Browsing: Restaurant Features

Colosseo Ristorante Italiano & Pizzeria

September4

My best friend was in town from Toronto and we had carved out a very special bit of time, only to arrive at our restaurant destination to find that it had moved to a waterfront location.  Sometimes finding a convenient parking spot on Corydon Ave. during the lunch hour is a challenge and so we decided to search for an alternate dining spot instead of starting the whole parking process over again.  We were in the mood for Mediterranean and Colosseo Ristorante Italiano was beckoning to us with its sunny patio and huge umbrellas.

I have been visiting Colosseo since it opened in the 70’s when the area dubbed “Little Italy” along east Corydon truly was dotted primarily with Italian family owned businesses.  Unfortunately for the area, but happily for Colosseo, it appears to be the sole survivor.  There certainly are a number of sushi options now a days.

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Since I was noshing with my bestie, it was a foregone conclusion that we would order and share our meals.  The Feta Salad might lead one to believe that they were ordering a Greek or “horiatiki salata” which is a rustic concoction chock full of tomato and cucumber chunks.  This lighter version retained my favourite part-the pungent feta and placed it upon a mound of romaine.

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Accompanying the salad was an exquisite bowl of Cozze Pepate-spiced mussels in a green olive oil, white wine and garlic sauce.  The flesh of the crustacean was plump and sparkling fresh and would have been enjoyable in itself but the sauce (oohh the sauce!) elevated the dish to nothing short of spectacular.  I order mussels as often as possible, in fact I had them again the very next day, but few versions can compare to these.  We ensured that not a drizzle of the sauce remained by mopping it up with pieces of the delicious bread that was served alongside.

Perhaps it was the sparkling sunshine and the company of my dear friend but I could have been sitting on a terrazza in Italy and not been more pleased.

Colosseo Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made very day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”-Benjamin Franklin

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Love-that is all.

 

Tapastry by Amici

August12

Sometimes food bloggers mess up.  Case in point: I have been trying for so long to get to Tapastry by Amici because I have long admired the Amici creators headed up by Chef Heinz Kattenfeld.  I did not realize until I arrived out at the Niakwa Golf and Country Club that even though the Amici name is branded with the restaurant, the association ends there.  In spite of my confusion, I was staying put as the three sisters were together and out for dinner.  You might think that this occurs on a regular basis but you would be incorrect.

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Tapas is a derivative of Spanish word “tapar”, to cover.  In Spain a thin slice of meat was once offered to drape over a glass of wine, to keep the fruit flies out.  The custom became so popular that little dishes of delectable food offerings became the norm.  “Tapastry” is a perfect moniker for the restaurant’s tapas style dining gives one the opportunity to try a variety of little tastes.  I’m never squeamish about sharing food from a common plate and certainly not when I’m sharing with my two best friends who so happen to be my sisters.

Tapastry at the Niakwa Golf Club has a beautiful view of the rolling green hills of the course.  This evening was fair and there were golfers out on the comfy couches on the deck around a fire pit.  Ah, summer in Winnipeg.

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First up was an Italian Thin-Crust Pizza adorned with prosciutto, fig jam, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette and pea shoots.  Being a fan of sweet and salty combinations, I loved it. 

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With the pizza came Smoked Bacon Wrapped Prawns. 

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Tyrolean Bacon blanketed the prawns which were enhanced with a roasted tomato agro dolce and lemon garlic aioli.    

Now here’s another way that the food blogger messed up.  I have lost my notes that I took on that evening and I was hoping that their menu would be on line so that I could remind myself of the detailed ingredients.  This lovely dinner actually took plac at the very beginning of the summer and my old memory isn’t what it used to be.  I’ll do my best…..

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These pan-seared scallops had been perched atop of a variety of mushrooms, roasted corn and pork belly.  They were finished with a scallion pesto and marsala glaze.

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The delectable perogies came with a luscious pumpkin puree.  They were a definite highlight.

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This is when I am being absolutely transparent-I have no idea what these were.  I can only recall that by this time I was very full and feeling as if we had ordered too many items.

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I do know that our service was professional, polite and prompt and that our server poured us and the rest of the diners on that evening , a lovely desert wine to thank us for our patronage.

Tapastry on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table.”-Charles Pierre Monselet

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Love-that is all.

 

Cheers to The King’s Head Pub

July25

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I once worked around the corner from the King’s Head Pub and Eatery and it was our Friday lunch restaurant of choice. We didn’t sit at the wood as Norm did at “Cheers” and the bartender did not know our names but our waiter certainly did.  He also knew our drinks of choice off by heart, as well as our lunch orders.  I recently got to choose a place to meet up with these former co-workers and it seemed only right that we assemble at the King’s Head.

