Dinner With The Great One
What’s with me and misleading post titles lately?
No, I didn’t have dinner with The Rock – although that would be incredibly freaking cool. Nor did I actually have dinner with Wayne Gretzky – I’d probably faint before I ever even touched my fork – but it sure felt like I did when I got to go to Wayne Gretzky’s restaurant (clicky) in Toronto last week while I was on course for work.
All pictures can be clicked on for a bigger version.
We roll up to the restuarant, and they have a tremendous sign up at the front:
When you walk in to the front of the restaurant, there’s a fantastic store chock full of Gretzky merchandise: t-shirts, golf shirts, hats, pucks, tiny sticks, mugs, keychains… all kinds of stuff. And then, as you proceed inside, you see the desert display:
Would you LOOK at the size of that cake?!? Keep that in mind. I’ll come back to that later.
So once we sat down, the place looked really good. There were two parts of the restaurant – the outer perimeter looked really snazzy, the walls done in a deep red that looked really nice, with art work and magazine covers of Wayne, and even one of Janet on the walls. The accents and tables were nice wood, so it looked cool.
Close to us was the following chalkboard:
Someone’s got some SERIOUS MAD CHALK SKILLZ.
Our area where we were seated was right in front of the kitchen, so it was more of a diner-like setting, with a black and white checkerboard floor, and our tables were designed like small hockey rinks – each of the designed with a different scoring play from Gretzky’s career on them – drawn like you might see on a play book or football chalk board.
Our two tables had two very memorable plays – ones that I can still remember the highlights of very vivdly – of the playoff goal he scored on Mike Vernon while streaking down the left wing, and of the record-breaking goal he scored against the Oilers, when Marty McSorley made that brilliant little touch pass to a wide open Gretzky for the goal.
Wait a minute.
Did I just use the words "Marty McSorely" and "brilliant" in the same sentence?
Anywho… continuing on…
So, we have dinner – which was pretty darned good – and we see the desert menu. Lo and behold, there’s the cake we saw earlier. A slice is $13.99, but it’s TEN LAYERS.
The four of us decide to go for it (the bill wasn’t mine, so they didn’t have to twist my arm very much). Here’s a shot of the cake (you’ve GOTTA click this for the big version):
That’s our friend Becky dodging behind the FREAKING GI-NORMOUS piece of cake. Once we laid it down to cut it, IT TOOK UP TWO PLATES!!
Anyway, the cake was awesome. The food was excellent, and the four of us (myself, Stephanie, my co-worker Vern, and our friend Becky) had a real good time.
Then it was time to go sight-see.
This place is AMAZING. If you’re AT ALL a Gretzky fan, you MUST see this place before you die. Put it on your bucket list. DO IT!
Here’s some shots from around the restaurant:
Picture of Wayne with Gordie Howe:
A framed ROOKIE JERSEY from the Oiler years:
And right behind our table was this awesome glass display case with sticks and pucks in it. Each item held some significance in Gretzky’s career:
If you look closely, you can see on that Titan stick up close that it was used when he broke Bobby Orr’s scoring record. HOW COOL IS THAT?!?
Then you got to walk through this AMAZING back hallway, filled with display cases FULL of stuff covering Gretzky’s entire lifetime and career. Most items are noted with their significance (ie: this jersey was worn during his last game in Toronto, or these gloves were worn scoring this point, etc). They even have the puck from his first NHL goal:
There’s even a jersey from the legendary Vladislav Tretiak, the amazing Soviet goalie that made us all look like fools:
Here’s a look at the case in chronological order:
As a child: (the score sheet in the background is the ACTUAL score sheet from the year he scored 368 goals as a 10 year old is 68 games. Nevermind the fact he was playing against kids much older than him!
The teenage years: (marking his time in The Soo, and playing with Indianapolis before moving to Edmonton)
Of course, the Oiler years, where he became a legend:
The "Trade Heard Round The World" sent Gretzky to Los Angeles in 1988:
There’s even some stuff from his All-Star and International play:
Gretzky was the King of Broadway:
And for the motherlode… one of these authentic, signed jerseys will be mine SOME DAY!!
At the end of the night, we stopped off at the merchandise store and picked up all kinds of things Gretzky’s to give to the relatives for Christmas and birthdays. I picked up a sweet looking mug and puck.
But what trip to Toronto and talking about Wayne Gretzky would be complete without talking about the Stanley Cup? After all, Gretzky and Lord Stanley’s Mug are like bread and peanut butter – they go great together and when you think of one, you think of the other.
I was fortunate enough to have 45 minutes in the Hockey Hall Of Fame (damned place closes at 5 PM!!!), and in breezing through the place, I caught the 802 pucks for Gretzky’s goal record, and a whole whack of great jerseys and other things, but I got to see the Holy Grail of professional hockey (and touch it too!) – the Stanley Cup. We got a couple of pro shot pictures. One is of myself and the Cup, and the other is of the Cup with myself and Stephanie.
I’ve got to go back some day and see all the rest of the great hockey memories, and spent more time just taking it all in and really just enjoying it. This was pretty rushed due to my course hours, but all in all, it was a hockey – and Gretzky – fans’ dream!