Browsing: Restaurant Features

Smith at Inn at the Forks, Winnipeg

March31

The perfect Winnipeg “staycation” (living like a tourist in your own city)  is time spent at Inn at the Forks. I had had a rather stressful teaching day and then got stuck in traffic for extended periods of time. I was certainly ready for some down time. I could feel the stress melting off of me as soon as I checked in at the front desk of Riverstone Spa. There was soothing music playing and a delightful aroma being projected into the air.

Two of my lovely friends were already in the treatment room, so I visited with a third friend while we snuggled into our bath robes and nibbled on candied fruit, nuts and chocolate biscotti. We four were reunited when the first treatments were complete and we were just about to be hailed for our turn.

In the treatment room the estheticians kept complimenting my friend on her lovely feet and their good maintenance. Mine on the other hand did not say a thing as she kept her head down and continued to scrape away my many layers. I was non-pulsed and enjoyed every sweet moment of the treatment.

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When our treatment was done and it was time to meet again with our other girlfriends, we were hard-pressed to move a muscle and sat with our feet up, luxuriating in our fuzzy robes. Eventually we made ourselves get changed as it was time for our dinner reservation. I took a moment to have a good look around the dining room dubbed Smith as it had been renovated since my previous visit.

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Our waiter was very accommodating and gave us lots of time to place our orders. We commenced with a bottle of 14 Hands Merlot. As a result, my relaxation was complete and I could have been anywhere in the world supping with good friends.

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The four of us were on the same page when it came time to place our orders so we had a platter made up of their classic buttermilk fried chicken and the special of salmon with a seared pineapple salsa and a number of sides- the truffle oil & asiago French fries, the brussel sprouts with maple syrup & pecans and the root vegetable & yam gratin. Being good friends, no one was concerned about each of us helping ourselves from the communal plate.

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Conversation comfortably flowed as we kept nibbling on little tastes for an extended length of time. Eventually we decided that it was time that the birthday girl get to enjoy dessert so pairs of us shared lemon tarts to cap off the evening.

As we gathered our things and made our way in different directions, we savoured what it means to have best friends and such wonderful places to celebrate special birthdays.

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

Kath’s quote: “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” ― Elbert Hubbard

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Love never fails.

The Silver Heights Restaurant-Winnipeg

March29

If you ever drive west on Portage Ave. you have no doubt taken notice of the retro signage marking the location of the Silver Heights Restaurant. Or perhaps you have taken this route so many times that the familiar has disappeared. The Silver Heights restaurant opened in 1957 just about the same time that the neighbourhood was born and has been a St. James landmark ever since.

On this evening we were debating about dinner out before we watched the Jets game on TV. When we ran out of time we decided to order in. Owner Tony Siwicki answered the phone at his families’ restaurant himself and we had a great chat about…food of course! He recommended a couple of their most unique and popular items.

We decided to order a Caesar salad which was crisp and delicious along with a combo platter so that we could sample as many of Tony’s suggestions as possible. The chicken fingers and shrimp were pretty good but it was the wings and the ribs that really tickled our fancy.

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Their legendary baby back ribs were as good as it gets. Fall-off-the-bone ribs can be achieved by adding steam to the cooking process but the best way is to slow roast them which was what I suspect the Silver Heights did. The result is a flavourful rib that is tender and yet still firm to the tooth. Both the barbeque and the Greek ribs are worth tasting, we were divided about which tasted best.

Their perogy wings were a fun rendition with sour cream, bacon and chives. The clever “Elvis” wings with peanut butter and strawberry jam sounded strange but really worked. Lovers of a sweet and salty combination will enjoy this unique recipe. If you enjoy Thai food, you’ve likely eaten chicken in a peanut sauce before. Jams and jellies are often the basis for glazes and dips; think red pepper jelly or sweet chili sauce. Now put those two taste sensations together and you have the “Elvis” wing.

Silver Heights Restaurant & Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: Until we meet again, may God bless you as he has blessed me. -Elvis Presley

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Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2016-Breakfast at Lola Valentina’s

March22

On our most recent visit to Isla Mujeres, we noticed that many restaurant owners are extending their spaces and hours of operation in order to capitalizie on more business per square foot. We watched from across the street at Fredy’s with eager excitement as Lola Valentina’s was constructed on Hidalgo a number of years ago. Since then we have had the pleasure of dining at Lola Valentina’s on many occaissions in the evening but never for breakfast. So we were thrilled when restaurant creator Lori Drumm invited us in to sample their morning fare. We love her excellent Fusion/Mexican offerings and were quite sure that we would be well fed.

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What we did not know is how delightful our breakfast selections would be to the eye.

The stars of Lola Valentina’s morning menu are the French Toast and the Stuffed Poblano Chile. Both dishes were recommended by our server. If they sound familiar to you, you may be thinking about Mango Café, where Lori was once the Executive Chef. I wouldn’t be tempted to compare recipes as the whole Hidalgo experience is vastly different from the one in the Colonias.

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D was delighted by the Tres Leche Coconut French Toast. He declared that the bananas tasted like the classic dessert Bananas Foster which is one of his favourites. The toast was made with conchas (Mexican sweet bread) pastry and caramelized almonds. Then mango syrup, with just a touch of rosemary, puts the dish over the top.

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I was content to simply stare at the work of food art a.k.a. known as the stuffed chile. When I did eventually get my fork working I was very impressed with the guacamole, sour cream, green salsa, corn and black beans that the pablano came nestled in. The crunchy tortilla ribbons adorning the top were a lovely surprize and the extra crunch was more than satisfying. At this point I realized that I had not even tucked into the chile!

