Tag Archives: Calgary breakfasts

At Calgary’s River Cafe, Bacon and Eggs is an Art Form

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Perfection in bacon and eggs at Calgary’s divine River Cafe

Bacon and eggs. Pretty much every morning eatery serves this, and there’s usually nothing to get excited about, as long as the eggs and bacon are cooked to the customer’s liking.

So when bacon and eggs are elevated to an art form, as they are at sublime River Café in Calgary’s downtown Prince’s Island Park, it’s worth noting, and applauding.

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A team of chefs at work

Offered only during weekend brunch, their “fresh farm eggs any style” would scarcely merit your attention alongside more alluring options like brioche French toast or smoked salmon and wild rice cakes. But it’s the painstaking attention to quality and detail that makes this dish exceptional.

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Brioche French toast is another delightful choice

I don’t know if the eggs are organic and free range, but they are perfectly cooked over easy. Overall, perhaps the least notable item on the plate.

You really start to take notice at the bacon: thin slices of house-cured Berkshire maple bacon. Please don’t ruin this by ordering it overly crispy.

Then there’s a pocket of brightly coloured, honey-dressed fingerling potatoes, a massive leap above your typical hash browns. The obligatory toast is yet another step up—wood-grilled sourdough rye.

When each ingredient is this well thought out, and executed by River Café’s small team of chefs, $17 almost seems a bargain for bacon and eggs.

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River Cafe is in a delightful park setting in Calgary’s downtown core

River Cafe
25 Prince’s Island Park, Calgary
Weekend brunch 10 am-3 pm
Reservations online or at 403-261-7670

Porridge Reimagined at Sidewalk Citizen

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New-age porridge at Calgary’s Sidewalk Citizen Restaurant

If there’s a restaurant breakfast in desperate need of a refresh, it’s good old porridge. The standard recipe, for eons, has been oats, milk and brown sugar. In other words, sugary pablum for the masses.

So, it’s delightful to find porridge reimagined at the splendid new Sidewalk Citizen, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in Calgary’s Central Memorial Park.

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The main dining area is in a gorgeous solarium

The only traditional ingredient here is oats, though they are organic, steel cut and local. The dominant presence is softened, red fife wheat berries (also organic and local), which add some nice texture compared with your standard gruel. Sliced apples, toasted almonds and a dash of cinnamon fill out the bowl, with a little cup of almond milk on the side.

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The porridge features local, organic grains and oats

This so-called Ashora is a moderate-sized dish ($12), with each complex mouthful to be savoured. Should you want something approaching the normal breakfast plateful, I’d suggest an order of sprouted seed rye bread ($6), an equally revolutionary take on toast—a dense concoction of spelt and rye flour, sprouted rye and red-fife wheat berries, sunflower, pumpkin flax and sesame seeds, dark beer and buttermilk. Add toppings like rose jam ($2.50) or whipped tahini butter ($3), and you have a small, unique meal in itself.

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Other-worldly seed toast

As you can see, it’s mostly an a la carte menu, meaning that when I throw in some brewed Phil & Sebastian coffee, my breakfast tally approaches $25. Still, it’s a unique, flavourful morning meal, served in a spectacular wood-line solarium, the latest, innovative offering from the Sidewalk Citizen team.

Sidewalk Citizen

There’s also seating beside the open kitchen

Sidewalk Citizen Restaurant
340 13 Avenue SW, Calgary
Tuesday to Thursday and Sunday 8 am-10 pm, Friday-Saturday 8 am-11 pm. Closed Monday
403-263-2999

Calgary’s Deluxe Breakfast Diners

Diner Deluxe is a funky Calgary breakfast spot in a converted automotive garage

Diner Deluxe is a funky Calgary breakfast spot in a converted automotive garage

If there’s a guaranteed restaurant moneymaker in Calgary, it may well be the breakfast diner. There are at least a dozen of these beasts in the city, many serving basic, bountiful breakfast fare and most attracting lineups, especially on weekends, despite the Calgary price premium. At the top of the class are two chef-driven places, less than a block apart, which are as innovative and excellent as any you’ll find in much bigger cities.

You'll definitely be rubbing shoulders with other diners at Calgary breakfast hotspot OEB

You’ll definitely be rubbing shoulders with other diners at Calgary breakfast hotspot OEB

If weekend brunch lineups are any indicator, OEB Breakfast Co. (“Feed the Need”) is currently the hippest place in Calgary for a morning meal. Before 8 am on a couple of Saturday visits, a queue has already formed outside this compact diner for professionally produced bennies, crepes and Belgium waffles, “scramblettes” and sides of apple-wood smoked bacon and herbed potatoes cooked in organic duck fat.

But it’s chef Mauro Martina’s specials that are the innovative standouts. How about Soul ‘N A Bowl, featuring poached eggs, potatoes (a little too salty), cheese curds, bacon lardons and brown butter hollandaise, all piled into one of those Chinese takeout boxes? Or a smoked black cod and egg scramble or my Munchner meatloaf? Like many dishes here, the ham meatloaf has a lot going on—including sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon lardons, poached eggs and sourdough toast—and yet it all comes together in a smorgasbord of flavours.

For about $12-14, you get an abundance of locally sourced food from a kitchen genius, with usually three other cooks behind the counter. It’s going to take a lot of visits to work my way through this ever-changing menu.

Soul in a Bowl packs a lot of breakfast goodies into a takeout-style box

Soul in a Bowl packs a lot of breakfast goodies into a takeout-style box

OEB Breakfast Co.
824 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary
Daily 7 am-3 pm
OEB Breakfast Co. on Urbanspoon

Diner Deluxe has long been the flagship for funky, original breakfasts in Calgary. Consider its fried oatmeal with lemon curd and vanilla cream or the savoury, stuffed French toast—featuring rosemary apple flax sourdough with Sylvan Star gouda, ham and rosemary syrup. Breakfast dishes such as these and Yukon gold potato pancakes almost overshadow standards like fine eggs benedict, breakfast poutine and, later in the day, burgers, mac and cheese, roasted chops and braised lamb shanks.

Ham and Gouda are squeezed into this rosemary sourdough French toast at Diner Deluxe

Ham and Gouda are squeezed into this rosemary sourdough French toast at Diner Deluxe

My special of prime rib eggs benedict atop Yorkshire pudding certainly meets that criteria, with a sizable mound of home fries and sweet potatoes making an equally creative accompaniment. Topped off with some good Phil and Sebastian’s 15-Kilo organic coffee, it’s a nice way to start the day, if you don’t mind an $18 price tag (including said coffee) and a Saturday line that starts forming around 8:30. What puts it over the top is the funky and comfy retro 50s’ diner look, which is all the more genuine considering it’s a converted garage, albeit a bit chilly in the winter.

Prime rib eggs benedict on Yorkshire pudding, anyone?

Prime rib eggs benedict on Yorkshire pudding, anyone?

Diner Deluxe
804 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary
Weekdays 7:30 am-9:30 pm, Saturday 8 am-3 pm and 5 pm-9:30 pm, Sunday 8 am-3 pm
Diner Deluxe on Urbanspoon