Eats, chews and leaves: Serving up more than celebrity

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I have a mild fascination with celebrities. The fame. The fortune. The untimely, career-ending, caught-on-tape blunders forever alive on the Internet. Until I can reach the level of fame achieved by so few — Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Honey Boo Boo — I’ve relegated myself to dining at famous Victoria restaurants.

My recent visit to John’s Place seemed timely. Not only did I have a hankering for a home-cooked meal; my friend and I were also en route to an Aidan Knight concert (he’s famous among certain circles, too).

John’s Place has been a landmark on Pandora Avenue since 1984. In early 2012, it was one of a handful of restaurants from across Canada featured on the first season of Food Network Canada’s You Gotta Eat Here. It has also been featured on Flavours of the West Coast, a cooking show produced in Victoria.

As if John’s Place’s level of fame wasn’t enough for me, every inch of wall space in this tiny diner is covered with snapshots of famous patrons, film and music posters, bumper stickers and photos of past and present staff. If you’re so inclined, a fully operational jukebox will play your request.

Despite my fascination with all things celebrity, I keep returning to John’s for the food. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have never been disappointed.

Be sure to arrive hungry. All lunch and dinner patrons are greeted with a basket of warm, homemade herb bread and real butter. John’s Place uses real butter in lieu of margarine, and the kitchen staff even make their own mayonnaise and salad dressings.

My most recent trip occurred over dinnertime. I decided on John’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatloaf dish ($11.95). It was a perfectly sized portion of home-style meatloaf, complete with mashed potatoes, steamed carrots and mushroom gravy. This wasn’t the first time I’d ordered the dish, and I’d do it again. I’ve never had a meatloaf as tender.

My friend went for the chicken souvlaki wrap ($9.95) with garden salad. Her warm pita oozed tzatziki and tender chicken. She couldn’t spare me a bite — it was that delicious. What really impressed me was the salad. Her maple-balsamic dressing (made in-house, of course) was the unifying ingredient amongst a generous serving of tomato, cucumber, garbanzo beans, bean sprouts and shredded beet and carrot. My fellow salad-eaters know this level of vegetable action doesn’t happen often.

Even if you don’t share my love for celebrities, I’d recommend a meal (or two) at John’s Place.

4 out of 5 starts

John’s Place
723 Pandora Avenue
Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. (or until the last customer leaves)
Saturday & Sunday: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., 5–9 p.m. (or until the last customer leaves)

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