Weekend brunch in Calgary is a cult favourite. Compared to Edmonton, Calgary's brunch scene is literally its own culture. Anywhere you go, expect hour long waits with a side of man buns. I mean, our water came in mason jars if that tells you anything.
Having said that, the Beltliner is a relatively new brunch contender, having just opened 4-5 months ago. It's located right next door to the Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites on 12th avenue in the Victoria Park neighbourhood of downtown Calgary. It boasts unique breakfast and lunch options available until late (or until their dinner menu starts). The interior of the restaurant is cool and hip, with a grab-and-go coffee counter right when you walk in, a bar with plenty of seating, tables along the windows, and booths running right down the middle of the restaurant. There really is no privacy sitting in the booths, as the partitions are quite low. All the servers are also dressed in some form of plaid, which can sometimes get confusing as they easily blend in with the crowd that they are serving.
Right after dim sum with my family, they dropped me off at SC's downtown apartment where I met up with her and her boyfriend EC. SC's days in Calgary are dwindling as she returns to Edmonton for school in September so we had to make the most of our time. We had a marathon day of eating and shopping planned (with me being the third wheel. I've come to accept it as my forever role in life). And despite having just eaten a mere hour before, I was really excited to try the Beltliner, as it was my suggestion to try the food here just based on the menu alone.
We arrived around 1:00-2:00 and the place was almost all full. We didn't have to wait for a table, although I'm sure you would have to if you came a bit earlier. Service was a bit slow however, and the food took a while to come out. Don't come here if you're in a rush.
SC's brunch pick was the lobster benedict ($19.00), which came with fresh lobster, cream cheese, and tobiko. There are 3 varieties of eggs benedict on the menu, and they all come with poached eggs on a grilled English muffin with Beltliner hollandaise and hashbrowns. I tried a small bite of the dish and for a bite, it was quite good. The hashbrowns were also quite unique, featuring stacks of thinly sliced potatoes, and then deep fried into triangular wedges. I'm not sure if I enjoyed this interpretation since the ratio of crunch to potato was simply too much potato for me.
From the urging of SC, EC chose the fried chicken and waffles ($19.00) which came with crispy thighs, buttermilk waffles, and white gravy. It's a pretty large portion so the price tag seems justified to me. I believe all of the chicken was boneless and dark meat. EC and SC both mentioned that the waffle was super soggy, which wasn't helped by the white gravy that was drenched over top. Although on a positive note, the homemade hot sauce supplied in bottles on the tables was quite nice (a little spicy for me), as EC used a lot of it to liven up the chicken.
For my dish, I chose the crème brûlée french toast ($10.00, see first picture) which came with vanilla cream and fresh fruit. Now I'm a little biased since I don't really enjoy french toast to begin with, but the concept of the dish enticed me to order it. I thought maybe the Beltliner may change my mind about french toast. Plus, it was the most picturesque dish for Instagram. #priorities.
Unfortunately, the burnt sugary crust wasn't enough to help the soggy, eggy interior. Although I guess that is exactly what french toast is, and I'm just not a fan. The vanilla cream was alright and I wish there just a little bit more fruit on top. I ate one slice and took the other to go. Knew I should have stuck to a savoury option.
Overall, I really really really wanted to like the Beltliner, but my thoughts can only be summed up in one word: ehhh. Their menu sounds amazing so I think it's mainly an issue with execution. My experience was nothing special, although I think I should try their other menu options before dismissing Beltliner forever. Although it may take me a while to come back... there's just too many good places in Calgary to try.