Browsing: Restaurant Features

Christmas Birthdays

January6

A good friend of mine celebrates her birthday on December 14 and she has always felt that the day gets lost in the Christmas rush.  Perhaps that is why I have tried to make a special fuss for her over the years.  I worked with her husband last year to totally shock her with a 50th birthday party in her own home and also designed her 40th which we entitled “Stuck in the middle with you.”  Each guest was requested to bring a pair of panties which we strung on clotheslines.  It was reminiscent of an old commercial by Fruit of the Loom as we are all in the advertising business.  One year we had a prime rib lunch.  Another (when she was dieting) a South Beach Spa lunch.

Hey I'm missing the birthday girl!

Hey I'm missing the birthday girl!

Last year I hosted a sushi lunch at my place complete with miso soup and edamame beans.  We had the sushi catered from Sushi Ya which is my fav place in Winnipeg for my regular sushi fix.  I love the flower garnishes , the freshness and quality of the ingredients  and the price!  We took my 82 year old Mom there for sushi and she exclaimed “What other weird food do you think that I would like?”  My sisters and I made a commitment to get her out for weird food on an ongoing basis.

Sushi Ya Platter

Sushi Ya Platter

To make a long story, even longer we went to the Lobby Restaurant on York. It is owned and operated by an old friend of sister #3.  The decor is very trendy and urban -more like Toronto or New York and the food is divine.

Forbidden Flavours Coffee Roastery & Ice Cream Shop

January6

My first visit was in November so I was not tempted to sample the ice cream but the front freezer display was chock full of choices.  The coffee roaster is visible from the counter and it was polished up like a prized trophy.  The roasted selection that day was a Kenyan dark roast or a Colombian medium roast.  I typically limit myself to two cups per day and this was my third. So I ordered a small cup.  I was cheerfully informed that I could get a refill for 59 cents if I craved more.IMG_3115_edited
My coffee date was a new Mom and her baby boy.  At one point the person who I assume was Katherine the Owner/Roast Master/Manager dropped by our table to tell us about the live music that they have every Saturday night.  She even indicated that babies were welcome-a point that I am sure many young families would like to make note of.  Sounds like a wonderful idea unless you like your music with a glass of wine as Forbidden Flavours is not licensed.

There were a number of customers even at 2:30 in the afternoon.  My guess is that it is because the booths and deep green leather easy chairs are so comfy.  Or perhaps it was the free wi fi.  Any neighbourhood would benefit from a destination like this little gem.

Dining Spurt

January6
Pizzeria Gusto

Pizzeria Gusto

Pizzeria Gusto

Pizzeria Gusto

Dining out happens in spurts for me. At this moment the last three out of four meals that I’ve consumed have been outside the home. Yesterday I had a breakfast meeting at Stella’s on Grant Ave., then I met my husband for ribs at the Garry St. Keg and at lunch today I had another lunch meeting at Pizzeria Gusto on Academy Road. The only meal that I ate at home was a bowl of brown rice (likely as a guilt cleanser). Both Stella’s and the Pizzeria Gusto are within walking distance of our River Heights home. We have many favourites in the neighbourhood including Saucer’s on Academy, Mona Lisa’s and the Bonfire Bistro. We used to be able to walk to the Falafel House another of our favs but they’ve since moved further east on Corydon.

I had only been to Pizzeria Gusto once before but watch with interest as people line up outside their doors before their 5:30 opening. Today I was a client and being treated by a business associate. We shared an appetizer of grilled shrimp in pesto and pistachio nuts-delicious but I would have loved a piece of bread to have mopped up the beautiful bright green sauce. I choose a pizza made with an her olive oil, finely chopped sweet potatoes (with the skin on), pine nuts, pecorino cheese, toasted sage and brown butter.

OMGoodness-who could imagine potato pizza could be so good! It reminded how surprisingly good my potato pasta was when we were in Italy this fall.

