Browsing: Restaurant Features

Nook and Cranny

March1

D and I are creatures of habit.  We love The Nook on Sherbrooke and everything about it-from the wait to get in, to the crowded tables, to the delicious food and the cheery waitresses who always have a coffee pot at the end of the arm.

It is not that the Nook and Cranny does not have these things but the coziness and neighbourhood atmosphere that we were hoping for, just was not there.

D couldn’t decide between the cinnamon bun French toast and eggs, so he ordered both-one of the many reasons why I love the guy (he has always known what he wants).

The eggs came with toast and hash browns and he was content.  Actually, he was quite impressed with the French toast and commented how resourceful they were for finding a use for excess buns.

I was in a more decadent mood that Sunday morning and ordered the asparagus omelet and a side of ham.  Ill admit, it was because it came with hollandaise that I was tempted.  Turned out that the asparagus was the star on the plate-bright, bright green and prepared to a perfect el dente.  My hash browns also came extra crispy as I requested.   This may seem to be in the small points department but it was huge for me.

So all in all, we had a lovely breakfast, we just have a preference for what feels more like home to us in the original Nook.

The Nook and Cranny on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:   “One word, in this place, respecting asparagus. The young shoots of this plant, boiled, are the most unexceptionable form of greens with which I am acquainted.”William Andrus Alcott (1846)

Los Chicos Restaurante Y Cantina

February22

Los Chicos had me at their entrance.  I am enthralled by the colours of Mexico especially when blue is boldly paired with fuchsia, orange or yellow.  Their kaleidoscope of colour choices was simply delightful.  So too, the selection of gorgeous ceramic pieces for sale in the lobby and all imported from Mexico.  We’ve collected many pieces just like these on our yearly sojourns and they adorn our home.

Characteristic of the great cantinas in Mexico, chips and salsa arrive at the table without them being ordered or requested.  The chips were light and salty and the salsa, hearty with just a hint of heat.

I was dining with two business associates and after being told about the lunch buffet, the three of us headed over for a peak.  There were a variety of dips, sauces and accompaniments for pulled pork and chicken enchiladas.

Before I knew it, my friends were arriving back at the table with full plates.  I wanted to sample something from the menu but didn’t wish to delay our meal or slow down getting to the business at hand, so I quickly ordered a bowl of tortilla soup.

The chicken and broth was light but  flavourful and was contrasted by the veggies and a dollop of soft queso right in the middle.  I added more tortilla chips for crunch and saltiness and was quite satisfied.

The ladies were happy with their choices and I with mine, but I intend to return soon to try something more substantial.

Los Chicos Restaurante Y Cantina on Urbanspoon

Kaths quote: “Your raiment, O herring, displays the rainbow colors of the setting sun, the patina on old copper, the golden-brown of Cordoba leather, the autumnal tints of sandalwood and saffron.  Your head, O herring, flames like a golden helmet, and your eyes, are like black studs in circlets of copper.”
Joris Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) as quoted in Larousse Gastronomique

Original Joes

February21

We had a double date in our calendar for Original Joes weeks in advance.  We knew that Tuesdays were 1/2 price wine night and that the place would be hopping.  The guys had a look at the Jets schedule to ensure that it wasn’t a game night and we would be sure to get a table.  Well all that was for naught because it was a game night, the place was packed and we loved every minute of it.

I had a hankering for their Chili Lime Chicken because I had seen it on a repeating basis as a Google ad on many blog sites that I follow.  I just couldn’t resist-see advertising does work!

D choose the Gyoza and was very pleased.

The Frenchman choose the Poutine (of course!) made the authentic way with real cheese curds, not just shredded cheese.

Daughter #2 does not order calamari very often because the Frenchman doesn’t enjoy it and she prefers to share, we on the other hand, were more than happy to assist her.  We remembered that the first time she tasted squid was when we took her to NYC for her 16th birthday.   Yes, we spoil our kids (we like to call it “bless” them in a special way).

We ended our gouter with a sweet-Original Joe’s mud pie that actually resembled mud when I tried to photograph it in the low lighting.  An enormous portion was lapped up with four forks.

Well the shenanigans continued and because we live so close, we were able to dash home between periods and watch the final 20 minutes of Jets hockey before calling it a night.

I know that there are foodies that give places like Original Joes a bad wrap because they are chains.  Well Original Joes is very entrenched into our neighbourhood with programs like Community Pint which contributes money to Darcys no- kill animal shelter.  We recognized lots of folks from the area including our server who was a friend of Daughter #2.  The lovely manageress came to visit us often over the course of the evening.  She and her husband share the evening shifts.  Cant get much more down home than all of that…..

Original Joe's on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance.”-Benjamin Franklin

 

Pop Sodas Coffehouse Gallery

February20

Pop Sodas Coffeehouse Gallery was the perfect location for the Frenchman’s surprize birthday party.  Daughter #2 searched far and wide for a place that would be casual and laid-back just like she and her beau and yet stimulating and fun to match the occasion.  When we arrived, we were told that a birthday party was just clearing out: the place was filled with young couples, toddlers and babies-we had come to the right place!

