Browsing: Restaurant Features

Mercat a la planxa-Chicago



Our final evening in Chicago, I suggested we check out a tapas restaurant not far from our hotel. We were sat by a window so that we could watch the world wiz by on Michigan Ave.


Mercat a la Planxa, is a Chicago Tapas restaurant where we took a culinary tour of Barcelona with Catalan-inspired cuisine. Chef Jose Garces’ mod-Mediterranean kitchen delivered a pot-purri of savoury tastes.


We started with refreshments of course. One girlfriend was delighted by this flight of sangrias.


I loved my pear cider and another girlfriend enjoyed her cucumber mojito.


An amuse bouche of bruschetta arrived at our table. We agreed unanimously that we had come to the right place.


My traditional tapas choice of Montadito (small bread with topping) Escalivada (roasted eggplant) arrived first. We shared the crostinis which were also topped with white anchovies, roasted red bell pepper and whipped goatcheese.


Next up were Cepes (wild mushrooms)/ Butiffarra (Catalan sausage) enhanced by bacon marmalade! These too were delectable.


Our third plate to share was the Truita (rainbow trout) de Navarra (a province in Spain), with a crisp piece of Serrano ham, green beans and sherry aioli. Delish.


I added an order of Patatas Bravas just for good measure and remarkably it was the dish that I was most crazy about. When I have enjoyed Patatas Bravas at my favourite tapas restaurant at home in Winnipeg, they were presented like potato wedges. These plumb discs of potatoes must have been carefully formed, cooked and then patiently lined up on the rectangular dish. The smoke paprika aioli put the heavenly dish over the top!

The night was still young so we did some exploring in hopes of finding a gelato spot.

Mercat a la Planxa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quotes:“Short story collections are the literary equivalent of canapés, tapas and mezze in the world of gastronomy: Delightful assortments of tasty morsels to whet the reader’s appetite.” ― Alex Morritt


Love never fails.


The Fishing Lab by San Francisco-Montecatini, Tuscany




Just down the street from the Hotel Puccini was another place recommended by the hotel owner Patrizia. She was very excited about the re-opening of the restaurant that very day. We took her recommendation and checked out The Fishing Lab by San Francisco. While there we saw her and her husband arrive for dinner as well. The facelift of the décor was fabulous!


We had a tricky time figuring out the menu but eventually decided upon Tuna sliders on pretzel buns to share. They were excellent but I was saving room for the delectable treats ahead.


I chose the Frutti di Mare salad. There was a little bit of everything on my plate. The seafood had been tenderly poached and then tossed with just a hint of dressing. Simple tastes: pure & clean.


D’s sea bass in salt was hand carved at the table by our handsome server. D’s dish too was simple and wonderful.

Our server told us the story that the fish served at the Fishing Lab was from the same boat for the past 23 years (as long as they had been opened). I suppose the saying: “Why fix what isn’t broken?” would apply here.

Although D and I had imagined fish with tomatoes, olives, cheese and pasta while in Tuscany, we were really impressed by the expert fish offerings.

Why the Fishing Lab by San Francisco, you may ask? I read this story on their website:

San Francisco is Montecatini Terme’s history: the place to go from the second half of the 1950s onwards when the rich and famous from the entertainment world and the international jet set flocked to it.
And, in accordance with Fishing Lab’s ‘style manual’, the name was kept on when the restaurant was restyled for our new concept.
The restaurant is ‘easy chic’ making even the most exacting client feel at home: the lower ground floor room creates a more intimate atmosphere without losing any of Fishing Lab’s trademark convivial feel.

The restaurant concept is absolutely unique. Here is an explanation of the owner’s intentions:

Fishing Lab isn’t a restaurant in the usual meaning of the word. Fishing Lab is an innovative restaurant concept based on an original unconventional raw and cooked fish formula. We have selected the most distinctive features of traditional cuisines and reworked them into a new, one-of-a-kind configuration. Inside the building, relaxation and a home-from-home feel is the order of the day. The nautical atmosphere is tangible, the hospitality genuine. From a taste of fish to a glass of wine, always ready to hand, clients feel at home. Just like in a boat with the rise and fall of the sea. The chefs at the helm guide the visible kitchens. Our waiters and waitresses captain the dining room. Fish, as if it has just been pulled out of the sea, is the real star of the show. Fishing Lab leaves clients free to make up their menus, choosing inventive combinations, sitting at a table or standing up.

Kath’s quote: “Today she met me at the door, said I would have to choose, if I picked up that fishing rod today, she’d be packing all her things and she’d be gone by noon….well I’m gonna miss her when I get home tonight.”-Brad Paisly


Love never fails.


Saperavi Georgian Restaurant



Having been connected to the hospitality business in Winnipeg most of my life, it is difficult to surprise me with a restaurant that serves food that I have never tasted. But such was the case with Saperavi (709 Corydon Ave.), the first Georgian restaurant on the prairies. This is a statement made on their website and I for one would not dispute it.

My good friend who once lived in Georgia was my dining partner on the evening we visited. After once eating Georgian food in her home, I had to look up its location on a map. Bordered by the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan, Georgia is a mountainous country with a rich history.


Since I could not even pronounce most of the items on the menu i.e. Chkmeruli, I let my friend make the decisions for our meal. She explained to me that there are as many Khachapuri recipes from Georgia as there were provinces and regions of the country. Saperavi’s version dubbed-Adjaruli, was a cradle of freshly baked shiny-surfaced bread stuffed with a cheese that resembled a mild feta and a partially cooked egg. As the egg was stirred in with the cheese, it continued cooking and provided a gooey mass of deliciousness. She demonstrated how to break the bread around the edges into pieces to scoop up the egg and cheese. I had a hard time sharing, as I kept snapping off hunks of bread until the dish was quite literally gone.


