Dining on a budget:
I walked into the Canadian Cafe in Monrovia ready to take all of Canada they were willing to throw at me.
The amount of time I’ve spent in Canada doesn’t even add up to 20 minutes – the time it took to walk back and forth over The Falls. So I decided to do a bit of culinary research on America’s neighbors to the north.
In addition to the many varieties of fish, shellfish, and other seafood to be found, Quebec is known for its cheese; Ontario, its maple syrup; and in Newfoundland, seal flippers, cod tongues, moose, caribou and venison are among the delicacies.
I didn’t find any of these on the Canadian Cafe’s menu – unless they have an In-N-Out -styled secret menu – so I decided to piece together the most Canadian meal I could.
It’s not that often that I consume soft drinks, but I made an exception for ginger ale. It was Canada Dry.
After browsing through the numerous sandwiches, including the corned beef selections, fish on a bun (halibut), ham and cheese, Canadian Western sandwich (a ham omelette served on sourdough), the Newfie Special (fried bologna sandwich), and the Bacon Buddy (made from real Canadian Bacon), I decided upon the $4.95 Canadian Bacon Cheeseburger, which has a slice of Canadian Bacon, in addition to the beef and cheese.
Canadian bacon, or peamal bacon, comes from boneless pork loins, cut from the leaner portions of the loin, according to the Canadian Cafe’s literature. I liken it to the consistency of ham, although that cut comes from the rear legs.
The restaurant also uses 1/2 pound meat patties for their burgers. I think this is partly the reason why mine ended up being the biggest hamburger I think I’ve ever had in my life.
If the Hamburglar were to try and steal a few of these, he would need some heavy machinery.
It was truly a tasty burger, although in the end, I had to resort to using a knife and fork to finish it.
Continuing on my mission of the ultra-Canadian feast, I ordered a $3.95 side order of Canadian Fries.
I’ll have to admit, I didn’t know what to expect after reading the menu description, which read “with gravy made with ground beef and mushrooms – fondly called `wet fries.”‘
But I was pleasantly surprised at how good the fries were. The gravy is a light-colored one, similar to cream of mushroom soup, and tasted very good with the beef and mushrooms. There are, however, enough potatoes for two to three people. I wouldn’t advise tackling this side order all by your lonesome.
The prices are fantastic at the Canadian Cafe. Just about everything is under $10.
The establishment is also visually appealing. The walls are covered with scenic Canadian photographs, drawings, hats, flags, license plates and photos like an old Route 66 roadhouse diner.
And there’s always the chance to sing. The lyrics to “Oh Canada” are on your placemat.
Written by Lafayette C. Hight Jr.