Browsing: Restaurant Features

Qubano’s -Isla Mujeres 2018


People have long told me that Vivien of Qubano makes the very best Cuban sandwiches on Isla Mujeres and that made sense to me since there are not an over abundance of Cuban restaurants on the island. My entourage had headed to Captain Dulce’s for the day. Since it was my last day staying in Centro before I moved to the airport strip, I wanted to take advantage of North Beach and eating on Hidalgo.

Just when my hungered peaked I found myself at Qubano. There was a lovely table in the shade and I snagged it.



It was tough to make a decision from the extensive menu but as soon as I saw that Vivien makes her own French fries, I ordered something that would be accompanied by fries.


I don’t actually expect exceptional burgers on Isla but I have been proven wrong now at Madera, Basto’s and Qubano. Look at this gorgeous patty complete with sauteed onions!


I cut it in half since I wasn’t sure how I was going to fit it into my mouth, at which time the gorgeous creamy goat cheese that had been placed inside the patty, began to ooze out in the most delicious manner. Now this was my kind of burger! The goat cheese added moisture, richness and an amazingly complementary taste. Who knew?


The burger was a mess to eat and I loved every moment. Since I was in my swim suit I thought that I would let the crystal blue waters at North Beach take care of that. I was so enraptured by the burger that I had completely forgotten my motivation for ordering it-the fries! There are two places I go for the fries on Isla: Basto’s, La Lomita and now a third-Vivien’s fries were fabulous.

Sometimes the best places are right there under your nose and you don’t even notice. Kudos to Qubano’s Stuffed Goat Cheese Burger and Fries!

Kath’s quote: “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.”- John Scully


Love never fails.



North Garden Restaurant-Isla Mujeres 2018



In Portugal this January.

When I am on Isla Mujeres, D is typically at my side. This year though, he was only able to be on the island with me for one week. This was because we had already traveled to Phoenix and Portugal this winter. I don’t mind dining alone. In fact it gives me an opportunity to observe the restaurant without distraction. I watch the servers and their interactions with guests. I also observe their delight at tasting and consuming their food. In this case breakfast.


I had been on the beach early that day but my lawn chair unexpectedly broke and so I made my way back to my hotel. I decided to stop en route to see if North Garden had a table. Every other time I had walked by, the place was jammed and there were line ups of people waiting to get in. On this day though, there was only one larger party ahead of me. Breakfast became my consolation prize for having to cut short my beach time.


The name of the restaurant became very obvious when I was sat down in the cool shade of this beautiful tree. This variety also creates a natural umbrella at Luna D’ Miel where we often stay. In addition to offering up its shade, it drops leaves on you periodically to ensure that you are awake.


I started with a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. I was one thirsty girl, haven finished my water bottle on the beach at least an hour before.



Since the restaurant was busy, I had lots of time to make my selection from their extensive menu.


Pecan Eggs Benedict was my choice and I was delighted when they appeared so beautifully in front of me. Notice the inclusion of pecans and crispy strips of side bacon as opposed to the typical back bacon.


I always cut into my Benedict right away to ensure the desired doneness of the poached eggs. One side was perfect and the egg yolk intermingled with the hollandaise sauce. Unfortunately the other side was too hard to do the same. In spite of my personal preference, the entire dish was delicious. I was anxious to visit North Garden again for lunch but did not have the opportunity. They are already on the “must try again” list for our next visit.

Kath’s quote:“In the garden there was nothing which was not quite like themselves – nothing which did not understand the wonderfulness of what was happening to them – the immense, tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity of Eggs. If there had been one person in that garden who had not known through all his or her innermost being that if an Egg were taken away or hurt the whole world would whirl round and crash through space and come to an end… there could have been no happiness even in that golden springtime air.”― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden


Love never fails.




Corto, The Common at the Forks Market, Winnipeg


Full disclosure: I have been a fan of the cuisine of Scott Bagshaw ever since he opened the first Deseo at the old Royal Albert Arms Hotel on Albert St. in the Exchange. I was even able to pick out one of Scott’s creations in a black box seafood contest where I sat on the panel of judges. There is something about Scott’s conceptions that simply resonate with me.


