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529 Wellington Lunch on the Terrace

September5

Back in the olden days, when our kids were young, money was tight, but we still loved fine food and wine-we had a “gourmet club”.  Many friends came and went as they moved away or became uncoupled.  Two members of our group were Doug Stephen and Jim Armstrong both of WOW! Hospitality.  We saw Doug recently and vowed to get together soon.  I haven’t seen Jim in eons but happily that changed recently when I arrived for lunch at 529.

Jim was created to steer the 529 Wellington ship from the lobby of the beautiful restored mansion.  His food knowledge and expertise has been apparent to me ever since I met him in Brandon, not far from his home town of Dauphin.

This was a special lunch with a good friend and business associate who is trying very hard to retire.  The more valuable an employee you are, the harder it must be to leave that employment.  Turned out,  the official day has not yet been announced and we have postponed  my treat until it has been made so.

It was a gorgeous, summer Friday and as we were sat on the terrace over-looking the river, I saw many of Winnipeg’s who’s/who enjoying the day.  The service was helpful and prompt and lunch delicious. My lunch date had a chicken Caesar salad which he quite enjoyed and we shared the fries that are cut from Kennebec potatoes.  Being the “Polak Princess” (as my husband affectionately refers to me) and loving my carbs, I am especially fond of these potatoes.  They have a wonderful balance of sweetness, starchiness and earthiness and a slightly nutty flovour. 

Reuben sandwiches are another in my “favourite” repetoire and 529’s version is an interesting variation on the theme.  The distinctive taste is because their version contains house-made corned beef which is stronger in taste, fattier and tougher than deli corned beef.  I suspect that as well as being house made, it is dry-cured which would account for the firmer, denser quality.  None of these attributes are bad, just different.  The strength of the “corned” taste meant that I could not identify the subtleties of the sauerkraut and Swiss cheese but the combination was delicious.

Looking forward to going back to enjoy the lingering days of summer.

529 Wellington on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “The corned beef is exquisitely done, and as tender as a young lady’s heart, all owing to my skilful cookery; for I consulted Mrs. Hale (Sarah Hale’s cookbook) at every step, and precisely followed her directions. To say the truth, I look upon it as such a masterpiece in its way, that it seems irreverential to eat it. Things on which so much thought and labor are bestowed should surely be immortal…..”-Nathaniel Hawthorne

Testing 1… 2… Testing

August25

The lunch business can be a tough one for Winnipeg restaurants.  Variety is desired for regular diners as well as keeping old favourites on the menu for special occasion lunchers (read: chicken fingers).  The Keg Steakhouse and Bar has locations across Canada and the US.  They understand that if “you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” and are testing new lunch offerings for the system at their Garry St. location.  This provides a unique opportunity for downtown Winnipeggers to be gastronomic guinea pigs. 

We started with a classic Cobb Salad: romaine and arugula topped with chicken, avocado, bacon, tomato, eggs and crumbled blue cheese.  My fellow diner tried to stop sampling because we had so many things to taste and he had a difficult time doing so-it was that good.  I am not typically a blue cheese lover but have recently fallen in love with it when paired with bacon.  This salad had it all.

Next up were a couple of flatbreads, one topped with Butter Chicken, peppers and diced pineapple.  The other with peppers again, onions, asparagus, provolone cheese and pesto aioli. These both came with sides and provided a really delicious solo supper for hubby D when I took home the left overs.

The Portabella Mushroom Burger was almost my favourite.  The combination of the peppery arugula, sweet roasted red peppers, creamy provolone cheese and that pesto aioli was divine.  And I haven’t even mentioned the mushroom-which was moist and meaty. 

I said “almost” my favourite, because the best was yet to come.  The Keg Dog was likely the best hot dog I’ve ever tasted!  It was made of beef (of course) and topped with cheddar, avocado, tomato and the pesto aioli.  But the killer topping was the bacon jam!  When tasted separately it was like a compote with a molasses base and totally satisfied my salty/sweet taste buds.  When added to the creamy avocado, crunchy/toasted bun, and pesto aioli (that I could eat with a spoon) it was the most amazing sweet/salty treat that I have had in a very long time. 

Oh, oh, I forgot to mention the Key Lime Pie.  Next time, I’m trying the Dungeness Crab Salad or maybe the Brie Chicken Sandwich, or maybe the Shrimp bowl….  I was negligent in finding out how long the test period is.  So don’t wait-get in there and be a pig (a guinea pig that is).

The Keg Steakhouse and Bar - Garry Street on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) epitomizes the heat, the power, and the joy of the Provençal sun, but it has another virtue – it drives away flies.”-
Frédéric Mistral

Smoke’s Poutinerie

August17

I would consider myself a Poutine Afficiando.  Not only do I take on month-long quests to find the perfect french fry, I tasted my first cheese curd 28 years ago (almost to the day) at the Minnesota State Fair.  I regard carnival food as a special treat and was astounded when we walked into the ARENA full of food vendors to grab a bit of supper before an evening concert.  The cheese curds were slippery and made a squeaky sound when you bit into it.  And since that time, every cheese curd that I’ve sampled, must pass the same rigid guidelines.  Of course the gravy too, must be just right-savoury but not too salty.  I like turkey gravy best but will settle for a good beef gravy in a pinch.

