Sunday, March 22nd, 2009 at 11:18 pm

The “Diner Sprint”: Dairy Lane Cafe

As I continue to bemoan the lack of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives-worthy diners in Edmonton, I do my best to try and strike another diner off my list every time I am in Calgary.

Of all places, I discovered Dairy Lane Cafe within the pages of Where Calgary.  After checking out the website, I convinced Mack that it should take the coveted “Sunday morning brunch” slot of our weekend eating adventure.

Dairy Lane exterior

Though we intended on getting to Dairy Lane earlier, by the time we checked out from the hotel and arrived in the West Hillhurst community, it was already 11am. It wasn’t looking good, as there were already a number of people hovered around the door outside. To make the wait more bearable, however, Dairy Lane (like Diner Deluxe) offers hot coffee to patient patrons.

A sign told us to head on in to report the size of our party, and when we did, we were greeted by a friendly server who gently broke it to us that the wait was around forty-five minutes. Having been used to such demand, we had our information taken, including our phone number. He promised to call when a table was ready (long distance, mind you!) and said that we would have five minutes to claim it. We assured him that we wouldn’t wander far.

Hillhurst is a neighbourhood adjacent to Kensington, so we figured a leisurely stroll to work up our appetite was in order. We planned a twenty-minute walk each way, and after peering in the windows of Janice Beaton Fine Cheese (it wouldn’t open until noon that day, unfortunately), we turned around to head back.

At 11:30, we were still a number of blocks from our destination when Mack’s cell phone rang – our table was ready! In what will now be called the “diner sprint”, we ran just about the rest of the distance back to ensure our table wouldn’t be lost. Thankfully, we made it, so our unexpected exercise wasn’t in vain.

The interior of the cafe was tiny – only 22 seats, but so charming. Cheerful yellow walls reflected the optimistic spring conditions outside, and black and white prints reminded patrons of the diner’s 1950s roots. Dairy Lane is proudly powered by 100% carbon-free energy, and 5% of their sales are donated to the Highbanks Society, an organization committed to assisting young single parent families. Talk about a diner with a conscience.

Interior

I couldn’t resist the Swiss and Bacon Stuffed French Toast ($10.95), while Mack chose the All-In Three Egg Omelette ($12.95), with veggies, bacon, ham, Spolumbo’s sausage and cheese. Of course, we topped our order off with coffee, which was consistently being refilled to a standard that Mack approved of.

Though we imagined the kitchen to be fairly small (sized-appropriate to the dining room), we didn’t have to wait long for our plates. A supersized container of maple syrup was provided to me, which Mack was more excited about than I was. The swiss had been sprinkled with a heavy hand, and combined with the slightly salty back bacon, the light and eggy French toast, and a touch of syrupy-sweetness, I was in brunch heaven. If I don’t make it back to Calgary some time soon, I may have to learn to duplicate their recipe at home.

Savoury Stuffed French Toast with home-cut hashbrowns

Mack liked his omelette just fine, though he said it wasn’t the best he’d ever had (Galaxie Diner still tops his list). He did say that it was thicker than he expected, and the kitchen definitely didn’t scrimp on the ingredients.

All-In Omelette with home-cut hashbrowns and toast

Dairy Lane is a great diner with great intentions. I’ll be back.

Dairy Lane Cafe
319 19 Street NW
(403) 283-2497
Monday-Friday 7am-3pm, Weekends and Holidays 8am-3pm