Calgarians are super stoked on brunch. We’ll stand in line in a snowstorm to get us some hollandaise and hashbrowns, even with a hangover.
But there are some days when you don’t want to stand in line, you just want to eat some egg-related meal and wash it down with a hot cup of coffee from a cute mug with some humanity about you. It’s OK to want that.
I’m going to gift you some very special suggestions for your brunching. They may not all fit your traditional idea of what brunch should be—but that idea has you waiting in line, and remember that you’re skipping the brunch line, just this once. If you learn something, you can repay me by leaving me your favourite brunch (food or drink) recipe in the comments or via Twitter. Then we’re even. And maybe we’ll be brunch buddies someday!
1. Pie Cloud
314 D 10th Street NW, Calgary
There’s no line-up right now at this new Kensington diner with a focus on pies. But it’s only a matter of time. I’m told they’re making basically everything from scratch, from pie crust to mustard to iced tea, and my first three visits have been beyond satisfying. The breakfast menu is small right now, but I’d rather they do five solid dishes awesomely than try to do it all.
2. Big Fish
1112 Edmonton Trail NE, Calgary
You can—but don’t have to—have a little seafood with your brunch fare, like with the trout and spinach hash. Lots of local ingredients here and sustainable fish. There’s almost never a line when I’ve been there. Bonus: They take reservations during brunch hours so you can be doubly sure you’ll get a spot.
3. Vendome Café
940 2 Ave. NW, Calgary
They’re finishing up some renovations to their old building right now but should be reopened this month. When that time comes, we can expect it to reopen with all the expertly baked deliciousness to be found before they started construction—now with air conditioning! Breakfast favourites in the past included their salted caramel french toast with caramelized bananas, salmon gravlax benny eggs Benedict and the breakfast panini. Oh! And their tuna melt for lunch puts all other tuna melts to shame. Did I mention they’re in a gorgeous heritage building with patio? Yep, that too.
A Wee Hashbrowns-on-the-side-sized Disclaimer: You may have to wait in line a few minutes to place your order, and it’ll be busy at peak brunch times, but you should be able to finagle a seat.
4. Sidewalk Citizen‘s Bureka
338 10 Street NW, Calgary (inside Sunnyside Natural Market)
Soon: 618 Confluence Way SE, Calgary (Simmons Building)
I don’t know if this is technically a brunch food, but it’s pastry with an egg inside, so I’ve happily eaten it for brunch. I learned its secrets via Avenue Magazine’s 25 Best Things to eat in Calgary. The flaky pastry is cut open and the insides are freshly filled with feta, cheddar, red or green spicy harissa and a sliced hard-boiled egg. My local Sidewalk Citizen (Sunnyside) has just a couple of bar seats at which to eat, but I would recommend taking the bureka to go, grabbing a coffee or juice and chowing down at Riley Park or a nearby triangle park. The new Sidewalk location is opening real soon in East Village’s Simmons building which will be a divine bike to brunch—bureka—Phil & Sebastian coffee—eat at river combo.
5. Make something special at home
This one requires a little more pre-planning, but can be quick and frugal if necessary while still being a special treat. Here’s my simple recipe for doing up brunch at home so it feels like an update to your regular fare.
Simply add one or more of the following to your favourite homemade breakfast or even just some chewy, toasty toast. Eat in the sunshine if possible:
- An upgraded caffeinated bevvie (London Fog, iced chai, boozy coffee)
- A bubbly brightener (prosecco+juice of half a grapefruit; raspberries muddled with bitters and sugar cube + cava)
- Hollandaise sauce (I live by the packaged stuff, but it’s fairly easy to make from scratch when you’ve got the ingredients)
- Super fresh, in-season side vegetable (breakfast veg, oh yes! I suggest Broxburn farm tomatoes)
- Indulge in an ingredient you wouldn’t usually (my favourite is smoked salmon, maybe yours is steak or taco shells or fancy jam or goat cheese)
Serve it up, eaten with someone you like and I guarantee you won’t miss skipping the brunch line, just this once.
This blog post is part of my bid to become the East Village Resident Ambassador! In that role, I would live in the East Village, an exciting new neighbourhood rising on the banks of the Bow River in the heart of Calgary and tell stories about that life. It would be a whole new chance to discover hidden brunch gems. If you think I’d be good at this gig, you can help by watching my 30-second promo video, sharing it and keeping an eye on my tweets tagged with #EVliving. When you fave, RT and reply to those tweets, you’ll help my chances of becoming the Resident Ambassador.