Browsing: Restaurant Features

Lovey’s BBQ & Smokehouse

May28

Does the date of your birthday conflict with other celebrations? I love my May birthday, as the blossoms on our flowering fruit trees typically bloom this weekend and the weather is balmy, without any pesky bugs, that will be along soon enough.  Often times when my birthday arrives though, I feel as if I was just showered with affection and gifts for Mother’s Day and that doing so again so soon, must feel redundant for D and our family.  They don’t display this in the least, it is me, projecting how I might feel in their shoes.

I am more than content to celebrate in the back yard with something fun put onto the barbeque but this just occurred for Mother’s Day and I think that everyone needed a break from cooking and hosting.  So I asked if we could go to Lovey’s BBQ and Smokehouse.  Reputed to be the best barbeque in the city, I had yet to see for myself.

Even with our late afternoon arrival on a Sunday, the place was hopping and our large party was asked if we would like to sit in their party room.  We were having a party, so why not?  We did feel a little bit cut off from the rest of the restaurant, which was not such a good thing when we wondered where on earth people had disappeared to, when they went to place our order.  There was a new cashier on, doing her level best to pick up the procedure, but the poor girl was a bit overwhelmed.  We had no concern about the wait, but because we all have hospitality backgrounds, it was hard not to vault over the counter and help her out.

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We got the entire family in 1 shot including the waitress!

Our privacy did mean that we could carry out our birthday tradition started by Daughter #2 for The Frenchman’s birthday this past winter.  We go around the table and share what we especially love about the person who’s birthday is being celebrated.  This is my favourite part about getting another year older, secure in the fact that my short term memory loss and brown age spots aren’t negating the way my family feels about me.  Or perhaps, they do feel differently, but they are all so sweet, they would never tell me so.

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But to our dinner…. D ordered a round of Hog Spit beer, Burnt Ends and Fried Pickles.  I especially enjoyed the burnt ends, but some in our family were concerned about the fat content.  I know that fat is what delivers the flavour, but tried to restrain myself.

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Dinner choices were varied from Pulled Pork Poutine (Daughter #2’s favourite dish from last summer spent in Montreal),

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to a full rack of back ribs

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and my half chicken (I ate the wing and the fabulous hand cut fries and packed up the rest for home).

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Pulled pork was chosen by the rest of the gang and was also a big hit.  All meat choices were lovely and moist, but still firm, which is our criteria for good pulled pork and ribs.  The barbeque sauce was tasty and so appreciated, that additional cupfuls were requested.

We all know that good barbeque must have a bevy of “sides” and Lovey’s are amazing: a dense cornbread with a pleasant sweetness, homemade pit beans and creamy cole slaw.  D sampled the potato salad but everyone else went for the hand cut fries, which were plentiful and perfectly prepared.

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An extra side of real chips was placed in the centre of the harvest sized table and even though we were all stuffed, they were fun to pick at (like peanuts).  I would go back for these even if the meat had not been exceptional.

Our dessert was also a family tradition: Jeanne’s banana cake with a shortbread cookie bottom and lots of chocolate shavings.  Even though I am not a big dessert eater, I could tuck into this cake morning, noon and night and often do so, when there are leftovers after my birthday celebration.

When birthdays are recognized as another year well lived and well loved, how could they be a dreaded thing?

Lovey's BBQ & Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is
an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of
meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the
stomach.”
James Beard

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Love-that is all.

 

Hung’s Garden

May13

D had the opportunity to visit Hung’s Garden (1565 Regent Ave. W.) a multi generation owned restaurant over a decade ago, at its former location.  Even though the physical location of the restaurant has changed, he remembered that the food was delectable and that had not altered.  The place was bustling with hungry fans after an afternoon Jets game.  We were fortunate to get one of the last empty tables.  There was a large group assembling in the corner for a birthday party.  The restaurant is beautifully appointed and would be fitting for a casual dinner or a celebration of this kind.

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The menu includes an extensive offering of Szechwan dishes and we saw a number of sizzling platters being delivered to surrounding tables. We opted to share a huge bowl of deluxe wonton soup.  We thought that the broth needed to be punched up by a couple of shakes of soya sauce but the vegetables were al dente and delicious.  The shrimp were plump and the barbeque pork was tender, but the best part was the won ton dumplings-plentiful and bursting with flavour.  The soup would make a perfectly satisfying lunch all on its own.

