Browsing: Restaurant Features

2017 Restaurant Wrap Up

December27

2017 has been another exceptional year of Winnipeg Dining. I was recently at the Food Bloggers Canada conference which highlighted the adventures of two bloggers and their trip across Canada. When asked what their biggest surprise was, they quickly answered “Winnipeg-the food scene is amazing there”!

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Ethnic restaurants still abound, especially in Winnipeg’s West End where I enjoyed Mercadito Latino,

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Halong Bay,

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Sushi Cushi,

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and Nhu Quynh.

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I revisited old favourites like the Falafel Place on Corydon,

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Olympia Diner on west Portage Ave. ,

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East India Company on York,

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Piazza di Nardi on Taylor

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and The Cottage Bakery on Pembina.

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Visiting new (or relatively new) restaurants kept me busy and satiated: Bermax Caffe + Bistro on Corydon

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Saddlery on Market,

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Beet Happening on Notre Dame

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and Harth Pizza and Wine Bar on south St. Anne’s Road.

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The burgeoning craft brewery scene had me loving the fare at One Great City,

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Brazen Hall and

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and KYU Grill at The Commom at The Forks. I have the newest brewery on my “must try” list: I understand that Timmy Tom’s Pizzeria at The Trans Canada Brewing Company is in the running for the best pizza in the city.

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Across the Board was in a category on its own where you can sup on carefully made food while you play a board game from their inventory of hundreds.

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There were a number of delightful surprises for me in 2017: 1) The amazing Ruben and hand cut fries at the Diner’s Grill in a St. Boniface Industrial Park

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2) Black Garlic Linguine with arugula and parmesan at Crème D’Essence in another Industrial Park (Inkster)

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3) The modern dishes rooted in First Nation Foods of pickerel and bannock at The Feast Café Bistro

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4) the unique atmosphere and premise-made delights at Caked with Love

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and last but nowhere near least 5) the restaurant and butcher shop that is Boucher Bouchee. With their focus on local, small-farm, sustainable meat & artisanal local goods, they represent exactly what surprised my trans Canada trekking blogger friends.

Kath’s quote: “Going to a restaurant is one of my keenest pleasures. Meeting someplace with old and new friends, ordering wine, eating food, surrounded by strangers, I think is the core of what it means to live a civilised life”. -Adam Gopnik
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Love never fails.

 

Aurora Pizzeria and Cafe

December21

I think that I have dined in each of the restaurants that have been located in the former bank building at Lilac and Corydon Ave. It started with Gluttons where the private banquet room was reserved in my honour for a special birthday party ending with a zero. I was delighted when Mise made a go of it. I loved their “Angel Hair Pasta with Grilled Vegetables, Roasted Red Peppers, Concasse Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Feta Cheese, Pickled Eggplant, Wilted Greens and Artichoke Hearts” and then Ripe Bistro’s latke fries.

As soon as I entered the newest manifestation-Aurora Pizzeria & Café, I was greeted by good friends who indicate that they are at the Café every single morning for what they claim is the best cappuccino in the city. There were more accolades from the Italian couple sitting behind us in the dining room. They indicated that the food was exceptional because it was authentic Italian food-simple ingredients well prepared. The owner Giuliano took care of us himself. He shared that he is from a community close to Rome in Italy and that he had only been in Canada a handful of years. His English was very good. But we would have made our choice known to him even if we had to stand on our heads! We were hungry and so looking forward to this treat.

First order of business were our wine selections. I chose a Sangovese & Merlot blend that suited me just fine.

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One of my lunch dates selected a fusilli topped with rapini, sausage and pepperoncino.

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Another settled on the spaghetti carbonara with pancetta, romano cheese and eggs.

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I decided to go with the lasagna alla Bolognese. As we simultaneously tasted our dishes, we all emitted a similar sound that was something like a groan.

I was surprised that the lasagna did not have the promised white sauce but in truth the red sauce was so fine that I was content. It is a good thing that the sauce was stellar because there were only two other ingredients-6 layers of delicate lasagna noodles with a ground meat in between each layer. No ricotta, no mozzarella and still it might have been one of the best lasagnas I have ever tasted (except perhaps when I have dined in Italy).

When the enormous portion was placed in front of me, I cut it into two and decided to eat one half and take the other half to my husband for his dinner. Unfortunately for my ever-patient husband, he never did get a taste because I could not stop eating half way. Instead, one of my friends and I have decided to return with both our husbands to try something else on the menu.

We sat in a space that was to the side of the main room, kitchen and bar. It is simply decorated with lots of natural light flooding in through the west facing windows. Since we had the owner taking care of us himself, the service was perfect. Giuliano did not rush us at all and was more than patient when we couldn’t stop chatting long enough to give him our order.

