Walking in the door you are transported back to the 1950's in this classic diner. 50' & 60's rock and roll on the speakers, memorabilia on the walls, and chrome. Dick's wants you to come back to a simpler time of food, and their website had a great quote about days gone by:
"I remember when hamburgers used to be prepared with high quality, fresh ground beef and cooked over charcoal, not fried, 'flame broiled', or microwaved. Those were the days when you ordered French Fries you got fresh, hand-cut potatoes cooked just like the chip trucks used to. Indeed asking for a milkshake meant you could rely on getting a generous portion of premium ice cream with real vanilla and real whipped cream. Unfortunately, over the years, that trusts has been broken by chain restaurants as they continue to place a higher value on speed, marketing and cost 'control' than they do on product quality."
I read that and pictured an old timer sitting on a porch in a rocking chair, straw in his mouth, wearing overalls. Ah the good old days.
We entered the joint and looked up to the ordering board before seating. This must be a common mistake because the lady behind the counter suggested we take a seat. See I thought you ordered and took your food to your seat, but no, table service is included. And while we didn't have a roller skating waitress with a poodle skirt, our waiter was efficient and was willing to refill pop and meet our needs.
Dick's organizes their burger options by choosing your burger, then you can add a combo on. LJ & I both went with the Deluxe Cheese Burger (cheddar, fried onions, mustard, aioli, lettuce & tomato) $6.65; I went with the Chili Cheese Fry & Drink combo (for about $4 more) and LJ got the Onion Rings and Drink for about the same cost.
I wanted to try a little bit of everything, so the chili fries let me get the both, all while sampling onion rings across the table! A generous dish of the chili cheese fries came out. The fries themselves were fresh cut, and tasted just like chip truck fries, just like they claimed.
The next layer up was the chili. I was enticed to try the chili from their sign outside (see last photo of the review). Well, the chili was . . . ok. I mean it was meaty, but over all didn't have much spice or flavour in my opinion. I actually had to use a lot of ketchup on it. It's not bad, but you know me, I like my food to have a real kick. The top was just plain cheddar.
Then there were the onion rings. Now I normally am not a fan to breaded onion rings. I like battered because of the smooth, crunchy texture. Breaded are rough and crumbly. That being said, these were probably the best breaded onion rings I've had before. Light, crispy with a hint of wonderful. They call them "Dick's Awesome" onion rings, and they were right.
Now onto the burger. This is their baby, what they 'do'. Well I'll tell you up front I was disappointed in them. Lets break this burger down:
First, the bun. I can't remember the exact ratio on the menu, but this is basically a whole wheat bun. Whole wheat. I'm just going to let that set in for a minute. ................ sure the bun was fresh but whole wheat can taste one of two ways: cardboard or blah. These were blah (thankfully). But the bun dominates the burger.
Second, the beef. The good news is is made with fresh ground Angus beef. The bad news, no flavour in there either. Again, the execution of the cooking was done well, but the beef was bland.
Third, the condiments. The bad was too much lettuce for me. The good was the fried onions which while mild, added a nice dimension to the burger. Finally, although I could only taste a hint of it, the aioli was delightful. But they really need to bump it up and slather it on so it oozes out.
So the burger and the chili was a bust for me. That's ok though, they have good fries and killer onion rings. And I look forward to trying some other dishes like their hot dog, sandwiches and of course, the milkshakes and ice cream.
1485 Merivale Road, Ottawa (Nepean)