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One of our old favourites was next up-moo shi pork.  We love moo shi so much that I adapted the recipe for home and it was a favourite as the kids were growing up.  To increase the nutritional value, I would use broccoli slaw instead of bean sprouts.  I have never found a store that sells the “pancakes” in Winnipeg so I would substitute these with tortillas.  When all was said and done though, it was the hoisin sauce that made it all taste so good.  There was way too much filling for the four pancakes that were provided but I was happy to have the surplus with our final dish-Singapore style vermicelli noodles.  Dotted with more shrimp and bits of pork and peppers, the dish was appropriately spiced with a savoury amount of curry.

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Our server was very efficient and attentive.  When we spotted an older couple behind the front desk get their coats on to depart for the evening, the server informed us that they were the owners of the restaurant.  We asked if they were his grandparents and he shared that even though they were not, he and other staff members referred to them as grandparents. What a testament to creating a family/team atmosphere for your staff!

Hung's Garden Chinese Food Restaurant on Urbanspoon 

Kath’s quote: “The benevolence of wrapping the partridge in a vine leaf brings out its quality, just as the barrel of Diogenes brought forth the qualities of the great thinker.”-Des Essarts 

PS

I didn’t know when I would ever be able to use this quotation and now seemed like as good a time as ever.

 

Love-that is all.

Elements Revisited

May10

Ever wondered what the conversation centres around when three bloggers get together for lunch? Emma is a blogging friend that I have known in cyberspace since I first created this place in January 2010.  At that time, she was an old-pro having ventured into the blogisphere a year prior.  I was immediately drawn and inspired by Emma’s beautifully crafted Winnipegomyheart and not just because of the obvious unifying heart theme. I knew that J2 (Daughter #3) who is the Lady behind Baby Lady of the Prairies and Emma would hit it off immediately and I was correct.  Both are expecting babies and J2 grew up in the same neighbourhood where Emma now resides.  Conversation centred around the gorgeous elm-lined neighbourhoods of Winnipeg, how difficult it is to find a mid-wife here, the balancing act of family & work & money and not surprisingly -food!

I picked a spot that would be central for all of us and would not mind if we lingered in conversation for the afternoon. Elements-The Restaurant (599  Portage Ave.) is operated by Diversity Foods which was created by The University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation and SEED Winnipeg.  Chef Ben Kramer is one of their senior employees but in my mind the he runs the novel restaurant with the care and attitude as if he was the sole proprietor.

My daughters tell me wonderful tales of meals that they regularly enjoy at U of W.  In fact, my youngest is so impressed by the quality and value, she finds that it is hard to justify packing a lunch to lug to school.  I have enjoyed a number of school day lunches and a couple of private evening events at Elements.  In every case, the food has been innovative and well-prepared.

On this weekend day, I mistakenly assumed that the restaurant would not be busy.  But when we arrived there was a wonderful vibrant community feel, even though University classes were not in session.  Our server was very busy and the kitchen must have been too, for she would keep us posted on the progress of our meals.  We were so busy becoming acquainted with a new friend that we hardly noticed.

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Our new friend started with a spicy tomato soup and then tucked into the Mushroom Almond Burger (without the bun) as she is eating gluten-free.  She said that she should have asked whether or not the patties are made with bread crumbs.  As I have known her for years in cyber-space but had never met her until this lunch date, I did feel comfortable to ask her for a taste.  But, the almond patty sure looked delicious!

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My daughter-in-law enjoyed Huevos from the weekend brunch menu.  She is hooked on the Mexican Eggs from Stella’s and was hoping that this choice would satisfy her craving.  She was well-pleased, but added that she would have loved a slice of avocado or guacamole with the dish.

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I had been craving a burger too and opted to add the house-made back bacon as a topping.  My lunch came with a soup as well.  The savoury mixture was a combination of Creole pork and shrimp, with rice and a red wined enhanced stock.  Our server had to check the exact ingredients with the chef when I inquired for details.  She said that their daily soups change according to surplus ingredients in the kitchen.  I make what I call refrigerator soup at home doing exactly the same thing and I appreciate a resourceful cook.

Elements on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The primary requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite.”-A. J. Liebling

Love-that is all.

