NEWELL'S CAFÉ (784 Queen St. E.)
THE DEAD RINGERS: Chris & Tomas
ALL-DAY BREAKFAST: YES
COFFEE/ESPRESSO BAR: NO
COFFEE INCLUDED: YES
FREE REFILLS: YES
HP SAUCE: YES
What do you get when you combine a slew of beggared drunks, $11 pitchers of beer, a toothless hooker and Burton Cummings on the jukebox? Character; that's what. Although Newell's Café, found on Queen East, just down the street from the famous Jilly's in Toronto's charmingly slummy Queen Broadview Village may seem a little sketchy at first glance, the food is sublime and the clientele are eclectic to say the very least.
NEWELL'S COMBINATION BREAKFAST:
THE FOOD: As the age old proverb goes, "You can't judge a book by it's cover"; and that's the best way I can think of to describe this truly questionable hole in the wall. From both the inside and out, Newell's seems pretty crude; but given the chance, ol' Franky on the griddle is like the Jesus of breakfast, performing miracles with every broken eggshell. For a mere $4.75 (a .50 cent upgrade from the standard eggs n' bakey), one can order up the greasiest miracle of them all; Newell's Combination Breakfast. A bottomless cuppa coffee, two slices of perfectly fried bacon, two tasty sausages, two pieces of thinly sliced ham (which I initially mistook for fried bologna), two eggs, two slices of toast and a heaping pile of simple yet sapid hashbrowns.
THE PRICE: The best priced all-day breakfast in town. With $11 pitchers and a $4.25 breakfast including coffee, how they even make a profit here is beyond me.
THE SERVICE: And it goes a little something like this...
Drunkard: "Franky! You ever get a call from a phone number that said 0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0? It said...1 million."
Drunkard's Girlfriend: "No! It said 1 million and 1 stupid! I think it was the creditors!"
Drunkard: But we don't have credit...
Franky: ... (*blank faced and confused*)
Old guy: You guys want some more coffee?"
But yeah...not as funny to read as it was to witness story aside, the service was pretty damn good. Although Franky seems to have the relative IQ of a deckchair, he's good at what he does and the other old chap is quicktime on the coffees and making sure the jukebox keeps bumpin' the ol' country jams. Kudos.
THE AMBIANCE: Approaching Newell's Café, Tomas and I were kindly greeted by a half-crocked native girl letting us know how great the food was inside. Impressed with the courtesy, we strolled inside and out of the clear blue sky came the belting voice of a young Mick Jones, singing in my head an appropriate Should I Stay or Should I Go?. Looking at Tomas, I could see he was thinking the same thing. I don't quite recall who made the first move, but before I knew it we were seated at a long and disheveled diner style bar with menus and coffees in front of us. A good part of Newell's charm can be attributed to the mish-mash of makeshift shelves, faux wood panelling, dirty old wallpaper, 70's bar paraphernalia and photos of 50's icons. Oh, and it smelled like Horseshoe Camp. I miss Horseshoe. Horseshoe Camp Trivia: Cher and and one of her mother's early husbands used to travel up to Horseshoe (a family owned bush camp north of Spanish, ON, only accessible by snowmobile) in the 50's and my great grandpa used to take her ice-fishing. Now you know.
Put simply; Newell's Café is not for the tight-laced and we like it that way. If you're on the east end, craving the greasiest of spoons and don't get squeamish around a rowdy bunch of derelicts with barely enough teeth in the whole joint to form a full set, then you're our kind of people and Newell's Café might just be your kind of place.