Mat’s Diner duo complement each others’ strengths.
Sometimes in life, you get the perfect pairing. When it comes to Mat’s Diner in Kensington, you get many: breakfast and Indian flavours, comfort food and gorgeous plating, generous servings and excellent prices. Perhaps the most perfect pairing, though, are owners Chef Mat Nagaraj and GM Vino Manickam. The two found each other in the unlikely town of Edson, Alberta when Nagaraj heard heard Tamil, his mother tongue, in the grocery story. He followed his ears aisle after aisle until he found the source: Vino speaking Tamil to his wife.
Breakfast at Mat’s Diner
The meeting began a friendship that became a partnership between two passionate food people: Mat an accomplished chef and Vino, an experienced front-of-house manager. Each took their own route to that chance meeting in Edson – Chef Mat through the red-seal equivalent program in India and an international hotel group, Vino studying tourism management, cruise ships and working in restaurants all over the world – including a six-month stint in France.
As their friendship (and their obviously complementary skills) grew, talk of running their own restaurant kept coming up. Finally, two years ago, Higher Ground put The Daily (the restaurant beneath the café) up for sale and Mat and Vino took the plunge.
The pair spent the first year listening to customers, to online reviews and researching what Calgarians want. It turns out, says Chef Mat, we want breakfast. All day. We also want Indian food, “But not the really spicy kind,” laughs Mat.
Mat’s Croque Madame
The result is a menu that is tailor-made for Calgarians: the portions are huge, the presentation is picture perfect, the price is right and the options are plenty. Butter chicken eggs benny (another perfect pairing) and buttermilk fried chicken on griddle cakes bring in the breakfast crowds. The front of house is bright, friendly attentive.
We recommend the croque madame. Served open faced, this plate is enough food to feed two (for the record, we did not share) and with a gorgeous garnish of ruby red and golden beets, it won’t disappoint your Instagram followers. Also try the butter and mango chicken: Indian food, but not the spicy kind.
These days, Mat’s Diner is a bustling hub of breakfast aficionados on weekend mornings and Mat and Vino are looking at a second location for 2020. We look forward to following this perfect pair as they continue to grow.
1126 Kensington Rd NW, Calgary, AB T2N 3P3