Browsing: Restaurant Features

Bonfire Bistro-The Perfect Bite

August7

D knew that I had endured a stressful day and suggested that we find a neighbourhood spot to have some supper.  This did not take much convincing on my part.  Bonfire Bistro was filled with other River Heights folk, but it is so good that it has an avid following from all over the city.  Somehow though, they manage to retain a neighbourhood feel.

D was interested in one of the many wood fired pizzas and opted for the special of chorizo, buffalo cheese, chanterelle mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and arugula.  The taste that he shared with me was yummy-charcoaly from the open flame, peppery fro the arugula, acidic from the tomatoes and spicy from the sausage; all offset by the earthy mushrooms and creamy cheese.

Sister #3 always teases me that my life is a quest for the perfect bite.  I am not inclined to separate my food and consume it one at a time, but love to have a blend of different tastes with every forkful.  But, this is not always easy to achieve.  Sometimes there is too much sauce and not enough pasta, other times, it is the other way around.  Perfection was achieved at Bonfire Bistro.  My choice of linguine was chock full of spicy marinated eggplant, wilted field greens, roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, kalamata olives, tomatoes, green onions and feta cheese in an aglio e olio sauce.  Yippee-marinated eggplant and artichokes in the same dish!  As D commented -that dish has Kath written all often it.    With every twist and spear of the fork I was able to combine the perfect amount of pasta with one of my favourite salty tastes and then a nugget of feta-oh my!  I tried to stop when my tummy was satisfied and save a portion for left-over lunch but my fork kept digging in and I finished my plate.  I will just have to go back for lunch, sometime very soon.

Bonfire Bistro 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.

 

Bistro Chez Sophie

August2

Chez Sophie is a surprising find in the heart of old St. Boniface on Avenue Cathedrale.  The building is fairly non-descript from the outside except for the paint colour, which is a vivid blue, but the quaint interior is immediately appealing and inviting.  There are boudoir lamps perched on every windowsill and chandeliers and dried hydrangea adorning the walls.

On this day, my friend and I arrived at just about the same time as a very large group of French Immersion students from St. Boniface College.  They did an excellent job of practicing their second language because sometimes we had a challenge hearing our own conversation over the din.  But this did not dissuade us from enjoying a delightful lunch.

As soon as we sat down a beautiful frosty bottle of water was placed in front of us.  When that was emptied, it was replaced with another, without having to ask.  This was very welcome as it was a hot and muggy day and there is apparently no air conditioning in the bistro.  We were also automatically served two petit pains, hot from the open hearth.

I spotted the “Salade Noir” as I was doing some pre-research for our visit and kept thinking about it until it was time for my very first taste.  Delicate greens are tossed with salty Parmesan, balsamic dressing and shaved dark chocolate!  Oh my, if only it hadn’t been 11:30 in the morning, we would have enhanced it with a glass of French red wine.

We split this and then went on to choose an entrée to share.  I was tempted to order the white sauced Alsatian pizza which I have yet to sample, but look amazingly good when they were whisked by us to other tables.  But, we got totally side tracked by the extensive crepe and quiche specials and opted for the smoked salmon and camembert quiche.

 

The quiche was cheerfully split into two portions without being requested, which was very much appreciated and a favour that not all restaurants are inclined to do, without adding a charge.  All of the lunch specials are served with a bowl of homemade soup.  When we inquired how the tomato soup that day was fashioned, the response from the Chef was:  “with tomatoes, balsamic and lots of love”.   The special also came with more tossed greens and red onion in a Dijon dressing.  The additional greens were welcome, as even a shared quiche slice was very rich.  But one of the many delightful aspects of French cooking is that you only need to savour one or two satisfying bites to feel well fed.

I attempted to chat with Chef Stephane as I was departing that day.  Our server had to act as an interpreter for us because my French is so poor.  I found this language challenge absolutely delightful in the heart of my home city.

Chez Sophie Bistro & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kaths quote:  “The only thing I can’t resist is temptation.” Oscar Wilde

Love-that is all.

A &V Drive In

July30

I came to know of A and V Drive In at1200 Chevier Blvd.years ago when our office was looking at relocating in the area (they’ve been open since 2004).  In my mind, a suitable lunch spot with great food is the number one priority when office scouting.  We found the name a bit of a misnomer as there actually no cars driving in and taking out.  On the other hand, there were a number of customers inside, apparently from the businesses and factories in the area.  Although the restaurant is equipped with plenty of tables, they were all occupied upon our arrival, with the exception of one.  This speaks to A and V’s popular reputation in the area, in my opinion.

On previous visits, I had sampled their Burgers which were outstanding, but on this occasion I was in the mood for something a bit lighter.  There are a number of salads to choose from as well as Omelets, Burgers, Dogs, Sandwiches and Platters.  A Breakfast Special is served weekdays from 6-11 am.

In the end, I selected the Greek Salad which comes with a garlicky slice of Texas toast that had been placed on their hot grill.  Loaded with creamy feta cheese, it was a meal in itself but with the addition of a chicken breast (a steal at $2.), it was more than satisfying.  In fact, I discovered that I could not eat it all!  The addition of the purple cabbage was a bit nontraditional but the extra crunch and (medicinal benefits I am told) proved to be a pleasant twist.

My lunch date went all out with a Clubhouse Platter.  We were surprised to see ham in place of the usual chicken or turkey but she was well-pleased and remarked that the plentiful bacon was perfectly cooked, which was her primary concern.

The fries were crunchy on the outside and potatoey in the middle and were perfectly devoid of the greasy taste that sometimes accompanies drive in fare.  They had not been seasoned by the kitchen, which was also welcome, so liberal amounts of vinegar and salt could be added to taste.

