Browsing: Restaurant Features

Little Saigon


There is something particularly near to my heart about a family run restaurant.  I suppose it is because our kids have been encouraging D to open one of our own and we just have not has the gumption to do so.  There are toddler toys evident at Little Saigon and I got a glimpse of the newest generation when we were there last week.  Apparently Mom and son are the principals. 

Mom took my order for two Vermicelli Bowls to go when I was on my way to meet my own Mom last week.  She asked me on the phone if I wanted an order of spring rolls and when I declined, she said “no, worry, on the house”.

The very next night I was back again and Number One son took care of us.  In fact, when my sisters and I take our Mom out for dinner, he is almost always our waiter.  We go often with Mom, as parking right out the back door is almost always available and the space is very open and accessible. 

On this night D and I were being treated by a good friend of ours to thank us for our previous hospitality.  A case of paying it forward, as it were.  We had an all-inclusive meal for 4: an appetizer, a soup and four main course dishes to share all for one price ($49).  We started off with Salad Rolls with sliced shrimp apparent through the thin rice paper wrapping. 

Vietnamese Spring Rolls are accompanied by a smooth and creamy peanut sauce and once again Number One son declared “they are on the house”.

Next up was Sweet and Sour Soup.  I love all kinds of Vietnamese Pho (soup) but had never sampled this one-absolutely delicious.

The sizzling chicken in satay sauce, declared on the menu that it would be spicy but we did not find it too hot.

We also enjoyed the beef, ginger and green onions.

The combination seafood and BBQ pork is an old favourite.

The star of the evening, for this and occaisions when we take our Mom was the Salt and Pepper Breaded shrimp with the shell off.  The breading is both salty and sweet and we can’t get enough of these.  Even the shreds of green and red pepper that the shrimp are laid upon to serve them, are delectable.

Little Saigon Restaurant on Urbanspoon 

Kath’s quote: ““Food responds to our soul’s dream as to our stomach’s appetite.”-Joseph Delteil

Dinner at Deseo Bistro


D was off on a business trip, so it seemed a perfect night to join a good friend for dinner at Deseo Bistro.  I had recently been there for lunch and was salivating over the dinner offerings even then.  We sat upstairs again and the room that was filled with afternoon sun was now warm and cozy, with soft glowing candles and lights from the street.

The only trouble with dining while D was away, was that he was in Banff and asked to borrow my camera because he had never been there before.  This was the panorama outside his hotel window and I am glad that he got a chance to capture it.


But drat, my photos taken on my phone, simply to not capture the beauty of the dishes that were set before us because Chef Scott Bagshaw is truly an artiste.

We started with these BC Manila Clams tossed with pancetta, brussel sprout kim chee, chilis, garlic and a splash of white wine.  Served with grilled bread to soak up all of the delicious nectars.

We then shared this Carmelized Pork Belly that was topped with crispy chicken skin and sour pear.  This “loaf” of meat sat upon a flageolet of succotash.  The meat was sublime with the fat melting away like a smooth olive oil.

We had no room for dessert but enjoyed the comfortable visit over an exquisite Riesling that was suggested by Alejandro Moro, the part owner and manager of Deseo.  He also gave us a quick tour of the loving renovations made to the restaurant to become their new home.

Deseo Bistro on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Pork fat rules!” – Emeril Lagasse

Lunch at La Cantina de Mona Lisa


The media business is a close community.  Many people that I work with, I have known for almost twenty years.  In some cases, I am now collaborating with a second generation of media representatives.  But it is highly unusual when virtually 100% of persons gathered at a restaurant for lunch are from one business community.   Such was the case though, at La Cantina de Mona Lisa.  Hot 103, QX 104, CJOB, Power 97, CTV TV and Global TV were all represented by the tables in the room.  This all proves the point that not only am I an appreciator of good food but so are the people that I call friends.

When you travel in Italy and it is around the lunch hour, you might walk over to a market and buy a small, fresh loaf of bread.  You would break this open and find yourself at the cheese truck and request a creamy portion of unripened mozarella.  Continuing along to the meat stall you might ask for a wavy, thin slice of poscuitto ham.  Before you were done, a slice of grilled eggplant or red peppers may be to your liking so you would search those out.  In the end, you would have the freshest, sandwich, piled high with the best ingredients.

This is I think, the experience that Joe Grande is trying to recreate for his customers at La Cantina.  My sandwich was full of sliced chicken breast and a sauteed green vegetable that was think spinach but had a name like broccoli.  Help me out here folks-what would it be called?  It was served on a huge wedge of water bread.  I asked for an add on of grilled eggplant and was in heaven.

One of my lunch dates eats gluten free and she remarked that the same sandwich, when made with their gluten free bread-was the best gluten-free sandwich she had ever had at any Winnipeg restaurant.

