Browsing: Restaurant Features

The Nook

January21

Have you driven down Sherbrooke St. recently on a weekend morning? If you have, you are likely to have seen the line ups at The Tallest Poppy and Stella’s. Another place that is a less trendy spot but just as good is called The Nook. The latter has been around long before the area became gentrified; thirty years in fact. Originally a Salisbury House, the corner spot was once known only to staff at the Misrecordia Hospital but more recently, the place draws a varied crowd. On this day, my sister and I were meeting for a quick lunch. I was concerned that we might not be able to get a seat (by a window) without a wait, but arriving just before noon, meant that we had no concern.

nook1

nook3

I selected a spinach and feta omelet from their extensive menu. The eggs were perfectly cooked (i.e. not “overcooked” which often happens with omelets) and the stuffing was plentiful. Served with a side of toast, it was a satisfying lunch.

nook2

nook4

My sister was on the spinach trail too and opted for a spinach salad with grated mozzarella, hard cooked eggs and side bacon. You could tell the latter was not the lesser ingredient of bacon “bits” as the entire crispy strip crowned the top of the dish. The hot dressing which accompanied the salad was made from what we thought were the bacon drippings and provided a savoury treat. Athina emailed me after my Canstar piece was published to clarify that this is not the case. She indicated that her vegan customers were upset. The result is a hearty salad absolutely packed with satisfyingly salty flavours.

I have it on good authority that their burgers, chicken fingers and perogies are all tasty too.

Proprietors Athina and Bill Parasidis know the formula to keep their guests coming back, sometimes many times per week: fresh ingredients, expertly prepared and served with efficiency and courtesy.

The Nook Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “Fortunately I am not one of those beings who when they smile are apt to expose remnants, however small, of horrible and degrading spinach clinging to their teeth.”-Salvador Dali,

candleheart

Love -that is all.

Tom Yum Thai

January12

I have volunteered at the Children’s Hospital here in Winnipeg for a number of years. Many hours on the job are spent snuggling a baby and staring out the window. In doing so, I have often wondered about Tom Yum Thai that is often within my gaze at corner of Sherbrook St. & William Ave. Recently, the opportunity to discover more about the restaurant, presented itself.

The place is cozy with booths along one wall and delicious aromas wafting from the open kitchen. On the day we visited, they explained that they were short staffed and it was obviously “all hands on deck” with one of the regular cooks taking care of us at our table. This sometimes makes for a disastrous dining experience but not when smiles are genuine and food so authentic and delicious.

tomyumthai-1

First up was a “Lettuce Wrap Salad”. We wondered: is it a lettuce wrap or is it a salad? While we were scooping spoonfuls of sautéed veggies and crunchy rice noodles onto torn lettuce leaves, we realized that indeed both descriptions were appropriate. The first successful bite could be dubbed a “lettuce wrap” but subsequent attempts, kind of fell apart in our hands. We immediately reached for our forks, not wanting to interrupt the delicious tastes, which turned out to be more like eating a “wrap salad”. Don’t let the mess dissuade you. The mushrooms, red and green peppers and onions were perfectly seasoned with basil and proved to be absolutely delectable.

tomyumthai-2

We especially loved the Tom Kha Galangal Soup. Typically my favourite Thai soup, the galangal is an authentic ingredient that definitely gives the soup its distinctive floral flavour. The galangal, which physically resembles ginger (but not in taste), is thinly sliced from raw product. In Tom Yum’s version the galangal appears to have been pickled or at least stored in brine. Cut into very thin little ribbons it holds a prominent place in the texture and flavour profile of the soup. We also loved the sweetness of the coconut broth. Palm sugar is typically called for, but we detected that brown sugar was utilized providing caramel notes.

The large shared bowl of soup along with the starter was the perfect amount for a tasty, light lunch. We would not have known that this had not been a regular day in the restaurant, had we not been apologetically told.

