White Lily Diner
A tiny storefront with a sizable morning lineup is a quick summary of the way White Lily Dinner appears to a casual passerby.
We have passed by this diner many times on our walk to the downtown core, but it never caught our eye. With its plain and simple storefront, an obvious linear flower art, there was nothing too impressive to draw us in. Retrospectively, the signs’ artdeco font for “Diner” is a curious idea, but it lacked sophistication and craftsmanship to properly speak up.
An elongated, narrow space had seating for about 30 patrons with small and large booths as well as some high chairs. Everything was clean and neat, light colours used throughout along with minimal decor. Our waitress (also owner) with a lovely baby bump was sweet and joyful throughout.
We asked for Southern Breakfast: bacon, a couple of eggs any style, white corn grits, gravy, biscuits, fermented greens - seemed an appropriate choice for a classic diner. Second dish of choice was the Buttermilk Griddle Cakes: 3 stack, butter, maple syrup, and seasonal fruit or cottage cheese.
The Southern dish was served in a bowl with all things significant piled on the grits. A crammed presentation, but the flavour made up for it all - the house pickled bok choy added some intrigue to the flavors, while the salty smoked bacon and gravy contributed the needed spice to add character to otherwise plain grits and eggs.
As for the Buttermilk Griddle Cakes, the seasonal fruit was a compote and the addition of cottage cheese dialed up the healthiness as an alternative to whipped cream. The side of butter, we thought, was odd as it was salty - perhaps to balance off the sweet dish?
Oh, the fresh donuts! Daily flavors were handwritten on a rolled paper menu by the entrance. We had one topped with a swirl of brown butter cinnamon. Fluffy warm and glazed, it was a beautiful amuse bouche to enjoy our coffees. If the weather permits, enjoy this snack to go. The Joel Weeks Park is right around the corner, but much removed from the Queen Street chaos - a little gem with beautiful fauna, balanced pedestrian flow, unique sculptures and custom BBQ benches.
White Lily diner already became a local staple and a curious restaurant to visit for a diner experience with a twist.
PS: Drinks occupied about half the menu and included a curious breakfast beer - IPA with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.