Aurora Pizzeria & Café is located at 842 Corydon Ave. at the corner of Corydon and Lilac St. They are open from 9 am until 11 pm daily except Friday and Saturdays when they close at 2 am. Check with them directly for their holiday hours.

Kath’s quote: “No dish in history has as many variations, colors, motifs, tastes, textures and subtleties as a dish of pasta.”  ― Marc Vetri, Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto    

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Love never fails.

The Cottage Bakery

December18

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There are two good reasons to visit The Cottage Bakery and Café: one is to be a part of the Cottage Bakery legacy which dates back to 1932 and the other is to savour their tasty fare. The history of the Bakery has been carefully written onto a large chalkboard which takes up a great deal of wall space. Both my lunch date and I read the entire history and at first I wondered why others in the café were not. With the bakery being close to a high school, all of the other patrons were regular customers, having seen the message many, many times.

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I chose the Mediterranean pesto Panini melt and broccoli cheddar Soup. The gal serving us indicated that she had made the soup herself that very morning. I felt that I would be insulting her cooking if I didn’t taste it. The crunchy Panini was started with a chicken breast, roasted peppers and cheese (of course). What was unusual about the Panini was the inclusion of what I thought was an olive tapenade (which originates from the south of France), as opposed to a basil pesto. I am quite fond of the pungent tastes of a tapenade so was quite content. I also appreciated the crispy Panini which occurs when just the right amount of time and pressure is added to the Panini maker.

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My lunch date also chose the soup and a chicken burger which looked to be on special that day. It too started with a chicken breast, coated and deep fried in this case, and was also adorned with cheese (unmelted).

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Even though I don’t typically indulge in dessert, especially at lunch time, we were lunching in a bakery so of course we had to sample something! We decided upon splitting a date square. In Manitoba and other places on the prairies the date square is called matrimonial cake. I tried researching the roots of the wedding reference unsuccessfully. But I did come across the pun that “many dates lead to matrimony”. Sounds logical to me!

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The Cottage Bakery and Café is located at 1382 Pembina Highway at Dowker Avenue. It is currently owned by Peyman and Ronak Esfehani. They have an all day menu available and are open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am until 6 pm. Saturday they close at 5 pm and Sunday they are open from 9 am until 5 pm. They are wheelchair accessible.

Kath’s quote: “If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation”. –Regina Brett


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Love never fails.

Bermax Cafe and Bistro

December4

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One of my favourite cookbooks is “Jerusalem”. The book is as much an intriguing story about the people who dwell together in the ancient city as it is a catalogue of excellent recipes. The book is where I first came to know the egg and tomato sauce dish known as Shakshuka. The authors of “Jerusalem” state that the dish is actually Tunisian in origin.

I first tasted the dish prepared by a French trained, Italian chef in a little café called “The Fat Hen” in Seattle. I have also enjoyed it at a couple of spots in Winnipeg. The Bermax Café and Bistro is a kosher Italian Café that does a very good job with their version of Shakshuka.

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I would have preferred my egg to have been slightly less firm so that I could have allowed the piping hot sauce to finish cooking the egg. This is not a complaint as the tomato sauce was out of this world with the unusual inclusion a smoky paprika and cumin. I plan on returning so that I can enjoy that sauce on a pasta dish.

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My breakfast date chose a pineapple pancake when her request of a granola pancake was not available. Sweet chunks of pineapple were mixed into the batter as well as being served on top of the pancake. The cake also came garnished with cottage cheese. Was the dish a breakfast or a decadent dessert? At home we often enjoy pancakes with a generous scoop of cottage cheese, sliced bananas and maple syrup. My family has inherited my sweet and salty addiction!

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I am actually surprised that I have resisted Bermax for as long as I have. The bistro is walking distance from my home and all my favourite foods are contained on one menu: black truffle, eggplant, artichokes, gnocchi and pizza. They even have a Shakshuka pizza!

The Bermax Caffe + Bistro is located at 1800 Corydon Ave. They have an extensive all day breakfast, lunch and dinner menu available. They are open Monday- Thursday 8 am until 9 pm. They close at 3 pm on Friday and are closed Saturday. The are open Sundays from 9 am until 9:00 pm and are wheelchair accessible.

Kath’s quote: With reference to shakshuka- “It sounds like the name of a comic book hero. Or some kind of fierce, long-forgotten martial art. Or perhaps something that said comic book hero would yell as they practiced this elaborate martial art, mid-leap with their fist in the air“.-Smitten Kitchen

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Love never fails.

 

 

Duluth 2017

November14

There have been years when we have travelled to Europe in September/October. In the years that we have not, my husband gets itchy feet. He feels the need to get away in the fall even if it is for a long weekend. On Remembrance Day 2016 we “discovered” Duluth Minnesota, enjoyed ourselves so much, that we decided on an encore trip this past weekend.