Tom Yum Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort.” Norman Kolpas

flowerheart

Love, that is all.

My Favourite Restaurant Experiences of 2015

December28

Here is a round up of my favourite restaurants for 2015 (sorry Winnipeggers only one is from here).

For Christmas last year D gifted me with a trip to White Rock and then Seattle early this past year to visit old and dear friends.

1. The Seahorse Grill, Crescent Beach, White Rock BC

seahorse2

D could not resist the Pan Seared Scallops in lemon grass sauce accompanied by fregola pasta and market vegetables. The taste of the enormous scallop that he shared with me as absolutely delectable-sweet and silky, just like a fresh scallop should taste.

Friend Nance ordered what she claims she cannot resist with each of her many visits to the Seahorse Grill-the Linguine Vongole. She offered me a swirl and I know that if the opportunity is afforded me in the future (and I am currently making those plans), I would certainly order her selection. The freshest of clams were poached in white wine broth, olive and plenty of garlic and then perfectly heaved together with el dente linguini.

seahorse4

My Smoked chicken and pasta choice was perfect with generous slices of chicken breast and a bone in cuts as well, the dish was laced with garlic and beautifully paired with a hearty pasta.

2. The Fat Hen, Seattle Washington

The morning we visited, Owner/Chef Maximo was in the tiny café kitchen where he whipped up the most decadent and rich breakfasts for D and I. His wife had baked all the pastries that were featured in the restaurant including the perfectly bubble filled baguette that I used to sop up every single bite of my delectable sauce.

fathen4

Since we were in seafood territory, D chose the Benedict with wild Alaskan smoked salmon. The petite roasted new potatoes were a delectable accompaniment.

fathen5

I needed help with my baked eggs alla boscaiola where two eggs had been plunged into a bubbling solea tomato sauce with sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella, to finish the cooking process. At least, this is how we guessed the dish had been prepared. The more quickly you broke into the egg, the softer the yolk was that had been poaching in the hearty sauce. By my last bite the egg was fully cooked.

We spotted Maximo as he efficiently let down a counter to cover the doorway to the kitchen to lovingly plate and complete his delicious fare. He was shy (and busy) but came out for a moment to shake our hands in greeting.

Fredy’s, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

One of our regular stops on Isla Mujeres is to our friend Fredy’s. We met Fredy many years ago when we first started visiting the island. His dry wit, love of family and fabulous food, keep us coming back, year after year. We even ate Christmas dinner there one year.

fredy's

On this year’s visit at the end of February I couldn’t resist Fredy’s double boned pork chop. Perfect seasoned and grilled, sometimes I dream about them.

Da Emma, Old Montreal, Quebec

In July I visited Da Emma housed in Montreal’s first prison for women. The Restaurant’s walls were impossibly thick but contrary to what you might first expect, the ambiance was warm and inviting.

ella2

We started with bruschetta where I confirmed anew how much I love fresh garlic and tomatoes and crunchy baguette.

ella6

Next up was eggplant which featured thin layers of my favourite vegetable and a delicate tomato sauce.

ella8

For my main, I chose “Piglet” even though I felt awkward about ordering something with such a cute name. The skin was crunchy, the silky fat melted away and the meat was perfectly seasoned and prepared.

Toscano Doc, Montecatini Italy

When I read through Trip Advisor reviews of a restaurant I am interested in what fellow travellers have to say but even more so when a local goes to the trouble of commenting and recommending their favourite spots. On the very first night that we were in Tuscany in October, we went with one of these suggestions. Little did we know that first evening that we would return almost every other night of our week’s stay. One reason was our server Francesco who spoke great English as a result of spending six months in Australia. He hopes to come to Canada for an extended stay as well. One evening D went in to order a couple of pizzas to go and waited with a beer. When the pizza was ready, Franccesco wouldn’t hear of D paying for it, saying that he appreciated our business (and our company).

toscanodoc

Everything we ate there was delectable but I want to give special accolades to a pretty non-descript menu item: fried seafood. OMG-perfectly seasoned, the lightest of coatings and a delicate plunge into the fryer produced a dish so fine that once D gave me a taste when he ordered it, I schemed to return so that I could indulge in my own plate.

