Steveston Cafe – Richmond, BC

Steveston Cafe
12111 3rd Avenue
Richmond, BC
(604) 277-9511

An early morning visit to Steveston village precipitated the need to indulge in that classic weekend jump start – bad coffee and breakie in a greasy spoon – as we were in dire need of some sustenance and were tired of driving and walking around.  Just another random stop resulting in a brief foodosophy posting, I swear if not for the sake of filling up space on this blog, I’d probably never step foot into them. 🙂

Situated across the street from the relic buildings of an old cannery and a museum featuring the same, as well as a pub next door, the Steveston Cafe is a definitive example of a small town breakfast joint.  Nothing extravagant on the outside, and indoors, full of young families, and older folks who are probably on some kind of fixed income support and appreciate the low prices of diners like this.

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George’s Cafe – London, UK

George’s Cafe
36 Blythe Road
London, UK
(020) 7603 5262

The West Kensington neighborhood I found to be an interesting place to stroll around.  Mainly functioning as a residential area, its streets were relatively quiet during the day and empty aside from the passing commuters on their way to work.  And at night, a slightly eerie silence engulfed the streets as I meandered about with my camera and only saw a few folks out walking their dogs in the darkness.  For fans of classic architecture, being in this place makes for a lot of neck craning, with all of the attractive multiple-level, terraced Victorian-style buildings.  I noted a few for-sale signs posted outside some flats, no doubt not the cheapest place to buy real estate in town.  I thought it would be fantastic to live in a neighborhood like this, with plentiful access to transit and assorted shops and eateries located nearby.

One morning, jet-lagged and finding myself awake at 5am despite only turning the lights off in my room just four hours earlier, I took part in a must-do activity in London – have a hearty English breakfast. Near an Underground station was a simple greasy spoon that served just that, and I happily stepped inside George’s Cafe.

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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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