This wasn’t our first choice. Our attended destination was to be closed for a week. So walking around the block MissVancouverPiggy and I eventually ended our journey here.
Basing our choice on the exterior, this seemed like a good bet, or at least a restaurant that would be fun to write about. The windows were trimmed with that classic black and white diner checker. The decals lured you in to listen to the music of the 50’s and 60’s on their real working juke box, a place where rock and roll was forever. I was however most interested in their advertised 50’s style fruit bowls and milkshakes.
At the door we were greeted by full sized coloured statues. They were loosely based off celebrities that defined pop culture in the 50’s. Marilyn in her trademark white dress, risen with the steam from a vent, perfectly posed. Elvis with his quaffed sideburns and curled lip behind a standing microphone, no blue suede shoes though. And James Dean, which required some research on my part to identify.
It was a nice day and the patio out front had plenty of shaded seating under umbrellas, but we could not miss out on sitting indoors. Dining surrounded by so much retro nostalgia. It was such a fun space, and there aren’t many well conceived themed restaurants in Vancouver.
Inside the restaurant was made to feel like you were stepping back in time. Bold in primary colours: bright blue walls with red trim and flashy red vinyl booths. Not an inch of wall space was left uncovered. Car models and car moulds traveled haphazardly along the walls, high above the restaurant. Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley were heavily represented here as well. Their faces seen in a series of black and white photos, painted portraits and collector cards framed. It was an assault of imagery, too much for me to recall in print.
The front end of a mint green Chevrolet Cadillac served as the host’s stand. From there we were led to a booth of our choosing, past the bar tucked away in a separate room, adjacent to the neon lit juke box. The seat was waxy, it squeaked as I slid in. In front of us a black and white “I Love Lucy” was playing on the mounted television with no volume. Instead, as promised, 50’s and 60’s classic rock and pop with some swing could be heard playing overhead. And it didn’t come from the juke box behind us.
The diner served breakfast all day, on a page turner of a menu. A collection of eggs, waffles, sandwiches, egg Benedict, omelettes, salads, and charbroiled burgers. So many options and combinations that you could customize your meal to have it your way. It was an easy to navigate listing, with pictures and notes to guide your choice.
We kept it safe and shared a “Vanilla milkshake”, despite the ability to mix and match all their flavours. In hindsight I wouldn’t mind a banana strawberry or a chocolate and peanut butter. It usually comes in the traditional milkshake glass with a refill in the metal milkshake cup. But because we were sharing we each got our own glass, filled to the brim.
All burgers come with lettuce, tomato, and pickles on a toasted bun. You get your choice of aioli, mayo, or relish. Each order comes with a side salad and your choice of French fries or home fries.
We got the “FAT Elvis Burger” with bacon, cheddar, and avocado. You could taste the all beef of the patty. Though I found it dry and bland, it could have used more seasonings. It’s accompanying ingredients were fresh, they even generously used a whole half of an avocado. The mayo and relish aioli offered no flavour, and the use of ketchup was needed. It just wasn’t that tasty, disappointing.
Our salad came with a choice between ranch, French, or raspberry dressing. Out of curiosity I choose the raspberry. This candy-like spread was as colourful as it was sweet. An off putting texture and a souring taste, like the candy “nerds” made into a syrup. Ironically it had a boring taste. The salad itself was an impressive mix, a combination of leafy greens, orange cherry tomatoes, and coloured peppers. Effort was made.
The potatoes were shred thin, and fried crisp. Not bad, but nothing special. An expected side to an average burger.
Each order of eggs Benedict came with large poached “born 3 grade A” eggs, drizzled with their homemade hollandaise sauce. Something unique and a great idea, you get the option to mix and match the two halves of your bennies. Choosing two different toppings under your egg instead of having the same on each half. And you can even have half orders for $9.95, $4-5 less than a full serving.
We paid a little more for the mix to try more. We had a theme going, “Elvis Benny” with cheddar cheese, back bacon, bacon, and turkey bacon. Three kinds of bacon is always a must try for me; but it was with this breakfast bite that I learned, too much bacon can be a bad thing. All together it got too salty, though I enjoyed the crispiness of the regular bacon in the bunch. Both sides of the toasted English muffin was tough, there was a need to rigorously saw through each, though they didn’t taste burnt.
The “Hawaiian Benny” with grilled pineapple and ham. The pineapple was from the can, the ring grilled with the appropriate markings. Its sweetness was different from the other bennies I have ever had. A different mix I can’t imagine wanting again.
With any breakfast order you choose between either home fries or French fries with your bowl fresh fruit. Since we had the fried variety in our last order we went for the home style. The potatoes were chewy and lightly salted, like the French version they were good, but not memorable.
When asked about their fruit bowl our server mentioned they were known for them. That there is often 16 different types of fruit, and sometimes even 20. This statement required that I counted: kiwi, watermelon, banana, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, organge, honey dew, peach, red and green grapes, pineapple, nectarine, peach. 15 close enough. This was sadly my favourite part of our meal. So fresh.
Even the washroom doors matched the theme.
Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I found the theme and decor charming, but the food unremarkable. The menu would be best served as an greasy morning meal, one eaten in a slurry after a late night of drinking. Though nothing you couldn’t find at a “Denny’s” for cheaper. The food was decent, but nothing I need to revisit considering the distance we drove. Don’t deny your cravings.
To read MissVancouverPiggy’s review on Shineshine Diner click here.
2649 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, V6K2G3