Queen Street West, neighbourhood of Parkdale, Toronto

The Sign: Nice 50s turquoise script at top and a blinking arrow at the bottom to usher you into the front door. The sign on the face of the building states, simply, “RESTAURANT” in faded red paint.

Ate: I wanted to order the Skyline Special, a triple-decker with chicken salad, bacon and tomato (it’s always a good rule-of-thumb to order anything the management deems worthy of naming after the establishment), but since I had tuna salad for lunch that day, I go for the souvalki plate.

Ambiance: The standard greasy spoon layout: counter and cash at front and booths at the back. The tacky “crystal” chandeliers and abundance of beige suggest the last reno was sometime around 1978. Thankfully there are no framed supergraphics on the walls. The only survivor from the Skyline’s heyday is the china. Half an inch thick and well-worn Canadian “Syracuse” plates and cups with the swirly swan pattern grace the tables of the few that are eating. Since this is Molson Canadian and Export ‘A’ country, most are just drinking.

Thought about: How a skyline is like a city’s signature. It can be delicate and graceful, angular and aggressive, messy and incomprehensible or it can document a split-personality. Toronto’s skyline, which cannot be seen from the windows of the Skyline Restaurant, has a decidedly split-personality. Toronto is an accountant who, due to a mid-life crisis, burns his ledger books and becomes a Las Vegas entertainer. Peeking from behind all of that 1970s leisure-suit flash, chest hair and braggadocio, there are still glimpses of a mild mannered sweater-vest with milk stains and clinging cookie crumbs.

Overheard: “He’s lost 9 jobs in 2 years but he’s working now. It could be worse….”

-D. LeBlanc

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