Downtown East Diner: Early Bird Cafe

A colleague and I attended an all-day training session at Canada Place today, which, besides being a nice change of pace, also meant we were able to try out a new restaurant! I had been eying the Early Bird Cafe for some time, tucked away in the soon-to-be-revitalized Quarters on 97 Street and 102 Avenue. Though it is getting better, it is still not the best area after dark, which may also explain why the restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch.

Our instructor cut our lunch hour in half, hoping to get a jump on the afternoon material, so I crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t be a mistake for us to opt for a non-food cafeteria meal. It wasn’t.

The restaurant is narrow, with a welcoming long wooden bar at the front, where customers could watch the kitchen in action. Unfortunately, the walkway between the door and the bar isn’t particularly wide, so customers all inevitably drifted to the rear of the space. The room is functional, with a nice refurbished wooden floor, but what passes as decor gave us a bit of a laugh because of its randomness – a poster of mushroom varieties displayed next to a glossy of Marilyn Monroe, for example.

The no-frills menu is filled with comforting diner favourites – baked pastas, burgers and donairs. Due to the time constraints, my coworkers and I both decided on a sandwich with the day’s soup on the side.

My colleague enjoyed her Denver sandwich, with ham, green pepper, onion and egg ($6.95). We both agreed the cream of spinach soup was pretty good – nice flavour, and fresh spinach that had been added just before serving.

Early Bird Cafe

Denver sandwich

My Monte Cristo with ham, turkey and Swiss ($8.95) was a bit unusual – where I was expecting crisp egg-dipped bread, I was presented with the equivalent of a sandwich made with French toast.  I found out later that this simply is another version, and ultimately, would make a great brunch dish – savoury with hints of sweetness.

Early Bird Cafe

Monte Cristo

Staff were great – friendly and attentive; if we didn’t have to promptly return, it would have been a great place to linger a while. It’s really great to see another small business open up in downtown east – give it a try if you’re in the area!

Early Bird Cafe
10221 97 Street
(780) 420-6826
Monday-Friday 10am-3pm

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