There are a variety of rooms strung together which different vibes given off by each.  All are a comfortable collection of miss-matched chairs and tables or huge overstuffed couches pulled together for conversation and to put your feet up.  A local artist has used the walls as her canvas and the result is gorgeous.

When the birthday boy arrived, he was surprized (to say the least) by the accumulation of friends from different pockets of his life.  But best of all, was when he spotted his sister who had flown in from Peterborough that morning.  She was with their Aunt, Uncle and cousin and as is often the case in Winnipeg, various extended family members who were introduced to them, realized that there were a variety of common touch-points in our lives.  In fact, they live on the street where I grew up and our Mom still resides.

But, onto the food.

This was a piled high Rueban

and the smoked chicken and mozzarella.

It turns out that the owner Joseph is from Naples where pizza was invented so it is no surprize that his version is very tasty and authentic.  Sister #2 had this ricotta and smoked chicken version.

D, I and Daughter #1 shared their Pissed Off Chicken nachos that put us in an angry mood-jk.  There were very different and we were impressed whereas when the birthday boy ordered them, he was so busy visiting and chatting with people that his got pretty soggy.

The bruschetta was fabulous-very garlicky and the tomatoes were screaming out their freshness.

I got a forkful of the baklava -mounds of walnuts and almonds which had been drenched in honey and and spices.

D was very impressed with the banana cream pie and he knows his pie!  He remarked that the flaky crust was homemade and the banana essence was allowed to be very prominent.  There was a custard layer and he predicted that more custard had been whipped into the whipping cream.

We’ll be returning as soon as possible for more tastes of delicious food but also to soak up the congenial neighbourhood atmosphere.

Pop Soda's Coffeehouse & Gallery on Urbanspoon

“I never see any home cooking. All I get is fancy stuff.”-Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Chez Sophie

February17

It was a quiet, snowy evening and in our world, the only plan for later that night was to watch the Jets game, so we had time for an early supper with some good, good friends.  Skip to their world: they have three little ones and Mom home schools the oldest.  They have been sick with a cold.  The youngest has just learned to walk and is into everything.  To them, this is more than a quick, early supper.  This is a couple of precious hours where they are not preparing food, serving, feeding and cleaning up.  They are engaging in adult conversation focused on their plans and desires and not only their children.  In short, they really needed this time, however brief.  So if you can treat a young couple to some time like this or better yet, babysit for them, so that they can have some time alone together-do it!

I am currently reading a lovely work of non-fiction entitled “On Rue Tatin”.  The authour is the writer of the French Farmhouse Cookbook and so it was very appropriate that we find ourselves at Chez Sophie Bistro & Pizzeria.

The small dining room room is simply appointed with a bevy of chandeliers hanging from the ceiling but for extra coziness, little lamps perched on every window-sill.

The white sauced pizza looked very tempting and so we will have to go again very soon to sample it. So too, the fried Camembert as D and I recounted our honeymoon which began in Quebec City, eating fried cheese at a sidewalk cafe.

We were able to make our choices and the meal started with a split pea soup served with a “just-out-of-the-oven” mini baguette.  Soup did not start my meal so my anticipation of good things to come was that much heightened.

And oh, I was not disappointed.  I choose Moule & Frites every chance I get and Chef Sophie’s are up there with the city’s best (7 1/4 and Inferno’s).  The seafood meat was succulent and in no way had suffered by the poaching process which is sometimes the case.  Mussels must be closely supervised to serve them at their peak and these were beautifully done so.  The nectar that they floated in was so sublime that I boldly requested a spoon.

Sophie’s version comes with a beautiful tossed salad and absolutely delicious French fries: piping hot with a sprinkle of salt (and not a ketchup bottle in sight!).

The guys at the table choose an Alsatian stew of beef and pork with carrot, potato and leek. They too did not receive spoons, but were undeterred because each morsel in their bowl had been simmered for adequate time so as to soak up every droplet of the white wine broth.

Lastly, this gorgeous Arctic Char was presented and consumed with delight.

There was no time for dessert so that is another reason why we will have to return.  D and I finished our wine and remembered the days when we were busily raising our own three children. But we also remembered our last evening in Paris when we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary-the kids were grown, we were a happy couple enjoying life’s shared experiences and we  sat side by side, and dined on Moule & Frites.

Chez Sophie Bistro & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “If I had magic powers, I should like to wave my golden fork over the confined cookery of Europe and enlarge it to infinity; I would like to . . . offer French nationality to the many hardly known but delicious foreign dishes; …I would like to put the whole of natural history on the spit, in stews, in fricassees, in court-bouillon, in grills,….. ” –Fulbert-Dumonteil (Jean Camille) 1831-1912

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