More Than Just Milk: Brunching at Dairy Lane (Calgary, Alberta)
When I lived in the city home to “the greatest outdoor show on earth” the options for securing a satiating and intimate breakfast/brunch were few and far between. From what I can remember there was a vegan-leaning-but-not-always-consistent-cafe in Kensington or there was Denny’s. That’s it. C’est tout. Take it or leave it. Because little lay along the DMZ-like boundary of these two extremes I rarely spent my weekend hours bothering with brunch as locating a decent establishment was akin to sighting a golden haired unicorn.
However, that was then. Calgary these days is teeming with all sorts of culinary unicorns, tails the colour of flaxen. Yes, things have changed in Alberta’s largest city it seems.
And for the better, I might add. Thankfully, for the better.
Stopping by my old stomping grounds for an impromptu visit I met with my brother who was kind enough to treat his intolerant sibling to brunch. Keen to show off the city he now calls home he undertook thirty minutes of research one Friday morning before ordering me to get into his car and drawling in a roughneck tone “[…] I’ve got the perfect place in mind and you’re going to like it. You know, things have changed since you went to university here. There’s culinary goodness everywhere. Places that serve great s**t.”
Well, well, I thought buckling my seatbelt, please enlighten me.
And so I relinquished all food-control and let my brother choose our brunch destination. It was (between us of course) one of the best decisions of my trip. Not only did Brother Intolerant reintroduce me to the city I once cavorted around but he opened my eyes to the fantastic establishment known as Dairy Lane Café.
Located in the neighbourhood of West Hillhurst, Dairy Lane is a ferociously trendy place where hip-and-in-the-know Calgarians flock for a diner-style breakfast and/or a hearty and locally sourced dinner. It’s the kind of place where people will wait patiently–with not a complaint to be heard–up to 30 minutes for a table, which is dedication in its own right and, considering Calgary’s sometimes bone-ripping temperatures, the sign of a good meal.
Dairy Lane’s breakfast/lunch menu is replete with ample savory and sweet options. Something is bound to inspire. There are breakfast toastadas and burgers, omelettes and stuffed french toast, bison chili and yam fries, vegan scramble and grilled veggie sandwiches. There are so many delicious-sounding options it took this Intolerant roughly ten minutes to choose just one.
An occurrence, my friends, which doesn’t happen very often.
The food arrived after a short wait and was straight-forward, uncomplicated and did not disappoint. The portions were generous, the ingredients were procured from independent local suppliers and the service was top-notch. My eggs tasted like they came from a hen who was living a happy free-range life and the bacon–my heavens the bacon–was so good I ordered an extra portion because I was a) that hungry and b) convinced it would have been foolish not to.
In terms of price-quality Dairy Lane is on par with many of Calgary’s other trendy-café establishments though it gets extra points for decor and atmosphere, both of which make you feel like you ought to linger long after your plate has been licked clean. While I was wary at the outset–I mean, it has the word dairy in its name after all–Dairy Lane is the sort of place that has far reaching appeal as it offers far more than milky, cheesy and buttery fare. The kitchen is great about adapting certain menu items for the lactose intolerant set and there are several vegan-friendly and gluten-free options if that is how you roll.
Which is what I could have done since I ate myself into a food coma. I mean, brunch was so damn good my mood didn’t even shift a degree after my brother and I walked to the car and he jabbed me in the ribs and muttered out of the corner of his mouth, “Culinary goodness. Told you so.”
Instead I narrowed my eyes and climbed into the front seat, feigning indifference. “Hmmm, it was ok,” I said coolly as I leaned back and tasted the remnants of grapefruit and salt on my lips. As we pulled away I caught myself gazing longingly in the side mirror and watched as Dairy Lane’s corrugated awning faded into the distance.
Touché, dear brother, touché.
Dairy Lane Café
319 19 St NW
Tel: +1 (403) 283-2497
Monday to Thursday: 07:00 – 20:00
Friday: 07:00 – 21:00
Saturday: 08:00 – 21:00
Sunday: 08:00 – 22:00