After going vegan in last week’s review, co-diner and I boomeranged to the other extreme this weekend. “Let’s go out for breakfast,” she intoned as though suggesting something wildly indulgent. “Some place with bacon.”
This stipulation is significant because our breakfasting-out standby is actually a halal establishment, and the meals we have there often vegetarian. I will never stop extolling the Lebanese breakfast laid on by Castle Bake until every single person in Edmonton has tried it at least once.
But breakfast with bacon is quite another thing. Not that bacon is hard to find, but if you’re going to commit to starting the day with an overload of calories, salt, fat and caffeine that abide in a classic breakfast, you want to make sure it’s worthwhile. Be nostalgic all you want—I’m through with shredded hash browns, scorched coffee and peelable jam packets. Give me real food that someone took some care with.
Enter The Local Omnivore. Though a relative newcomer to the 124 Street-adjacent industrial area that’s almost completely devoid of aesthetic splendour, the food truck-turned-bricks-and-mortar eatery/retail meatery feels lived-in, as though the flow of customers across its glass transom has had as much to do with forming the interior as meat aficionados who envisioned it—indeed they’ve scribbled all over the place.
Sunday brunch is sunlit and rockin’, a blur of servers and cooks maneuvering past one another behind the big grill-equipped service counter, with Motown pouring from the sound system. Large windows give onto the clean and orderly meat preparation area at the back of the room. The rest is a field of plain, functional tables and chairs, mostly full. Co-diner and I luck onto a two-topper against the wall. Bigger tables attest to the Omnivore’s family-friendliness; the graffiti not so much.
If you’re not familiar with the eponymous food truck, the Omnivore is dedicated to lovingly wrought smoked meats and other comestibles from quality local ingredients. There are a couple of meatless dishes on the menu, but mostly the appeal of the experience demands a willingness to eat many of God’s creatures.
Presented with excellent cups of coffee, co-diner and I eyed the succinct menu and conveyed our orders to the efficient but friendly server. She would have her bacon and eggs. Me, I would not settle for less than everything. I ordered the Broke Back Breakfast. I might never be the same.
The wait for food was not long, but somehow the interval seemed kind of fun. We chatted with our neighbours about their baby. I examined graffiti and noted the grinning proprietors hard at work cooking and gawked at tattoos and sang along with Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher.” More excellent coffee was poured.
When the food landed, I barely glanced at co-diner’s so-called Basic Plate ($12.50), so varied and precipitous was the Broke Back Breakfast ($16.50) before me. Though hers was hardly basic—two fried eggs accompanied by ribbons of double smoked bacon, two slices of fudge-coloured Russian rye toast and, at her request, a scoop of roasted parsnips, carrots and beets.
I beheld a beautiful mess waiting to happen—a pair of just-fried eggs ready to disgorge their golden innards all over refried beans, spicy shoestring fries and an extraordinary array of housemade meats: double-smoked bacon, smoked turkey, ham, corned beef and coarse-ground sausage, with Russian rye standing by to mop up the carnage. It was exactly what I wanted, though the server quickly brought ketchup, hot sauce and honey, per our specifications.
Everything was most succulent, but I was especially taken aback by the concentrated flavour and singular texture of the corned beef. Coffee may have been a factor, but I broke out in the most glorious meat sweats half-way through the yolk-anointed feast and had to admit that I would have to take most of the sausage home to finish later on.
The experience left nothing to complain about, right down to the $40 tab that rendered lunch moot. I know where I’m taking my indulgent breakfast cravings for the foreseeable future.