Belmont Diner – Calgary, AB


Belmont Diner
1-2008 33 Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2T 1Z4
(403) 242-6782
Open 7am-3pm Daily

Typically, when one thinks greasy spoon, vivid imagery comes to mind. From television to movies, the idea of the greasy spoon is well ingrained in the collective conciousness of your average North American. Endless coffee, wisecracking waitress, long counter with stools, heaping mounds of greasy food, juke boxes, a slice of pie. Sadly, in this day and age, the greasy spoon is mostly a thing of the past. With the exception of a few nostalgic places (Blackfoot Truck Stop, Kane’s Harley Diner), breakfast places have undergone some form of gentrification. They are fancy, and upscale. They hold many of the same values, but they somehow seem “respectable”. In Calgary, places like the Belmont Diner lead this charge.


Now don’t get me wrong – i’m not strictly a traditionalist. There are certain advantages to the new-fangled diner. Food is often of better quality. The place is generally cleaner. There is no risk of finding some half-chewed gum in your hash browns.  And let’s be honest, the Belmont Diner, sister restaurant to the Beltline’s Galaxie Diner, has all of these advantages and then some. Located in Marda Loop, just outside the downtown core, the Belmont Diner attracts many of the areas diverse citizens – and offers all day breakfast, with a few lunch items on the menu for those not jones’ing for eggs, or hash. All day breakfast meaning all the traditional – eggs and bacon, eggs benedict, pancakes, omelettes, and most things in between, all cooked on a giant flattop grill behind the counter.

I go with my breakfast standard – Eggs Benedict. I usually prefer to use this for comparison’s sake because so many things can go wrong. A bad hollandaise, over poached egg, lack of crispy base. At the Belmont Diner, the Eggs Benedict are served with a twist – on a croissant, with either smoked salmon (my choice), or ham. All meals comes with the trademark all-you-can-eat hash browns.

One dining companion goes with a more traditional order – bacon, eggs, toast, with the aforementioned hashbrowns.

Overall, the food is pretty good. The hollandaise is a bit tart for my liking, but has a nice consistency and good flavour. The eggs are well poached. The smoked salmon is decent, and i like the buttery base of the croissant. The hash browns, are crispy, seasoned and good. A second round is in order. Im asked about thirds, but she wasnt smacking her gum loudly enough. I decline.

The bacon is cooked crispy, and enjoyed by all. Im a bit disappointed with the scrambled eggs, which are fluffy, but either had really sad yolks, or were poured out of a carton. They were pretty flat in flavour, and color. Toast is good and well buttered, my only requirement for toast, and i’ve covered the hash browns ad naseum.

Sadly, there isnt really much else to say. The Belmont Diner is clean, fairly tasty, and serves up a decent breakfast. It has a great diner-like atmosphere, but with a gentrified feeling and prices to match their young, affluent clientele. I’d chastise them for high prices (especially for something as simple as breakfast), but that is sadly the norm these days in Calgary. They are not out of line with other restaurants in town. If you’re looking for your own personal Happy Days experience, this isnt the place for you. But if you want a decent all day breakfast, or are craving all you can eat hash browns, then the Belmont Diner is the place for you. Just be warned of the lineup on weekends – it’s almost enough to create a second hangover while you wait!

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10 thoughts on “Belmont Diner – Calgary, AB

  1. John,

    I didnt realize I had to be more specific in terms of “breakfast at all hours ” meaning “breakfast at all hours that they are open, which is 7am-3pm”, but i guess i’ll try and be more specific in the future. I did use the term “all day breakfast” earlier, which i guess would be more specific in your mind.

    In terms of prices, it’s been a tough balance. If you notice, I used to include prices. The issue was, in many earlier reviews, the prices were out of date within a few months. Having to go back and check prices all the time to maintain accurate information didnt seem feasible, so i started eliminating prices. Of course, using subjective terms like expensive, and inexpensive, are the downfall to not posting prices. That is a difficult frame of reference to communicate clearly. I’m away from home at the moment, so I cannot look up the exact price, but i believe the eggs benedict were $14, which are on the expensive side, both for my income, and especially relative to other eggs benedict. I did not say they were bad value.

    I stand by what i say. Good breakfast, decent value, a bit expensive. If you have a differing opinion, im glad for it. But i stand by mine. And if you have a solution in terms of how i can communicate a price while maintaining accuracy over time, without using something like a $$$$-$$$-$$-$ system, please let us know. I’d be open to any way we can provide more accurate information without naming an actual price that goes out of date.

