Browsing: Restaurant Features

Ty’s Cafe and Bakery at the Sandbar Motor Hotel in Grand Marais


When you holiday in a tiny cottage in one of the vicinities’ beach areas, you need to plan your meals to correspond with the heat of the day. Often times we prepare an entire dinner on our outside grill but sometimes we treat ourselves to supper at a neighbouring beach.

We have been long-standing fans of Chef Tyler Gray of Ty’s Cafe and Bakery at the Sandbar Motor Hotel in Grand Marais. Ty is a clever businessman providing food-service on Grand Beach’s famous boardwalk and impossibly tall burgers at his main locale. We love his Breakfast Poutine (hash browns topped with cheese curds, bacon, two eggs and hollandaise sauce), Big Kahuna Burger (the works AND grilled pineapple), Coconut Shrimp and Maple Pecan Danish. He also maintains permanent daily specials so that cottagers know that it is Pickerel and Chips or Roast Beef night.


On this Thursday evening the feature was a Chicken and Rib combo for 15 smackers. We were pleasantly surprised when a half rack of fall-off-the-bone ribs arrived with not one, but two pieces of fried chicken. My husband was gaga for his baked potato (we hadn’t turned on the oven for days) and I was equally impressed with the hand-cut fries. Even the cole slaw was fresh and tasty!

The portion for this and all of Ty’s creations was more than generous. I had to take half of my ribs and a piece of chicken back to the cottage with me for a future beach picnic. I did somehow manage to eat all of my fries… Had we not been quite so stuffed, we may have purchased a blueberry pie on our way out. Everyone who dined that evening left with a loaf of dark rye from the bakery counter. Ty’s baking is as excellent as his meals.

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Kath’s quote: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.


Bonfire Bistro-“Our Place”


Yesterday the “birthday girls” assembled to celebrate another year of the wonderful gift of life. At that time we decided that instead of trying to decide where to go for each birthday lunch, we would always meet at Bonfire Bistro. It is close to home for two of us and centrally located for the other two. The food is so affordable and always terrific. We typically make a later reservation when the lunch rush is done because we have a habit of laughing too loudly, talking all at once and lingering too long. The lovely staff does not seem to mind and I would imagine that they get a lot of behind the scenes work done while we wallow in each others company.



My friends always order half pizzas with either Caesar salad or house greens. The former comes with a lovely nest of just shaved parmesan on top and the latter with plenty of crunchy pecans and sweet currants. I especially enjoy that the contrast of flavours from the slivers of red onion and tang of the house-made dressing.

The last time we lunched, I had a difficult time supressing my satisfied noises as I gnoshed on the salad. Yesterday, it was so good that I didn’t even eat the pasta special that it came with. Instead, they parcelled it up for me and I slurped it down as my supper as I unpacked at the lake.


This pasta special was an Asian stir fry of pork, peppers and noodles in a salty broth. I love when bistros add “greens” to salads; in this case “purples”. I am sure it is to provide a colourful garnish to the dish. I enjoy the texture and taste of greens in a pasta though and have been adding them for eons. This was a trick that I learned while on the Weight Watchers eating plan. I would combine my salad and pasta and then spoon the sauce over top. That way I wouldn’t require dressing on my salad and I would have enough fixings to cradle the sauce whilst only consuming a half cup of cooked pasta. Speaking of which, it is time to pull the plan out again. I injured my hip/back while on holiday (by bike riding with a lawn chair on my back) and didn’t get the exercise that I should have.

But I digress. We spent a lovely afternoon together: laughing a lot, weeping a little and savouring each other’s presence.

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Kath’s quote: “Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.”-Kent M. Keith


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.



Fools and Horses Coffee Company



The Fools and Horses Coffee Co at 101-379 Broadway Ave. is one of those gathering places that make a collection of streets a “neighbourhood”. The persons that had accumulated the morning of my first visit were downtown residents like my eldest daughter who I was meeting.


But they were also the community of day-time residents who work in the area. People stopped to chat with acquaintances that they saw perched on the patio and others exchanged niceties as they kept pace and strolled by.

I was instantly taken with Lauren Kroeker, one of the owners and the welcoming smile behind the counter that morning.




She shared with me the vision that they have for their beautiful room, with hopes that the hood will use the space for artistic gatherings and casual entertaining. Now that’s what I call urban planning!

The menu is simple and I always appreciate when a few selections are done exceptionally well, rather than the other way around. I asked what Lauren would recommend and she immediately responded with “toast”. In spite of thinking that toast might be a little mundane, I went with her suggestion. Woa!


One version of seeded rye toast was donned with Otterburne yoghurt made from the milk of Optimist Holsteins, granola concocted with Manitoba’s Adagio Acres Rolled Naked Oats and local honey from a Hutterite colony in the area.


The other toast was adorned with house made ricotta cheese and a sparkling strawberry/beet/vanilla jam from local jam aficionado Flora Farmer.


With the risk of sounding cliché, you could taste goodness with every bite.


My daughter visits regularly for their Iced Vanilla Bean Latte. I enjoyed the coffee from Pilot Coffee Roaster but it provided a little too much kick to my day and I had to keep busy to try to use up all my excess energy.

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Kath’s quote: “Honey comes out of the air….At early dawn the leaves of trees are found bedewed with honey…. Whether this is the perspiration of the sky or a sort of saliva of the stars, or the moisture of the air purging itself, nevertheless it brings with it the great pleasure of its heavenly nature. It is always of the best quality when it is stored in the best flowers.”-Pliny (A.D. 2)

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.


