These Calgary restaurants take brunch to the next level

We have heart eyes for Maven’s It Must’ve Been Love cocktail, made with Rundle Bar Gin and Earl Gray syrup. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Brunch is one of those nebulous experiences that can’t be quite defined – it’s neither breakfast nor lunch, but when done correctly it’s so much more than just a meals in between. A good brunch can mean anything from a greasy scramble to slow-braised beef cheeks served with impeccably poached eggs. Whatever your desire, whether sweet or savory, accompanied by a coffee or a cocktail, the main thing is that it should be enjoyed quietly, without having to look at the clock as the hours go by. Calgarians have long had a top-notch traditional brunch selection, but new trends are expanding our brunch horizons far beyond pancakes, bacon and even eggs.

Queens Breakfast Cocktails

A decadent spread at Queens: brioche toast with peanut butter and burnt banana, a raspberry mimosa and a negroni. Photograph by Jared Sych.

At one end of the brunch spectrum, you have greasy spoons tossing bottomless drip coffee, easy-cooked, sun-baked, or scrambled eggs, and those little packets of jam and peanut butter. At the other you have opulent places run by chefs like Queens Breakfast Cocktails, which is so dedicated to everyday consumption that it features in the restaurant’s name. The combination of Benny eggs and booze isn’t new, but Queens goes beyond typical breakfast cocktails and offers brunchers the chance to soak up something more complex alongside a morning or afternoon meal.

Drinks at Queens lean towards the lighter side of the cocktail scale, with twists on mimosa (including Campari and raspberry versions) and other options that make good use of sparkling wine, like the Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which also features raspberry-infused vodka, lychee liqueur and rose tea syrup. And although the consumption of alcohol is encouraged, it is not compulsory, with Fratello filter coffee and espresso offered to caffeine lovers.

Brunch at Queens isn’t just about sophisticated cocktails: elegance is found in the dishes of chef and co-owner Jenny Chan. It’s the same chef and team behind the popular Vero Modern Bistro, and Chan’s specialty at both restaurants is European cuisine, which she expresses at Queens in the form of rich croque sandwiches, Benedicts croissants, and mushroom fricassee skillet. We’ll drink to that.

3927 Edmonton Tr., 403-764-0878, queensyyc.ca

Looking for more alcoholic brunch choices? Try Sun Bistro & Bar (612 5 St SE, 403-764-5227, sunyyc.com) for another stylish European-style option; The Beltliner (243 12 Ave SW, 587-955-1555, thebeltliner.com) for cocktails alongside a classic dinner; Where craft beer market (345 10 Ave. SW, 403-514-2337; and Southcentre Mall, 403-216-2337; craftbeermarket.ca) for hearty portions that can be accompanied by a wide selection of beers, including a brewski version of the traditional mimosa.

Maven

Inspired by breakfasts in Singapore, this thick vanilla French toast from Maven features coconut pandan jam, fresh fruit and a poached egg. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Too often in Canada we categorize dishes as breakfast or brunch-worthy through a westernized lens, but there is a wide range of morning-friendly foods that go beyond North American blue dishes. Maventhe group’s new restaurant which operates both Breakfast and Sammie Cafe, takes the concept of Western-style brunch and adds some global references inspired by the life story of Executive Chef Mish Lee Hobbs. Her parents are from Singapore and Germany, and she spent much of her childhood in Europe, which influenced her palate. Hobbs knew she wanted to include Singapore-style congee on her menu, as well as French toast topped with homemade kaya jam (a sweet coconut spread), pork cutlet with mustard and dill and a forbidden rice panna cotta that replaces a yoghurt parfait. It’s all served on mismatched vintage dishes (some leftovers from co-owner Percilla Gutscher’s wedding) to bring home that sense of history and personal storytelling.

Also on the menu is an Egg Benedict with mushrooms on bannock instead of an English muffin and fried bread dumplings served with a generous bowl of fluffy whipped cream. To create even more of an air of the unexpected, the back quarter of the restaurant houses the plant it modern plant store, and the main dining room is decorated with shelves full of greenery. Have you spotted a plant you like? Just add it to your brunch bill and take it home.

1006 17 Ave SW, 403-457-7898, @maven_yyc

Many other restaurants expand the definition of brunch. Last name (824 Edmonton Tr., 403-475-7010, namecafebistro.com) features a menu full of brunch bowls topped with ingredients like kimchee and five-spice duck; Park by Sidewalk Citizen (340 13 Ave SW, 403-263-2999, sidewalkcitizenbakery.com) prepares a shakshuka with smoked beans and labneh with tomatoes and sourdough bread; and The Coup d’Etat (924 17 Ave SW, 403-541-1041, lecoup.ca) offers a weekend vegetarian brunch that includes a vegan Benedict.

Fonda Forums

Fall for Fonda Fora’s three-egg omelet served with creamy salsa verde poblano. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Hotel restaurants almost always offer daily breakfast and weekend brunch to guests, but increasingly, properties are working to develop restaurants that appeal to non-staying guests. Soggy self-serve waffles and cantaloupe cubes won’t cut it in a destination restaurant.

