I have said it before and I will say it again: I love brunch! More specifically, I like anything that is more like breakfast. If it’s served with eggs or bacon at any time of the day – I’m there. If you agree, The Diner House 29 in St Catharines is the place to be.
After falling in love with brunch at Bistro Mirepoix, I was told by many that I must check out The Diner House 29. Everyone raved about the food, but when I looked it up on Google Maps I found it was located at a gas station. What?! Even though I have been told many times to not judge a book by its cover, when it comes to dining, I often do. Sitting in serene surrounds or people watching on a bustling boulevard enhances my dining experience. So I must admit I did not rush off to check out The Diner House 29. However, while everyone was raving about the food, for now obvious reasons, they forgot to mention how adorable it is inside.
After arriving at The Diner House 29 on a dreary day, the gas station’s grimy cement and the gray sky blending into one and another, my eyes were immediately drawn to a colourful wall of lovingly curated Pyrex dining ware, vintage formica tables and chairs in perfect condition, and retro posters advertising things like Alka-Seltzer and General Electric.
The hip retro interior brought brightness to my day. It was like being in an episode of Happy Days. And, when I tasted the food, it certainly was a happy day.
This is not your run-of-the-mill diner food. Co-owner and Chef Dave House has some serious creative chops in the kitchen. The flavours are bold and balanced, the servings are generous, and the prices are surprisingly modest for the quality of food.
On The Diner House 29 website Dave compares the menu to: Ween’s ‘Pure Guava’ album. An eclectic mix of foods and flavours he has picked up from working with great folks around the country and travels in China. Like Ween, food can’t be pigeon-holed.
As well as some more traditional breakfast favourites, the menu is full of mouth-water but different choices like: Savoury Oatmeal with Caramelized Onions, Bacon Jam and topped with a Sunny-side Egg; Pumpkin Chocolate Bread topped with Maple Pumpkin Caramel, Meringue, Apples and Cinnamon Cream; Basmati Rice, Shiitakes, Kale, Sunny-side Eggs, Sesame Dressing, Pickled Vegetables & Spicy Potato Strings; and Lebanese-spiced ground Lamb on Basmati Rice with Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Stew, Feta, Cilantro, Eggs and Yogurt.
There are thoughtful and interesting vegetarian choices like Roasted Tomato & Eggplant Stew on Saffron-scented Israeli Couscous, Feta, Chilli sauce and Eggs; and quite a few options for gluten-free folks. They are also happy to substitute for other items if there is bread included, although I am a little disappointed that I don’t get try their delicious-looking house-made bread.
I finally decide on the Crust-less Quiche filled with Butternut Squash, sautéed Onions & Pacific Rock Cheese. It is topped with Maple-Bacon Jam, and served with Bacon and House Spuds. The quiche is light, fluffy and sky high with a crispy crust, and I could eat the Maple-Bacon Jam all day, on everything.
My Chief Researcher goes for the big bowl of House Spuds covered Chorizo Corn Relish, Brie, and Pumpkin Seed Pesto. They also bring him out a house-made Scotch Bonnet and Apple hot sauce, which he loves and uses generously.
Co-owner in this family affair, Anne House, runs the front of house and the service is welcoming, attentive and thoughtful. You can see the heart and soul that has gone into creating The Diner House 29.
If you are looking for something different, and awesome, for breakfast, brunch, or lunch, with great service in cute-as-a-button vintage surrounds, step inside St Catharines’ Diner House 29. However, because of how good this place it is best to get there early for breakfast so you don’t have to wait for a table. I look forward to going back to try the lunch menu soon!
Location 431 Welland Ave, St Catharines, ON L2M 5V2