The Diner House 29 was my biggest surprise of summer 2017. Why? Firstly, the food is superb. Secondly, I had never heard of the place until I did some research into St. Catharine’s, the biggest city in the Niagara region of Ontario. My family was going to be passing through so the lunch decision was left in my skillful hands. After a bit of online browsing, I decided on The Diner House 29 and I’m sure glad that I did!
The décor is the first thing that catches your eye in this classic diner. From the outside, the bright blue signage gives the diner a modest, local feel. Walking into the restaurant, though, is like travelling back in time to the 1960s. The furniture is retro in a Mad Men meets The Wonder Years fusion. Think bright formica tables, vinyl upholstered chairs, and stacks of colourful pyrex bowls and casserole dishes. In fact, there’s an entire wall dedicated to pyrex dishware that’s quite the sight!
The time period is further brought to life with muted tea-coloured tile floors and old advertisements for products like Old Spice, Alka Seltzer, and Sunbeam mowers. A vintage orange high chair sits next to the stacks of pyrex dishes, reminding you what a typical kitchen felt like in the 60s. The signs on the bathroom doors pull you deeper into the theme: a classic Wonder Woman poster for the ladies and an Iron Man poster for the men. It’s these small touches that give The Diner House 29 its unique charm.
As for the food, it’s hearty, genuine, home-cooked fare. I need to start by talking about my lunch choice: the crust-less quiche filled with zucchini, Swiss chard, aged cheddar and sage topped with maple bacon jam or walnut pesto. Both toppings sounded amazing so I asked for the waitress’ recommendation and maple jam was her preferred choice. OH MY GOD, I have thanked the food gods every day for this maple bacon jam! It seriously is a gift from heaven and everyone should get the chance to savour it! The jam is sweet from the maple syrup, but lightly salted from the bacon. IT. IS. INCREDIBLE. Seriously amazing! If they sold it in jars, I would have cleared them out! I’d take a loan out for that stuff! I would buy that shizz by the gallon and put it on EVERYTHING.
Maple bacon jam aside, the quiche was soft and flavourful. I thought that the ingredients came together really well and the jam complemented it perfectly. I also got a side of the potato, bacon and herb soup, which came in a pyrex bowl (of course!) and which boasted an ample amount of bacon. Just how I like it! The bread – which is house-made by the way – was fantastic. The thick slices were fresh, toasted, and buttered and I loved dipping them into the soup. Overall, this dish was a home run and I was impressed!
My family fared just as well with their food choices. My sister opted for the lamb kefta on basmati rice with cumin stewed tomatoes, feta, cilantro, yogurt, and two fried poached eggs. This was a really flavourful dish that was easily devoured. She let me have a taste and I thought it was great! The fried poached eggs were the stars – I’d never had that before and they were divine! How do you even fry a poached egg? My other sister chose the BLT grilled cheese sandwich which came stacked high with a side of chips.
My mom got the breaded chicken thigh sandwich topped with bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, tomato, mayo, lettuce, and BBQ sauce and served with a side of home fries, which were nicely roasted and seasoned. My dad chose the feature dish of the day: lamb and white bean chili nachos with two sunny side up eggs, cheddar, sour cream, and pickled onion and tomato chipotle salsa. That title is a damn mouthful, but the dish itself was an even bigger mouthful! It’s as loaded as nachos come! My dad managed to clear this beastly plate, but it’s safe to say he was full for the rest of the day.
We were so impressed by The Diner House 29 that we decided to return a few weeks later, but this time for breakfast. I was especially eager to try the dishes from their breakfast menu, which is only served until 10:55am. Again, we tried a few different dishes including the omelette sandwich with ham, red peppers, home fries, and bacon.
We also tried the French toast dishes, which sounded utterly tantalizing. My sister ordered the banana bread French toast topped with oats, cream, and maple syrup. I selected the seasonal special of raspberry peach loaf French toast with almond ricotta and maple syrup. Let me tell you, this dish was hella sweet. It was like dessert for breakfast. The homemade loaf was incredibly soft and fresh, but this dish was definitely an indulgence and it’s not for those who don’t have a brunch sweet tooth. The breakfast options change regularly, so The Diner House 29 keeps you on your toes. For example, you might find an autumnal butternut squash French toast on the menu right now… Intrigued? I sure am.
While enjoying our meals, we spoke to one of the owners and learned that the diner has been open for just over two years. I asked why the place is called The Diner House 29: Diner because it’s a classic 60s diner, House for the owners’ last name, and 29 because the restaurant was formerly a donut shop which seated 29 people. So there’s a story to the name! The Diner House 29 now seats about 40 so it can fill up quickly, especially on weekends. As a final ode to the 60s theme, the bill is delivered on an old Coca Cola tray with Double Bubble gum and a cute bottle cap magnet. What a way to complete the diner experience!
The Diner House 29 was a pleasant food find which thoroughly impressed every member of my family. The service is attentive, friendly, and quick and the prices are incredibly reasonable for the quality and quantity of the food. I absolutely love finding genuine eateries that truly value good home-cooked food and The Diner House 29 does just this. This restaurant is inviting, cozy, and above all, charming. They are simply doing it right! Keep up the fantastic work Diner House 29! You are a rare breed of restaurant!
- Closed on Mondays. Open from 8am to 2pm the rest of the week.
- Go early to beat the breakfast rush, especially on weekends.
- Breakfast is served until 10:55. The brunch menu starts at 11:30am.
- No reservations.