Sunday, September 2, 2012

Weekend Forty - Helen's Grill

Today was a venture into the past. We listened to a bit of Beatles and Buddy Holly, and set out from our secret location in search of a retro meal. We came across Helen's Grill (4102 Main St, at King Edward, 604-874-4413, no website) and decided that it could be our Brunch Time Machine.

We went inside and were not disappointed. Wood-grain paneling, spinning stools at the bar, jukeboxes at the tables, and a menu from the mid-fifties greeted us. Coffee (for Catie) and OJ (for me) were quick to appear. Catie immediately fed the jukebox a quarter, enthralled by the selection of songs from times past (Bee Gees, Elvis, and Buddy Holly, but also Garth Brooks. Which of these is not like the other?) Sadly, it seemed that the jukebox was hungry. It ate our quarter and did not play any music...

The menu has all the expected favourites from a classic diner, but our eyes were drawn to the specials. Catie, continuing her quest to sample every possible Benny configuration, chose the classic Benny for $9 (but with bacon instead of ham), and I, in a fit of manliness, chose the steak and eggs for $9.50. We settled in to wait for our food.

A steady stream of people came in and out, some settling in to read the paper and drink a coffee, one family, and some friends. It was a cozy atmosphere - the waitress greeted some of the regulars by name - and we quite liked it. Our attention was momentarily distracted by the two giant flat screen TVs above the bar, though. Nothing like motocross (wow! they can fly!) and X-Games crashes (wow! Tony Hawk is getting old!) to accompany a breakfast.

Our food came quickly, and we were pleased. Nothing too fancy, but simple food made well. My steak was really very tasty, my potatoes crispy-fried, and the toast was lightly buttered. I'd happily order it again. Catie's Benny was made with hollandaise from a packet, she suspected, but overall was tasty. The eggs came just the way she liked them, which is a bit of rarity.

We emerged from Helen's Grill, back into the year 2012, feeling happy from our excursion into the brunch of yesteryear.


  1. Ah, Helen's! I used to live at 23rd + Ontario many moons ago and would sometimes drop in for a bite. I remember listening to Mr. Sandman by The Chordettes on my table jukebox. The giant TVs are new. Why does almost every restaurant have them nowadays? Do they figure we can't engage in conversation without the aid of a TV blaring at us? Or if we are alone, not be able to entertain ourselves with a book or newspaper or just even our thoughts?

    I liked the cozy booths and friendly service. The food was never outstanding but good enough and reasonably prized.

  2. Garth Brooks? That is a puzzlement. But I smiled at your line about the hungry jukebox.
    I'm not good at ignoring TVs in restaurants, unless I have a book. Of course, I feel rude if the other person doesn't also have a book... so mostly I just read when I'm eating by myself.