Enoteca, Winnipeg

In the same manner that someone might say “I admire the work of a certain photographer or craftsperson”, I admire the work of Chef Scott Bagshaw. I have never laid my eyes on a plate that he has composed without given due respect to his artistry. Our recent visit to Enoteca Wine Bar was no exception.

When you identify yourself as a new guest at Enoteca, a server explains how to order and how the dishes will be served. One and a half to two dishes per person were recommended and each dish was served separately to the table. The intention is that every dish will be shared by dinner companions.

enoteca1

The first dish that arrived was Blue Swimmer Crab which had been pulled from its shell and enhanced with cucumber and apple. The delicate texture of the shellfish was offset by the caviar and especially the crunchy grains of rye. The silky crème fraiche finished our appetizer in both texture and taste.

enoteca2

Knowing that vegetable centred dishes are the new culinary trend, we were not surprised to see that Chef Scott was ahead of the movement. Veg-centric dishes focus on flavour. Being meatless is secondary. Proteins are still included, but they’re more of a flavour enhancer. We spotted many such dishes on Enoteca’s menu and finally decided upon the Roasted Cauliflower utilizing “cave aged” gruyere to intensify the taste. Panade added moisture, rough cut almonds provided crunch and capers the saltiness.

enoteca3

Our final plate was Chef Scott’s take on a meat and potato dish. Hanger steak was once referred to as “butcher’s steak” because meat cutters would set the especially flavourful cuts aside for their own use. Pan-seared oyster and morel mushrooms both added meaty tastes to the dish as well. For crunch (can you see a trend here?), crispy baby potatoes provided the crib for the dish.

2015, oh what a year for food and travel!

Kath’s quote:  “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

BeFunky_IMG_2264.jpg

Love, that is all.

 

 

Fusion Grill, River Heights, Winnipeg

December16

Fusion Grill is not exactly in my own backyard but pretty close-a block and a half walk away.  The cafe’s close proximity actually makes me guilty about not dining there more often as owner Scot McTaggart is an old friend of ours from a time when we all worked together at a popular restaurant.

Scot’s culinary philosophy has always been a passion for “local”, years before the trend was in vogue.  Scot once shared with me that his wish has always been a simple one: “to sell carrots from my own backyard.” He recalled raiding a garden for carrots and scraping off the dirt with his hands.  He remembered the sweetness and the crunch and added “even the dirt tasted good.”

Gutsy Scot was the first of Winnipeg’s restaurateurs to deliver Manitoba regional cuisine like bison, pickerel cheeks, Arctic Char, Northern Pike caviar, grass-fed beef and Bothwell cheese.  The all-Canadian wine list was also a bold move when he first opened, but feels vindicated now with the focus on both food and wine from closer to home.  He believes that Canadian wines are the perfect pairing to Chef Lorna Murdoch’s cuisine.

Like many cities, Winnipeg is disproportionately lacking in female chefs. Chef Lorna is one of our shining stars. When you meet her in real life you might be surprised by her diminutive stature. She is petite, but her imaginative food combinations and taste profiles are not. They are enormous!

We started our evening with white truffle perogies, loving both in equal portions. The duck sausage was a savoury layer; the walnut cream sauce hit this starter out of the park! Also sampled were the Caesar salad and the soup of tomorrow-both terrific.

The guys decided upon the elk tenderloin that was available that evening. My husband shared the myriad of roasted local vegetables with me. Chicken stuffed with mushrooms and mascarpone cheese was perfect on its own, sensational with squash gnocchi.

fusion

I often choose vegetable-centric entrees, not because I do not enjoy meat but because I am a veggie nut. I could have enjoyed the handmade tagliatelle noodles (a cousin to fettuccine) with a simple bit of garlic and a good olive oil. I was in heaven when the pasta was intertwined with ribbons of artichoke, pickled squash and wilted greens. Wow, just wow!

