Browsing: Restaurant Features

JL Beers, Grand Forks, North Dakota

May5

There was a time when D and I would anticipate going away for a weekend and I would have done all my research on the best restaurants that we would try out. Those times have changed, now that D’s mission whenever we are away, is to find the best selection of craft beer in our destinations. D had been dreaming about a burger from JL Beers on the two and a half hour drive from Winnipeg. He and J1 had visited a number of years ago in Fargo and he remembered every single detail of the food menu.

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It was impossible for him to remember the beer menu as there were over 40 taps and shelves and shelves of bottled selections.

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In order to entice me to join him, D promised that there would also be wine on hand. When we plunked at a couple of the bar stools and asked the bar keep, this was not the case. Instead, he recommended a cider and a Faro from Belgium. He also provided me with tastes of both. Without hesitation I choose the Faro and then read this from their menu as I had my first sips: “A version of Belgium’s “wild fermented” wheat beer, which is the result of blending Lambic of “one summer” with an old Lambic and finished with candy sugar.” Huh? The bevvie by Lindeman’s was refreshing and delicious and was served up in a skinny version of a pilsner glass.

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But to the food! I chose the Monumental Burger which was a teriyaki burger with sautéed mushrooms and melted Swiss cheese. It was accompanied by fresh cut fries. The bun had been butter-brushed before it was placed on the grill. How did I know? The entire cooking line takes place behind the bar so that you can see you beer being pulled from the tap at the same time that you can see your burger being formed and fries being cut from a big fresh potato. I was amazed at how quickly the process was completed. This was a speedy supper so I guess that it was technically “fast food” but it tasted like anything but. The burger was soft and tender and packed with flavour. The fries although a little bit too salty for my palette, were greaseless and piping hot.

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D selected the Humpty Dumpty Burger, so dubbed because of the fried egg perched on top of the burger. He also decided on the addition of thick cut bacon, so it was like eating a combination of a burger and a breakfast sandwich all at the same time.  He opted for the chips and then agreed to let me have a taste, knowing that they would have been my preference. Lightly salted, folded and browned, they were irresistible.

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In the meanwhile D enjoyed his “Hunny Do” and a “Best of the Midwest” beer flight which he very much enjoyed. D loved his burger so much that he ordered a Columbia Burger to go!

JL Beers on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Why beer is better than wine: “….human feet are conspicuously absent from beer making.”-Steve Mirsky

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

Watt St. Bistro

April23

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Neighbourhoods like East Kildonan were once thriving little self-contained business centres. When I grew up just a half block from Watt St. we could walk to our own grocery store, pharmacy, hardware and dentist. The mini strip malls that once housed these establishments on Watt St. and various communities around the city sometimes have a ghost-town feel about them. One such business centre is being revived by restaurants like the Watt St. Bistro (710 Watt St. just south of Kimberley). I suspect that the motivation for the neat and tidy café is the huge student population and recreational participants next door at Miles Mac, The EK YMCA and the beloved Melrose Community Club.

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My eldest brother who still lives in the suburb, as do most of my extended family, encouraged me to give the place a try. He mentioned $5.99 lunch specials and poutine, so I was surprised that the bistro actually features an extended selection of Vietnamese fare.

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The highlight of this visit was the sizzling curry shrimp and vegetable dish that was served first. The owner Tan Dang (partnered with wife Trang Phung) personally brought out the two part dish. We were warned about the temperature of the wrought iron platter that was placed in between my sister and me. The second component was a heaping bowl full of the saucy shrimp and veggies.

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As he poured the bowl onto the platter, the sizzling began and the dish imparted the most amazing aroma. Both the shrimp and the multitude of vegetables were cooked perfectly to a tender crisp and the sauce was, well I could have supped up the sauce with a spoon. Instead, I poured it over little bowls of rice and was well pleased.

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Char-Broiled Pork Vermicelli was another choice. The heaping bowl is my “must-have” dish when dining at a Vietnamese restaurant and this was a lovely version.

Watt Street Bistro on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “our highest priority, when all is said and done, has to be commitment to each other –- sticking together.” ― Steve Goodier

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

 

 

A Little Taste of Greece, Without Leaving Home

April22

Yesterday, my morning began with a drive to the airport to deposit Boo and The Frenchman, who will soon be making their way to the sunny isles of Greece for their honeymoon. Although back-packing, Boo managed to pack a number of flowy white dresses for the trip. I can already picture my baby and her handsome husband dancing in the sun and smooching across a seaside table. Ah Greece, so exotic and romantic and delicious!