My second date had five, cute little buns stuffed with a spicy sausage and cheese.  She called them her pac-man sandwiches.  We also ordered a Bocconcini and tomato salad to share.  Each of these ready to serve offerings are the flat price of $5. and an add on like the eggplant is an additional $2.  What a deal!

Joe was willing to let me behind the counter to photograph what was left of their lunch offerings (they make small amounts, so that everything is freshly made each day)-a Calabrese sausage sandwich and a anti-pasto plate.

When Joe let me into the kitchen there was one staff member, thinly slicing proscuitto ham and another making fresh pasta.


These are the trays that the pasta dries on.

Buon appetito!

Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “When you become a good cook, you become a good craftsman, first. You repeat and repeat and repeat until your hands know how to move without thinking about it.”-Jacques Pepin

Viva for Vermicelli Bowls


It must seem as if I go out for lunch an awful lot but the truth is that I do not.  Because I work from home, I’m able to grab some left overs or heat up some soup and so I likely go out for lunch, less often than someone who works downtown.  When I have lunch out though, I make sure that I get somewhere that I have never been before (or not lately at least). 

Such is the case with Viva Vietnamese Restaurant at the corner or Sargent and Spence Street.  I’ve enjoyed dining at Viva for what seems like decades but I have never gotten to go for lunch.  On this day, when I arrived at 11:45 the dining room was already full of business and trades people who obviously know of Viva’s popularity with the lunch crowd.  


When my lunch dates arrived, they were craning their necks to see what was in all of the steaming bowls that were being whizzed past our table.  I led the way by ordering a large ($1.50 more) grilled pork vermicelli bowl. 

I was followed by an order of the same with grilled pork and shrimp.

And then a third “deluxe” with pork, shrimp, spring roll, etc. 

Sorry, I must admit that I wasn’t paying very close attention by this point because we always have so much to get caught up on when I am with this particular couple of girlfriends who also happen to be business associates.  So when we are not talking kids, and house renos and winter holidays, we actually talk about projects that we are working on together.  

We started with rice rolls that were so delicious with their dark peanut sauce that we were tempted to request another order.  Luckily, we saved ourselves to dig into the lunch bowls.

Viva’s version is not loaded with vegetables as I have enjoyed it elsewhere, but is delicious none the less.  Lots of protein and soft, fluffy noodles and without a trace (or so it seems) of fat.  The sauce that was served along side,  was a light chili sauce.  I am accustomed to having the dish with a sweetened fish sauce, but I enjoyed this version tremendously.

The gentleman serving us was all alone and very busy.  But between his efficiency and that of the kitchen, the lunch crowd was in and out in no time and well taken care of in between.

Viva Restaurant Vietnamese & Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:“There are may of us who cannot but feel dismal about the future of various cultures. Often it is hard not to agree that we are becoming culinary nitwits, dependent upon fast foods and mass kitchens and megavitamins for our basically rotten nourishment.”-M.F.K. Fisher

Lunch at Brooklynn’s Bistro


We had been invited to the opening of Brooklynn’s Bistro last spring and met the inspiration for the restaurant’s moniker.  Brooklyn is a delightful child who obviously lives a life surrounded by the nurture of food.  On that evening we also sampled some of Chef Darryl Crumb’s evening offerings.  They were as exquisite as one might expect from an award winning chef.  But I understand that Brooklyn’s own Grandma and her great Auntie are responsible for the day to day lunch offerings. 

On this day I was willing to try whatever Nona had cooked up and it was an amazing concoction of swordfish and tomatoes over a long macaroni noodle.  The slivers of parmesan that were added provided just the right amount of saltiness and the dish was perfection.

My lunch mate decided upon the pizza- a perfectly thin crust baked over a wood fire and lightly topped with capicollo, roasted red peppers, basil leaves and mozarella.  The closest pizza I have tasted to the many we sampled during our time on the west coast of Italy. 

I understand that Nona delights their guests with little tastes from her kitchen-sometimes a savoury appetizer or other anti pasta  On this day though, she was busy getting her larder stocked up so that she could make a trip home to Italy, so we were treated to a amazing dessert instead.  The scoop of heaven did not have a name but I would describe it as tiramisu meets chocolate trifle.  There was no mascarpone cheese but chocolate mousse, lady fingers, a liquer and bites of semi sweet chocolate shards.  Oh my!

Good thing I do not have my office on the third floor of the building where Brooklynn’s is located like my friend who I was joining for lunch, or I would be in big trouble.  I can’t imagine the temptation of just zipping downstairs for a bite of Nona’s fare.

Brooklynn's Bistro on Urbanspoon 

Kath’s quote:  “…smell and taste are in fact but a single composite sense, whose laboratory is the mouth and its chimney the nose….”-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin


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