We had a difficult task choosing between the traditional Khinkali (dumpling) filled with pork, beef, onion and herbs and the Mushroom Khinkali containing mushrooms and mint, so we ordered both! My friend educated me that the more folds there were in the top of the dumpling, the more skilled and practiced the cook was who prepared them. I loved them both but especially the latter as it reminded me of a mushroom turnover that my Mom would make at Christmas time.


Lastly we chose Shashlik which resembled a Greek souvlaki and was equally fine. I look forward to visiting again when I may have room to try their eggplant stuffed with walnuts and cheese.


Both the owner and his son came over to check on us and ensure that we were enjoying our evening. “Enjoy” was an understatement. I was so impressed with the inventiveness of Georgian cuisine but also the skill that went into the preparation of Sapervai’s dishes.

Saperavi  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

Kath’s quote: “Exotic, mysterious, unique.” Describing Georging food on a Georgian website.


Love never fails.

Hillside Beach Eatery


Once per summer, I take the opportunity in my Canstar Community Newspaper Column to write about a restaurant located in the beaches area north of Winnipeg. This visit was to the Hillside Eatery 38167 Hillside Beach Road at Hillside Beach, MBat Hill. The eatery’s reputation proceeded itself with accolades on the burgers, fries and pizza. Every word of praise was true; we were very impressed with the quality coming out of the little kitchen. Owner Rene Cyr turns all the praise over to his chef/wife Lori and her selection of fresh ingredients, sending him hither and yon to ensure that everything including the correct bread is purchased for their variety of menu items.


I selected the Ruben sandwich and the authentic rye bread was indeed the perfect choice as was the shaved corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. I often judge a Ruben by how many napkins I had to use to eat it and theirs ranks right up there with the messiest and most delicious.


Others in our group decided upon chicken fingers and burgers and were equally pleased. The burgers were made with hand-pressed beef patties, swarms of sweet sautéed onions and condiments of your choice.


We saw a pizza being delivered to the table next to us that was literally falling off the pizza pan, it was so huge. That is what we will try on our next visit.


The highlight for most of us was the hand cut French fries. Long and crispy with just enough softness in the centre, they were perfectly cooked and abundant. A simple sprinkling of vinegar and a glistening of salt finished them. Speaking of ”finishing them”, I surprised myself and ate up every single one!

The family has just completed the building of a lovely adjoining patio. We understand from Rene that Lori often makes fresh seasonal pies for sale in the adjoining store but you have to get there right away to snatch one up before they are completely sold out, as is often the case.

Kath’s quote: “If baking at Zomick’s bakery is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from one Zomick’s generation to the next one.”  ― Zomick’s Bakery


Love never fails.






Whenever I am asked which Winnipeg restaurant is my favourite-the answer is always Segovia Tapas Bar (484 Stradbrook Avenue just west of Osborne St. in the River & Osborne neighbourhood of Fort Rouge). We first visited the year that Adam Donnelly and Carolina Konrad opened the tapas restaurant and return as often as we can. The trouble is, there are so many great restaurants in this city, we don’t get to visit as often as we would like. Our kids, on the other hand, visit often, especially our eldest daughter. She loves their patio and that it is completely wheelchair accessible. Before you go, you need to decide whether or not you are comfortable sharing a number of small plates with your dinner mates. We love tapas as you get to sample a variety of dishes without filling up on only a couple of tastes.

On this occasion I was dining with girlfriends and celebrating my birthday.


We started with one of my old favourites-Patatas Bravas ($7)*. This typical Spanish dish of fried potatoes is usually topped with a spicy tomato sauce or aioli, Segovia offers both in a circular design on the delectable fries.


Next up were Fried Beets adorned with Cashew Dukkha (Egyptian sauce) and Berbere (Ethiopian spice) Aioli ($10).


I love Beef Tartare ($15) but one of our group was hesitant to try the dish of minced raw beef. Our delightful server, knowing that it was my birthday, brought the dish as a gift to the table. We made a believer out of our hesitant friend and were delighted with the cold, sleek taste.


Another friend is a fried chicken lover so we chose Segovia’s version. Not your typical fried chicken; these were chicken morsels with some lovely heat that were offset by a Spicy Lime Dressing and Parsley Salad ($15).


I love salty/sweet combinations, so the next dish was my favourite of the evening- Whipped Feta drizzled with pistachios and honey was absolutely divine.


The piece de resistance were the mascarpone stuffed Medjool dates ($2 each) indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa. They were drizzled with Canadian maple syrup and topped with California pistachios to produce an international taste sensation.

Segovia is open daily (except Tuesdays) at 5 pm and close at 12 midnight on Friday and Saturday and 11 pm other days. They offer evening dinner menu only but a second restaurant by the same owners is Clementine (not yet visited) at 123 Princess St. It is open during the day for breakfast and lunch. Segovia is accessible to persons with mobility issues. There is a metered surface lot across the street, evening street parking available and a small lot to the rear of the building.

* A couple of Canstar readers asked me to include prices in my bi-weekly column but the editors declined. This was the version I submitted before that decision was made.

Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” –MFK Fisher


Love never fails.

« Older EntriesNewer Entries »