Browsing: Restaurant Features

Pete’s Place

September23

Sometime you just get a craving for good, made from scratch cooking.  D and I are often drawn to the North End of Winnipeg to shop at Tenderloin Meats on Main St. for kubasa and perogies.  A stop at Pete’s Place is often on the itinerary.  Pete’s is nothing to look at from the outside-in fact, you might even drive right by it.  But inside, the place has been recently spruced up and the servers are sweet as pie.

D started with a bowl of borsht that he declared was the best borsht, he had ever tasted.  Now, that is high praise as we have a number of expert borscht makers in our family.  He offered me a  taste but I didn’t want to deprive him of even a spoonful as he was obviously enjoying it, that much. 

Next up was Pete’s sandwich which was a cross between a Clubhouse and a loaded bacon and egg sandwich.  Once again, I declined a taste because D dug in with such relish.

I chose a three cheese omelet with cheddar, mozarella and feta.  It was served alongside home fried potatoes & onions and rye toast.  I was glad that I had not filled up on other tastes, as it was wonderful.  All tolled, I think that our bill was $20.

Food so good-we should just head there for no other reason.

Pete's Place 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

Deseo Bistro on Osborne

September20

I was recently at an event, where Scott Bagshaw was a prized member of the chef team.  I also read the “review” of the event days later in the WFP where a certain “reporter” singled Scott out for his unorthodox personal style.  Now I can’t imagine that her reflections were based on the evening itself but on urban gossip about a past circumstance surrounding this talented chef.  I ask this question-where would any of us be without a chance to redeem ourselves?

I was duly impressed by Scott and Alejandro’s first Deseo on Albert St.  The location had some issues but the food was impeccable.  Their new Deseo Bistro location on south Osborne is just my style-the second floor where we had lunch was light filled with an open window to bring in the sounds of the street and the fall breeze.  There is a little grove of birch trees on one wall and gorgeous Argentinian drift wood in the front windows.  Leather toss cushions create an inviting look and for me the feel is very cottagey (a place many know-is my favourite place to be).  I’m guessing that this beautiful room is the bar in the evening.  The main floor dining room is just as cozy with the discovery of a real tin celing during renovations.

Our helpful server suggested the squid.  My lunch date added figs and chorizo sausage and I topped the requests off with Potatas Bravas-potatoes cooked in duck fat! 

The squid was so succulent and tender, that next time I might be tempted to order it on a bed of pasta to soak up every delicious dollop.  There was a green sauce that we were mystified by, because we thought that it might be a pesto.  But no, it was arugula gazpacho which added a peppery finish to the sparkling tastes.

The figs and chorizo were sublime.  The fusion of flavours were (almost) indescribable-the sweet and silky juice, the explosion of texture from the fruit itself and the hearty and spicy but perfectly tender sausage.  Lucky for me, my lunch date is not a bread eater and so I got more than my share of the grilled toast to dip into the broth.

My little indulgence of the potatoes were tasty but in all honesty, I was hoping for a repeat of the amazing side dish that was served at the original Deseo’s.  I am guessing that Scott’s repertoire is so huge that he was excited to start fresh at this new location.  And why not?  The courage to make a fresh start is truly admirable.  Where would I be without my own?

Deseo Bistro on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:   “Oh, better no doubt is a dinner of herbs,
When season’d with love, which no rancour disturbs
And sweeten’d by all that is sweetest in life
Than turbot, bisque, ortolans, eaten in strife!
But if, out of humour, and hungry, alone
A man should sit down to dinner, each one
Of the dishes which the cook chooses to spoil
With a horrible mixture of garlic and oil,
The chances are ten against one, I must own,
He gets up as ill-tempered as when he sat down.”-Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Winnipeg Free Press Cafe-Special Event

September19

In my profession as a Media Planner, I often get invited out to special events that are being put on by the media suppliers that I do business with on a regular basis.  We were invited to one such event recently at The Winnipeg Free Press Cafe.  There had a been an enter to win opportunity in the paper and at Manitoba Liquor Marts and the evening was a pairing of BC wines and complimenting tastes.  Now I am no wine connoisseur and leave those observations to ones more educated than I for example,  Ben McPhee Sigurdson  who is the wine guru for The Winnipeg Free Press and presided as one of the hosts that evening.

 

The food offerings started with a BC Salmon Riette.  Riette being a coarser style of pate-think “country” style. 

Next came my second favourite offering of the evening-Latkas topped with smoked goldeye.  Potatoes-that is what I am afficiando of and these lacy latkes were fried to a perfect crispness and were a crunchy contrast to the smoky fish that I absolutely love. 

When we vacationed in Sicily at exactly this time of year, D picked fresh figs for our breakfast.  Ironically, I only rarely get to enjoy figs and had lapped them at a lunch earlier that day when they were stewed with a chirizo sausage.   These figs were classically wrapped in prosciutto and totally satisfied my sweet and salty taste buds.

Speaking of Chorizo, the peppery sausage was balanced with carmelized sweet onions on baguette.  In my mind, chorizo was native to Mexico or even Italy but no-it originates from the Iberian peninsula which includes the country of Portugal and Spain.    