Not a lot has changed over the years except perhaps that it was once a private club and we had to purchase a membership to attend and sign in every visit.  The pints of beer are still served as frosty cold and our favourites were still on the menu.

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Two of our standard orders were the Fish and Chips and the Chicken Curry.  The price of the Fish and Chips has not risen as steeply as the cost of haddock has inflated.  In order to compensate for its dear cost, the portion has been scaled back a bit.  This is a good thing because I could never eat a whole portion back then and the new size is just right.  The beer batter is what makes it so irresistible and takes me back to the days of ordering Fish and Chips at Eaton’s Valley Room (now I’m really dating myself).  The fries are still delectable, especially with just a shake of malt vinegar and a glistening of salt.  Ketchup?  How dare you suggest such a thing!

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The chicken curry, although not a feast for the eyes, was enthusiastically tucked into.  The taste that was offered to me indicated a confident curry cook in the kitchen. 

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The third member of our klatch loves spicy food more than anyone I know but the Chicken Vindaloo proved to be too much for even her to handle.  She had been duly warned by our server but had no idea what she was getting into.  The abundance of on-tap beer varieties help quench the fire. 

King's Head Pub & Eatery on Urbanspoon

 Kath’s quote: “This curry was like a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that I’d once heard…..especially the last movement, with everything screaming and banging ‘Joy.’ It stunned, it made one fear great art. My father could say nothing after the meal.” – Anthony Burgess

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Wearing my birthday gift of a turquoise heart-how did they know?

Love- that is all.

 

 

 

Winnipeg’s Culinary Series-The Homegrown Trail

July2

Here is what Peg City Grub says about the rationale behind their “Homegrown Trail“:

Ask a Winnipegger where to get the best home-grown eats and you won’t get the same answer twice.  That’s because the definition of Manitoba Regional Cuisine doesn’t fit into one tidy sentence.  Pickerel, bison, wild berries, wild rice are local favourites found on menus across the city.  But that’s just the beginning.  From ethnic eateries to greasy spoons, from food co-operatives to upscale dining rooms high above city streets, chefs have their own takes on the food found on Manitoba’s prairies, lakes, forests and wetlands.  On this tasty trek across Winnipeg, you’ll sample some of the province’s staples in their traditional and modernized forms.  You’ll taste our past and present, created by some of the city’s most talented cooks.

It was impossible for me to get away on the media preview of Tourism Winnipeg’s “Homegrown Trail” but having been on a couple of culinary trails in Stratford Ontario last fall, I was anxious to see what had been put together in my own backyard, as it were.  We began with Fusion Grill, 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 at a popular restaurant together.  Scot’s culinary philosophy has always been a passion for “local”, years before the trend was in vogue.  Scot declares that his wish has always been a simple one: “to sell carrots from my own backyard.”  As Scot described his memory, my own came back so clearly: He recalls raiding a garden for carrots and scraping off the dirt with your hands.  He remembers the sweetness and the crunch and adds “even the dirt tasted good.”  Being the scaredy cat that I was, I never raided a garden but was able to pick as many carrots as I desired from my Grandma’s garden as a reward for helping her weed and water.  As a very little girl, she taught me how to make a fist around the carrot and pull it through to scrape away most of the dirt.  Even though I didn’t like to get dirty as a child, I recall leaving as much Saskatchewan mud as possible on those carrots because I whole-heartedly agree with Scot: even the dirt tasted good.

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On this day, the sample of Panko-Crusted Pickerel cheeks was sublime.  Gutsy Scot was the first of Winnipeg’s restaurateurs to deliver Manitoba regional cuisine like lamb, pickerel cheeks, Arctic Char, Northern Pike caviar and grass-fed beef.  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.

Fusion Grill on Urbanspoon

Next on the trail was a stop that we didn’t make on our mini-tour.  We consider Mise Bistro (although not walking distance) still one of our favourite neighbourhood restaurants.  Over the years we have sampled their pickerel too, loving it with a dusting of corn-meal. Also an old-favourite but not visited on this day was Fude where Chris Fougere passionately explained to us years ago, his spin on deconstructing and reconstructing his restaurant’s dishes.  Fude was the first place we had ever tried chocolate chicken!  We couldn’t place the taste at first and then recalled savouring mole chicken in Mexico, on one of our first visits, years prior. Also not included on our mini-tour was Prairie 360 but coincidentally I got to enjoy lunch there the very next day.  I once lived across the back-lane from the Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company where aromas of their cinnamon buns would wake me out of a morning sleep.  For the epitome of home sweet home cooking, Sonya’s across town in my old stomping grounds of EK/Elmwood is on the full trek but not our mini version.  No matter, I can vividly recall owner Steve’s cheerful banter as he served us house make cheddar and potato perogies served with grilled onions and crispy pieces of bacon.

