Posted by: dinertuesdays | June 29, 2007

Johnny’s Snackbar Exterior

Johnny’s Snack Bar – June 28th, 2007

Yes, June 28th was a Thursday…ah well.

Johnny’s Snack Bar really is like a snack bar – flashback to my first teenage job: running the snack bar at the local hockey arena. There is an old white plastic sign along the back of the diner that has a Pepsi clock in the centre and the menu listed in sliding black letters underneath. Memories of Slush Puppies and withered hotdogs came flooding back. However, Johnny’s feels like a diner too. There is a counter with stools along one side of the room. The rest of the space is booth seating. The booths will hold four adults, but they’re snug. This place is popular! The diner was packed from 5:30 – 7:00 when we left.

The food was exactly what one would expect – no nonsense, no pretensions. We noted with approval that there was no veggie burger option on the menu. This is not a veggie burger sort of place! The Ardmore would do well to follow Johnny’s example. We ordered a good cross section of dishes: fish and chips, BLT, Cheeseburger Deluxe and the Hot Turkey Special. The fish and chips were very greasy (could be positive or negative depending on your point of view). The hot turkey sandwich special turned out to be an enormous amount of food (included a bowl of soup and choice of coffee or tea). Other reviewers have commented on the forgettable fries. In my opinion, they are right. We did like the handful of ketchup packets left in a pile on the table with the trivial pursuit questions printed on them. The milkshake was nothing special either ($2.95 and no metal cup provided).

The best thing at Johnny’s? The sassy waiter. He was excellent, attentive and very amusing.


HotTurkeySpecialSnack Bar SignMilkshakeJohnnysSnackBarDoor

Posted by: dinertuesdays | June 26, 2007

June 26th, 2007

This morning I dropped my car off for servicing on Portland St. The dealership provided a courtesy shuttle to take me and four other passengers to our assorted workplaces. I was 40 minutes late for work because the driver got stopped by the police for making an illegal turn, but that is another story. Our first stop was Pleasant St. in Dartmouth. This provided the perfect opportunity to see where John’s Lunch is located. It is very close to the Woodside Ferry Terminal. When I asked if anyone in the van had been there, they all got very animated and enthusiastic: “it’s excellent” “best grease joint in HRM” “if you go with a friend only order one portion of the clam strips and chips – it will still be too much for you to eat”…I guess this place is pretty good!

Posted by: dinertuesdays | June 13, 2007

Robie Food

Robie Food – June 12th, 2007

Robie Food (not “Foods”) Chop Suey House has been around since at least 1962. Once again our definition of what constitutes a “diner” is fairly flexible. Robie Food has the look and feel of a traditional diner – even though it has a strong Asian flair. The booths at Robie Food are very long, they could easily hold six people and probably more. They use what looks like the original cash register and, be warned, there is a “cash only” policy in effect.

There was a small selection of diner “classics” listed on the menu. However, most of the menu was devoted to Chinese dishes, so we decided collectively that was what we should order. I asked for a milkshake for the sake of comparison with some of the other diners that we have visited.

On the back of the menu listed under “Side Orders” one can order Ketchup at Robie Foods for $1.75…we found this perplexing but forgot to ask our server about it (see photo).

The milkshake was decent, a good thickness and fairly chocolaty. Once again the metal cup was not provided – a stinginess that earns demerits from the Diner Tuesdays group. The dishes that we ordered (steamed rice, Szechwan beef, seasame chicken and tofu with mixed vegetables) turned out to be fairly standard Canadian-Chinese fare. The two varieties of spring rolls that Amanda and Lise ordered were probably the best thing that we ate on this outing. They came to the table accompanied by a jug of thick and fruity plum sauce (possibly homemade).

Overall, Robie Food was a bit more expensive then one would expect for a diner meal and the food was not particularly special. It is worth a visit for the historic ambience and the friendly staff.

Robie Food InteriorKetchup for $1.50?Chinese-Canadian FareHomemade PlumsauceBeef dishregisterregistermilkshake.jpginterior


Posted by: dinertuesdays | June 12, 2007

The South End Diner

The South End Diner – May 29th, 2007

The South End Diner has been operated by the current owners for 17 years. However, as far as the owner was concerned the site has been a lunchroom/restaurant for a very, very long time. Despite warnings from well meaning people suggesting that we should eat before our dinner at the South End Diner, the establishment proved to be friendly, economical and satisfying.

The South End Diner is intimate – there are no tables. The only seating is a horseshoe shaped counter with not more than a dozen low stools. The waitress stands in the middle of the horseshoe taking orders and delivering food. This is not a place to linger over your meal. Don’t get us wrong the food is good, hot and tasty, but there is something about the limited number of seats and how quickly the food comes that makes one want to eat quickly and leave. Our party was in and out of the diner in less than half and hour (whew!). The most popular choice was the soup of the day (tomato with pasta). The grilled cheese special (comes with soup and a cup of coffee) was delicious. Shannon ordered the potato salad and reported that wiith a little shake of salt it was delicious. Most of our meal choices cost less than $5 total.

