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Billabong for Brunch


Brunch may be my favourite time to dine.  Sister #3 and an honourary sister go out every single Sunday for brunch.  I often have a brood to feed back home or a Sunday supper to get started on, so I don’t always get to slow down and savour a day of rest, as I believe we were meant to.  But on a day when D was out of town and Daughter #2 had her brunch date cancel, it seemed the perfect opportunity.  My lovely friend Denise who lives in the area, recommended Billabong for brunch when she read my evening accounting of Billabong fare, and it had long been on my must try list.

Everything worth having is worth the wait-especially Billabong Bistro for brunch.

Daughter #2 ordered the Eggs Bennie which she declared-the best in the city (next to her Auntie K’s).  The Chef took a classic Bennie and made it Billabong’s own by adding tomato and spinach under the perfectly poached eggs and enhanced the back bacon with a slice of proscuitto.  Her only disappointment was the fruit side which she said, had it been more abundant, would have been an appreciatied complement to the richness of the dish.

I was very tempted by the Aussie Foo Young but opted instead for this roasted vegetable frittata.  Zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, peppers and red onions were enough to delight me so the addition of eggplant sent me over the top!  The smoky and carmelized flavours of the vegetables were contrasted by marscapone and podano cheeses.  My mouth is watering even now as I reflect of the lovely tastes from a number of weeks ago.

We sat near a front window with the afternoon light streaming through and watched the passers by on Osborne Street.  The coffee was robust and plentiful and the service polite and attentive.  The perfect way to while away a Sunday afternoon.

Billabong Bar & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Bistro cooking is good, traditional food, earnestly made and honestly displayed. It is earthy, provincial, or bourgeois; as befits that kind of food, it is served in ample portions.”-David Liederman


Stella’s at Plug In – Portage Ave.


Earlier this summer, I taught a class for the University of Winnipeg in the Buhler Building on Portage Ave.  I only ventured out once to try and pick up some lunch and ended up coming back late for my own class.  So I was excited to see that a restaurant had leased the space and had started building and installing equipment.  Now I will admit that the noise of construction was sometimes difficult to lecture over top of.  So I was eager to reap the benefits of the distraction that my students and I suffered through.

I had dropped in once previously to pick up a coffee and had a glance at the menu.  I knew that I would return because the dinner prices were so reasonable and they had my favourite Chilean Merlot as their house wine.

I chose the pesto shrimp linguine with slivers of red pepper.

My companion selected this gorgeous curried chicken.   

Stella’s service was very caring.  Both of our dinners were exceptional tasting and really well priced for a downtown dinner date.  Many fellow diners were on their way to the Jets Game that night but stopped first for a bowl of chili and toast.  I also saw a number of  “all day” breakfasts leaving the kitchen and heading to the tables of hockey fans.  I’ll have to keep Stella’s in mind for a pre-game supper on a cold winter night. 

Stella's Cafe at Plug In on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili.”-Last words of Kit Carson



I have known Chef Osten since he was a toddler.  The family were good friends of good friends of ours and we would gather for kids’ birthday parties and the like.  More recently, his Mom and I have become close friends and I have gotten to follow his culinary pursuits from a very unique perspective-through the recounting of his proud parents.  Born into a family of creative persons, it is no surprize that Osten is a creator of art too.  Food art….my favourite kind.

I have tasted the fare from the Broadway Wasabi location as it is available at many retail outlets but I have never had the pleasure of dining there.  I always admired the courage and foresight that they opened on West Broadway way before the area began its regentrification.  I’ve also never had the experience of visiting Wasabi’s Osborne location.

So even though I can’t compare locales, Wasabi-Sabi is stunning with its soothing decor and comfortable seating.

Laura (one of my lunch dates) is my Asian food mentor-together we have created an “A” list of dim sum items, Vietnamese bowls and what little I know about Thai cuisines, she has taught me.  So I was content to sit back and let her do the selecting.

We started with a house blend of green teas which were thirst quenching and retained a nutty quality. 

Next up were the mandatory edaname beans. 

Then came Spicy Mango Prawns. Tempura shrimp and mango tossed with an unusual take on chili sauce-it was creamy.  I even ate the bed of greens and the crunchy wrapper that they were place upon.

