Our timetable didn't let us traverse the Icefield Parkway either going to or coming from Banff, but coming back by way of Cowtown enabled us to have brunch at OEB Breakfast Co. (824 Edmonton Trail NE) for the second time in a month.
When we visited Calgary earlier, I had Googled the best breakfasts in Calgary, and OEB had shown up in the top 3 of almost every list, and topped some. And why not? A locally-sourced, chef driven breakfast and lunch menu, featuring dark-yolk Omega-3 enriched eggs grown by two barns full of their own chickens makes this tiny diner a highly sought after spot for early day sustenance.
And by highly sought after, I mean be prepared to wait; we got there before 11:30 on a Thursday and were told the wait would be 45 minutes to an hour. I was parking the car, but was delighted that Audrey made the call she did. They take your mobile number with an app (that you can download with your smartphone, you know, if you are on a data plan), and text you when your table is ready. With an occupancy of only 50 people and a growing reputation, such a demand is hardly surprising. In the meantime, we gassed up, found a nearby spot, propped the iPad up on the dash of the Flex and watched the first third of The Grand Budapest Hotel.
About an hour later, we wer,e at last, seated at our table. Like a lot of other legit diners, OEB (which stands for Over Easy Breakfast, btw) isn't much to look at it, both from the outside:
Or seated inside:
(Quaint decor, but it is pretty hard not to see a cockeyed alien in that picture once you turn the reflected lights into a mouth, isn't it?)
As long as the place is clean, I don't much care if the joint is crowded and chairs unupholstered, provided the food is good. And brother, the food is good. There are plenty of variations on your classic omelettes, eggs Benny, pancakes and what have you, but their signature dish is a breakfast poutine called Soul In A Bowl, which Fenya ordered.
Soul In A Bowl starts with seasoned diced potatoes seasoned twice fried in organic duck fat, to which are added Saint Cyrille cheese curds, slow cooked bacon lardons, two eggs poached the way you like 'em and brown butter hollandaise.
There are quite a few variations on this dish, some without eggs, some with added elements such as duck confit, or the scallops I had last time; Audrey tried the Chasing Chicken, substituting pulled poultry for the lardons, and served in one of those delightfully old-school take-out boxes that are such a novelty here in Canada.
I tried my hand at the Croque Madame, a type of inside-out breakfast Monte Cristo, featuring roesmary ham, fried potatoes and flor di latte mozzarella all served on sourdough rye and topped with two sunny side eggs and brown butter Hollandaise. I don't normally truck with breakfast sammiches I can't eat with my hands, but I'm glad I made an exception for this; heavenly!
Glory, one day short of becoming an official teenager, had what may have been the largest dish on the table and indisputably the richest: two glistening slices of French toast stuffed with New York style cheesecake glazed with Bailey's crème Anglaise. Everyone I've described it to calls it heart attack on a plate, but OEB calls it 'Sweet Dreams are Made of These' - I suppose you'd have to call that a draw, then, wouldn't you?
We've never had cause to partake, but OEB not only has an espresso machine and lattes available but they are also licensed, so if you have cause for an early morning Irish coffee or Mimosa, they are able to oblige you. I settled for a caramel latte instead. The servers are knowledgeable, friendly and as quick as they can be in such a crowded environment, but everything about OEB is worth the wait.
The diner is just a few blocks south from Peter's Drive-In, another Calgary standard, and easily accessible from the Deerfoot and Trans-Canada. Do yourself a favour the next time you have an opportunity to brunch it up in Cowtown, and get in line for OEB; you will be glad you did!