Browsing: Restaurant Features

Dining with New Foodie Friends



My husband D and I enjoy dining with new foodie friends as we did recently with Canstar reader and contest winner Janice Sawka and her guest, at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Southside location on McGillivray Blvd. The co-workers and pinball aficionados toasted the evening with a French 75 Martini and a Ginger Crantini.


As soon as we could stop talking about our favourite Winnipeg restaurants, the friends selected appetizers of Tuna Tartare and Baked Brie. Janice was determined to try something that might have typically been outside of her comfort zone.


After mustering up the gumption, she was surprised at the lovely texture and subtle flavours of the tartare. Tartares have French origins when a meat or fish is finely chopped and served raw. She also enjoyed the tastes of Mushrooms Neptune and Crab Cakes that we shared with her.


For their salad course, The Keg’s renowned Caesar salad and a nouveau Spinach Salad were chosen. Janice was tempted by the addition of chèvre (goat cheese) and the chardonnay vinaigrette on the spinach one.


D tried the Wedge salad for the first time.


I waited and had my salad as my entrée. I love this new option on the Keg menu.


Janice was still working her way through both her appetizer and salad when her Sirloin Oscar entrée arrived.  She was happy to indulge in both seafood (shrimp and scallops) and one of The Keg’s excellent steaks, all in one dish. The asparagus and béarnaise sauce were her “icing on the cake”.


But speaking of sweets, dessert was yet to come.  My husband suggest a mini-dessert trio of butter tart, fudge brownie and crème brûlée (literally: burnt cream) for the undecided.  Janice considered and then concluded that the famous Keg Billy Miner pie was her choice, if she could request that it not be served with caramel sauce.  The Keg is always happy to accommodate substitutions, so everyone got exactly what they wanted.

Our server Cory was more than gracious with us when the dining room emptied, as the four of us sat and chatted about dining in Italy, Seattle and Jerusalem and where next our food adventures may take us.

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”-Mae West


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Noodles in Grand Forks, ND


Duh-I learned the difference between noodles and pasta this weekend. Noodles are cut and pasta is extruded. I saw both demonstrated at the CIGI (the Canadian International Grains Institute).

The weekend prior, D had been a real trouper as I had spent the morning shopping at my favourite store : Gordman’s in Grand Forks, ND. I thought it only fair that he choose where we would go for lunch before we headed north on I29 and home to Winnipeg. I expected another place where the emphasis was on the libations served not necessarily the food. This is because he had not brought his glasses or an extra pair of contacts with us and he couldn’t drive. To be able to indulge in a couple of brewskies on a Saturday afternoon and not worry about the highway drive was an unexpected opportunity for him. He decided instead to go for the food and let the craft beer sampling await another time away.

He had hoped that NOODLES & Company was not a chain. He hadn’t remembered that we had visited Noodles in the Mall of America with the family, whilst in Minneapolis.  Indeed, we had pretty low expectations when we pulled up. Turns out, we were absolutely delighted by our bowls full of noodles.


D decided upon the Japanese Pan Noodles with a grilled chicken breast. I also chose a chicken breast, but mine was the Indonesian Peanut Sauté. His bowl was full of caramelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce. Mine was a rice noodle stir fry in a spicy peanut sauce. Both had broccoli, carrots, Asian sprouts and cilantro.


Mine came with more crushed peanuts and a wedge of lime.

Technically from what I learned at CIGI, “Noodles” should be called “Not Just Noodles” since it serves a wide variety of pasta as well.

Lunch turned out to be a refreshing change from typically fast food. Now, if only we could get Noodles to come to Winnipeg….

Noodles & Company on Urbanspoon

Kath’s (random) quote: “Mr. Jesmond made a peculiar noise rather like a hen who has decided to lay an egg and then thought better of it.”-Agatha Christie


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

JL Beers, Grand Forks, North Dakota


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.



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


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.


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.


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.


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

beer heart.jpg

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.


Watt St. Bistro



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.





A Little Taste of Greece, Without Leaving Home


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.


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


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.


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


Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.




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