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We were accompanied by our son-in-law (known in this space as the Frenchman) and our youngest daughter Boo.

Since Boo (and her brother) works in the local craft beer business, our family is very beer oriented. Along with the Frenchman’s objective of hitting up all of the trading companies, my wanting to get started on Christmas shopping and D and Boo wanting to check out as many tasting rooms and brew pubs as possible, we were in for a full weekend. What we did have consensus on, was that it was the last weekend of Restaurant Week for the Downtown Duluth Restaurants and we were determined to visit as many of these on that list too.

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We were delighted with our Air B n B, a two bedroom house perched high on Observation Hill in Duluth. We did have a tricky time finding it and accessed the home from a back lane that was not in the greatest shape. D and the Frenchman headed out for some breakfast supplies while Boo and I got ready for the evening. Once the fellas returned home we made the decision to let someone else do the driving.

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There was snow in the forecast and taking on the vertical streets was no easy fete even on bare concrete. Besides fare to downtown was only $10!

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I zoomed in on the drawbridge that is the symbol of the city from our bedroom window (hence the grid of the screen).

We started with some shopping in the Canal Park area and then scooched over for dinner at Bellisio Restaurant & Wine Bar.

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Since the majority of the weekend was to be devoted to beer, we decided to try Bellisio’s wine flights. D chose a Tuscan flight and I a Merlot one.

Last year the Downtown Restaurant offers included soup, salad and an entrée at Bellisio’s. This year it was limited to the entrée and a dessert.

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D chose the pan-fried pickerel (called walleye in Minnesota)

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and I the chicken pancetta which was lovely and light with a broth sauce.

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I had a taste of the delicious tiramisu but knew that it would put me over the top.

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We stopped first at the Hoops Brewery, but the service was lacking and no one ever greeted us or took our order so we meandered instead to the Canal Park Brewery. They had a restaurant license and the food being delivered to surrounding tables looked exceptional. There were some interesting beer tastes, particularly the IPAs which were very distinctive.

The next morning the guys walked down the hill to fetch Starbucks coffee. We could hear them when they arrived back as they were really huffing and puffing from the exertion of the vertical terrain.

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We split up to do more shopping on Saturday morning but reconvened at lunch time taking in another featured restaurant-Toasty’s. The restaurant space was kind of dark and not terribly inspiring but the food was terrific. We started with French onion soup made with one of the local beers and then moved onto cheesy BLTs.

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For dessert we enjoyed an interesting take on bread pudding.

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Bent Paddle was our afternoon destination. D had taking their beer tour the year prior. If recollected accurately, Bent Paddle was the brewery that kick started the craft beer industry in Duluth.  The rather large facility was absolutely packed on a Saturday afternoon with many tables playing board games. The number of craft breweries matched Winnipeg’s number but remember that Duluth is 1/10th the size of our fair city!

We took a breather over snacks at our Air B n B, deciding that a house instead of a hotel room was the way to go, especially at a time when you want to gather together. The living room was so comfortable and preferable to sitting on beds in a hotel.

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We had one last brewery to check out so we determined our supper destination based on walking distance to The Blacklist, as we were cabbing it again. The Black Water Lounge was dark and cozy but we thought that the servers wearing bustiers deserved a change in uniforms. The low lighting made photographs impossible. We were quite delighted with lobster bites, blue cheese stuffed shrimp and a huge filet of smoked salmon. These we complemented by signature martinis.

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The Blacklist is Duluth’s newest brewery and was also packed. Unfortunately the live band was not conducive to visiting, so we stayed long enough for another couple of flights and headed “home”. In spite of tasting some very distinctive beer, we concluded that Winnipeg’s local brews were just as fine, if not more so.

Back at the house, D watched the Phoenix vs Jets game and filled me in on the score in the morning. After another jaunt to Starbucks on foot, we completed another round of shopping.

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Since we were no longer downtown we were just looking for a spot with wholesome food. Grandma’s Saloon and Grill  on Miller Hill did the trick.

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D selected the chicken pot pie that was so huge, he requested a to go container and we finished it later in the car.

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I decided to get back to my regular eating habits and chose this chicken and wild rice salad (besides I knew that there would be kettle chips in the car for the journey home). D was able to catch the first 1/4 of the Vikings game on TV and then the rest of it on the radio in the car home. Duluth was such a distance though that we also had the time to listen to the Bomber play off game too. Calculating the tally of our favourite teams: Jets win, Vikings win and Bomber lost. Two out of three ain’t bad.

Kath’s quote: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy“. -Benjamin Franklin

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

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