The Merchant Kitchen


Winnipeg’s Portage Ave and its side streets were once the home to many of the cities’ great restaurants. Rudy’s, Moxie’s and most recently The Merchant Kitchen have blazed the way for the trend to reignite. Upon my return from an evening at The Merchant Kitchen, I told D that he would love everything about the “kitchen”: the central bar, the communal tables, the open kitchen, the clever cocktails and the food!

Being long-time fans of Pizzeria Gusto, I knew that this particular ensemble led by Chef Eric Lee would produce clever fare and yes, they did. Chef Lee is one of the many talented Chefs who have graduated from the exceptional culinary program at Red River College. He credits this great start and the blessings of mentorship and travel, for his culinary proweress. Of course, he did not put it in this manner, I did.


The well chosen red of their cozy/sleek decor stimulates the taste buds as soon as you walk in the door.


The menu is a eclectic collection of world cuisine with an emphasis on Latin and Asian dishes.

In my humble opinion, the best Latin food is found in the Yucatan peninsula where simple ingredients are combined to produce flavours that sparkle! The essence is in adding the exact amount of lime juice and cilantro. For example, both the Guacamole and Pico de Gallo contain these staple ingredients and in both cases they shine not for their own glory but to enhance the silky avacado and the tomato and white onion.


The Carnitas Taco were also elevated by the precise addition of cilantro and lime, this time to offset the premise-made queso fresco and slow roasted pork. The pickled red onion was a thoughtful topping and took me back to one of my very first meals in the Yucatan.


You may never desire butter and salt on your corn on the cob again, once you taste it with mayo, cojita cheese, a squeeze of lime and cilantro. We order these from the street vendors in Quintano Roo and they make a meal in themselves.


Other world cuisines understand the magic of lime and cilantro as well, for example this Thai salad -Papaya Som Tum. My absolute favourite dish of the evening was Spicy Thai Fried Rice but I was in such haste to eat it, that my photo was not in focus. Along with jasmine rice, Thai basil, prawns, chilies and egg, it included…cilantro. Do not conclude that Chef Lee uses these componants often because he has a limited number of ingredients in his pantry. I believe he knows Winnipeggers well enough to predict that these flavours, reminiscent of warm climates, will be our reward during our long winters.


Chef Lee’s roasted duck rolls introduced mint, peanuts and sesame to our palates and they too were exceptional.



Although we were initially drawn to Pizzeria Gusto and Chef Lee’s fare for their astute renderings of pizza, most recently we would visit for their “veggie-centric” dishes like their Brussel sprouts. The Merchant Kitchen’s version is equally stellar along with the Dry Fried Green Beans above and the Charred Shishito Peppers not shown.


The Korean Fried Chicken was a guilty pleasure which reminded me not of Korean cookery but of the fresh whole chickens that my Polish Grandma would fry up on hot summer days on the farm.

I spoke at length to Chef Lee about his skill in creating so many excellent tastes. He redirected the praise to the local ingredients and growers that he has been successful in securing as suppliers. So too, he credited Bobby and Suzy for the space and the overall experience. The entire Merchant Kitchen package is of shared food, shared tables, shared glances of the open bar and kitchen and even the shared bathroom!


Just before I headed home to report to D of my new restaurant find, along came Pound Cake Churros which were heavenly in themselves. Our family ordered dessert on Christmas day from a Churro cart by the turquoise Carribbean sea, but these blew those right out of the water! The texture of the pound cake was perfectly porous to soak up the surprise of the bowl of warm chocolate milk. The taste allowed memories of dunking hot buttered toast into our mugs of hot chocolate with my many siblings around our kitchen table at home. There was love around that table and in my mind you will feel that way here too. All that was missing was being tucked into bed with a bedtime story.

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Kath’s quote: “I don’t need to tell you I love you, I made you pancakes”. –Kathleen Flinn

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Sushi Terrace


Glowing recommendations about Sushi Terrace have made their way to me, from Canstar readers to the sales person where I was recently vehicle shopping. Knowing that my sushi aficionado (aka Boo) would enjoy the eating adventure, we headed out to the Westwood neighbourhood.


We were the sole diners that evening but there were many persons who were warmly greeted by the husband and wife team who own the restaurant, when neighbours arrived to pick up “to go” orders.

We had no idea about the portion size so ordered a tempura to start, a couple of rolls and a traditional Korean dish. Suffice it to say, the mixed tempura was a meal in itself and we took half of our selections home for lunches.


Included in the tempura basket were two savoury spring rolls, two succulent prawns and a bevy of veggies including a squash that we could not identify, along with sweet potato, broccoli and more. The sweet chili and soy dipping sauces were plentiful and we ate our fill.


But of course, there was still more to come. Undaunted, we pressed on. All three rolls included seafood: the “Burning Love” special, the “Happy Mouth” (I got a kick out of the name) and the Crunch Roll. My daughter could detect the heat from the “Burning Love” but all I sensed was the delicious melding of cucumber, red roe, shrimp and torched salmon. The “Happy Mouth” lived up to its name with variations of the above with silky avocado added for good measure. My favourite were the Crunch Rolls as I love the popping sensation of the fish eggs in my mouth along with the additional crunch of crispy panko flakes.


The grilled marinated beef of the Bulgogi dish was more delicate than I expected, so we had a few tastes of that too.


As a lovely surprise and the perfect ending to our meal, was a beautiful orange that had been cubed and then placed back into the carved out peel.

Owners Jooncheol EO and her husband JINHEE JEONG (they spelt it with the caps), were delightful hosts. Each time she came to the table with a dish, she perfectly placed the plate for us to feast with our eyes before we tucked in.

Even though we are centrally located, Westwood was a bit of a jaunt for us. Even if you make the trek from the east of the city, you will not be disappointed.

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Kath’s quote: “Making sushi is an art, and experience is everything”. –Nobu Matsuhisa


Live simply, laugh often, ove deeply.

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