Quick, Quick, Slow: Nellie’s

Over a week after my visit to Nellie’s, I’m finally getting around to posting about it.

Nellie’s, a diner with five locations in Calgary, has a near-cult following. Always on top of FFWD’s Best Breakfast/Brunch list, Mack got quite the excited reactions from some native Calgarians at BarCamp when he revealed he would be testing out their brunch on Sunday.

I didn’t have a preference as to which location to patronize, but after some consultation  with Google Maps, we determined that Nellie’s On 4th (2308 4 Street SW) made reasonable sense – off the well-trod 17th Avenue strip, its proximity to two other branches within walking distance gave us some flexibility in case the wait at 4th was unbearable.

Nellie’s On 4th

We approached the door and joined a lineup that extended outside the restaurant – it didn’t look good. Moments later, however, much to my surprise – we were seated at a table by the window. The space was larger than I expected it to be (or at least, crammed tables together so that dining neighbours were close). We were offered coffee shortly after settling in, and took some time to peruse two pages of extensive options. All brunch items were priced under $10 (with the exception of a monstrous-sounding plate of French Toast with all the fixings). The selection of omelettes and other breakfast favorites was better than most diners I have visited, but after careful consideration, I decided on the Farmer’s Omelette while Mack chose the Hash Brown Omelette.


After our swift service through the front door and at our table, we expected the rest of our meal to run as smoothly. Unfortunately, the food took quite a long time to reach us. While not an unforgivable sin, given the steady stream of customers, compared to Diner Deluxe, Avenue Diner, and most recently, Galaxie Diner, their order-to-table time was slow. To make matters worse, we didn’t even have the option of sipping coffee while we waited – Mack tried numerous times to make eye contact with the waitress holding court over coffee refills, but to no avail. It almost seemed like she was teasing us – toting the pot of coffee near our area…only to turn away at the last moment. Mack commented that one should never have to ask for coffee in a diner, a statement that I agree with wholeheartedly.

Always Twitter-ing

Our food eventually arrived, heaping and brimming over the edge of our plates. Mack’s omelette definitely looked like the more exciting of the two, speckled with bacon crisps. My dish was extremely filling, particularly with the generous portion of hash browns on the side.

Hash Brown Omelette

Farmer’s Omelette

While not disappointing, Nellie’s didn’t quite live up to their mythic reputation. I’d be willing to try out another location (the Cosmic Cafe looks fun), or simply return to one of my diner favorites in Calgary.

4 thoughts on “Quick, Quick, Slow: Nellie’s

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