Thursday, February 7, 2008

Follow Your Nose

My job has me spending a fair amount of time driving around town, visiting clients, picking up materials and yes - looking for places to have lunch. I'm one of those people who likes finding that out-of-the-way place nobody has discovered yet, but makes the best something-or-other. Often these sorts of places are not hidden at all, but sitting there as I drive them by day after day.

Such is the case with Nathan's Grill in Burnaby. As far as I can tell, Nathan's entire advertising strategy comes in the form of small roadside signs with the words "Nathan's Grill" and an arrow printed on them. If you drive anywhere near 8-Rinks or the Douglas Road area of Burnaby you may have seen them yourself. Don't get me wrong. I'm not making fun of this approach. Hell, it worked for hundreds of roadside joints in the American mid-west, and for whatever tourist attraction makes its home in Bridal Falls on your way to Hope. It also worked on me.

I finally got around to following those signs last week ... and it's a damn good thing the signs are there. I think any GPS system would give up on trying to navigate the labyrinth of roads that weave their way through one of the many light industrial zones in Burnaby. 5 turns into the trip I began to wonder how any restaurant could survive out here. But being the adventurous type, I persevered.

Pulling into the parking lot at Nathan's I solved one piece of the puzzle. About 3/4 of the parking spots were filled with "Location Caterers" trucks. Nathan's is the steady side of a cyclical catering firm which also means the food should be solid ... another possible answer to the mystery of why/how this place survives among the warehouses.

I was almost expecting a grimy diner-style place ... the sort you would find above the office of a lumber yard. Nathan's is nothing of the sort. It's more of an Earl's-meets-diner sort of room, with dark tile on the floor, plasma televisions on the wall and as many trucker caps as you'd see at a Punk'd reunion. Oh yeah ... the music selection was enjoyable if a bit loud (a theme you'll see repeated in this blog.) If you're in the area, it'd be a great place to watch a Canucks PPV.

Menu is the usual selection of burgers and sandwiches. The day sheet featured a mushroom soup (shown above) a couple of pork-chop type mains, and a cheesecake desert. I however had stopped my gaze at the pastrami sandwich.

The soup was the real star here. Simply seasoned but nicely prepared, it was a perfect way to warm up after a cold and wet morning. The sandwich was thick with pastrami, red wine cheddar and tomato. A little on the salty side (another theme you'll see repeated) but satisfying. The fries were okay ... you won't miss them if you don't order them.

All in all a nice discovery, and one I'll be returning to for breakfast. They're open at 7:30am, and any place that caters to the movie industry and the hard-working sort that ply their trade in these industrial areas has to do a good breakfast.

Nathan's Grill
6390 Darnley Street
Burnaby, BC
Phone: 604-291-9926

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