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The creamy scrambled eggs were delicious in themselves, extraordinary with Monterey Jack cheese and bacon. Oh the bacon! The chile was packed with the most amazing smoky bacon.  When the plate arrived, I concluded that I could never eat it all. But it was so savoury with the combination of tastes and textures that I could not stop eating; much to D’s chagrin. His breakfast was not as substantial as mine and he may have wanted to help me out.

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We were protected from the sun and there was a lovely breeze to cool us as we lingered over the endless coffee and tea supply.

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Before and after eating, we were absolutely content to people watch from our perch on Hidalgo. At the same time we took in the changes that Lori has made to the abundant space in the restaurant. There is now a little bistro within the larger restaurant space that is called Lolita’s Cafe & Sweet Shop boasting a 100% plant based gluten free kitchen. They offer tea, coffee and smoothies for a mini Lola experience.

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We also spied what we thought might be an all female wedding party who wanted a separate space to be together. The restaurant accommodated them easily with their outdoor patio found to the south of the main restaurant.

As we have gone back and forth with FB messages, I have gotten to know Lori a bit better and I admire her brain for business and her culinary creativity. Both are working in perfect harmony in the space dubbed Lola Valentina’s.

Kath’s quote: “Life is too short, so live, love, break, be happy, cry, laugh, eat, work and learn”.-Anonymous

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Love never fails.

 

 

Isla Mujeres 2016-Breakfast at Ruben’s

March18

Ruben the man is as fascinating and Ruben the cook.

Ruben invited us for breakfast at his restaurant bearing his name, because he knew we were foodies (he was my most loyal follower when we traveled to Tuscany) and wanted our unbiased opinion of his food. When we arrived he immediately sat down with us and indicated that it was his first time back to work after completing radiation treatment (for stomach cancer) in Mexico City. He said that he was supposed to stay in bed for a week or two but that he is happiest when he is working and giving back to others.

He shared his journey with us. He is originally from Mexico City but left Mexico for the US, California specifically, to work for a better life. He fibbed to get his first job in a northern California restaurant and the owner gave him 15 days to learn how to prepare all the items on the menu. From there he worked at a variety of kitchens in California and Nevada. He received no formal or family training. Things went amiss for him in California and he was actually kidnapped until his family cleared out his life savings to free him.

He was encouraged to leave the US and returned to Mexico City, but set off again. A friend accompanied him to the bus station and floated him 500 pesos for a ticket elsewhere. He saw Cancun on one of the destination boards and had enough money to get there. Learning that Isla Mujeres was a smaller and less expensive destination, he arrived on the island. Soon after, he was depositing what was left of his money and the bank teller asked him if he wanted to apply for a credit card. He never dreamed he would be approved but says (as he glanced skywards) that someone was looking out for him. With that money he found a small house that he renovated. He went back to the bank, got a cash advance and bought all the fixings for the restaurant that he soon opened.

When we first visited he had a simple menu that he has greatly expanded since then. He is hoping that we can taste his pasta in the future. He loves everything about food and hospitality and recognizes that we do too.

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Ruben suggested that we compare and contrast his two most popular eggs benedicts-the Classic and the special lobster benedict with poblano sauce. Both were sensational and we couldn’t decide on our preference. The accompanying oj, coffee and breakfast potatoes were excellent too and we were so impressed that a self trained cook could prepare dishes with such depth. We only wish we could have returned for his pasta but there are so many places to sample when we are on the island.

Kath’s quote: “Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life”. -Maya Angelou

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Love never fails.

Gausthouse Gutenberg

March6

We had visited Gausthouse Gutenberg once before when I was pregnant with our first child. She is now thirty years and I can’t quite believe that I had never been back. On this Sunday afternoon we did not know in advance that only a buffet lunch would be available but we were delighted as it provided us the opportunity to sample a number of authentic German recipes. German Master Chef Kurt Werner was in charge of the kitchen back when I first visited. Since then his apprentice Jereme Labelle has been passed the torch and the latter now owns the restaurant as well.

One this day we settled in and then made one trip up to the buffet table to ladle out a savoury curried mushroom suppen (soup) as our starter, clearly demonstrating that Chef Jereme’s repertoire stretches beyond German fare.

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When it was time to return for our main course we had the choice of crispy schnitzel, a savoury pork roast, delectable meatballs, excellent handmade Bavarian bratwurst, perogies with fried bacon and spätzle, which is a homemade German egg noodle. All were delicious but unfortunately none were terribly hot. It was apparent that a couple of the items had been placed in the stainless steel inserts way earlier than our arrival. I would definitely recommend that you not wait until 1:30 in the afternoon to dine as we did.

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German food is not typically considered “light fare” but I intentionally left room to visit the desert table. Apple strudel is one of my favourites and fruit platz (German coffee cake) is another, so it was very difficult to choose. The lovely thing about a buffet is that you do not have to decide on one and leave the other, so I am pleased to say that I got to sample both!

Gasthaus Gutenberger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “….there are more different sausages in Germany than there are breakfast foods in America, and if there is a bad one among them then I have never heard of it. The run in size from little fellow so small and pale and fragile that it seems a crime to eat them to vast and formidable pieces that look like shells for heavy artillery. And they run in flavor from the most delicate to the most raucous, and in texture from that of feathers caught in a cobweb to that of linoleum, and in shape from straight cylinders to lovely kinks and curlycues.”-H.L. Mencken

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Love never fails.

 

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