Alas, although I have visited both Enoteca and Maque, I have yet to dine at Passero, Bagshaw’s newest restaurant at the Forks. I have attempted to make reservations a couple of times to no avail. As a consolation prize I recently met a colleague at Passero’s daytime manifestation- Corto. At Corto you can order a Italian take away sandwich and either eat it in the Common area seating, at Passero’s slick bar top or at one row of seating in the restaurant. Once you choose a table, you still order at the counter and pick up your food when it is ready. Heck I would wash my own dishes to eat Bagshaw’s delicious fare.


My lunch date chose the calabrian roast beef which had been grilled with provolone cheese, pepperoncini (a mild Italian pepper) and was served alongside truffle au jus for dipping. Lucky for me, she wasn’t shy about letting me taste a 1/4 of her sandwich (just so you know, I exchanged hers for 1/4 of mine). The sandwich was full of deep beefy tones and was busting with natural juices. We had been warned by the lovely woman at the order desk that our lunches would be messy and she was right.


My chicken parm was equally messy to eat but there were plenty of napkins provided and used I batch of them. A buttery brioche bun had been stuffed with a perfectly fried chicken fillet which in turn had been smeared with a roasted tomato sauce in addition to goey buffalo mozzarella. Crowning the bun was a dusting of Parmesan cheese to provide salty pungency. Not only did I eat every morsel, I used my fork to scrape the additional bits off the butcher wrap paper.


My companion also ordered these inauspicious crunchy potatoes. Tiny potatoes had been boiled, smashed and either roasted or perhaps deep fried to create the most amazing side. Maybe it was the garlic aioli that elevated them from tasty to sensational! The other sides were tomato salad, a spin on a Caesar salad or roasted beets. Next time I am at the Forks for lunch, I might just order sides. The romaine salad also included chestnut and crisp sausage and the roasted beets were enhanced by a smoked cambozola cheese, pistachios, blood oranges and salsa verde!


D and I love going to little places that have a certain vibe that they could be anywhere in the world-Possero/Corto is one of those places. I look forward to perching on one of these stools to check out the concoctions that both the kitchen and the bar is putting out. As I was leaving, I spotted a condiment out on the bar top. It was a squeeze bottle of my favourite black truffle oil. Another reason I cannot wait to visit again!

Kath’s quote: A great chef is an artist that I truly respect. -Robert Stack


Love never fails.



The Palm Room, Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg


We were out for dinner one evening and as things quieted in the restaurant, the owner/chef came over to have a glass of wine with us. I asked him where he and his partner go after a full evening in their restaurant. The answer surprised me a little-the Palm Room at the Fort Garry Hotel.


We had often visited the beautifully restored room for a drink before or after an event at the hotel but it hadn’t occurred to us to make the bar our destination for the evening.

Even though it was early on a Saturday evening and we had been reassured when I called ahead, that there would be room, there was not a single seat available.


The wait wasn’t terribly long though and soon we were seated with a glass of wine and our favourite cold local craft beer on their way. While our drinks were en route, we listened to the songs of the piano man, a lovely bonus to the evening.

We had come from a Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre matinee and still had another stop that evening, so we decided to order light. We had recently visited Portugal and got into the habit of ordering seafood every chance we could get. The only shrimp selection on the menu were dumplings which we thought a bit odd, until we tasted them.


Rivaling authentic har gow that we select when we are at a dim sum restaurant, they were delicate and perfectly steamed so that the seafood almost had a crunch.


I am completely hooked on any dish that has truffle oil as an ingredient. This inauspicious wild mushroom burger was fabulous with white truffle aioli and creamy Havarti. Even the bun was delectable as my husband and I pledged an oath to never settle for a Kaiser hamburger bun again. So too, the fries were exceptional-starting with a high quality potato and I suspect the use of a double-frying method.

The room itself provides one of the most pleasant ambiences in the city. The service was top-notch and everything from start to finish was perfection. Who knew?