Next up was the highlight of the evening (from a culinary persepctive at least).  The most enormous sea scallops were wrapped in bacon and baked.  Perhaps they had been seared first because the face of the scallop was slightly crusted but the meat was plump and firm and sparkled on the tongue.  Now we grill scallops in bacon quite often at home and it sounds simple enough, but there is a real knack in cooking the bacon so that the fat has rendered away while not overcooking the scallop-these were perfection.

 

Carpaccio with parmesan shards and a empanada made with ground beef and ancho chili were served to contrast some of the more robust wines.  Ancho chili spice is made when both the seeds and pods of the plant are ground together, producing the brick-red powder that is most commonly associated with Mexican cooking.

I have been crazy for Portobello mushrooms this season and these meaty ones were coupled with Gorgonzola  cheese in a balsamic reduction.

BC peaches tartlets in phyllo pastry were the sweet crown of the evening.

I do know that the Cafe is available for special evening events such as this one.  The room is cozy even with its glass walls that make you feel right in the heart of the life in the Exchange.  Domenic Amatuzio is the skilled chef of the Cafe and put on a brilliant display of his talents.

News Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”-Ernest Hemingway

The Grove Pub and Restaurant

September13

The Grove is located at the corner or Stafford St. and Grosvenor Ave. and the  name is a short form of the latter.  We stopped in at this time last fall for a cider on the way out for dinner but I have never had a chance to taste their offerings.  In spite of repeated encouragement from our son who lives just steps away and thinks of the stools at the bar top as a home away from home.

In fact, I had to park just beside my son’s apartment so he knew that I was in the vicinity and met me for a little visit before my lunch date arrived.  He loves the offering of half pints and ordered one for himself and a Bramble for me.  The light and refreshing cocktail is made with creme de casis to sweeten the gin base. 

He also endulged me by ordering the Grove Burger which he claims is the best burger in the city. 

Based on my bite, I would have to agree and the fries were mighty fine too.  I opted for the Chevre and Pequillo Pepper Croquettes and was really disappointed to hear that they were out. 

Instead, I had a cucumber salad which was not quite so decadent but was satisfying with dollops of green olive oil lining the bowl. 

My lunch date decided upon the the chicken sarnie and was equally impressed. 

When my boy moved to the bar top and was joined by a friend, I also got to sample the fish bites which are made from salmon and halibut trim, lightly crusted in panko flakes and fried-oh my!

The room is fresh and light-filled and attracts many local business people and neighbours alike.  Service is attentive and accommodating.  If you live in walking distance, you have a gem of a neighbourhood pub.

The Grove Pub and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”-Benjamin Franklin

The Frenchway Cafe-New Academy Location

September8

We have been a fan of Olivier and his Frenchway Bakery and Cafe at his first location on west Academy and watched with interest as his new locale, mid-Academy was being assembled.  Then, we heard through the grapevine that he was also going into the former Bread and Circus location.  Having been involved in single restaurant openings ourselves, we knew what an under taking this would turn out to be.  Olivier needed to call in for reinforcements and as a result Raphael has transplanted himself from Nice and Antibes (the prompt for my digression yesterday).

D arrived to pick me up for our anniversary lunch with an armful of white lillies.  I gave him an NFL magazine, so you can tell who is the romatic in this marriage.  I plunked them into the bread-maker cylinder that was soaking in the sink, so that we could savour the little piece of time that we had eked out of our day.

I let D chose for us because I could have easily ordered one of everything but even with his decision-making powers we did not make it past the Appetizer selections.  And so three “little plates’ arrived at our table to share. 

The Tarte Tomate was a flaky and tender puff pastry filled with pesto and ricotta cheese and topped with grilled tomato and fresh herbs. The creamy cheese was the perfect balance to the sparkling tomato taste.

Next up were grilled vegetables with a fresh mozzarella and prosciutto (which was optional if you wanted a meatless item).  Even though we appreciate hot vegetables with a hot entree, these were served at room temperature which is the perfect manner to detect the nuances of taste variations.  The first time we sampled a plate of vegetables served in this way was at Cumpa Cossimo our world favourite restaurant located in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  Raphael’s preparation was equal to the very best.

Influenced by the “Frenchman” who is close to our family, we had to try the Petite Tourtiere Maison.  As compared to a Canadian Tortiere, this was more like a giant meatball surrounded by a flaky pastry.  Different and delicious!

We finished off with a tart filled with a sublime custard and a variety of fresh fruit.  The pastry had a cookie quality and made the use of a fork rather challenging.  Who were we kidding, we should have just picked it up with our fingers?  This selection had a “circle of life” feel to it as it look just like the cake that we had for our wedding 27 years ago. 

Frenchway Cafe on Urbanspoon 

Kath’s quote: “Light, refined, learned and noble, harmonious and orderly, clear and logical, the cooking of France is, in some strange manner, intimately linked to the genius of her greatest men.”-Rouff Marcel

 

 

 

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