Brian Tahririha sure knows how to create a menu that evokes a wide world of eating.
As the new owner of the Lost in the '50s restaurant at 7741 Edmonds St., Tahririha wanted to create a unique menu with a big-world feel and that's highly evident in how he named all his dishes.
The most popular dish, an Alberta classic burger, is followed closely by the L.A. King burger and the Kentucky lemon chicken burger. If you want to "go" to the U.S. Midwest, the Chicago tenderloin is your choice and then going east, the New York sirloin burger is a prelude to the London secret burger.
And to complete your worldwide food journey, the Alaska pollock fish and chips is as far north as you get, while the Texas barbecue burger is as far south as your culinary journey will take you.
"I had a lot of fun putting this menu together," said Tahririha. "We had our soft opening on Sept. 1 and it's been pretty busy ever since."
The long spate of good late summer weather certainly helped Tahririha's business because his eatery has no indoor seats. All of the seats are outside and while he's loathe to call it a drive-thru, he will concede to calling his place a drive-in, pick-up restaurant.
"Everything is made fresh here so it takes a little time to cook everything," he said. "We use AAA beef and that takes eight to 10 minutes to cook. That's why we ask people to call in their order and then come by in 15 minutes because it will be ready to be picked up from our side window."
Tahririha has invested a lot of money and sweat equity into the venture, putting a fresh coat of paint on the exterior and completely revamping the interior kitchen area. But perhaps the biggest change is Tahririha is cutting no corners on food quality.
"This is our chicken breast," he said, pointing to chicken soaked lightly in a lemon saffron sauce.
"Everything's natural, nothing's breaded and we start from scratch every morning."
His ground beef is sourced locally and Tahririha said all he adds is "onions, salt, pepper and a touch of garlic powder."
When the Burnaby NOW sat down with Tahririha to try out some of his dishes, we were impressed how such a small menu can have such big and bold tastes.
The L.A. King burger, a seemingly simple AAA burger with mushrooms, bacon and cheese is as tasty a bacon cheeseburger as you'll get anywhere in the city.
As we were eating away, one of Tahririha's regulars, Johnnie Tanack calls and he only has to say his name and Tahririha knows what he has to make in the next 15 minutes.
"Johnnie loves the Kentucky lemon chicken," said Tahririha. "He's one of our best customers and that's his go-to dish."
The chicken breast is fresh and once grilled, Tahririha adds a dash of ranch sauce and voila, a healthy chicken sandwich to go for $8.
For our second dish, we share the Bull Dog, a massive beef hot dog that Tahririha adds onions, peppers and a dash of mustard to.
We can't finish the Bull Dog fast enough, and it's easy to wash down with the homemade milkshakes that server Gabriela Escoto is making.
We would have saved room for ice cream, but with two dishes and two milkshakes, the final bill is $20 and we're stuffed.
With better planning, we'll try the $2 homemade lemonade.
"I actually found the machine on Craigslist," said Tahririha. "I went out to Abbotsford to pick it up for $10 and it still works like new."
To evoke the 1950s theme, music of the era is constantly playing, meaning a whole lot of shaking Elvis hits add a different and comfortable vibe to the restaurant.
The retro look was certainly noticed by the producers of the Supernatural television series, who took over the restaurant for two days in October for filming.
With winter coming, Tahririha hopes to ramp up his drive-in, pick-up service.
"I'm thinking about $30 for four burgers, drinks and fries for the family," he said. "You call in and 15 minutes later, you come to pick it up at our side window."
Tahririha's ability to change on the fly is evident in his other career: he's a real estate agent.
"I like being a Realtor, but this was an opportunity to build something from the ground up," he said of his restaurant. "I've had a hand in every aspect of this place and now that I see people coming in and asking for my food, I'm very happy."
"My food is fresh and it's affordable," he said. "I love everything on the menu and I'm always trying to get better. I don't want to disappoint people."
The Lost in the '50s Drive In is located at 7741 Edmonds in South Burnaby. To make a drive-in, pick-up order, call 604-553-1950.