Maybe it’s just me but it seems like it gets harder and harder to find a decent breakfast diner any more! I’m taking about food that’s fast, cheap and good. Usually it’s a family operation that’s been around forever. The waitresses are no-nonsense and the menu ain’t fancy. Don’t be askin’ for gluten-free or Café au Chai Latte Frappuccino half-caf. Don’t even ask for toast without butter. Ain’t gonna happen.
A good diner serves up bacon and eggs, ham, sausages, hash-browns, pancakes and coffee. Nuff said. There’s ketchup, salt & pepper and jam in little plastic tubs. Simple. I get it.
Recently I’ve come across a new species of breakfast diner. A new strain where can be found stuff like frittatas, shaved organic meats, aioli compote and sage maple portabellinis. WTF! Even wi-fi! I don’t want a cooking lesson, I just wanna stuff my face in some oleaginous spoon. I don’t get it.
So the other day in Montreal I’m strolling around with my partner at midday after an all-night party, working on my list of gentrified first-meal-of-the-day resentments and looking not just to break my fast, but to smash it to pieces in a joyous crescendo of fried proteins and starches, when I come up short. No breakfast diner. Plenty of coffee and petit baked stuff but not a hint of truck stop culture. Je me souviens!
To be fair, Le Vieux Vélo is not a greasy spoon or a truck stop diner. It’s just up-market enough to make me nervous. Eggs benedict is, after all, the house specialty, but the fried eggs and sausage are really good too – way good enough to satisfy my breakfast diner desires. Local art on the walls is peppy and vaguely subversive. Beautiful young people fondle their superphones while switching effortlessly between perfect english and perfect french.
Of special note is the local designer jam that comes plate-side standard. It’s amazing! No plastic tubs here. Funky name too – the Preservation Society. We took home a jar of strawberry-rhubarb for later.
And the coffee’s good. A little too good. And the price is fair. Right in the diner snack bracket. Fast, cheap and really good. I get it.