With their fingers already firmly planted in the brunch arena, the owners of Dominion Road’s Vinyl Coffee Shop have set up a new establishment across the road to try their other hand at dinner and drinks.
Walking into an empty dining room, it was surprising to hear that the place was completely booked out; 40 minutes later it eventually filled up with people who were obviously far more organised. The sheltered courtyard had to suffice, and we took a seat alongside four other groups who had already nabbed their spots by the heaters. Offering up blankets and a warm helping of small talk, the Ralph’s waitstaff immediately managed to retain the community vibe you’ll consistently find at Vinyl.
Given the relaxed spirit, a few tiny things went amiss, like a request of cooking preference for the steak. The default was medium-rare and proved to be a substantial choice, coming topped with a fried egg, a cylindrical butter sauce, curly fries and watercress salad. The chicken leg/thigh is also a hearty option, served with a mountain of Asian slaw and three potatoes that appeared to have been mashed, moulded back into the shape of a potato, and then fried. A douse of the salty, chimichurri sauce managed to avoid it falling into the realm of something you could make at home.
The use of the frier is abundant and those counting calories should probably keep walking. The only things for those on the health bandwagon are the aforementioned Asian slaw and watercress salad. The rest of the handwritten menu is made up of American-inspired cuisine like a comforting mac ’n cheese with the addition of Cheetos, fried pickles, and three burgers - all of which come stacked to the rafters on shimmering brioche buns and with a generous helping of curly fries. The concise drinks list is made up of two Good George craft beers on tap, a handful of bottled varieties in the fridge, a selection of local wines and slushy cocktails.
Thanks to the loyal following at Vinyl, Ralph’s will no doubt evolve into a regular port of call for those in the neighbourhood. It's a pleasant place to eat, and if you go enough everybody will soon know your name.