Browsing: Restaurant Features

Santa Maria Pizza-Thompson

March17

What constitutes good pizza in your opinion?  Is it the thickness or thinness or the crunchiness of the crust?  Is it a variety of contrasting toppings?  Is is the amount of cheese?  Is a lot of cheese a good thing?

In my world it is variable.  It can be any or all of the criteria above.  It is the same for hamburgers.  Sometimes I get a craving for a Big Mac.  Other times, the desire is for a made from scratch burger with all of the upscale trimmings.

Today I ventured out to find that another of the Thompson restaurants that I had been hearing about was just around the corner.  Well my walk was a titch longer than that but so far everything in this little city is within walking distance of my hotel.  So too, Santa Maria Pizza which was recommended to me on the very first day that I arrived in town.

I arrived at 1 and I guess the lunch crowd had abated because I approached, I was not even sure if the place was open.  Sure enough though, there were two tables inside and another couple of tables arrived while I was there.  As I am finding in Thompson, everyone is served a cup of coffee as soon as you sit down.  In fact in this case, the waitress kept coming over to refill my coffee cup when I was actually drinking water.

When the Meat Only pizza arrived, it was exceptional.  That is to say if your criteria is for easy on the sauce, a veritable stack of meat and tons of stringy cheese.  What I especially liked was the sprinkling of mixed Italian herbs that were sprinkled on top (just the way my Dad used to make our pizza).

I enjoyed the very first piece and then I had to request a take away box.  There was so much protein on the little wedge, that I was quickly satiated.  Lucky for me I love cold pizza perhaps even more than hot.

Oh yea, there was something special abut their Meat Only pizza and that is mushrooms!

Santa Maria Pizza & Spaghetti House   on Urbanspoon

Kaths quote: “There’s a pizza place near where I live that sells only slices. In the back, you can see a guy tossing a triangle in the air.”-Steven Wright

Rembrandts Bistro

March16

In simpler days before TV on demand, movies on demand, on line books, etc. , one primary form of entertainment was going for a drive.  Not a car ride to get anywhere in particular but for the pleasure of the journey.  Since our brood grew up in East Kildonan our destination was often out Henderson Hwy. to Lockport.  Sometimes we would have a play on the grassy area by the St. Andrews locks, sometimes a crunchy foot-long hot dog at Skinners and other times we would slow down by the old St. Andrews Church and imagine all the history that lay sleeping in the graveyard there.

Our Mom still likes going for drives and so when the three sisters informed her that we were going to pick her up for a Sunday brunch treat in Lockport, she was delighted.

The unusual addition of Red River Cereal to a traditional creme brulee starts off every brunch date at Rembrants Bistro.  The nuttiness of the cereal offsets the sweet creaminess of the custard.  I even gobbled up the blueberry garnish, the tastes were so divine.

Corned Beef Hash was spied by both Sister #2 and our Mom and they were very happy with their choice.  I had a little taste and thought that it was a little bit overwhelming, but to each their own.

Sister #3 finds it hard to resist the buttery lemon flavours of hollandaise sauce and so she ordered the Eggs Benedict to savour the taste.  Sister #2 simply ordered a side of hollandaise for her hash-there are no rules when you simply love food.

Omelets are often my brunch choice when done well and Rembrants Bistro does an excellent job especially when Remmis pan roasted potatoes and a little cup of fresh fruit are served alongside to complement the tastes.  The eggs were so stellar, I dont even recall what was stuffed inside.

Our server was absolutely perfect including his insistence to take our photo for us.

Rembrandt's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Mother’s words of wisdom: ‘Answer me! Don’t talk with food in your mouth!'”-Erma Bombeck

The Northern Inn-Thompson

March14

When I knew that I was going to be spending some time in Thompson Manitoba, I asked my twitter followers where I should dine.  Almost immediately, I got a response my cyber-friend Shel, including a photo of her Thompson lunch.  I made a mental note to check out the Northern Inn.  Ive been in the city for a number of days now but typically have lunch with students in the location where I am teaching.  I did not know until today that the Northern Inn is just steps away from where I am staying.  What I wasn’t aware of, was that even though it was a balmy spring day, the wind was whipping around at 55 kms/hr and walking that short distance was an adventure indeed.

I arrived at 12:30 and the place was hopping.  I was able to find a little table though and had a look at the menu.  Ive often wondered what it would feel like dining alone and you know, as soon as I get my nose into a book, the world around me disappears, so in short, it was not awkward at all.

With one look at the menu, I knew that I would order my summer-time favourite of pickerel and chips. When the server automatically inquired if I would like gravy on my fries, I knew that I had come to the right place.  The selection was actually from the dinner section, but my request was very cheerfully accommodated.  Lunch started with a from-scratch bowl of chicken noodle soup.  The broth was hearty and there were real nuggets of chicken floating around with the broad, wide noodles, turnip and plenty of onion (which IMHO makes for a good chicken broth).

When my lunch arrived I was bowled over to see how much food was on my plate.  I know that I had ordered a dinner but since I was only paying $14 for pickerel, I did not expect to be served such a substantial platter.

