Hannah's Kitchen (2221 Yonge, south of Eglinton, 416-481-2828) Complete meals for $15, including taxes and a watery coffee. Soup and salad combos for under $10. Average main $5.95. Open Monday to Friday 7 am to 4 pm. Access: three steps up to the bathroom. Rating: NN Rating: NN
On the wall behind the cash register hangs an ancient photo of Hannah's Kitchen owner Susan Hughes's great-grandmother - the original Hannah - and her husband. It's a blatant warning that the place is long past its prime.
Lining up to order prison-cafeteria-style, the patrons who shuffle down from their offices to feed here glare at anyone who doesn't order within two seconds.
But it's hard to decide between Subwayesque sandwiches, Tim Hortons-inspired soups and sad salads. The ham, roast beef and turkey sandwich fillers are cheap cold cuts (sandwiches $4.95). The roast chicken and the portobello sandwiches on the smeared, laminated menu aren't available.
Swimming in the Manhattan clam chowder (soups average $3.25) are tentacle-ish remnants of canned clams. Made from a base of canned tomatoes, the soup tastes more like Toronto tin soup.
Apple-squash purée (besides a few chunks) is Gerber's reincarnated. Wild rice salad ($5.75) requires a CPR trainee on standby in case of choking. An equally dry couscous salad ($5.25) gives off cinnamon fumes.
At first glance, a mix of red pepper, snow peas and something pale ($5.95) seems promising and nutritious.
Nope, it's soggy pollock. Someone should introduce a certain mineral called salt to the cooks. Simple and healthy is a commendable goal, but why do 9-to-5ers (too busy to spend the 15 minutes it would take to make a similar lunch at home) have to suffer for flavour?
Hannah's website boasts testimonials, including one raving about butter tarts. Today there are none, and a stale Hello Dolly square has me waving goodbye.