Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Out by Lester B. Pearson International Airport, there's a 24-hour old-school diner. Check out the propeller embedded in the sign. A family of sparrows is nesting in the hollow hub of the propeller.

It's the kind of place that has a Banquet Burger on the menu. Most of the all-day breakfasts consist of variations on steak-and-eggs. Every meal comes served on an enormous oval platter. And their onion rings kick ass.

Across from the parking lot are the Air Canada hangars. You can see planes parked or taxiing around on the ground. Every day at noon a huge line-up of airport employees forms, all waiting for Zetsburgers with fries and gravy.

I have a soft spot for the airport because my mother's father was a pilot for his entire professional career. He was a test pilot in World War II and almost died in a plane crash just a few weeks before my mother was born. He went on to become a pilot of private jets, and then an airplane salesman. He has more than a few exciting adventure stories to tell.

You can also see planes taking off, depending on which runway is in use that day. If you look up above the gap between the two E's in BEER you'll see a plane that just left the ground.

When summer finally arrives, we'll go for dinner, then park in the strip mall just down the street, at the end of one of the major runways. If the prevailing winds dictate that it's in use, the planes will land or take off just a few meters away. People set up lawn chairs, bring their kids, and make an evening of it. As the jet engines thunder past, just a few stories above our heads, we all ooh and ahh. Dusk sinks to darkness and the airport lights twinkle on. The vast spread of airport concrete transforms into a magical fairyland.

If you're ever passing through Toronto, don't miss it.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

Sounds spectacular, especially if you have some fries with gravy with ya.

Karen said...

Looks like an awesome place. I live in NJ which is Diner-central, so I am a bit of diner fanatic. I would love to check that out.

unsigned said...


whatigotsofar said...

This is how I see it. Is there a closer 24-hour all day breakfast diner? Maybe, maybe not. Going down to the airport just for pancakes at 2AM seems a bit too much trouble for me.

I guess I'm just not amazed at air travel. Not that I've flown much. Been in the air twice in my life, that's it. But seeing planes take off and land doesn't do it for me.

Claire said...

Next time I'm over, it's so on.


jameil1922 said...

you already know how i feel about burgers!!! i'll pass on the gravy but the rest? need!

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: They serve their side of gravy in a styrofoam coffee cup. That's a lot of gravy! I love the abundance.

Karen: You would love it. It's so old-school, including a lot of the customers. Lots of manly men with moustaches and uniforms, talking about sports in between bites.

Whatigotsofar: We usually head out to Zet's because it's Ken's preference. There's something about it, maybe the abundant gravy, that does it for him. I do enjoy the romance of the airport. Maybe it's bred into me from my grandfather's tales.

Claire: Great! :-)

Jameil: You can have a burger and I'll have a steak. Did I mention they have great fries?

nicole said...

That sounds like a great place and now I'm getting hungry - thanks ;)

mex (aka Syb) said...

Just curious.. 'bout how long does it take you to make a typical blog entry like this?

BTW, I enjoy them as I have said

Best, sl

Sparkling Red said...

Nicole: I don't feel sorry for you. You have German cake! ;-)

Mex aka Syb: It takes an average of 40 minutes, I guess. I don't always pay attention to when I start and finish.
I'm glad that you enjoy my show-and-tells. :-)

Aurora said...

Above the two EEs in Beer is a plane taking off.

GREAT line :-)

Nilsa S. said...

I love the local's insight into what to do. It makes experiences way more fun that always following the tour book! And diners are the best!

Jenski said...

What a great place to be - diner food and planes flying close overhead! I'll put it on a Toronto list for when I get there someday.