Browsing: Restaurant Features

Seine River Cafe

November13

D and J1 traveled to Minneapolis for the weekend for a Vikings game and the Bruce Springsteen concert and so our mandatory Sunday supper was going to have a couple of chairs unfilled. Instead, I decided to treat the rest of us to Sunday Brunch so that I could spend a quiet Sunday evening at home.  At this moment it is snowing (again) but I am in my jammies watching football and blogging and I am content with the way the day turned out.

It has been snowing since the middle of Friday night and 8 inches have accumulted.  Even though the main roads are clear, the side roads are a mess and cars are getting stuck all over te place.  We could have all stayed put today but we are a family who love to eat and be together so a little bit of shovelling wasn’t going to stop us.

The cafe was going to close early in honour of Remembrance Day but we were able to catch one of their last tables.  The staff (all female on this day) are an absolutely a delight.  Their smiling faces and kind gestures made us feel right at home.  I wasn’t planning on eating again that day so I had  lunch item- the homemade chicken fingers and Caesar salad.  They were as good as the chicken fingers that we used to enjoy at The Keg and that is high praise.

J2 also chose a lunch item-the Beef Dip and everyone else decided on Breakfast.

Strawberry Waffles and Eggs Benedict were also selected.

Daughter #2 enjoyed the latter but thinks that her Dad’s version is superior.  Of course, eggs bennie are all about the hollandaise and this version lacked either lemon juice or Dijon because it didn’t have the oomph that we enjoy.

There was hollandaise on the Frenchman’s choice as well but with all of the other flavourful ingredients in his Old Country Skillet, he was very pleased.  Along with potato, veggies and scrambled eggs were pieces of  ham along with links of sausage served alongside.  He needed to recoup his energy as he was the shoveller and driver on this snowy day.

Seine River Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The first fall of snow is not just an event, it is a magical event.  You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enhancement then where is it to be found?”-J.B. Priestley

Love-that is all.

Casa Grande Revisited

November9

Do you recall the scene in Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” when the canine couple set up behind an authentic Italian restaurant for a romantic feast of their own?  That is exactly what Casa Grande (at 984 Sargent Ave.) reminds me of.  There are red and white table cloths and white candles melting down the sides of old Chianti bottles.  I would not be surprised if an accordion player made the rounds some evening.   In the mean time, Luciano Pavarotti serenades over the stereo system.

We have been dining at Casa Grande for decades (they have been in business for over 35 years) and each time I arrive, the place is packed. Yet it is not one of those restaurants that you hear/see a lot about.  On this early weeknight, we got the last table in the little main floor area.  There have been times that we have dined on the second floor, which I believe is only open on weekends.  Everyone surrounding us seemed to be regulars and indeed one of the servers was hugging and kissing patrons upon their arrivals and departures.

My husband and I sometimes have a difficult time deciding what to order at a place like Casa Grande, so well known for their portion size.  We consider pasta a special treat and are concerned about filling up with too much of it.  But the perfect solution is cheerfully accommodated when we select their largest dinner salad and spaghetti with seafood and we share both.

La Giardiniera Salad is chock full of romaine tossed with onions, tomatoes, green pepper, olives, cucumber, grated mozzarella cheese and house dressing.  Thin slices of mild capicollo (a cross between salami and ham) adorn the top. 

We are thrilled when more slices arrive at the table with a fine dry salami, more olives and spicy marinated eggplant.  This little plate is our anti-pasta which comes with each noodle dish that is served.

When high quality seafood is simply and quickly sautéed, we prefer not to let an overpowering pasta sauce interfere with the delicate taste.   Casa Grande lets you choose the preparation style and I almost always opt for the oil and garlic.  This particular evening, the kitchen was very generous with the garlic.  This became the second reason that my husband and I were glad that we had shared the dish.

I would recommend that you make reservations as you will not want to miss out on this authentic treat.

Casa Grande Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The strands of spaghetti were vital, almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It was hard to imagine that four simple ingredients [olive oil, pasta, garlic and cheese] could marry so perfectly.”-Ruth Reichl

Love-that is all.

Saigon Jon’s Vietnamese Kitchen

November5

As we arrived at Saigon Jon’s, after a considerable drive to south Pembina (2696), I had a “deja vu” feeling but could not put my finger on the familarity.  After some time, I realized that it felt like walking into Unburger in the village but instead of burger and fry choices, the selection was grilled meat and rice noodles.  What is consistent to both restaurants is their commitment to quality and freshness.

The concept is simple, but brilliant, as the most successful restaurant concepts are.  You decide if you would like a noodle or rice bowl, salad or Vietnamese sandwich (Banh Mi) and then which protein from the list that includes a variety of steak, fresh chicken, pork, patties or tofu.

We also love Vietnamese Pho (soup) and so found it hard to choose.  In the end we opted for the widest variety and shared. Their Pho starts with a house made broth that is complex and satisfying and could be eaten all by itself.  The bowl arrives with rice noodles and flour kinds of beef swimming in the heavenly broth.  On the side are bean sprouts and a wedge of lime to enhance the meal-we threw everything in including the abundant and fresh Thai basil leaves.

D selected a toasted 6 inch multi-grain baguette with Vietnamese veggies, Thai basil aioli and charbroiled pork.  After one bite, he wondered out loud, why anyone would ever go to Subway again?

