Just under three months ago, Gaia and I got together to check out the Dairy Lane Cafe, a place I had heard much about but hadn’t had the opportunity to visit, until now. The place was much tinier than I expected, feeling almost like I was invading someone’s front room. However, the atmosphere was friendly and full of what seemed like other friends catching up. We got in right before the dinner rush (always a good idea to head in half an hour before you’d actually want a meal, really) and managed to get a seat without much wait.
The menu is short and sweet, something I like because it means less chance of choice paralysis. Gaia and I ended up ordering the same Dairy Lane burger (11.75), albeit hers with fries and mine with soup (+1). The wait was pretty long for such a small location; I think we waited for about 45 minutes before any food arrived. The waitress did give us a heads-up that they were making a fresh batch of fries and apologized for the wait, but still, a 45-minute wait is no insignificant amount of time.
At long last the fries arrived and… well, I have to warn you, I think they were trying to make up for the wait time with this amount of fries, because I didn’t see any other table receive a platterful like ours:
Our burgers arrived with the fries (the burger behind is a better shot than the one coming up) and mine came with soup. The soup, a black bean and corn soup, was oh-so-worth-the-extra-dollar. Seriously. I could have ordered a large bowl of that soup and gone home happy and content. The black beans were enhanced with a bit of heat, the sweetness of the corn emphasized by the tinge of lime juice and the cilantro just made everything better. Oh yes. Cilantro offsets spice so nicely, because it doesn’t take away the heat but it makes your mouth feel clean, so you’ve got a wonderful juxtaposition of refreshing warmth on your tongue.
Oh yeah, the burgers were good and so were the fries. They were, however, pretty standard fare, especially the fries. The only thing that really stood out about the burgers was the produce rather than the meat. Don’t get me wrong, the burger itself was flavourful enough but it was the perfect butter lettuce leaf and the massive slice of juicy, savoury tomato that made the burger beautiful. For me this was the first time eating “local produce” really made a difference, and the simplicity of the burger allowed the produce to shine.
Dairy Lane Cafe
319 – 19 Street NW
Calgary, AB T2N 2J2
Pros: Dairy Lane Cafe is probably the first restaurant that I would recommend if someone wanted local produce; they make good use of their ingredients and their food is simple enough so individual ingredients shine out.
Cons: The cons of this restaurant all come down to logistics: limited seating, a slow kitchen and (it seems) an inability to keep up with a full house gave me plenty of time to catch up with my friend, but kept us wondering when our food was going to show up.
I could write poetry about soup, because I’m slowly discovering that it is one of the tastier (and often cheaper) ways to eat at a restaurant. Dairy Lane Cafe’s food is no exception to my musings, but with the wait time I could probably pen an epic about a hungry heroine and have time to spare.