I've got some good news, and some bad news. Let's start with the bad news so we can clear the way for the good stuff.
Remember the funky vintage-style coffee shop beloved by the characters in last summer's Netflix hit To All the Boys I've Loved Before? The teen rom-com was filmed at North Vancouver's Corner Café, and sadly that spot is no more, so for those who wanted to sip a milkshake in Lara Jean's cinematic footsteps, your time has passed.
Now comes the good - well, great, actually - news: Douce Diner has recently opened up in the former Corner Cafe spot, and they're bringing high-quality, locally-focused diner-style breakfast and lunch fare to the North Shore.
Douce Diner has done an impressive renovation of the space, which now boasts an eye-catching feature wall with black-and-white patterned wall paper and vintage-style posters. There is tons of bright white subway tile on the walls, and on the floor it's small black-and-white tile with pink, pale yellow, and mint-green accents. Bottom line: It's adorable.
Offering up breakfast and lunch fare daily, with some brunch-style weekend features, Douce Diner is the work of owner and "food mechanic" Dawn Doucette. The onetime Top Chef Canada contestant (or cheftestant in their parlance) previously operated a restaurant in Ontario in the early 2000s before moving to Vancouver, where she has done culinary development for high-profile restaurant brands like Earls and Caffe Artigianio, before she ventured back out on her own with this charming diner concept.
On the menu are accessible favourites with some elevated and thoughtful twists. For the breakfast-minded, choose from a classic eggs your way with your choice of bacon, sausage, or ham served with toast, hashbrowns, and their hearty French white beans with ham hock. Or you can opt for an omelet, a breakfast sandwich, or a beautiful Eggs Benny served on a biscuit with either avocado, country ham, or smoked salmon.
Sweeter options include a housemade waffle, or take it that extra step and go for their Chicken & Waffles, which teams their fluffy buttermilk waffle with a tender and expertly fried boneless chicken breast - the latter is served with a sausage-studded gravy and maple syrup for the ultimate sweet-savoury tango.
If sweet is more your scene, the weekend brunch menu includes a massive slice of French Toast made with challah that's draped with lemon curd and topped with mascarpone cream and seasonal fruit. But if you prefer things spicy, be sure to request their housemade hot sauce; it's a thick, layered, hot pepper-forward accent that packs a nice tangy bite.
For the lunchier fare, you'll find anything from a double burger and a souped-up grilled cheese (as in it's a French Onion Grilled Cheese), to avocado toast, salads, fries, and of course shakes and sundaes. Plus they've got coffee, espresso drinks, teas, fresh lemonade, and fresh-squeezed juices.
The small place really gets humming on the weekend, but the servers are smiling and attentive, and the food is quite lovely, and the vibe laid back and polished - like a greasy spoon gone gourmet.
Douce Diner is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are located at 1490 Pemberton Avenue in North Vancouver.