Meatloaf belts out his epic sing-along ballad Paradise by the Dashboard Light, while Peter Fonda tools by in a classic motorcycle movie projected on the wall across from the booth where Cosmo Meens waits.
The chef-owner of Hot and Cold Café on Cook Street says he rolled in ahead of me, on his 1978 Honda, at 11 a.m. just in time for the sign to flip to ‘open’ at Wheelies (2620 Rock Bay Ave.).
The vibe at Wheelies is a throwback through decades of motorcycle culture, cruising the ‘60s through ‘80s. Meens was dying to try the motorcycle café with attached bike shop – or vice versa.
A concise menu hearkens to the simplicity of old-school bike culture. Chef Kai Musseau boasts a locally sourced menu that is constantly changing to offer a fresh take on classics.
“The bigger the menu, the more room for error in it. I started with a really small menu,” Meens says of his own experience.
We order The Pork and The Chicken, vowing to reserve belly room for the rising-star ice cream sandwich for dessert.
It doesn’t take long for the wooden slabs to arrive with our sandwiches.
The crispy crust of the ciabatta bun crunches as Meens splits The Pork in two. He immediately recognizes it as a roll from Fol Epi in Vic West. “Those are absolutely fresh.”
Inside it’s filled with root beer-braised Island pork with pickled carrot and daikon topped with arugula and chimichurri aioli.
“The pork is killer,” Meens says, mowing down for second bite. “Nice deep, delicious braised pork with super bright pickle on there.”
A pair of cabbage fans, we delve into The Chicken: pulled sesame chicken, peanut lime slaw and Sriracha aioli.
“Totally different flavours. I like the slaw on there; I’m a big cabbage fan,” Meens says.
The Sriracha adds a bit of a bite, and the chicken is juicy and flavourful, likely, Meens says, because it’s not just a breast.
For me, the pickled carrot pulls The Pork ahead of The Chicken. Meens agrees, and apparently so do the regulars at the fairly new café, as staffers say the pig-based sandwich remains the top seller.
After a trip to the parking lot to peruse the bikes, we’ve created just enough wiggle room to split a dessert sandwich – decadent brownie rounds filled with vanilla fudge ice cream, rounded in sweetly roasted nuts.
We opt to leave the spoons on the plates and treat it as the classic finger food that it is.
“Ice cream sandwich is a solid item to have on the menu in summertime,” Meens says with a grin.
Our hands washed of sugary sweet after, I leave him with his ‘78 Honda to chat with the mechanics about getting some electrical work done.
I run out of Wheelies like a Bat Out Of Hell before I’m tempted to have another dessert.