I once worked almost kiddie corner to Smoke’s location in Old Market Square.  Thank heaven that is no longer the case as the temptatin for weekly visits would be too overwhelming!  We ventured to the Cube in Old Market Square during the Fringe Festival to watch my daughter-in-law, niece and Goddaughter dance.  The day was sweltering so we found a place in the beer garden and cooled off with a shady seat and a cool one.

We tucked in to their traditional fare and declared that it was absolutely the perfect poutine.  Then went back and ordered the “Canadian” to deliver to Daughter #1 who was a Fringe Volunteer and wanting to grab supper in between working and watching a performance.  The one dish contained every food group!  We hope to find many more excuses to be in the area so that we can sample the rest of their extensive menu.


Smoke's Poutinerie on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The potato, like man, was not meant to dwell alone.”-Shila Hibben

Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe

August14

In case you did not already know-I buy media for a living.  That means that I decide on the optimum timing and placement of radio & TV commercials, out of home & on line spots and magazine & newspaper advertisements.  The media world has drastically changed of late with the onset of hand held mobile devices and social media.  As you have witnessed in the news this summer, it has been a tough go for newspapers around the world. 

We are very fortunate to live in a city with such a prestigious and forward-thinking daily newspaper in the Winnipeg Free Press.  The publisher and editors are committed to the delivery of local news and they continue to employ talented writers and photographers to deliver that news in an insightful and thought-provoking manner.   As if that were not already enough-they have totally embraced the digital and on line world as well with a bevy of innovative products for restailers and service providers alike.  The icing on the cake is the News Cafe.  A place which promotes social interaction in a world that is increasingly avoiding face to face contact.  The location in Old Market Square and the concept is brilliant but they could not pull it off, if the cafe did not hold its own with ambience and food quality and….it does! 

 The News Cafe was the perfect place for my good friend Lori, who is also my social media and blog consultant, to have a business lunch.  When we arrived, the place was humming with a variety of solo persons working away and small groups of people from the offices of the area having coffee and deciding on lunch.  It was HOT outside but the room was cool and still sun-filled. 

Lori chose the Grilled Portobello Mushroom and havarti on panini and I the Muffaletta Sandwich. 

I have had a hankering for this delicious sandwich since I first tasted one in New Orleans.  The key ingredient to this offering is the olive tapenade which is called Muffuletta in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  I would have enjoyed an extra spread of this, but respect that this delicious version uses saltier Italian meats than the authentic one and the sodium contact was already running high.  The provolone cheese is a good choice to counter the tangyness of the olives and meats and the grilled ciabatta bun added some crunch.

Support the Cafe and the Free Press; we are so fortunate to have this fabulous media option, as part of our rich Winnipeg lives.

News Cafe on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:“News is like food: it is the cooking and serving that makes it acceptable, not the material itself.”-Rose McCaulay

On Her Way to China-by Guest Blogger Sister #3

August13

Today I leave for China to visit Priscilla, and international student who lives with me during the school year.  I have been preparing myself for this trip for months, yet I really don’t have any idea what to expect.  Sure I have looked at the websites and talked with others who have made the trip, but I think that China is going to be a totally mind opening experience for me. 

Of course I am looking forward to experiencing the food.  People from Asia tell me the food is very different from what we Canadians think of as “Chinese” food. When Priscilla and I go out to eat we love to go for dim sum which she says is similar to what she would eat at home, although she had never heard the expression “dim sum”.  I am thrilled to hear that lovely steamed dumplings and noodle soups are what I have to look forward to. I doubt that there will be a deep fried shrimp in sweet and sour sauce in sight and to that I say hallelujah, bring it on. A few friends that visited Beijing told me about street vendors serving live scorpions and beetles on a stick, something I will be sure to avoid. I am an adventurous eater, but there are limits.  I am most looking forward to trying Beijing “Peking” Duck. 

On the day I picked up my Chinese visa I stopped at my favourite Chinese place, The New Hong Kong Snack House. Owner, Robert likes to give me a hard time about not visiting as often as I used to. I once worked with a woman who ate there twice a week so needless to say I was a regular.  I treated myself to his wonderful hot pork noodle soup and beginner plate which includes steamed shrimp dumplings, sweet pork bun, Peking perogies and yummy meatballs.  A great way to get my taste buds ready for the culinary adventure I am about to undertake.

New Hong Kong on Urbanspoon
 

Kath’s quote:  “(In Canton) the Chinese fondness for snacks and small eats reaches a kind of apotheosis.”E.N. Anderson

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