Kath’s quote: “All food is the gift of the gods and has something of the miraculous, the egg no less than the truffle.”-Sybille Bedford


Love never fails.



The Roost & Close Company


In our minds (that is my husband D and mine), we love the gift of an experience rather than a physical gift. Recently our son and his wife, dubbed J1 and J2 in this space, decided that D and I deserved a “thank you” gift. Since they share our love of experiences, they put the wheels into motion for a thank you evening. Remember that I (the Momma), equates food with love. What do you think our gift was?

J1 had four very special restaurants in mind and one of them we had never visited and had always wanted to. A 8 pm reservation was secured at Close Company. They also wanted to kick off the evening with a happy hour (a family tradition) so they picked us up at 6:30 and we found ourselves at another place we had never visited-The Roost on Corydon. As we ascended the stairs, it really did feel as if we were entering a roost. We had a peak out the sliding glass windows to the outdoor patio and know that we will return when the weather is fair to sit among the leaves and birds.

The Roost is a cozy spot with a sloped ceiling that is typical of 100 year old homes in Winnipeg. We sat at the bar so we could watch the Bartender in action. She had an array of ingredients to choose from.


I had never seen so many bottles of bitters in my life. And she certainly knew how to shake that cocktail shaker! We spent a very long time enjoying the craft cocktail menu.


J1 and D both decided upon a special that was black in colour from the addition of charcoal. J2 had a Bathtub Gin which must have also been a special as I don’t see it on their current menu. I am actually not prone to cocktails and selected my stand by of a glass of red wine.


These lovely premise pickles held our hunger at bay until it was time to scouch along to keep our reservation.

And now it is confession time….

  • This fabulous dinner was scheduled just before Christmas. Since then we have celebrated Christmas three times, put the Christmas decor away for the year, traveled to Mesa Arizona for a family wedding and traveled to Lisbon and the Algarve of Portugal as well as Seville Spain. In fact, I just returned from Toronto this morning. I am saying all this as defense because so much has happened between then and now, that the circumstances are not crystal clear.
  • and….I may have had a little too much to drink that special evening.

But without further adieu, Close Company.


I loved everything about the little spot, the moment we stepped through the door. The ambience was more like entering someone’s home rather than a business. The service was equally warm and hospitable and we relaxed and enjoyed the evening of sips, tastes and chatter.

J1 knew the chef and so we didn’t really order. We just let the chef know that were excited and willing to taste everything.


First up was Torched Tuna. The tuna itself was satiny and flavourful. The biggest surprise were the clever smoked jalapeños. The cure brought out the peppers’ inherent smoky flavours and eliminated any of the uncomfortable fiery ones. Priding myself on being a French Fry aficionado, I loved the fingerling potato chips.


I swooned when the Parisienne Gnocchi arrived at the table. Gnocchi must be prepared delicately and simply and this was- with the thinnest of mushrooms, white wine and butter and a soft “snowfall” of hand grated parmesan.


I am not precisely sure what makes these meatballs Moroccan. Perhaps it is the spiciness of the tomato sauce or perhaps the inclusion of both feta and mint, but I am pretty sure that I could eat those meatballs every day for the rest of my life.

By this time I was ready to cry “Uncle” but the food kept coming. Chef had gone off the menu to prepare us his rendition of Christmas dinner.


These gorgeous discs of loveliness were achieved by de-boning an entire chicken, pressing it back together again and then cooking it in a cloth (torchon) that holds it in place. It was rich and moist and you might never wanted to eat a plain old roasted chicken again.


The poultry was accompanied by these fingers of mandatory Christmas dressing. So very good.


Now here is where I am relying on memory… blanched asparagus topped crème fresh. The crunch of the toasted nuts enhanced both and it was a stellar little dish.


Of course, no celebratory dinner is complete without dessert and so we shared and loved the citrus tart (imagine your Mom’s lemon meringue pie).

Dinner from start to finish was perfection: the food, the libations, the ambience, the sharing of plates and of course, the gift itself.

Kath’s quote: “Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don’t know what to say, when there are no words to say.”- Shauna Niequist


Love never fails.








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