The New Artisanal Diner in the Grain Exchange Building

Don’t leave Plowshare before you’ve tried the French toast stuffed with wild mushroom duxelles.

Inside Plowshare. Photograph by Jared Sych

Casual restaurants with a relaxed vibe and an affordable foodie-friendly menu are always welcome in Calgary. Located in the space in the historic Grain Exchange building that was formerly the Gypsy (and before that, the original Divino), Plowshare bills itself as an “artisanal diner,” which translates to creative (but not overly wacky) interpretations of comfort food, with nothing priced over $25.

All-day brunch is a cornerstone of both the day and the evening menus, and items like the duck leg with waffles and French toast stuffed with wild mushroom duxelles and a brie-and-white-cheddar tarragon sauce have quickly become favourites among regulars. But Plowshare is about more than breaking the fast. Open through the dinner hour, the menu is full of professional versions of home cooking, with chef Mike Scarcelli’s spins on shortribs, bacon-wrapped meatloaf and roast chicken.

Plowshare’s barkeeps also pour a mean cocktail and the bar is well stocked with wine and craft beers. While that’s all well and good, the other main attraction is the room itself – the gorgeously detailed wooden bar and black-and-white checkerboard floor of previous incarnations are still intact, with the addition of special touches such as vintage metal gas station signs that make the place feel retro, but not kitschy. That is Plowshare’s strength: just a touch of grandeur without a whiff of pretension.

817 1 St. S.W., 403-454-4953

Inside, Plowshare looks like a retro diner. Photograph by Jared Sych

The French toast stuffed with wild-mushroom duxelles, with brie-and-white-cheddar tarragon sauce is a must-try here. Photograph by Jared Sych

While you’ll come here for the all-day brunch, the black-and-white checkerboard floor and wood paneling are also part of the restaurant’s appeal. Photograph by Jared Sych

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