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What’s on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner

Including milkshakes, club sandwiches and buckets of fried chicken

By Jessica Huras| Photography by Ebti Nabag
What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner

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Name: The Lakeview Contact: 1132 Dundas St. W., 416-850-8886, thelakeviewrestaurant.ca, @thelakeviewdiner
Neighbourhood: Trinity-Bellwoods Owners: Fadi Hakim, Adrian Montes de Oca, Peter Avenins, Frances Bell and Alexander Sengupta Chef: Jason Hemi (The Haifa Room)   Fifteen years after the Lakeview’s last renovation, the 90-year-old Dundas West diner was ready for another refresh. To shape the vision for the Lakeview’s next chapter, co-owner Fadi Hakim tapped the team at nearby Milou, bringing on Adrian Montes de Oca and Jalil Boukhari as co-owner and general manager, respectively. “Diners are closing left, right and centre—the style of dining has changed,” says Montes de Oca. “Figuring out how to make a diner fit today’s terms of dining was a bit of a challenge.”

The Lakeview has had several false starts—with different chefs and different menus—since it reopened this April after a brief closure. Jason Hemi, executive chef at the Haifa Room (another restaurant owned by Hakim, located right across the street) now helms the kitchen, reviving the diner’s comfort-food menu with fresh ingredients.

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
From left to right: Bokhari, Hemi, Hakim, Bell, Avenins and Montes de Oca

For a restaurant so interwoven into the local community, it’s fitting that the Lakeview’s evolution has been guided by a crew assembled from other neighbourhood restaurants. “It just needed that love and respect that it deserved—and fresh eyes to come in,” says Bokhari. “When faced with such history and a community that’s so driven to preserve it, we really had to listen to what people wanted out of this place.”

They made a few cosmetic upgrades, including a very-much-needed renovation of the washrooms and a more thoughtful menu, but the Lakeview still aims to be the place it’s always been: one where families arriving for an early breakfast feel equally welcome as post-bar crowds in need of a late-night snack.

“It was important for us to maintain those core values,” says Bokhari, “and make it somewhere you can come with your kids and have a milkshake or come for a night out with friends.”

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
Montes de Oca and Hakim sharing a toast
The food

The Lakeview’s new menu, which includes things like disco fries and stacked sandwiches, doesn’t stray far from the standards regulars know and love, but its dedication to fresh ingredients is new. According to Hakim, the kitchen had been relying increasingly on frozen foods over the years. “Now it’s about applying better ingredients and better cooking techniques to the staples that already exist,” Boukhari says.

“Everything is approachable, comfortable and familiar,” says Hemi. “I don’t want to push. I don’t want to alienate anybody or overcomplicate anything—I just want it to be what someone expects it to be.”

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What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
Chef Jason Hemi

Hemi also wanted to lean in to the indulgent dishes diners expect from the Lakeview by making fried chicken a focus. It crowns salads and waffles, gets stuffed into sandwiches and comes straight-up in a big bucket.

“Whimsical plating, diner classics—it’s exciting to have the menu be true to what this place is,” says Hemi. “This is the first step of a larger return to a fun diner, a fun greasy spoon.”

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
Disco fries topped with pickled chilies and onions, house-made gravy, and mozzarella are served on a comic book print liner—a nod to Hakim’s other business, Lev Gleason Publications, which publishes Captain Canuck. $14

 

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
This no-fuss Greek salad consists of cherry tomatoes, Persian cucumber, onion and hunks of salty feta ($14). Guests can add a scoop of tuna salad for an extra $5

 

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
Is a club sandwich a club sandwich if you can fit your mouth around all the layers at the same time? Answer: nope. This one is packed with the Lakeview’s pickle-brined fried chicken and comes with a side of fries. $19

 

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What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
For this Reuben sandwich, rye bread is slathered in sauce and stacked with house-made pastrami, Emmental cheese and sauerkraut. $24

 

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
The bountiful Banquet Burger sees thick-cut bacon, Boston lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles and the holy sauce trinity—ketchup, mayo and mustard—decorating a house-blend patty. $19

 

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
One of the healthier options, this seared steelhead trout is topped with a dollop of a house-made tartar sauce and served with a salad of arugula and pickled onions. $24

 

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
Chicken is brined in pickle juice before being dredged and deep-fried. The eight-piece combo is served with coleslaw, biscuits, a caesar salad, pickles, fries and gravy. $85

 

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
Fried chicken also tops this waffle, along with pickled chilies, scallions, maple syrup and a fried egg. $24

 

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What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
Here we have a vanilla buttermilk waffle topped with banana whipped cream, blueberries and a glug of maple syrup. $17

 

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
A post-bar-crawl-worthy spread
The drinks

Bokhari wanted to continue serving the budget-friendly beers and decadent milkshakes that Lakeview is known for while also introducing a selection of more sophisticated offerings starting at $12 a glass. Bottles of classic French and natural wines are now on rotation. “I wanted to include wines I can have with my friends who are into wine as well as ones I can have with my mom without her being too weirded out,” says Bokhari.

The cocktail menu emphasizes well-made classics. “The Lakeview is a place where you kind of escape into a different era, so I wanted to have the classic triangle martini glass with pimento-stuffed olives in it, served ice cold,” says Bokhari. “Every drink on the menu is recognizable.”

A draught beer program is in the works, but for now, bottles and cans of stalwarts like Labatt 50 are balanced by offerings from local brewers like Burdock and Longslice, the latter of which the diner has partnered with to create its own Lakeview Pilsner.

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
Left to right: strawberry, vanilla, cookies ’n’ cream and chocolate milkshakes ($9.50 each). The Lakeview’s milkshake program will include soft-serve options as soon as their new machine is up and running

 

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What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
A standard gin martini is made with Beefeater or Tanqueray and can be customized—dry, wet, dirty, filthy, etc. $14

 

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
A classic Manhattan finished with an amaretto cherry ($14) and a glass of L’Archetipo Litrotto Bianco, one of the new additions to the Lakeview’s wine list
The space

Most of the updates made to the 120-seat restaurant are so subtle that Hakim says even regulars can’t spot them—and that’s exactly what the team was going for. “You have to be so careful not to ruin what’s already here,” says Montes de Oca. “We tried to match everything as close as possible so it doesn’t look like it’s only a month old.”

The front- and back-of-house spaces were given what the team describes as “an overdue deep cleaning.” The ceilings were repainted, a new speaker system was added and the lighting was updated. The wallpaper in the main dining area was swapped out for a wall of mirrors, giving more dimension to the room.

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
A jukebox is one of the new-yet-nostalgic touches added to the Lakeview’s decor

 

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
Many of the Lakeview’s booths are original, dating back to 1932, when the restaurant first opened

“It was really important for us, in a city where so many old establishments are getting torn down or built over, to maintain its integrity,” says Bokhari. “This room has so much history.”

The front façade is still undergoing renovations, with a new takeout window offering soft-serve ice cream and milkshakes in the works for later this summer. The patio is also slated to get a refresh, which will see more greenery added along with new tables.

The updates are ongoing inside as well, where Bokhari says he wants to add design elements that reflect the Lakeview’s legacy in Toronto. “We’ve done so much research on Toronto’s history to find ways to integrate it,” he says. “Eventually, we’re going to put more art on the walls that tells those stories.”

What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner
What's on the menu at the Lakeview, the recently revamped 90-year-old Dundas West diner

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