All toll lunch for two was $18.50 before tax and tip which I thought was exceptional value.

A and V Drive In on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “When I was a boy there were only three kinds of sandwiches in common use – the ham, the chicken and the Swiss cheese. Others, to be sure, existed, but it was only as oddities.  Even the club sandwich was a rarity, and in most eating-houses it was unobtainable. The great majority of people stuck to the ham and the Swiss cheese, with the chicken for feast days and the anniversaries of historic battles.”-H.L. Mencken

Love-that is all.

Mr. Ribs-Neepawa

July26

I am sure that there are many benefits to being over 55.  I know that I once accidentally purchased something at Zellers on Seniors Day and received a substantial discount.  The irony of this transaction was that I was buying a sports bra to wear to my Zumba class.  Then there is the privilege of being a part of the breast and (even better?) colon screening programs!  Of course I am grateful that I have already lived a full rich life but in truth I would not say that I have reaped extraordinary perks.  That is until now….as I have discovered something known as The Seniors Menu!

I researched the rationale behind Seniors menus to find this:  Senior citizens who have healthy diets can extend their lifespan and improve their quality of life. By planning a weekly menu that’s packed with nutritious foods and avoiding high-calorie, high-fat foods, seniors can enjoy their later years as much, if not more, than their youths.  Wow-I am all over that! And so it was that we were dining at Mr. Ribs in Neepawa on last weekends visit to the Lily Festival.

Their menu is huge and I was having a hard time making a decision with pages of choices and then I spotted the section which included most of my favourites but at a reduced price (and I assumed a reduced portion).  Since I enjoy tastes of many little things (I truly have a tappas heart) I was sure that I could find something from this filtered list.

We were in a Greek restaurant and I have always loved Greek pork chops so I made my selection.

With this wise decision made, D ordered the Greek salad.  Knowing that I had a pork chop coming, I moved the bowl of cream of vegetable soup across to D to eat on my behalf.  I did have a taste and it was exceptional.  When my diminutive portion arrived, my jaw dropped…..

But I had this all figured out.  You marry a hunk of a younger man like I did

and when all the food comes to the table

you split it down the middle!  We each had a thin cut but beautifully seasoned and grilled pork chopped and I ate my salad and 1/3 of his.  He ate the garlic toast and then the strawberry pudding that was included in my lunch and I picked at a couple of French fries and voila, we were both happy.  Kind of like Jack Sprat and his wife-hey wait a minute….

Mr. Ribs on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Old people shouldn’t eat health foods. They need all the preservatives they can get.”-Robert Orben
Love-that is all.

Horfrost-Part 2

July24

And so it was that we were finally at this inauspicious but surprizing little place.  I loved everything about it from the moment we pulled up.  There were a plethora of white varieties of flowers in the window boxes (that Chef was just remembering to water) and when we stepped inside I was dazzled by one of my favourite colours of blue (in fact I have painted our Victorian screen door of our house, exactly the same colour).  So too, my favourite colour coupling is blue with a rich chocolate brown and this is precisely the colour scheme of Horfrost.  Our table was waiting for us: set with two place settings and a chilled glass bottle of water at the ready.

We started with a cocktail-D choosing the Blue Cucumber Gin and Tonic and I the White Wine flight.  D, who is crazy about traditional G&Ts thought that the refreshing infusion of cucumber was the perfect enhancement. I have had beer flights previously, but never a wine flight.  The tastes of a German Riesling, a Californian Chardonnay and an Australian something or other (three wines are hard to remember!) were a delicious way to stimulate the taste buds.

I chose the Pig Cheek to start.  From taste and appearances I would say that half of the bounty had been smoked while the other half marinated.  Both portions were quickly sauteed to bring out a salty surface.  The marinated half was tender and succulent and the smoked half was firmer but equally tasty, in its own right.  They were laid upon a bed of arugula and then topped with a drizzle of maple syrup.  Sweet and salty-I was in heaven!

D selected the bison, mango spring rolls.  The ground bison was beautifully enhanced by the tropical fruit and the tiny, crispy wrappers.  He was well pleased.

Then came an amuse bouche-Cajun, honey chicken wings.  I was needing to pace myself by this time but did enjoy a meaty bite.

Thank heaven we had decided to split an entree because when the Hemp Tempura Pickerel arrived, I could not get enough!  When pickerel is perfectly cooked (and this was) the fish actually sparkles in your mouth.  The three sauce of garlic aioli, hoisin and chipotle were not crucial but still very much appreciated.

When asked by the attentive servers (who had some trouble keeping ingredients and pronunciations straight) to choose a side for our fish, we could not decide and so opted for both!  D loved the interesting take on an arborio rice which included roasted corn and a touch of cinnamon.  I was over the moon with the potato croquette and a new baby potato that was a kissed with a dollop of pesto.  But even the broccoli spear was perfect: it was firm and had  been drizzled with just a breath of butter, or so we suspected.  There was nary a salt shaker in sight, and none needed, as every item was sublimely seasoned.

We knew that there was homemade ice cream for dessert but we were absolutely satiated.  We were looking forward to get out to walk the dog as we had over indulged and needed an excuse to walk it off but we still had the drive home ahead of us.  This went quickly enough and it had been worth the effort.  If you have any excuse to head west, make sure that Horfrost is on your itinerary.  Better yet, just make the trip for no other reason than to experience one of Manitoba’s finest restaurants. 

D summed our dinner up in this manner: superb attention to detail; imaginative and inventive.

Horfrost on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living” -Dione Lucas

Love-that is all.

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