Browsing: Restaurant Features

Barley Brothers

December13

The anticipated opening of Barley Brothers was a big deal in our family.  As many of you, my devoted readers know, J1 has been working hard to complete his Brewmaster Certification which I am pleased to announce, he has!  J1 is a passionate man and when he is not thinking about his gorgeous wife and beautiful new baby, he is focussed upon every thing about beer (unless his beloved Giants are playing).  He let us know when the invitations to the “dry” runs were posted on Facebook and we all marked down the date.  J1 ensured that we were in the parking lot a half an hour before the doors opened so that we would be first through the doors.  We achieved this, and settled into an enormous booth where he could survey the happenings at the bar and greet all the other beer enthusiasts that he suggested drop in that evening.

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I love what is happening in the beer industry right now and when J1 suggests something that he knows that I will like, I appreciate the taste.  But after I have one, I am ready to go back to my libation of choice-red wine.  So I am not even going to attempt to comment about the Bad Batch, Fort Garry Pumpkin, BR Scottish Heavy, Bulwark, Island Larger, BR Life of Chai, Humulus, Noche, Portage & Main or Brocton IPA that arrived at our table that evening.   You can go to Untappd to read everything you might need to know about our choices.

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I will leave the beer tasting to the experts and talk about something that I am an aficionado of-the food.  The anticipation for me was that Noel of Hermanoes, Corrientes and Carnavale was opening another establishment where I could enjoy his delectable fare.  The sausage platter seemed a fitting choice with our beer selections and we appreciated the differences in the variety of sausages and the potato salad.  The style served was my preference: vinegary and savoury especially because of the inclusion of bacon.  D prefers the mayonnaise and hard boiled egg potato salad version and so I rarely make this style at home. Yum.

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The hot pretzel was fun but at $9, I would not likely indulge again.

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The Perogies were excellent.  Once again the inclusion of sautéed bacon really made the dish.

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We loved the peppercorns in the gravy of the poutine and the cheese curds (when we discovered the nuggets), were authentic but the fries were a bit of a bust especially when compared to the excellent poutine offerings at other establishments in the city.

I will note that because this was one of the inaugural runs for the kitchen and the staff there was a 50% Grand Opening discount on our food.  With the discount, I think that the value quotient was intact.  When I go back, as the guys in my family consistently do, I might be more discerning about service levels and food quality now that they have had a couple of months to work out the kinks.  I really hope that this concept succeeds and takes off and wish them no ill well.

Barley Brothers on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:

“He that eateth well drinketh well,
he that drinketh well sleepeth well,
he that sleepeth well sinneth not,
he that sinneth not goeth straight through Purgatory to Paradise.”

William Lithgow (1582-1645)

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Love-that is all.

J&H Restaurant

December4

J&H’s has been an institution on west Portage Ave (2735) since 1976.  D and I first started dropping in for breakfast there about a decade later in the mid eighties.  Our first home was in the neighbourhood and in those days we couldn’t afford to go out for dinner very often, so we would go out for breakfast instead.  John and Helen Damianakos are the J&H of the restaurant’s name and they have been at the grill and in the kitchen for all this time, raising three children in the process.

In those days, the boys would help in the restaurant by delivering water and coffee cups and clearing away the lighter items.  We loved that the couple had created such a warm family atmosphere in their restaurant and the same is true today.  The exuberant and polite boys are all grown up, but still helping Mom and Pop out.

The little spot has doubled in size since our last visit many years ago.  The décor hasn’t changed though and some might call it “dated”.  In my mind, it is warm and clean and I would dub it more kindly with a description of “authentic”.  One thing has not changed and that is the families’ expertise in grilling up and serving delicious and enormous meals.

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The all day breakfast is especially good value at 6.95 with six strips of bacon stacked up like the frame of a log cabin.

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Adorning the edge of the bulging plate are the most succulent breakfast potatoes you will likely ever taste in Winnipeg.  Helen shared with my husband that she uses her Grandma’s recipe from Greece.  A potato is peeled and then sliced lengthwise.  I could not determine if they are deep fried, grilled or pan-fried, all I know is that Helen makes then sensational.

I chose a Greek omelet which brought back memories of time spent in Greece.  Our typical lunch while traveling was a big rustic salad of garden-fresh produce, briny olives and creamy feta.  Then a light omelet would arrive with a side of lemony potatoes.

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We have never visited any time other than the morning, so we cannot comment on other menu selections, but I cannot imagine that they wouldn’t be anything but expertly prepared using traditional recipes and fresh ingredients.  The menu declares: “Good Food and Soul Warming Friendship”, it’s as simple as that.

J & H Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “I’ve long said that if I were about to be executed and were given a choice of my last meal, it would be bacon and eggs. There are few sights that appeal to me more than the streaks of lean and fat in a good side of bacon, or the lovely round of pinkish meat framed in delicate white fat that is Canadian bacon. Nothing is quite as intoxicating as the smell of bacon frying in the morning, save perhaps the smell of coffee brewing.”-James Beard

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Love-that is all.

 

Casa Mesa

November20

Our son and his wife spent extended time in the Philippines, in Manila and the beautiful island of Puerto Galera.  They came home describing their culinary adventures including the eating of fertilized eggs that had baby chicks inside, feathers and all.  Perhaps this is why I had never been too anxious to seek out the cuisine of the Philippines.  But given the cultural diversity of our fair city, it seemed somehow preposterous that I had never been to a Philippine restaurant, until I visited Casa Mesa (617 Selkirk Ave.).

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We started with Philippine spring rolls which I often enjoy when I visit Confusion Corner Bar and Grill.  There were stuffed with a savoury pork mixture and were excellent with the provided sauce for dipping.  In fact, the sauce was so good that we dipped just about all of our forkfuls into it.

