While it’s great to look back at the old Queen West new wave scene through New Rose coloured glasses, Peter Pan’s greatest historical legacy is for architectural preservation, having valiantly protected the timeless diner interior it inherited more than 30 years ago. Is there another city anywhere that has less regard for its hospitality heritage than Toronto?
I hope the food was better back in 1977. The daily special of tomato soup ($5) offers some creaminess and fresh tomato flavour but is instantly reduced to lukewarmness by its wide, cool bowl. Crispy rosti ($11) is an affable pile-?on of smoked salmon, capers, caramelized onion and sour cream atop a fried potato pancake. It should be dandy, but it’s hobbled by non-?crispiness in the rosti department and the overpowering quality and quantity of the salmon.
Entrees continue the theme of solid conception and uneven execution. The penne with grilled chicken, corn and sun-?dried tomato in a jerk Chardonnay cream sauce ($18) would be fine – nice tender chicken, smooth sauce – if an entire West Indies’ worth of dark spices hadn’t been emptied into the bowl.
And the semi-?renowned hamburger has issues as well. The large beef patty bears a satisfying char and is cooked to well-?done – by default, since no other option is offered – without being entirely dried out, but the bun is stale and the two segments (not slices) of onion, two small tomato slices, lettuce, mustard and ketchup offer little support.
And I leave the fate of the frozen fries to the restaurant truth-?and-?reconciliation committee. The dessert of vanilla crème brûlée rates about a 6.5 on the brûlée-?ometer.
Here’s hoping Peter Pan’s dining room never grows old and that the kitchen does soon.