Such is the case at Fonda Forums, Thank you hospitality Mexican restaurant on the ground floor of the shop Westley Hotel. Spacious and bright, the dining room is ideal for meals of the day and chef Rafael Castillo has created a breakfast/brunch menu to match the Yucatan-inspired dishes he concocts for lunch and dinner. The breakfast/brunch menu is available weekday mornings and until 2 p.m. on weekends, with the kitchen offering utilitarian standards – including bacon and eggs, yogurt parfait and breakfast sandwich. lunch with eggs, bacon, cheese and guacomole on a Martin’s potato bun – for diners who want the basics. The stars of the show, however, are the ultra-colorful Mexican dishes that incorporate the restaurant’s signature salsas.

A three-egg omelet is served over a creamy salsa verde poblano and finished with salsa macha and fresh herbs, while the huevos rancheros use salsa roja. Even the avocado toast gets a little extra sizzle from the addition of salsa macha verde. And since a hotel needs to be on top of its coffee game, Fonda Fora brews the local favorite Monogramto get the morning (or afternoon) off to a good start.

630 4 Ave SW, 403-764-6260, fondafora.com

There are several hotel brunches worth rolling out of bed, even if you’re sleeping in yours. The Hyatt Regency’s new chef Alexander Schäfer oversees the famous house roast Sunday brunch Thomson kitchen and bar (700 Center Street SE, 403-537-4449, thomsonskitchenbar.ca); the weekend brunch buffet at Arts Hotel Yellow Door Bistro (119 12 Ave SW, 403-206-9585, yellowdoorbistro.ca) remains a favorite; and in the Alt Hotel, Chix Egg Shop (624 6 Ave. SE, chixeggshop.com) serves delicious breakfast sandwiches from the same team behind Homemade Roast Charcuts.

Orchard restaurant

Sometimes only eggs Benedict will do, especially at Orchard, where you have the choice of duck breast, maple salmon gravlax or spinach and mushrooms. Photograph by Jared Sych.

Anthony Bourdain notoriously hated brunch at the restaurant – and claimed that the most serious chefs did not want to cook it. But some of Calgary’s best restaurants are achieving impressive feats before noon. The beauty of eating brunch at a hot dinner spot is that it’s usually cheaper than going to dinner and reservations are often a possibility, allowing brunchers to avoid queues and waiting apps. typical of popular brunch restaurants.

At the hum Orchard restaurant, the brunch includes some of the greatest dinner hits from ever-meticulous chef Jenny Kang. (Just because you’re there early doesn’t mean you have to miss the cheese-stuffed garlic bread or the crispy rice-crusted tiger prawns.) You’ll also find egg-specific dishes like Kang’s take on shakshuka and a sumptuous Eggs Benedict garnished with your choice of smoked duck breast, maple salmon gravlax or spinach and mushrooms. And the luxurious setting — an oasis of cool plants and sparkling chandeliers that twinkle at night — works just as well for a relaxing, hours-long brunch.

Orchard’s brunch is available on weekends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., until the restaurant’s happy hour (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.), which is ideal if you want a few daytime cocktails before the evening – or a siesta .

134, 620 10 Ave SW, 403-243-2392 orchardyc.com

Among other places to dine which are just as magical by day Deane House (806 9 Ave SE, 403-264-0595, deanehouse.com), which offers one of the finest brunches in town: Chef Jason Barton-Browne’s braised bison pierogi gratin has become a new house favorite. After a pandemic pause, Locker (306 17 Ave SW, 403-452-4694, pigeonholeyyc.ca) brought back its brunch earlier this year, featuring incredibly fluffy soufflé pancakes. And for a brunch with plenty of vegetarian options, Donna Mac (1002 9 St. SW, 403-719-3622, donnamacyyc.ca) offers an inventive menu with dishes that complement his dinner, such as Turkish eggs with spiced yogurt. Note that most restaurants that don’t exclusively serve brunch only offer it on weekends.

spread it

The backbone of Calgary brunch culture has long been new diners who constantly have lines snaking out the door. Since there are only a limited number of brunch times in a day, opening new locations has been key in bringing Bennys and pancakes to people.

EPO Breakfast Co. started out in a small space on the Edmonton Trail, but its irresistible breakfast poutines and farm-fresh ingredients have grown the brand into a small empire, with four locations in Calgary (the newest is in the University District), plus franchises in Edmonton, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and even Arizona, with more to come.

The Bro’Kin Yellowwhich has three branches in the suburbs of Calgary, launched Bro’s To Goa breakfast sandwich concept that currently has a location in Brentwood and another soon to open in the Beltline (with potential franchises on the way).

Luxury dinner has a new location in Marda Loop and another in Kelowna.

The Red Dinner is now present in almost every quadrant of the city, with the newest of its four locations on 58th Avenue SW