Pigeonhole offers diners a reason to rise early with new breakfast menu

The early bird may get the worm, but I’d much rather have a good eggs benny myself.

Shaved country ham on an unconventional base of a ground maize arepa with a perfectly poached egg hiding under Hollandaise? Even better. 

While surprising, perhaps, that Pigeonhole — a restaurant whose reputation has been built on the back of an ever-evolving wine list and eclectic collection of small plates that borrow from numerous international cuisines — is now throwing open its doors in the mornings, what comes as no surprise is that the dishes are as creative as those on the evening menus. 

This is the latest evolution for the three establishments chef-owner Justin Leboe has tucked into the former dairy (and former disco and former Calgary landmark, Victoria’s) on the corner of 17th Ave. and 2nd Street SW. Model Milk, the first of the trio to open, has become the anchor of the street heavily populated with go-to restaurants. It continues to garner awards and spots on best restaurant lists for its refined comfort food and Sunday set-menu suppers. 

Pigeonhole, which began with a bang, earning a spot on the coveted enRoute list for best new restaurants in Canada, could have easily continued to fill each evening with people searching for vegetable-based dishes that defy categorization.

But Leboe has other plans. 

He wants to see 17th Ave. as more than an evening destination. And that means starting with breakfast.

Now, from Wednesdays to Sundays, Pigeonhole offers a selection of brunch dishes, along with requisite mimosas, lattes and tea for those looking to start their day in a more gourmet way. (Eventually, the plan is to be open for additional days.)

Sure, there are the expected standards: fried egg sandwich, eggs benny and eggs with toast, bacon and hash browns. But there is always a Pigeonhole twist. 

Pancakes at Pigeonhole

Those eggs benny? They’re served on arepas — a recipe passed down through generations of Leboe’s wife’s family. (He admits, she still makes them far better than he can.) The egg sandwich, named for Victoria’s, that Calgary landmark that Pigeonhole now inhabits, is more like a breakfast burger with a thick sausage patty, golden-yolked fried egg and cheese. And Leboe’s version of pancakes are more akin to souffles than anything you’ll find on other breakfast menus. 

The menu makes allowances for all sorts of dietary needs with several gluten-free options — including the aforementioned pancakes — and the arepa benedicts, which come with either ham, wilted kale and spinach, or smoked salmon.

Perennial evening favourite, the butter-braised charred cabbage topped with shavings of Mimolette (a French cheese) is even on offer.

Take it from me, start with a mimosa and an order of the pillowy gougeres while you peruse through the menu. Sharing the Deepwater Farms kale salad with its dusting of feta and piquant mustard vinaigrette is a good way to feel semi-virtuous when eating any of the filling mains. And, really, who could fault you for ordering a second mimosa?  Certainly not me.

Pigeonhole offers breakfast Wednesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Check out the menu and book reservations at

(Photos courtesy Gwendolyn Richards.)

Gwendolyn Richards is a Calgary-based food writer and the author of Pucker: A Cookbook for Citrus Lovers. She regularly contributes to Avenue Magazine and She shares her cooking and eating adventures – and occasionally some of her favourite outfits – on Twitter and Instagram at @gwendolynmr.