During my own sojourn to Greece, right out of university, I was a timid eater. I picked at the tomatoes and feta, the herb omelettes and spinach pie and managed to never ever taste an olive. I was such a silly girl and long to return to Greece so that I can savour every salty little taste. In the meanwhile, I LOVE Greek food, love all Mediterranean food in fact. I have many favourite little tavernas here in the city but not all are conducive to picking up a healthy supper or dropping in for a quick lunch. That is until Opa! of Greece came along. They’ve been in Polo Park for six years, but since I am not much of a shopper, I have never visited. With their second location (1639 Kenaston) adjacent to my neighbourhood and based on the samplings that I enjoyed last evening, that is going to change.

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We started with spanakopita-crunchy phyllo wrapped around spinach, onion and bound together with some cheese.

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We were then invited to fill our plates with traditional Greek fare: meat kebabs, roasted potatoes, “peasant” salad, warm pita, hummus and tzatziki and olives! I am so hooked on olives that I ate them all before I took this photo. These kebabs were specially made for us highlighting beef, chicken and lamb on a skewer. I typically shy away from lamb but it was beautifully marinated, tender and sparkling with flavour.

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Crispy calamari and spicy falafel came around as we sat down at our tables. Both were excellent.

My foodie friends are a hoot and we enjoyed lingering and eating the calamari morsels like popcorn. Here’s the thing that I learned in Greece those many years ago-all food is made better when cooked with love and shared with friends. Owners of both Opa! Winnipeg locations: Fatima and Klaus Kostas, obviously know this too, as the pride in their offerings and their warm hospitality, shone through like the Mediterranean sun.

Opa! of Greece on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “A lucky person is someone who plants pebbles and harvests potatoes.” Greek proverb

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

 

New Dim Sum Gardens

April17

If I were to estimate which restaurant in my home town, I visit most regularly, it would be Dim Sum Gardens, now in a new location on the 2nd Floor of the Asian Grocery Store, 268 King St and Logan Ave. When I worked in the Exchange District of Winnipeg , it would be our Friday constant

Three friends have an “A” list of items that we have been enjoying together for a couple of decades. During this time, it becomes a challenge to find new expluratives to describe these favourite items. As a result, I am going to let a picture tell a thousand stories (well maybe not a 1,0000)…..

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Shrimp dumplings, pure and simple. I love when the plump shrimp are balled together with plenty of ginger.

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Deep fried “perogies”. They have sugar in the dumpling casing that creates that sweet/salty combo that I crave.

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Sticky rice: a wedge of rice and savoury fillings like ground meat and mushrooms.  I like this version because they do NOT include that gristly sausage that is sometimes added.

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Sticky rice is typically wrapped in a bamboo or lotus leaf. I can’t tell which this is.

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These are pan-fried chive dumplings. I love the pink vinegar that they are served with. I often get the abundant chives stuck to my front teeth. It takes on of my Besties to politely tell me so.

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Pork dumplings-some ingredient in the casing adds a uniqueness to the morsel.

Bonus: I stopped on the way out at the main floor grocery and picked up dim sum provisions for mandatory Sunday supper.

Dim Sum Garden on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Yum yum dim sum.” Me

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(They also serve desserts like this but it is not on the “A” list).

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

J&H Greek Restaurant Update

April13

Most of my local readers know that I write a regular restaurant column in the community newspapers here in Winnipeg. I love visiting the bevy of locally owned and operated delis, cafes and ethnic restaurants. Not only is the food exceptional but the owners are so welcoming and hospitable. One such owner tracked me down through the newspaper and called me this afternoon.

Aspiro, the second generation operator of J & H’s wanted to let me know that in spite of the fact that they had been closed for six months, they were once again open for business with slightly reduced hours of operation. He explained how his Dad and Mom (where the J and H originates) had journeyed home to Greece for their first time in 20 years. Their stay was unexpectedly extended and while there they actually considered retiring. Upon their arrival back in Winnipeg they realized that even though they were getting on in years, their little restaurant on Portage Ave. was an important part of their identity and they could not permanently close their labour of love. So Aspiro’s Mom and Dad decided that an appropriate compromise would be to reduce their 100 hours each week in the restaurant.

As a result, if you are considering the consumption of amazing Greek cooking any time soon (and I strongly suggest you do), their new hours are Monday to Thursday 8 am to 3 pm and Friday & Saturday 8 am to 8 pm. They will be open on special Sundays like Mother’s and Father’s Days.

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We concluded our chat with my sharing that Boo and the Frenchman will be leaving shortly for Greece. He expressed his disappointment that his Mom and Dad weren’t still there as they could have hosted our family for a meal in Athens. Do you see what makes me love my job and meeting these local restauranteurs?

J & H Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is at once one of the simplest and most gratifying of the arts, but to cook well one must love and respect food.”-Craig Claiborne

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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