Shanghai Cowgirl

Shanghai Cowgirl Restaurant 538 Queen Street West, Toronto ON
Approx $20 per person
Local Food? some local ingredients
Local Wine/Beer? small selection

Lunch, Dinner
Sun to Thu: 10:30am to 12am
 Fri & Sat: 10:30am to 4am

Evokes images of kung-fu and movie themes, a la Bad Girls’ ‘Lilly Laronette’ (Drew Barrymore) meets Kill Bill’s ‘The Bride’ (Uma Thurman). The décor inside shows the classic diner attributes – a long bar, seating booths, and dim lighting. In actuality, it’s a Queen St. West diner with girl-power kick and an all-over-the-place creative menu that mixes good and decent dishes with good and not-so-good service.

Menu item names like “Ghetto Chicken (with fried mushrooms and gravy)”, “Burn You Twice Chili (with toast)”, and “Geisha Grill (5 oz NY strip and teriyaki seared veggies)” is liable to pique your interest into trying more, and maybe the amusement at the clever names will even enhance the dining experience. Other general items include sandwiches, Shanghai noodles, fried rice, steak, garlic bread, and poutine. There’s also an all-day breakfast menu, for the adventurous.

I tried the burger, with my choice of toppings – I asked for roasted garlic and sautéed onions, but only received the latter. The onions were very nicely done, perfectly crisped, and the burger was hefty, nicely cooked, and tasty, so I’ll assume the garlic would have been up to par as well. My companion had the liver and onions, which was also good, but still diner quality. Little things fell through the cracks – the forgotten drink order, the forgotten garlic, the dirty glassware, etc., but then there was a single waitress on duty, and she may well have been having an off day.

The most alluring aspect of Shanghai Cowgirl is its secret patio, right at the back of the diner, nicely ensconced within high rising wood-fence walls. Away from traffic, cut off from the outside world, this patio erases all visual and most aural distraction, giving you a proper chance to enjoy your Shanghai diner experience.

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Written by Mehreen

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