Fusion Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “Classical cooking and molecular gastronomy should remain separate. You can mix two styles and get fusion; any more, and you just get confusion.”-Alain Ducasse

woodenhearts

Love, that is all.

A Christmas Gift from McDonald’s

December14

When our eldest child was five years old we had an extended stay at the Children’s Hospital here in Winnipeg. It was there that we met a little girl that I am going to call Britney. She was in the room next to ours and the two girls loved to play Barbie’s together and Britney’s Mom and I would try to support each other the best we could. I remember the day that we were able to finally go home after our ordeal. December 8 will long be fixed in my memory. Our daughter “Beep” as she is called in this space went to a new school in January where she received all of her necessary therapies as a part of her school day. Before that occurred though, she was an outpatient at the hospital and whenever we were in the building we would go to visit Britney. Beep even got to attend a Christmas party with Britney that was put on by Cancer Care. You see Britney had leukemia. On the day of Christmas Eve, Beep wanted us to delivery Britney’s Christmas present but when we arrived on the ward, we were told that Britney wasn’t feeling up to visitors. We left her gift for her to open whenever she felt up to it. On Boxing Day, without ever having opened her gifts Britney passed away. We had gone to visit the ward that day too and all the nurses were so upset that they were visibly weeping and trying to take care of all of the other sick little ones.

Britney’s Mother was a single Mom from somewhere in the province. She spent every single waking hour at the hospital by Britney’s side. Once Britney had fallen asleep at night, she was encouraged to go take some time for herself, have a good rest and return the next day. This went on for months on end. Luckily for Britney, her Mom was able to stay in the city the entire time and be within walking distance of the hospital. Britney’s Mom spent her nights at Ronald McDonald House. She shared with me that she did not know what she would have done if it were not for the House. She wasn’t willing to spend any time away from Britney as she must have known that their days together were few.

These days Beep has grown up to be a beautiful, intelligent woman and is in the midst of obtaining her Masters Degree at the University of Manitoba. My time had freed up and I was a volunteer at the Children’s Hospital, sometimes on the very ward where Beep and Britney played with their Barbies. In addition to the House which is close by, there is a Ronald McDonald suite right in the hospital. Here families can do their laundry, get caught up on the world through provided computers, make phone calls, relax in front of the fire, bake cookies, watch movies and play with their other children (as often times, a whole family will attend a sick child to the hospital). I have often encouraged parents to take a break and head to the facility while I spent some time hugging their baby or playing on the floor with their toddler.

Recently though, with our own grandbaby and another on the way, I spend the hours that I might have been volunteering, babysitting the Wee One. She is an absolute joy and both D and I are excited every time we get to spend time with her. This weekend she had a sleep over with us and on Saturday evening, I let her open a Christmas gift that had been delivered from McDonalds. A box was filled with a number of treats but the best one was that they had made a donation to Ronald McDonald House in my name, so that a Mom like Britney’s can be close to their child at Christmas.

mcd4

The Wee One hasn’t been to McDonalds very often and loved her happy meal with its little “Build a Bear” toy. In turn I was pleased with the sautéed onions, double cheese and pretzel bun of the Jolly Burger from their Holiday Warmer menu.

Here is the Wee One in the act of opening “Glamma’s” gift.

mcd1

mcd2

mcd3

Poppa read us the card from a Ronald McDonald House Family and then the Wee One gave us her rendition. A healthy child is a blessing that we never, ever take for granted.

Kath’s quote: None of Us is as Good as All of Us.”-Ray Kroc of McDonalds

TSR Watermark - 5666

Love, that is all.

 

 

« Older EntriesNewer Entries »