I passed on the veggies but really enjoyed the garlic toast, fries and mound of vinegary cole slaw.  I intentionally left some on my plate with half of everything else, so that I could enjoy the left over meal for dinner.  Unfortunately the veggies survived the walk back to my hotel but the delicious cole slaw had been scraped into the garbage.  It is almost supper time right now and lucky for me there is a microwave in my room to warm up my supper before I figure out where I am going to watch the Jets game tonight.

Wow-good ole fashioned, home cooking.  Shel was right.

Could not resist taking a photo of my hotel room door-painted the exact colour of my accessories!

Northern Inn & Steak House  on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “It is odd how all men develop the notion, as they grow older, that their mothers were wonderful cooks. I have yet to meet a man who will admit that his mother was a kitchen assassin and nearly poisoned him.”-Robertson Davies

Star Grill Portage Ave.

March12

D and I are not spontaneous people.  Family circumstances have just dictated that this is the case.  So lately, we have really taken advantage of being almost empty nesters and we get a giggle out of making a last minute decision (especially when it comes to dining-no surprize, I guess).

Yesterday, D suggested that we treat ourselves to breakfast with no clear idea where we wanted to end up.  We headed west on Portage Ave. and found ourselves at The Star Grill.  Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me, so this is a photoless blog entry.  I had been once before for lunch and a couple of times to the Star Grill in the conservatory in Assiniboine Park as well, but D had never been to either.

The decor of this little spot is very cozy with booths along one wall and tables for two and four along the other.  There are a couple of gorgeous tables right in the south facing window with views of the park.  I particularly like the wispy curtains that hung over the booths and separated  the deuces.  I also recognized that many of the aluminum mirrors and decorative pieces were from Indonesia as I have a favourite store in Grand Beach that imports them for sale.

But to the food….

Ds eye was drawn to the Breakfast Pizza which was a crumbled bacon pizza with two eggs on top.  A clever idea and pretty tasty, except that there was a lot of char on the bottom of the crust.  I too was a little bit disappointed when my Grecian Benedict was so ensconced with too many thick slices of undercooked red onions and peppers.  I did appreciate the taste combination of hollandaise, black olives and feta though.

We weren’t surprized by the kitchens shortcomings because we could very clearly hear the the manager lamenting to the owner sitting in the last booth about: who hadn’t shown up and how there were struggles that morning in the kitchen.  It was almost as if these disappointments were pre-destined.

Just before our brunch dishes arrived, we got a call from J1 and J2.  We told them what we were up to and in ten minutes, they were sitting at the table next to us.  Our server very kindly lifted the curtain mentioned above and voila-a table for two becomes a table for four.

J2 also had the breakfast pizza (sans eggs) and hers too had too much char on the underside.  J1 though, was quite pleased with his choice.  He ordered a Cheddar Burger and said that the patty was really, very tasty.  The hand cut fries were a combination of white potatoes and sweet potatoes and J2 couldn’t resist, as the latter are her favourite.  Later that evening, I coaxed her into trying a roasted parsnip which I described as a cross between a potato and a carrot.

We lingered on the sidewalk out front of the cafe as the sun was shining gloriously and we made plans for the rest of our day.

Star Grill on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.”– Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza

March2

I have just begun a fairly lengthy stay in a northern Manitoba community.  Earlier this week, when our son and his wife realized that we might not see each other for a while, they called to invite me to join them for lunch.  He went onto Urbanspoon to do some research to see what new and fun little places might be worthy of investigating.  To his dismay, I had already posted comments about many of his choices so he had to dig a little deeper to find a lunch destination for us.

His choice was perfect as I have wanted to visit Carbone ever since it opened last fall.  We soon discovered their sangrias were on special so we promptly ordered both red and white.  The latter mixing (if I remember correctly) apricot brandy, orange juice, soda and pinot grigio-refreshing and delicious.

In anticipation of dining on the road, I ordered something a little lighter.  The authentic ingredients of the salad, that is the tomatoes and buffalo cheese were exactly as desired with sweet and fresh tomatoes and creamy, chilled cheese.  Unauthentic though was the pile of arugula on the plate.  Even though I quite like a smattering of the peppery taste, we had already chosen a pizza that was topped with it.

Entitled the Isabella, it was covered with artichokes, roasted onions and goat cheese, in addition to the arugula.  The taste result was a combination of sweetness, creaminess and sharpness along with the pepperiness (pretty sure that’s not actually a word).

Artichokes were also found on the Capo along with red pepper, gorgonzola and capocollo.  I’m not partial to blue cheese but the other tastes were strong enough to de-emphasize the stinkiness.

I had to look up anthracite coal to find a number of positive qualities but the most important aspect is that it burns at 850 degrees which means that our pizzas were completely cooked in three minutes.

I have always known that good things are worth waiting for and this is certainly the case with my visit to Carbone.

Carbone Coal Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Remind me to tell you about the time I looked into the heart of an artichoke.” Bette Davis as Margo Channing in ‘All About Eve’

 

 

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