We couldn’t get enough of the tempura shrimp and selected it again in the White Dynamite.  This time the shrimp was enhanced by avocado, spicy mayo, tobiko (fish roe), sesame seeds and sprouts.  All this was wrapped in a thin radish crepe-hence the white take on a dynamite roll.  A sushi newbie dining with us, loved the surprize of the fish eggs popping in her mouth.

Prairie Fire arrived on the same platter.  A spicy tuna, wrapped with grilled vegetables and tempura for crunch.

We could have been done at this point but my sushi mentor didn’t want me to go without the piece de resistance-East meets West.  Laura knows how much I love both lobster and salmon.  This roll is the exquisite  marriage of both spicy, succulent east coast lobster and west coast salmon.  To add sweetness and creaminess, mango and avocado are wrapped inside a soy sheet and yuzu (a citrus flavour) infused tobiko sits on top. 

To describe all the choices as delicious would be such a gross understatement.  We feasted on them with our eyes and tasted them slowly and with reverence.  Art-no other way to describe it!

 Wasabi Sabi on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”-Federico Fellini

Texas Roadhouse-Grand Forks


Sister #3 and D know the best way to prepare back ribs.  They must be slowed cooked with just a little bit of moisture so that the fat melts away and they fall off of the bone.  So when Sister #3 says she knows a really good place for ribs-she knows what she’s talking abut. 

When we arrived at The Texas Roadhouse for a late dinner and there was still a wait for the dining room.  A gang of handsome (somewhat tipsy) guys encouraged us to stay with their declarations of great food and so we did.  The wait was not long at all and as soon as we sat down, we dug into the peanut pails and cold beer. 

Not long after the just made buns arrived to tide us over.  I was not so inclined to these as I have a salty/savoury tooth and these were sweet and then accompanied by a cinnamon/sugar butter.

A wonderful salad arrived next with chopped egg and grated cheddar-almost a meal in itself.


 When the platters of ribs and loaded baked potatoes arrived, we were glad that we still had appetites. The ribs were bursting with flavour and oh-so tender.  I was happy that we had only ordered half racks ( and I still took half home for a “heading-home” snack the next day).

Me and my carbs…the baked potato was extraordinary.  How could this be-it was just a potato, you’re thinking?  The skin had been rubbed with olive oil before baking so instead of just enjoying the chees/ bacony inside, I loved the crunchy skin as well.  And we all know that the skin is where the vitamins are, right? 

Our server was a university student transplanted from the Twin Cities.  He was enthusiastic about his work and taking care of us.  When we saw staff walking around with the declaration: “I love my job” on the back of their t-shirts, we believed them.

Would love to try the rotisserie chicken next time but the hand cut steaks look pretty tempting too.

Texas Roadhouse on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Was I catching the contagious enthusiasm of this Canadian? Was I truly euphoric at the sight of fresh-grilled pork?”-Professor M. Aronnax in Jules Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’

Mexican Village-Grand Forks


Five of us travelled together to NYC last summer and we were trying to recreate the fun times with another stateside adventure.  Now Grand Forks is no New York City (sorry Grand Forkians, Winnipeg ain’t no Toronto either), but we still managed to have a nice rest, great shopping, fun times and good food.

We were heading for Mi Mexico to find that it was no longer open.  We’d done Paradiso, many times before so we landed at Mexican Village.  The waitress glanced at the clock over our heads as we arrived (it was 8:40) so we knew that we were being considered fashionably late diners. 

Cold Coronas and our food was out in a flash and that was lovely as we had worked up a thirst and an appetie at Gordman’s.

 A couple of sisters had the combination platter,

another fajitas

and I the chicken tortilla soup (very different from the recipe that I make in that I couldn’t make out the chicken and I’m not accustomed to a cream base) 

and a seafood enchilada (if you call crab flavoured pollock seafood). 

We were surprized that we got our choice of gravies because we didn’t recall gravy on anything when we dine in Mexico-mole sauce yes, gravy no.  It was explained to us that gravies were actually sauce variations.  Must be a North Dakota thing….

Mexican Village on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “I come from a home where gravy is a beverage.”-Erma Bombeck

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