  2. Foodosopher, unless the post is months later after the meal (which, by then, prices might have changed), I don’t see anything wrong by posting the price at point and time. The reader should be aware of it.

    In my opinion, value is a something relative which price is one of the several determining factors. (On that note, expectation is another factor). If you think $14 for a breakfast is not worth it, that’s your opinion and we should respect it.

    John, what you wrote reminded me of a skit (? or it was an episode of The Simpsons) where a 24 hours shop closes for a moment. The patron asks the manager “aren’t you open 24 hours?”, to which the manager says “yeah, but it does not say 24 straight hours”.

  3. KH – you make a good point. Just so you are aware, sometimes our posts are quite recent and relevant. Sometimes, they are months old. It is hard to stay motivated every day to write something, and so we do so by writing about what interests us the most on any given day. It can mean certain reviews, which might be more useful if they were more timely, sit on the back burner for months until we get around to it. But it’s a necessary evil sometimes.

    In terms of your comment of value, im not saying $14 for breakfast is not worth it. It’s this serving of egg’s benedict, for $14, is not worth it. I’ve had EBs with foie gras and truffles that were worth the $20 they cost. When you compare on a wider scale (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto for example), i can find EB’s of equal quality for $9-$10 dollars. However, due to a variety of economic factors that have been well documented, most prices in Calgary these days are quite expensive, and the $14 matches up to other establishments in the city, in terms of quality, and price.

    However, if you take someplace like Noon in Calgary, which does an excellent brunch, their egg’s benedict with smoked salmon are $9, and of similar quality. So i feel justified to say that i would like to chastise Belmont for high prices, but they are not out of line with other establishments in the city. However, based on the above experiences, that is why i feel $14 is expensive.

    One important thing though. You don’t have to respect my opinion – take it for what it is. If you don’t agree with me, don’t read what i write. I am merely expressing it as clearly as i can. And in this case, all i am trying to do is explain my approach in judging the prices of an establishment. I’ve tried hard to be transparent and fair. But clearly, i’ve not done a good job of conveying that, and obviously, some readers seem to think i come across as just some cheap, whining diner. So im going to stop writing now. Because im getting very frustrated. And that isnt why i started to write this to begin with. Good night.

  4. Foodosopher-

    I don’t know what those above posters problem is. I, for one, LOVE your blog and appreciate all the reviews, photos and details of your experiences at restaurants here in Calgary. There is nothing “winey” about you posting prices and making a personal comment on if you feel there was value in the meal or not. I appreciate reading about others’ experiences and opinions on local restaurants. And actually, I agree w/ you completely that an order of eggs benidict, (unless it is at some fancy-schmancy hotel restaurant or something) shouldn’t be $14… especially from a diner.

    I have been to belmont, and yeah.. the hashbrowns are good. But honestly? If I want a nice cafe atmosphere, I don’t want diner food. If I want diner food it is usually when I am hungover or overtired or something and want an actual, disgustingly huge and greasy meal from a real dive or hole in the wall. Not some pretentious restaurant calling themself a “diner” but because they use nice chairs and a sleek interior they justify charging inflated prices for eggs. (nothing against Belmont — just my opinion!)

    Anyway, don’t worry too much about those above posters. I am sure you have many readers like me who really enjoy your blog and may not comment very often. There are many silent supporters of your blog, I am sure… don’t let a few negative ones get you down. :-)

  5. Please. We need more “cantankerous” reviews of local eateries. Not everything can be good and when it’s not, it should be pointed out. I find blogs should be a personal explanation of an experience. Unless done professional (for generating revenue via ads, or for a paid publication). Everyone has a different style of writing?

    Pricing is a thorny issue for me personally. It seems that we are stuck in a “Let’s try to get away with it as long as we can” mentality and Joe Public just keeps on patronizing the same places over and over. Mea Culpa.

    What can really have gone up all that much to justify 35% price hikes in some instances?
    I do not like to compare Europe to North America as a whole, but I can’t resist to mention that personell costs per person are much higher in Europe than they will ever be here. The only reason I can find is that a solid waiter in Germany can handle three times the work load than the ladies at Earl’s can.
    Food costs? Even a lousy chef can’t exceed 35%, a good one, manages high 20’s?
    Rent? In general it’s about the same from what I could gather.
    Taxes? Not even the same league as Europe.
    And yet, I can find a wood fired pizza or a real good Doner for 5.50 Euros in almost any European city.

  6. monica – thank you for your kind words. It is certainly appreciated. Sometimes, it is hard to remember there is a large silent majority out there as well. I will do better to remember that in the future.

    hpeter – cantankerous!? Cantankerous!?! I’ve tried to express an honest assessment of each eatery, but im not 60! :)
    You’re right though – the whole point of the blog is to provide an unbiased view of our eating experience, not to candy coat an average, or mediocre experience for the sake of being nice.