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Don’t think that I didn’t eat my fill on this mini-tour as our next stop was Market Burger.  As soon as we sat down a platter of “sides” arrived at the table.  I had a difficult time deciding which I loved the best between their excellent onion rings, hand-cut fries, hickory shoe-string fries or their deep-fried pickles.  I have been unimpressed with fried pickles in the past but this authentic kosher dill pickle (I suspected it was an Elman’s) was elevated by the crunchy batter that adorned it.

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I had to stop myself from eating all of the tasty sides as no less than 6 sliders arrived soon thereafter including the Desi (spiced Pakistani-style beef), the Mac ‘n Cheese, the Banh Mi (reminiscent of my favourite Vietnamese dishes) and the Smothered Chili Burger.  I was about to declare the Butter Chicken Burger my favourite until I bit into the piece de résistance: the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger!  Sweet/salty/savoury all in one compact taste-heaven, I’m in heaven……

Market Burger on Urbanspoon

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Our last (but certainly not least) stop on the tour was at Peasant Cookery which serves ” real food from the land.”  I have tasted many of award winning Chef Tristan Foucault’s dishes but never had room for dessert, being satiated by his charcuterie, poutine, pickerel or gnocchi.  This stop though was just for dessert and although I thought that I could not possibly consume another thing, I gleefully managed to slurp down all of the berry sorbet and goat milk cheesecake.  The piggy shaped short bread cookies were the “icing on the cake” so to speak.

Peasant Cookery on Urbanspoon

So in answer to the question: where should we eat in Winnipeg?-there are just too many choices, so try one of Tourism Winnipeg’s Trails whether you re a visitor to our fair city or “Homegrown” like me.

Kath’s quote: “This little piggy went to market….”

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

Chaise Cafe & Lounge

June23

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I get a kick out of plays-on-words and Chaise Café & Lounge is a clever pun for me.  I have heard speculation that perhaps the restaurant is so named because of the sleek white leather couches that adorn the lounge.  In fact, I would venture to guess that the café’s moniker comes from the owner’s name: Shea, hence Shea’s or Chaise.  This is clever stuff, for a “wordie” and a “foodie”, like me.

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The occasion for the lunch was the celebration of two birthdays both occurring days prior.  A sunny deck was in order and Chaise’s south facing one on Provencher Ave., with an array of blossoming planters buffering the street traffic, was just the ticket.

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My friend decided upon the Basil Pesto Fettuccine and Roasted Beet Salad.  The pasta was virtually weightless when I tasted a forkful and yet the sparkling freshness of the house-made pesto was almost electrifying.  I would definitely order this dish again to experience that single taste.  Instead of the roasted beet salad which was described on the menu-slices of boiled beet adorned the plate with a hearty drizzling of a tasty dressing. 

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I opted for a healthy veggie burger comprised of an eggplant patty with cilantro, jalapeño and walnuts and topped with smoked provolone cheese and spinach.  I eat eggplant every chance I get and was surprised and well-pleased with how its taste is enhanced by cilantro.  The multi-grain flatbread that it came perched upon, contributed to the hearty nutty flavours.  I tucked in with my knife and fork to savour every little bite. 

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In contrast, I went all out when I “upgraded” the fries to poutine.  The promise of rich duck fat gravy, cheese curds, truffle oil and candied bacon was simply too much to resist.  I could not detect any truffle oil and the candied bacon was sparse but the other aspects of the dish were decadently delicious.  The duck fat gravy was rich as promised, but did not really have the consistently of gravy.  This is an observation only and I lapped up every dollop.

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When our server found out that we were both celebrating birthdays, the café treated us to dessert.  Tiramisu was my friend’s choice and I, a coconut cake.  With a creamy butter icing and liberal doses of coconut, both toasted and untoasted, I was grateful for the gift.

Chaise Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Pounding fragrant things — particularly garlic, basil, parsley — is a tremendous antidote to depression. But it applies also to juniper berries, coriander seeds and the grilled fruits of the chilli pepper.
Pounding these things produces an alteration in one’s being — from sighing with fatigue to inhaling with pleasure. The cheering effects of herbs and alliums cannot be too often reiterated. Virgil’s appetite was
probably improved equally by pounding garlic as by eating it.”-
Patience Gray

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