Finally visited Toronto's famous Lakeview Lunch diner - and it was dreadful ! My hot hamburger sandwich was covered in viscous commercial-tasting gravy, the "home-made" mashed potatoes were the worst of the genre (mashed without any trace or taste of butter and milk, thus merely two gummy balls) and the burger, way overdone, lacked any beef or spice taste. I overheard the waitress try to tell the guys at the next table that egg creams were made with Coke ! This may have been a great Toronto institution at one point; but on this very limited experience it lacks any merit - nor is it particularly cheap. ( I think my hot sandwich was $8.50 or so).
I think you'd have to go WAY back in time to find out when this place was good. I've been in the neighbourhood for 7 years and it's always been bad.
I live near Lakeview Lunch and went there once last summer. Never again. The food was bad and overpriced and the service was awful. The place was pretty empty and we could never get any attention from our waitress. We had to walk around to the waitress station for ketchup and napkins. Bad.
In that area I highly recommend IF CAFE for sandwiches, salads, great prices and service. They even have a patio when the weather is warm. It is on Dundas just one block west of Ossington.
Lakeview Lunch was great for a few years when a guy named Jerry Harb owned it. I can't remember the time frame - possibly during the eighties. It was lacklustre before that and bad or worse after. It's mainly about the ambiance.
The last time I ate there (I think about 5 years ago), there were no other customers at a peak meal hour and the cook went out to buy some groceries while we waited. The food was blah, though not horrible and the milk shakes were good. The waitress told us that they made more from movie shoots than from food. Whether or not this was true, they went under shortly thereafter.
Unless the area becomes a development mecca, someone will probably always rescue it and keep it open because they fell in love with the decor.
I used to go there years back for hangover breakfasts as my pal lived kitty-korner. They had decent omelettes, couple of cute waitresses and you would usually run into friends. There wasn't much else in the neighbourhood back then. I suppose I have fond memories of the place not because of the food. I'm not surprised to hear they make more for location shoots then from being a diner though.
I agree with all of the above comments. My test of a good diner is how they cook their eggs (omelets and scrambled, in particular). Lakeview's eggs have always been dry. Eggs should be moist (some would go so far as to say runny) - dry = overcooked. If I wanted overcooked eggs I would stay at home. Everything else is average at best.