CLOSED: 120 Diner (Toronto)

120 Diner

Based on my experience, 120 Diner should really be considered a music lounge as opposed to a diner. On Friday evening, a singer who was part of Music Can Heal, serenaded us with mellow songs which washed away the weekday worries and left us in a meditative trance. The restaurant also features jazz, cabaret, comedic acts and even karaoke nights if you want to grace the stage (here’s the full calendar). 

Similar to music lounges, they offer a variety of cocktails. Two of their in-house concocted mixes look similar but couldn’t be more different.
  • The Burning Ember ($7.10), the same signature red as the tables, is their take on a vodka cran with a splash of ginger ale for bubbles.  
  • Meanwhile, the White Freezie ($9.75) may not look like the childhood frozen treat, but one sip will bring back memories. Surprisingly, we learned it’s the combination raspberry Sourpuss and banana that gives the frozen dessert that distinctive flavour.

Even the Grey Goose Peach Mojito ($12), the least colourful of the bunch, has an element of whimsy from the skewer of candy that accompanies the refreshing drink. I don’t know about you, the anything with muddled mint makes for a great summer drink.

It’s a shame the chicken wings ($12.95 for 1lb) occupies so little of the menu’s real estate (compared to the quarter page dedicated to nachos and poutine) – I almost missed ordering them. Yet, it’d be a shame not to try their wings as they’re fantastic (certainly gives my current favourite, Real Sports, a run for its money).

Using a “jumbo” size, 7-8 arrive in a pound each having an excellent crunchy coating while retaining a succulent juiciness inside. Their in-house honey garlic sauce even incorporates cloves of roasted garlic, perfect for smearing onto the sticky sweet sauce to give the wing an additional richness.

The spicy fish sandwich ($14.95) caught my eye, an unusual sandwich that rarely graces menus … especially one that’s oven poached as opposed to deep fried. Despite the relatively blank looking fish, the sandwich has kick with its three spicy elements: firstly the sambal sauce, an Indonesian blend of chilis and fish sauce, gave it heat and rich flavours; a layer of spicy mayo for that creaminess that makes a sandwich hearty; and lastly pickled jalapenos for a sting that dances on the tongue.

With gooey melted cheese and a soft Ace Bakery ciabatta bun, the sandwich really comes together… seemingly simple but delicious. Even their fries were expertly executed using in-house cut potatoes: retaining a long length, a crispy crust encapsulating fluffy innards, and most importantly, arriving piping hot.

For those who love protein, the 120 Meatlover cheeseburger ($17.95) takes their thick lean beef patty and piles saucy pulled pork and double smoked bacon on top! Take it from me, there’s no way to eat this cleanly so ask for extra napkins at the beginning. This is a serious burger with tons of fixings including cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and crispy fried onions.

Perhaps the most notable feature that makes the restaurant a “diner” is their desserts – a selection of traditional favourites such as carrot cake, brownies, banana pudding and baked lemon squares. I suggest you enquire about their weekly special, as the cheekily named strawberry TALL cake ($7.99) was the perfect ending: pieces of dense white cake piled high with cold soft serve ice cream and tons of sweet strawberries. 

For a person who loves strawberry shortcake, it was that light but sweet enough dessert that left me satisfied. And since 120 Diner now has their own soft serve machine, expect more of these gems in the future.

A fantastic new menu for a restaurant that’s just celebrated its second year anniversary. Still the generous portions and affordable prices the restaurant’s known for, but now an even larger selection and some really interest options – spicy fish sandwich anyone?

Overall mark - 8 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in the mission statement, I will also provide my honest opinion. 

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 120 Church Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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