Blue Star Diner
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
I had always heard fantastic things about Dairy Lane Café, but could never bring myself to go.
Back story: I attended Mayor Nenshi’s alma mater, Queen Elizabeth High School, from 1998-2004 (because it’s a junior/senior high, not because I’m some sort of academic failure – honest!) and I have fond memories of crossing through the back alley onto 19 St many a lunch hour. Back then, the tiny space was always hazy with cigarette smoke and grease as Judy and Dennis (?) made burgers and milkshakes to order, and cut each potato by hand with a wall-mounted french fry-cutter for greasy takeout boxfuls of shoestring fries that we doused with ketchup, salt, pepper and vinegar. When the smoking ban first came into effect, Judy would tell us in hushed tones to tell anyone who asked that we were 18 – and we were in junior high!
When the Highbanks Society and then the current owners took it over not long before I graduated, cleaned it up and transformed it into the successful, eco-friendly diner it is today, I couldn’t bring myself to go there – Dairy Lane will always be the dingy but oddly comforting Judy’s Kitchen in my heart.
Fortunately, the owners of Dairy Lane have recently taken over the space previously occupied by Artisan Bistro and turned it into Blue Star Diner! Now I can finally taste what the buzz was all about, and it is only steps away from B.’s house to boot!
B. and I were up “early” one weekend to take his car to the shop, so we arrived at around 10:30 to find a line already starting to snake out the door. We managed to squeeze into two seats by the window, hoping for the chance to people-watch (but quickly learned that it was more like hungry people watching us eat!) The menu is only a legal-sized, two-sided (one for breakfast, one for lunch) sheet, but there was still so much to choose from that it was very difficult to decide what to order. I was also impressed by all the local producers that were featured on the menu, as well as the gluten-free and vegetarian choices that were available.
I was tempted by Uncle Elenko’s plate – two eggs served with local sausage, perogies, sauerkraut, baked beans, hash browns and toast for $14.50, but ultimately decided on the Huevos Rancheros ($12.75) with the eggs scrambled instead of sunny-side up.
I loved the bright flavours in this dish, particularly the black bean cilantro salsa and the creamy avocado. The corn tostadas were nice and crisp, but obviously it was sometimes difficult to eat this with a knife and fork!
B. ordered the Blue Star Veggie Burger ($14) from the lunch menu, with yam fries ($1).
The veggie burger was moist, with a variety of textures and flavours from the different grains and veggies. We loved the garlicky tzatziki sauce as a condiment – very creative for a burger! Of course, the yam fries were delicious!
Of course, I can’t review a new brunch place without my Perennial Brunchmate Tiffany! We headed down a couple weeks later at our usual brunchtime of 10 AM, and it was still PACKED. I started with an Organic Loose Leaf Indian Chai ($2.25), served in a Bodum, which the waitress always came by to refill the second it was emptied, while Tiffany had the Guatemalan coffee ($2.95).
I bypassed Uncle Elenko’s plate again in favour of the Bridgeland Breakfast Sammy ($12.75).
This was so good – I loved the buttery pesto mayo and scrambled eggs with the fresh, crisp vegetables and smoky bacon. The use of basil instead of lettuce gave a nice, herbal twist. I ate everything really quickly.
Tiffany had the Blueberry Banana Pancakes ($12), which came as a stack of three large, thick, fluffy pancakes studded with real fruit.
Tiffany enjoyed them, but was sad to report that her stomach felt a little upset afterward. When I asked why, she said it was partly carb overload and partly something else…?
Obviously there are still lots of items on the menu I haven’t tried, and I’m happy that there’s yet another delicious brunch place near B.’s house! Welcome to Bridgeland, Blue Star Diner!
Blue Star Diner
809 1 Ave NE
Calgary AB T2E 0C1
Open Mon-Fri 7 AM-3 PM; Sat-Sun 8 AM-3 PM. Dinner service hopefully available in the future. Free street parking available on side streets (1 Ave is ParkPlus)