Beltliner The
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Par Bob Keelaghan

Elevating the Diner Game

“It’s stuff your mom would have made, but how lucky would you have been if your mom made cassoulet?” says co-owner Brendan Bankowski with a chuckle, when he describes The Beltliner’s menu. “We want to elevate the diner game by using better techniques and quality products made by people who care and who went to school for it.”

By that, he means sourcing the food locally, buying fresh ingredients and knowing the local farmers who produce the meats and vegetables they serve rather than cooking with processed ingredients.

A look at the menu shows just how The Beltiner puts this spin on diner staples and takes the flavour up multiple notches. Bored with sausage and eggs? Then start the day with the zing of merguez lamb sausage, soft-boiled eggs and spicy tomato sauce served in a hot skillet. Or choose the sensory overload of French toast stuffed with fresh homemade, fruit “space jam” and ricotta. The diner's meatloaf sandwich features a mix of pork and bison produced in the Cremona, Alberta area. Keeping up with health-conscious customers, there are also many vegetarian and gluten-free entree options on the menu.

It’s a neighbourhood joint where the owners are at the front door saying hello on the weekends. - Brendan Bankowski, co-owner
Brendan Bankowski of The Beltliner wants to elevate the diner experience
The Beltliner's co-owner Brendan Bankowski believes in using locally grown ingredients.

Local to the Core

Located across the street from the historic, sandstone Central Memorial Library and taking its name from the streetcar line that ran in the same area back in the early 20th century, Bankowski and local media celebrity Eric Francis opened The Beltliner with the intention of creating an inner-city hangout.

“It’s a neighbourhood joint where the owners are at the front door saying hello on the weekends,” the naturally genial Bankowski says with a smile. Having worked nearly three decades in the restaurant industry, he prides himself on knowing half of his customers by their first names.

The Beltliner’s penchant for place and history extends to the diner’s interior.  Customers converse and enjoy their chicken and waffles on tables made from the wood of an old, CP Rail box car. It contributes to a decor that hearkens to the days of classic diners, but looks thoroughly modern and urban.

The Beltliner features plenty of natural light during the daytime.
The Beltliner bar, with its Brown-Liquor Cabinet and craft beers, is open into the evening.

Craft Beer and Spirits at Night

Open well into the evening, The Beltliner serves some of its breakfast dishes all day, alongside dinner meals such as confit-turkey dinner and lobster mac and cheese. Patrons are also more than welcome to come in for drinks or a coffee-and-pie dessert.  The diner's quaintly named Brown Liquor Cabinet is located behind the bar. Its railing is also made from a CP train rail, and it contains more than 80 bourbons and scotches. And it proudly serves an excellent selection of Western Canadian craft beers. “Sure, they make great beer in Belgium. I don’t deny that,” says Bankowski, further reinforcing The Beltliner’s buy-local philosophy, “but they also make great beer in Calgary, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Victoria, so we showcase the best of the Prairies.”

The Beltliner is located adjacent to Central Memorial Park.
The Beltliner is located in Calgary's Beltline on 12th Avenue Southwest opposite Central Memorial Park.
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