Breakfast at Floyd's Diner

altWhat makes a diner a success? Is it the food? It is the coffee? Is it the staff or location or the furnishings? We checked out Floyd's Diner for the first time today. The CoffeeCrew was meeting up with one of our new travel scouts, one of the people that does a lot of travel as a product of her regular job and reports on the cafe scene where ever her travel might take her.

I have been watching the evolution of this space for a while. Their location on Yates Street at Quadra is in a village called Harris Green. This name may come as a surprise to locals who do not know the reference and sorry, I do not know much of the history. For a while, this restaurant was an ethnic joint that seemed to have the odd tour bus parked outside and other than the captive audience, there were few walk-ins. As it turns out they had more than their share of food-safe violations and health citations by the local health inspector. The next venture to audition to the neighborhood was a place, I believe, called Ochre Grains. From the exterior it was impossible to tell what they were about - hence the short lived tenure on the corner.

Floyd's opened quietly enough and it was through word of mouth that we finally dropped in this morning. Our friend, Jan (who will be joining the crew in Tofino and Ucluelet in a few weeks) showed up 15 minutes early and weathered the 15 or 20 person line-up. Thank you Jan! The decor is a mishmash of the familiar and the visually jarring. Floyd's is decorated like an 80's greatest hits compilation, some of it you like, some of it you don't like. In this case, it just doesn't matter. We were seated enthusiastically by one of the many cheerful and energetic staff and within seconds substantial stoneware mugs appeared. Carafe toting wait-staff prowl the linoleum seeking the empty mugs, the half-full mugs and respond to any eye contact that might indicate that you might need a top up.

The Floyd's Diner menu is, for me, a familiar reflux of Victoria's bygone era of eighties establishments that, through no fault of their own, or the ravages of dietary evolution, and the maturation of the college and university crowds of the day, went under or transmogrified into one of the high-brow establishments that us grown-ups know and love today. The Herald Street Caffe is one such place and when I have the emotional energy, I will take my readers down memory lane to this much-loved bistro as well as joints like South-side Diner, Pagliacci's, Goodie's and the like. Digression over!

If you are a fan of eggs, bacon, toast, and sausages, then Floyd's should be your final destination. Coffee, hot, fresh and continuously refilled is the beverage mainstay here. Tea is an option of course. My two morning partners ordered Eggs Benedict - names like Ben Hur and The American Idol are definitely within the traditional nomenclature of the Diner. In both cases, the Benny was prepared to absolute perfection. As we foodies know, Benny's must have the eggs cooked just right, with fresh ingredients and hollandaise that was procured that morning. My French toast was made with fresh bread drowned in the egg mix, but not leaden with mix. Maple syrup, butter and a light dusting of baker's sugar rounded out a flawless presentation.

Service at Floyd's is solicitous without being ingratiating. The staff are a blend of the young and the enthusiastic directed by a familiar faced owner who apprenticed at one of the other classic diners mentioned earlier. A subtle soundtrack of eighties classics provided a familiar rhythm - just enough volume to illicit toe-tapping by not enough to disrupt the conversation around the table.

The familiar strains of "Frankie goes to Hollywood's Relax" played over the diner sound system as I mopped up remaining syrup with corners of toast. Breakfast and coffee for three - about 30$ with tip. Overall feeling: Satisfaction.

Colin Newell, writer and creator of CoffeeCrew.Com, lives and works in Victoria B.C. In a continuing series of articles, we hope to start featuring the odd restaurant review.