Other notable features of the South End Diner: They had a jug of real Nova Scotia maple syrup in their fridge (so breakfast is probably a good bet here), the decor is really unique – the walls are covered with plates that customers have brought back from all over the world, look out for the enormous lobster mounted on the wall (you can’t miss it as it is bigger than a small child), and also note that the South End Diner has a commendation for providing hot meals during the Swiss Air disaster.

Jodi and the menuThe soup specialYummy Grilled CheesePrincess Diana and the lobsterNo place like home


Posted by: dinertuesdays | May 29, 2007

Diner City, your online guide to classic diners and the American roadside

Here is a link that may be of interest. Ron Saari, the creator of the site, has been passionate about diners since the early 1980s. The website is a gateway to all sorts of diner resources. Sadly, there is only one Canadian diner listed – Le Galaxie in Montreal, Quebec.

Posted by: dinertuesdays | May 23, 2007

Ardmore Sign

The Ardmore May 22nd, 2007

The Ardmore Tea Room was opened by Tennyson Cormier on Liverpool Street in 1952. By 1958 Cormier owned and operated three seperate Ardmore locations in Halifax: Gottigen St., Liverpool St. and Quinpool Rd. Present day, there is only one Ardmore left – the “new” Ardmore Tea Room on Quinpool Rd. The beauty of this diner is that not much has changed since the 1950s. According to the brief placemat history the “food is homemade, hearty and inexpensive…[The Ardmore] is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of place.” Too true!

Our party started to arrive around 5:30. We squeezed into two squishy brown booths (homey and homely). I especially liked the hand-painted signs on the walls that say: “sit long – talk much.” Shannon might add – “don’t order the veggie burger.” Although I would suggest that she is possibly the first customer EVER to order a veggie burger in the Ardmore’s long history…what was harder to explain was the disappointing grilled cheese sandwich.

The milkshakes were exceptionally large. I watched as Lise filled here cup not once, not twice, but three times from the silver cup on the table. The girth of the straws provided was notable too (if you ever need a giant-slaying pea shooter the Ardmore is a good bet).

What the Ardmore is really famous for is breakfast. Vinny was delighted with his “lumberjack special” and I have heard rumours about pancakes that are bigger than the head of an average person. There is a large selection of Kellogs cereals that can be ordered…perhaps we will have to try the Ardmore for breakfast.

KellogsThe Endless MilkshakeHappy CustomerLumberjack

Posted by: dinertuesdays | May 23, 2007

The Spartan

The Spartan May 15th, 2007

The Spartan was founded in 1966. Despite a shabby outward appearance the Spartan was a delight. There were fears that the Spartan would not meet diner criteria (there has been some debate about how to define a “diner” versus a “family style restaurant”). However, we were pleasantly surprised…there was a wide selection of pies (apple, cherry, coconut cream, banana cream and pumpkin), there were milkshakes (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla for an astounding $2.35) and a wonderful long counter with dark red vinyl stools.

We sat in two booths at the back of the restaurant. It was very cozy – the booths are really not large enough to accommodate a party larger than four people. The service was excellent and quick. The menu was an interesting mix of Greek specialties and diner classics. Décor consisted of photos and memorabilia of the Greek islands from the 1970s.

Shannon was happy to discover that the Spartan produces a generous milkshake (ie. The metal cup comes to the table) so she was able to share the bounty with Amanda S. The Greek entrees, the most popular choice in our party, all come with a dessert of delicious rice pudding included. The Spartan does not offer entertainment like the Armview (no VLT or live music) but, there are communal newspapers. The price was excellent – a great diner if you are hungry and on a budget!


Posted by: dinertuesdays | May 23, 2007

The Armview

The Armview May 8th, 2007

The Armview Restaurant was founded in 1951. It has been owned by the same family since 1954. The rubber plant (by the entrance) has been growing since 1971. Although the Armview has recently had a facelift, it still maintains “diner” atmosphere (same plates, appliances are in use). There is an extensive collection of old diner memorabilia. The Armview was a bit more expensive than one would expect for a diner. The menu runs from diner classics to somewhat trendy items like goat cheese/red pepper salad.

The food took a long time to come. However, it appeared to be prepared with care. The wait staff was very friendly and helpful. Lack of chicken fingers and the limited selection of pies (only banana cream and coconut cream on this day) was disappointing. Milkshakes were delicious, but the metal cup was not provided – “enough to wet whistle – not enough to fully satisfy,” “stingy.” However, $2.50 for a milkshake seems cheap, so perhaps this excuses the small quantity.

Other notable features: The Armview has a VLT (Video Lottery Terminal) room – discovered by Shannon. Also, there is a bar section to the restaurant that used to be the smoking section before the new bylaws were passed in Halifax. There is live music on the weekends. Joel Plaskett named the Armview one of his top 5 favourite places in Halifax…something about watching the cars go around the Rotary and good rice pudding.

Life is Sweetarmview_interior.jpgArmview ExteriorMmmm…Milkshakesarmview_detail.jpg




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