    Im fully in agreement with you on pricing. While I do feel some costs have definitely increased (food and labour costs over the past 3-4 years), i do think there are a lot of restaurants that have taken a “everyone else is doing it, so let’s hide our greed with the same justification”. A lot of small independent restaurants have absorbed rising costs for a long time, and finally had to pass on those costs to the consumer. These are not the restaurants i blame for the rampant rising prices. A lot of them raised prices by 10-20%, trying to minimize the price increase to their customers. It’s the nightclub turned restaurant owner, large corporate restaurants, and other profit margin driven restaurants i have a beef with. Not the people who make food with love.

    In terms of your European argument, I don’t have enough knowledge to be able to contribute anything useful. I would agree that many other cities have some amazing food for far far less cost, but i don’t know what effect labour, transportation, and size of population have on all of these. I just know that outside of most ethnic and fast food eateries, dining is becoming prohibitively expensive here in Calgary.

  7. Foodosopher,

    I am also one of those silent supporters out there who’s been stalking your blog but never comment. I just wanted to say you are doing a fabulous job and I really enjoy reading about all your personal dining experiences. I completely agree with what has already been said about the inflated prices in Calgary these days.

    I came back recently from living aboard in Japan for 3 years (known to be one of the most expensive place in the world) and I am astonished that dining out is actually pricier here in cowtown for what you get. It is almost impossible to get a decent lunch for under $10 without having to resort to fast food. I can eat very well in a restaurant for 1000 yen (~ $10 CDN) in Japan.

    I can’t speak about all restaurants since I don’t dine out enough, but I do feel that the Chinese restaurants are testing their customers’ price tolerance by intermittently increasing prices until they see a drop in patronage. Sadly, with the lineups for dimsum on the weekend, prices will continue to go up.

  8. As a contributing writer to Foodosophy, I felt that I should weigh in on this issue of posting prices, descriptors of price/value, and business hours that I personally am using in my posts.

    As the foodosopher has, I have shifted between including price figures and actual business hours at times, and not including them in other reviews. In my case, it was a matter of not having the details recorded in my notes/my memory, and/or an inability to fact check on their current status. This is especially true for places that I cannot physically return to with ease, mainly due to geography. The details when included, will be from that spot in time when I made my visit(s). This could be the day before a post, or perhaps weeks or months in the past. If there is any doubt, please ask (and nicely), as I think that’s the easiest solution if you need more details from that particular post.

    In terms of how I qualify value or meal properties, I try to use a relative framework. By this I mean, is that particular dish “worth it to me” for what I was expecting from perhaps the cost of similar meals in that market (city/country) and for that particular price? I feel this ‘cost averaging” if you can call it that, should help to not make some comments stand out as being exceeding good or incredibly bad in terms of value or quality. Again, if there is any doubt, feel free to drop a comment asking me how I qualified a particular description of my satisfaction or judgment of a meal/restaurant.

    I think we can all agree that we’re all writing/reading this site to share and gain knowledge – which forms the basis for why the current writing group started this in the first place. Agree, disagree, that I don’t mind. But let’s not get so personally worked up or thrust out comments that could be taken as harsh, unfair or attacking in nature, as that just simply ruins the enjoyment that we are all hopefully gaining from our writing/reading.

    None of us are doing this professionally, nor expecting any thing from it, other than the purpose of knowledge sharing. I hate to sound like a kindergarten teacher, but please people, let’s all just get along and follow the Golden Rule that our parents told us about from when we were little – “treat others only in ways that you’re willing to be treated in the same exact situation”.

    Thanks for your attention and understanding.

    shokutsu

  9. C,

    My last trip to Japan was a year ago, but i had many great meals for well under Y1000 as well. It definitely alters one’s views on value when you can get fantastic meals at this price point in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and other major metropolitan centres.

    Anyway, I do have to say there are several places in town where one can get a good lunch for less than $10 – Tazza, a bowl of pho, BBQ express, Southern Spice, and a variety of other places – they just arent nearly as common, or easy to find. Hopefully some price sanity will be restored soon.

    John,I have added the opening hours to the Belmont post, and corrected the imprecision. Thank you for clarifying that.

  10. The blog is dated – readers have every opportunity to see that and should reasonably understand that every and any piece of information contained therein was as of that date. Hours change, food changes, prices change, menus change…

    Keep up the excellent writing Foodosophers!

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