This is a review that is about twenty months in the making. Pete’s Place has been on a journey during that time, as have I in trying to review it. Normally, I make two visits to a restaurant to try and get a feel for the menu. With Pete’s Place, I’ve ended up making five. My first visit was in December of 2016, on a day that I attempted to visit Baraka Pita, and finding it closed ended up at Pete’s Place. I ordered the chicken noodle soup and the bacon cheeseburger, and really enjoyed both of them.
The original Petes Place was a rather non-descript white building up on Main Street. It had the whole diner vibe going on. It looked like the kind of place where you would go, for hearty, starch heavy types of meal. Yet, it served more than that.
Unfortunately, I didn’t remember what I had ordered. So, a couple of months later when I was talking about the restaurant with Rene Jamieson, a parishioner at St. John’s Cathedral, she told me that the cheeseburger was the one thing I needed to try. So, on my second visit, that is what I ordered. It was only when I went to write the review, that I realized I had ordered the same thing both times.
It took me a few months to get around to making a third visit. Eventually, though, on one Sunday afternoon, I trekked North Main for lunch. Only to discover when I arrived, that it was the last day of business for Pete’s Place at that location, and made a note to myself to keep track of the progress of the restaurant as they searched for a new home.
For my meal I ordered the sirloin steak. I ordered the steak medium. As I described the place above, I wasn’t sure that I would get an actual medium steak. However, as the picture below displays the cross-section, you can see they did a terrific job on delivering what I asked for.
After a few months I discovered that Pete’s Place had picked out a new location in the Polo Park area. However, that building ended up being a disaster, and so Pete’s Place was left searching again. Eventually, they found space in Osborne Village. Their new location was originally Basil’s, one of the iconic restaurants that in it’s first incarnation helped to define the vibe and image of Osborne Village, long before the national thought leaders discovered it.
Since Basil bowed out, the location has served as a revolving door for restaurants. Although they sounded interesting, I never visited any of them during their increasingly short life cycles. Now however, the location has a well established business, with a well established clientele, taking over the space.
Pete’s Place on Canada Day Weekend
I follow the Pete’s Place Facebook Page, linked above, and noticed that they would be doing a limited menu, soft opening over the Canada Day weekend. This seemed like a good idea, since Osborne Village is always crammed with people for their Canada Day celebrations.
The new location is about as different from the old as you can kept. It’s large, wide open with high ceilings, lots of natural light and great lighting. As they are just starting out, they haven’t put out all the potential tables and chairs, so as a diner there is a feeling of being on your own, even when other tables are occupied. There is also a fairly substantial patio, but I’m not sitting outside in this heat.
I figured, since the burgers were the signature dish of Pete’s I would go with a burger. I ordered the Maple Bacon burger. It was clear when it came that this was an elevated burger compared to what was served at the old location. I also noticed that the quality and style of the dishes had been upgraded along with the food itself.
I wondered for a bit if they would lose some of their original charm and style with higher end product, but when I went back for my second visit, I noticed they also had more basic burger choices on the menu as well. The burger, which is pictured at the top of this post was sensational. It was clear that the signature burgers would be an improvement, especially in the bacon department. The slicers were thicker and of the sort that crisps up really well with out being crumbly.
As they had just opened, there was lots of staff on duty. Couple with the fact that I had arrived fairly early, my service was more than attentive. I don’t remember if the old Pete’s Place was licensed, they may have been, but I never ordered a beer. However, this new location is licensed and features a good selection of local beers. I tried The Seventh Stab Red Ale from Barnhammer Brewing Company. This was a clean, refreshing beer, that really hit the spot on a warm Saturday.
Pete’s Place Pasta
I decided on my return, that, because I really enjoyed the burgers, but the beef was all I had tried, I’d go off the beaten track with my order today. There are a few main dish items on the menu, and I chose the Sausage Ragu. The menu doesn’t say what kind of pasta is in the dish, but it is a long ribbon style. I figured also that I would try something of a starter and ordered the soup. Even though it is incredibly hot out today, it’s cool enough in the restaurant to enjoy a bowl of soup.
The soup was called Cabbage Roll Soup. When it came, and I took my first spoonful, my immediate reaction was: “I’m eating a cabbage roll.” The soup contained bacon, rice, onion, and cabbage. One of the things I liked about it, was it was all the flavour of a cabbage roll, without having to cut through any tough bits of cabbage. This soup also marks a change of approach. At the old location, Chicken Noodle was the only soup, at the new one, there will be others rolled in and out.*
*I’ve since been informed by several Pete’s Place regulars that I just happened to hit Chicken Noodle soup day on my first two visits, but that there has always been a variety of daily soups on the menu. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.
Again, the service was excellent. For my beverage choice, I went with the bottomless Seven-Up, (I didn’t want to fall asleep trying to write this). Both the Seven-Up and the water I requested to go along with it (need to stay hydrated in this heat), were refilled with regularity.
I’ve heard some people talk about the lack of parking in the area, but there is street parking if you’re willing to look, along with a little out back. Also, buses do get you places if you take them. Feet and bikes will also get you there. The new Pete’s Place seems like an improved version of the old one. New things to try, but with many old favourites on the menu. Hopefully they will have a long run in Osborne Village.