In perusing Chowhound threads to determine a brunch spot while in Calgary last month, I came across the suggestion of Big Fish, a restaurant run by the same folks behind the ever-popular Diner Deluxe. Posters commented about the restaurant’s under-the-radar quality, meaning that one could snag a seat without a gratuitous wait. We were sold.
Arriving at Big Fish on a Saturday morning, we got exactly what we expected – a table upon arrival. (other pluses – the restaurant has a decent-sized parking lot, and even takes reservations). There were two other parties when we sat down, but the restaurant was no more than half-full during our stay.
The dining room was flush with natural light, and cozy, with well-worn wooden furniture. I could easily see why the family seated behind us had chosen this as the venue for a birthday celebration – in many ways, it felt like eating in a friend’s kitchen, laid-back and comfortable. The service mirrored the room, friendly but relaxed (and our coffee mugs were never empty!).
In spite of the restaurant’s name, Big Fish does have a few brunch options devoid of seafood. I chose two of them. First, the wild mushroom, truffle, basil and white cheddar scramble on duck confit hash ($15). It was a rich, filling dish (my first time enjoying duck for breakfast), with a generous cap of melted cheese on top. The pea shoots were a nice touch, but I was hoping for something more than smashed, boiled potatoes for the hash.
Wild mushroom, truffle, basil and white cheddar scramble on duck confit hash
The second was due to my indecisiveness, and a bit of a Gilmore Girls moment – the Urban Baker raisin brioche French toast with orange curd and maple syrup sounded too good to pass up, and the server said it was all right to order just a slice. And yes, it was worth the indulgence, the citrus providing just the right burst of freshness to balance out the butter and syrup.
French toast with orange curd and maple syrup
Mack ordered the eggs benedict with dungeness crab ($14). Like me, he would have preferred crispy potatoes, but he did say that the smashed potatoes willingly soaked up the runny yolks. And the most telling picture of all: he finished his plate.
Eggs benedict with dungeness crab
It’s odd, the line that separates brunch from lunch. While that line is formed to some degree by the time of day, day of the week, and menu items, atmosphere also plays a big factor, at least for us. Though the food was solid at Big Fish, the space just didn’t have that buzz, that intangible weekend zest for life that our favourite restaurants do. Half the fun of brunch is the people-watching, after all! For that reason, though it’s probably not rational to choose line-ups over reservations, unless we needed to secure a table in advance, you’ll likely find us back at Dairy Lane or Over Easy instead.
1112 Edmonton Trail Northeast