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At the recommendation of our son, I sampled Tosilog otherwise known as Philippine breakfast.  He says that he ate a version like this most mornings while he lived on the islands.  My plate did not have the spicy sauces that he mentioned, but it was still a hearty breakfast and so affordable at $4.99.  There were two perfectly cooked easy over eggs, garlic fried rice and this amazing pork concoction.  Our server (who is also the cook and owner) indicated that she marinates the pork overnight to give it the distinctive candy-like quality.  The sauce was like a sweet chili sauce but without the fieriness from the chilies.

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My youngest daughter, who was my lunch date, chose a two dish special of Pancit Bihon (that is to say Philippine chow mein) and breaded shrimp.  The latter had been lightly tossed, just before cooking, into panko flakes.  Panko are Asian “bread crumbs”, which are coarsely ground utilizing rice and tend to be light and crispy.  Rice accompanied her dish as well.  Her plate was also exceptional value.

Casa Mesa has occupied this Selkirk location for just a year.  As you open the door, you are taken by surprise at how bright, sparkling clean and cheerful looking the restaurant is.  Beverly Mesa is equally cheerful as she welcomes you to her casa (home).

Casa Mesa is cash only, so get organized in advance to avoid disappointment.

Casa Mesa Eatery on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”-John Gunther

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Love-that is all.

Cafe ce Soir

November18

Café ce Soir is coming upon their first anniversary and I cannot believe that it took me this entire year to discover them.  Located on the north stretch of Portage Ave. between Arlington and Wall St. (937 to be exact), you will not find French spoken here, as is often the case when you dine in St. Boniface, but the passion for wholesome ingredients and classic French cuisine is authentic.

As you enter the sun-filled bistro, you note that Chef Cam Tran is a member of “Slow Food Canada” who’s vision and Mission is “… a world in which people can access and enjoy slow food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.  Slow Food is an international grassroots membership organization promoting good, clean and fair food for all.”  Slow Food figures prominently into a book that I am currently reading entitled-The Table Comes First, where the movement is additionally described as encompassing: “localism, seasonal cooking, farmer’s markets (and) organic produce“.

Chef Tran worked for many years in the restaurant kitchen formerly dubbed La Vielle Gare, where I first tasted French cuisine west of Quebec.

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Lunch began with the sharing of a roasted beet salad, crowned with whole, raw walnuts, creamy goat cheese and pear strings enhanced with a dressing of lemon, oil and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Large nuggets of pink sea salt adorned the plate and brought out the glistening tastes of each bite.

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My daughter-in-law spied the gnocchi on the menu and could not resist.  The best way to describe the old-world treat is that it is a dumpling-like pasta made with the inclusion of potato.  When gnocchi is prepared by a skilled chef (and Chef Tran is definitely this), they are lighter than air and taste like the food that angels might feast upon.

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In direct opposition, I decided upon the fried frog-legs with a thyme sour cream.  I first tasted frog legs on the very first night of my honey-moon at a Quebec City Bistro.  At one time Picasso’s Seafood Restaurant here in Winnipeg served them and more recently Inferno’s.  I have missed the taste.  I can best describe the flavour as being a blend of chicken and seafood and I love both.  Chef Tran can pan fry them with notice if you are gluten sensitive.

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Pink deserts were beautifully concocted to raise money in October for Women’s Cancers.  So lovely when a restaurant is so willing to give back to the community.  They and others, deserve your patronage.

Cafe Ce Soir on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Fish in the hands of a skilled cook can become an inexhaustible source of gustatory pleasures.” –Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin

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Love-that is all.

A L’epi de Ble-French Bakery

November14

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I happened upon L’epi de Bleu (1757 Main St.) by chance.  Although I had intended to visit ever since I sampled their macaroons this summer at my grandbaby’s welcome party, I had actually intended to pick up lunch at another bakery in the area-Baraka Pita Bakery.  When I tugged on the locked door to the latter and then read the notice indicating that they were closed for a religious holiday, my brain immediately changed gears from a pita to a croissant!

I was glad that the few tables by the window were occupied and that there was a line up of patrons waiting to make their selections,  This gave me the opportunity to gaze upon each of the artistic offerings in the front display case.  I also spied a baker’s cart in the corner that seemed to be filled with savoury rather than sweet confections, so I knew that I would not go away empty handed.

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Nathalie Gautier, the proprietress, helped me make my selections.  The pastry of the ham and bacon quiche was lighter than air, as were all of the pastries I sampled.  The hearty meat flavours were offset with a delicately whipped egg mixture producing the likeness of a souffle in a pastry shell.  The bakery serves meat pies of traditional ground beef but I decided to try the mixture of ground chicken and pork.  The shape of the pie is atypical, as opposed to round, it was more tubed shaped.  The taste was unusual too, retaining a deep and pungent flavour.

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The fourgrasse which Nathalie described as having pizza-like dough was filled with feta and pesto and was also delicious, but I was more inclined to the French specialties like the croquet monsieur.

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Just as I was having my “to go” items wrung in, Nathalie mentioned that she has designed savoury macaroons that she has made available in roasted red pepper, chevre and the one I sampled-foie gras!  The meringues had just a touch of sweetness and contained a surprising smear of duck liver in between the wafers,  Ooh lala.

French is enthusiastically spoken in the shop that once housed the Hartford Bakery.  Nathalie indicates that they have occupied the space for the past two years.

A l'Epi de Ble ~ French Bakery on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Light, refined, learned and noble, harmonious and orderly, clear and logical, the cooking of France is, in some strange manner, intimately linked to the genius of her greatest men.” Rouff [Marcel] (1887-1936)

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Love-that is all.

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