Now I love Vietnamese Noodle Bowls and have long enjoyed them at Viva and Little Saigon, two of our favourite Winnipeg Vietnamese spots, so my standard is admittedly very, very high.  Saigon Jon’s bowl is right up there with its plethora of tastes and such plentiful meat that you can have a spear of hot honey hoisin chicken with every chopstick full.

The restaurant itself is sparkling clean and well laid out for comfortable eating (I wouldn’t call it dining). The huge white bowls that hold the delicious meals are cheerfully brought to your table as they come hot off the grill. You can see the preparations unfold in front of you as you order.  In fact, there is nothing to hide here.  You can see right to the back wall of the kitchen where an unusual light source is growing the fresh herbs that are used by the kitchen.

The restaurant was full with many U of M students from nearby enjoying a Saturday night dinner out as well as a number of empty nesters from the neighbourhood.  Once the new stadium opens, they will be jammed.  I am sure that their choice of location is not by accident. We had the pleasure of meeting Sheraz and his business partner Jon when we were at the restaurant.  They are representative of the new generation of restaurant owners in Winnipeg with a clear vision, an excellent marketing network and a commitment to the hard work ahead.  They will succeed, there is no doubt in our minds.

Saigon Jon's Vietnamese Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Happy and successful cooking doesn’t rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.”-Georges Blanc

Love-that is all.

Corrientes Argentine Pizza

November2

The owners of the ever-popular Hermanos Restaurant and Wine Bar have graced Winnipeg with another South American inspired restaurant:  Corrientes Argentine Pizza.  Situated at 137 Bannatyne Ave, near Waterfront Drive, it is the perfect meeting place for the condo dwellers, business and arts people who have resurrected the neighbourhood.  I am guessing this is what inspired the name of the restaurant because Corrientes Ave. in Buenos Aires is home to a similar demographic.

I hope that the owners know that the space with its exposed brick walls and cozy furniture will promote lingering.  I was sat in this back room and when I found out that my lunch date was running late, I didn’t mind in the least.  Our table was tucked into the right hand corner and made for a perfect place for us to quietly get caught up on life and then business.

This light filled front room was jammed with diners when I arrived at noon but had cleared out by the time we made our way back to our cars (parking was tricky).

But to the food. I am always so appreciative when my friends are willing to order in tandem because a couple of slices of pizza and half of this gorgeous salad made for an explosion of textures and flavours.

My lunch date choose the Olmedo Salad whereby heaps of chopped romaine lettuce were adorned with sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced Buffalo mozarella and soft croutons.  The entire surface was then playfully, zig zagged with balsamic dressing creating this checkered-board effect.  The result was lovely for the eyes and the taste buds.

I chose a thin crust “Manitoba ” Pizza topped with pesto (pungent with garlic), bacon, goat cheese, arugula, orange zest and more sun-dried tomatoes.  The pickerel cheeks made it Manitoban but unfortunately their subtle flavour was overpowered by the other ingredients.  Orange zest on pizza was new to me but tasted exactly right in this combination.

Corrientes delivers pizza and is open from breakfast until late to accommodate the after theatre crowd.

Buenos Airies is one of the world’s great cities that I would love to visit but in the mean time, Winnipeg has its own taste of life on Corrientes St.

Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Prepared and fast foods have given us the time and freedom to see cooking as an art form – a form of creative expression.”-Jeff Smith

Love-that is all.

Peasant Cookery Revisited

October26

I had been a bit underwhelmed by my first visit to Peasant Cookery and I knew that I must have ordered incorrectly because all my family and friends who’s opinions I trust, had experienced quite the opposite.  So when when an old friend suggested that we should get together with another friend, for an early supper before attending a class that we are all involved with leading (and she was treating), I jumped at the chance.

It was one of those first rainy nights that come with autumn on the prairies and it was murky and grey outside.  Even though the bright and cheerful interior of The Peasant should have elevated our mood, I notice that even the background tone of my photos are blue/greyish.

Ah, along came just the ticket….an excellent glass of wine and a focaccia just warm out of the oven with extra crispy corners, just the way I love it.  The wine was selected from an extensive list (8 reds and 8 whites) all priced at $8. per glass.  This is reason enough for me to return.

My first friend opted for the Aged Cheddar Gnocchi (which had been on my short list as well).  The light and puffy potato pillows had been tossed with sun dried tomato, spinach, red onion , piquillo peppers and basil oil.

My second friend chose the Tourtiere (also on my short list) which was dense with meat, contained in a buttery pie crust.  The recipe was very dissimilar to the recipe that I make at home but had a hearty taste that was appropriate to warm the innards on a night such as this one.  The French Canadian pie was served with hand-cut French fries that I could not stop sneaking from her plate.

I ordered the half chicken which the menu described as being served with sage and thyme spaetzle, currents, sweet potato, leek and chicken gravy. Spaetzle is a little German dumpling that is typically boiled and then pan-fried.  This version was more like a noodle than a dumpling but I am sure that there are many variations on a theme.  The chicken was firm and moist and far easier to eat than a half bone-in chicken would have been.  The gravy was a teensie bit on the salty side.  I merrily shared and tasted bites with friends and cleaned my plate.

I understand that chef Tristan is competing in the Gold Plate Competition.  He is a talented young Chef and I wish him well.

Peasant Cookery on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: Often, admiring a chef and getting to know him is like loving goose liver and then meeting the goose.”-George Lang

 

Love-that is all.

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