Potato Pesto Pasta in Riomaggiore, Italy

Potato Pesto Pasta in Riomaggiore, Italy

I loved the combination of sweetness from the sweet potato, saltiness from the cheese and brown butter and a little bitterness from the char on the wood fried pizza crust. My associate had a pizza jammed with “drunk” mushrooms, a micro-arugula and white truffle oil. This was also so delicious, that I’ve decided that I have to eat my way through their pizza menu.
Pizzeria Gusto on Urbanspoon
We were too full for dessert but had a café Americano to finish up. The presentation of this and all items was crisp and clean, matching the decor of the entire dining room. Unfortunately, I drove my car because I had another errand to run but the walk home would have been heavenly to wear off the carbs.

What is your favourite River Heights restaurant? Have you tried Pizzeria Gusto? What is your favourite pizza?

Poutine, etc.

December13

My son is a great cook.  I think it is because he has always seen his Dad move with ease in the kitchen.  He makes killer omelets and breakfast potatoes. He also does strange things like put a layer of potato chips in his sandwiches.  He’s all about texture and crunch he proclaims!  Today he made me poutine for lunch.  His were very good if not authentic.  Because it was all that we had in the house, he used beef gravy where I prefer a peppery chicken or turkey gravy and he topped them with grated mozzarella, whereas everyone knows that fresh cheese curds are the way to go.poutine

The first time I had ever tasted a cheese curd was in the food barn (more like an arena) at the Minnesota State Fair.  They were served at room temperature to be soft, slightly oily, slightly salty and oh so delicious.  That was also the first time I had ever had a corn dog (not my cup of tea) and the first time that I saw Kenny Loggins in concert (but now I’m aging myself).

According to Wikipedia poutine was invented in 1957 in rural Quebec, when a customer ordered fries while waiting for his cheese curds from the cheese factory in Kingsey Falls.  The owner is said to have exclaimed ça va faire une maudite poutine (“it will make a damn mess”), hence the name. The sauce was allegedly added later, to keep the fries warm longer.

I don’t know of a restaurant in Winnipeg that makes their poutine with fresh cheese curds.  I do know of many that have perfected the French fry.  My recent indulgence was at George’s on Henderson Hwy. this weekend.  Served in a bag, crunchy on the outside and soft and potatoey on the inside with malt vinegar and lots of salts-yum.

Where is your favourite fry place?  Do you know who makes poutine with fresh cheese curds?  Where do you buy cheese curds for home cooking?

Lunch Out

December12

I have a lunch meeting today and I was this close….to having a clubhouse sandwich at Rae and Jerry’s.  The location has been changed.  Typically when you order Winnipeg’s famous Clubhouse you are compelled to share or take half home for dinner.  Besides Rae and Jerry’s, my favourite is at a little downtown lunch bar called to Wagon Wheel.  At the latter turkeys are roasted through the night to assemble the freshest tasting Club you can imagine.  Of course the tomatoes have to be at their prime as well.  I prefer really meaty and less salty bacon and the mayo has to be liberally slathered on.  There was a time in Winnipeg one another triple decker sandwich was at the top of my list.  It was served at Harman’s Drugstore lunch counter at the corner of Portage Ave. and Sherbrooke St.  The ingredients were a stack of back bacon, asparagus spears and melted cheese.

There are other good lunch selections at R&J’s like their prime rib sandwich.  They slow roast a log up in the morning and then slice it very thinly so that the fat cap is evenly distributed through the sandwich.  Oh my.  This institution is also has liver and onions on it as one of the daily specials.  A tradition that has carried on for years and years.  I always loved the aroma of the same dish when I was growing up at home but I never could bring myself to have more than a taste-the texture not feeling right in my mouth.

In truth R&J kinda weirds me out.  It is so unchanged that you feel stuck in a time machine.  The red fortrel clad waitress actually call you doll and hon.  And they still serve tomato juice as a first course!
Rae & Jerry's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Prime_rib_roastIt has been a family tradition in year’s past that my extended family serves prime rib on Christmas Eve.  It is very strange for me to think of meatless menus for Christmas Eve when ours has roast beef, kubasa and cabbage rolls stuffed with more beef.  The beef goes into the oven early in the day and is carved right before serving.  The next day a slice of left over roast on a fresh bun is a treat for anyone who couldn’t make the night before.

Do you remember Harman’s Drugstore?  Where is your favourite place for prime rib or clubhouse sandwiches?  Do you attempt Prime Rib at home?

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