Gina’s Cafe (permanently closed)
Address: 710 Gladstone Ave, Ottawa
Hours: 8:30am – 2:30pm (Tue – Sun); closed Mondays
While on the hunt for a post-night shift breakfast, I remembered that salt-of-the-earth diner Gina’s Cafe was a short walk from my apartment.
Located on Gladstone at Bronson, the location is somewhat inconspicuous, other than some signage on the front. A house-like building next to a gas station doesn’t exactly scream “diner” from a distance. Or any type of restaurant for that matter.
When I arrived about an hour before closing (just enough to not be a dick and keep them there late), there were a handful of other people there finishing up their meals. It’s a small space, seating about 20, with a fresh coat of blue paint, but quite plain otherwise. They’re definitely not going for the retro diner vibe here.
I was quickly seen to and as I was there for hearty breakfast fare, I took a pass on the lunch menu. Their breakfast menu is compact as far as breakfast places go, with varying combinations of eggs and proteins, several omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, and French toast and pancakes.
I was pretty hungry at this point, so I went for their Big Breakfast ($15.99). With two eggs, pancakes, bacon sausage, ham, homefries, and toast, I was going to get my fill of carbs and meat. I got my eggs sunny side up for optimal toast dipping, and white bread because whole wheat wasn’t going to make this breakfast a healthy one.
After a short wait, all three plates of my food arrived. Yup, three. The pancakes, although plural on the menu, came as one large, dinner-plate-sized pancake. Although there was only table syrup for topping, the pancake itself was super light and airy, and made for an excellent fake-syrup sponge.
All of the proteins were great – four full slices of crisp bacon, a lightly browned slice of ham, and breakfast sausages which were butterflied for extra browning on the griddle. Pro moves.
My eggs were cooked perfectly, with rich and runny yolks, and delicate whites. Much yolk dipping was had.
I really appreciated the homefries, which unlike 90% of the ones that you get in your standard diner or pub, were not from a freezer bag. Fresh, hand-cut potatoes, with some nice love from the flat-top? Excellent.
Service was very friendly and laid-back, and they seemed really proud of their food when I commented on the homefries.
In a class of restaurant where many places coast by on people’s nostalgia and fighting for the cheapest dollar, Gina’s Cafe is putting out some great, classic food while still maintaining a very reasonable price point. They may not have the neon lights or retro seating, but they’re more destination worthy than many of those that do.