Dim Sum at Kum Koon Garden

May9

Hello readers.  Do you happen to work close to City Hall?  Although I love so many things about working from my home, I must confess that I miss the days of having an office in the Old Market Square area of Winnipeg, where we had our pick of excellent dim sum restaurants.  The literal meaning of dim sum is “touch the heart” as it was never intended as a main meal but as a snack, to satisfy a yearning (appease the heart).  Dim Sum is also unique because of the manner in which the food is served: towers of steamed baskets all containing wrappers or dumplings of savoury food are wheeled around the restaurant on carts for the customers to choose their selections while seated at their tables. Since you can dictate your own pace, this proves to be handy if you are in a hurry, as we happened to be on this day, with only a designated half hour for lunch.

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We started our lunch at Kum Koon Garden (257 King St.) with sticky rice-a compact little package of rice that is stuck together with a meaty shiitake mushroom and ground meat which has all been steamed inside a lotus leaf.  Some versions at other Winnipeg restaurants include a piece of Chinese sausage.  I prefer Kum Koon’s version.

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We also tucked into two varieties of shrimp dumplings: one was full of plump shrimp and lots of chopped ginger and the other blended the shrimp with chopped spinach.

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Each was different enough tasting, so as not to be redundant.  I enjoy my dim sum dumplings with just a dribble or two of soy sauce but Chinese hot sauce is also on the table and I know more adventurous eaters that love it dolloped on.

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Although my lunch date was content to let me do the selecting, I saw his eyes light up when little pieces of gingered beef were being paraded around.

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We offset the sweetness of the dish with another: Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) which was perfectly prepared and literally bursting with flavour.  Without the inclusion of a dish like this one, dim sum can be a bit off-balanced as far as all the food groups are concerned.  Loose Chinese tea had been poured to warm us up.

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The birthday boy that I was treating to lunch that day, enjoyed the novelty of dim sum.  In my opinion, Kum Koon Garden has the most appealing décor.  Winnipeg has a bevy of Asian restaurants to choose from, but for some reason the locations that serve dim sum are congregated downtown.  If you have a favourite dim sum spot in the suburbs I would love to hear from you, so that I can visit.  Leave me a message in the comment section.

Kum Koon Garden on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent their making a nest in your hair. “ -Chinese Proverb

Love-that is all.

Brunch-Southdale Village Family Restaurant

May2

D and I do not do the “brunch” thing very often for two reasons:

1) we usually have the house to ourselves on Saturday morning and we like to schlep around in our jammies and drink coffee and read the paper (the real physical newspaper, printed on newsprint) and while the morning away.  The first one that gets motivated to check emails or unload the dishwasher is a dirty rat because they have changed the mood and the other invariably feels guilty and joins in.

2) we attend our neighbourhood church every Sunday morning.  I suppose we could go out to eat afterwards (many people that we know, do) but we typically know what we want to prepare about half way through the sermon.  I find that eggs are the easy ingredient to whip up quickly and taste like you went to an awful lot of trouble.  The more cheese, butter and bacon (!) that you add to them, the better the whole brunch experience becomes.

This past Saturday, we broke with tradition and stopped in at a family owned place that we heard does a good job with serving up old school, “tastes just like home” cooking.  The décor is a bit on the “old-school” side as well and not in a funky/retro way, but in a “we haven’t had to reno since we opened in the 1980’s” kind of way.

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D chose a “Skillet” because he likes to eat right from the frying-pan on an ongoing basis.  His eggs, peppers and cheese were a gooey concoction served over home fried potatoes.  Like I said above, pretty hard to get it wrong.

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I, on the other hand, being more sophisticated and refined than my husband, selected a two-egg omelet and added diced smoked ham and mushrooms.  Truth is, I ordered from the Senior’s Menu and they believe that if you are over 55 you prefer smaller portions, which I do, in fact.  So my brunch was a great deal and just the right quantity to boot.

I can see why this place is popular with the locals.  Friendly waitresses walk through the room constantly to inquire “How ya doin Hon?” and pour a continuous stream of coffee.  We met the owner at the door.  He loves his business and taking care of his friends and neighbours.  I guess that is what serving up comfort food is all about.

The restaurant is located in a strip mall at 35 Lakewood Blvd.  It is the kind of place that Moms and families are comfortable at.  The kids can make a ruckus and no one would mind.  Might be a good spot to go for Mother’s Day if you live in the south end of Winnipeg.

Southdale Village Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Be content that those who can make omelets properly can do nothing else.”-
Hilaire Belloc

Hearts

Love-that is all.

 

 

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