Browsing: Restaurant Features

The Roost & Close Company

January15

In our minds (that is my husband D and mine), we love the gift of an experience rather than a physical gift. Recently our son and his wife, dubbed J1 and J2 in this space, decided that D and I deserved a “thank you” gift. Since they share our love of experiences, they put the wheels into motion for a thank you evening. Remember that I (the Momma), equates food with love. What do you think our gift was?

J1 had four very special restaurants in mind and one of them we had never visited and had always wanted to. A 8 pm reservation was secured at Close Company. They also wanted to kick off the evening with a happy hour (a family tradition) so they picked us up at 6:30 and we found ourselves at another place we had never visited-The Roost on Corydon. As we ascended the stairs, it really did feel as if we were entering a roost. We had a peak out the sliding glass windows to the outdoor patio and know that we will return when the weather is fair to sit among the leaves and birds.

The Roost is a cozy spot with a sloped ceiling that is typical of 100 year old homes in Winnipeg. We sat at the bar so we could watch the Bartender in action. She had an array of ingredients to choose from.

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I had never seen so many bottles of bitters in my life. And she certainly knew how to shake that cocktail shaker! We spent a very long time enjoying the craft cocktail menu.

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J1 and D both decided upon a special that was black in colour from the addition of charcoal. J2 had a Bathtub Gin which must have also been a special as I don’t see it on their current menu. I am actually not prone to cocktails and selected my stand by of a glass of red wine.

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These lovely premise pickles held our hunger at bay until it was time to scouch along to keep our reservation.

And now it is confession time….

  • This fabulous dinner was scheduled just before Christmas. Since then we have celebrated Christmas three times, put the Christmas decor away for the year, traveled to Mesa Arizona for a family wedding and traveled to Lisbon and the Algarve of Portugal as well as Seville Spain. In fact, I just returned from Toronto this morning. I am saying all this as defense because so much has happened between then and now, that the circumstances are not crystal clear.
  • and….I may have had a little too much to drink that special evening.

But without further adieu, Close Company.

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I loved everything about the little spot, the moment we stepped through the door. The ambience was more like entering someone’s home rather than a business. The service was equally warm and hospitable and we relaxed and enjoyed the evening of sips, tastes and chatter.

J1 knew the chef and so we didn’t really order. We just let the chef know that were excited and willing to taste everything.

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First up was Torched Tuna. The tuna itself was satiny and flavourful. The biggest surprise were the clever smoked jalapeños. The cure brought out the peppers’ inherent smoky flavours and eliminated any of the uncomfortable fiery ones. Priding myself on being a French Fry aficionado, I loved the fingerling potato chips.

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I swooned when the Parisienne Gnocchi arrived at the table. Gnocchi must be prepared delicately and simply and this was- with the thinnest of mushrooms, white wine and butter and a soft “snowfall” of hand grated parmesan.

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I am not precisely sure what makes these meatballs Moroccan. Perhaps it is the spiciness of the tomato sauce or perhaps the inclusion of both feta and mint, but I am pretty sure that I could eat those meatballs every day for the rest of my life.

By this time I was ready to cry “Uncle” but the food kept coming. Chef had gone off the menu to prepare us his rendition of Christmas dinner.

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These gorgeous discs of loveliness were achieved by de-boning an entire chicken, pressing it back together again and then cooking it in a cloth (torchon) that holds it in place. It was rich and moist and you might never wanted to eat a plain old roasted chicken again.

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The poultry was accompanied by these fingers of mandatory Christmas dressing. So very good.

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Now here is where I am relying on memory… blanched asparagus topped crème fresh. The crunch of the toasted nuts enhanced both and it was a stellar little dish.

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Of course, no celebratory dinner is complete without dessert and so we shared and loved the citrus tart (imagine your Mom’s lemon meringue pie).

Dinner from start to finish was perfection: the food, the libations, the ambience, the sharing of plates and of course, the gift itself.

Kath’s quote: “Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don’t know what to say, when there are no words to say.”- Shauna Niequist

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Restaurant Wrap Up

December27

2017 has been another exceptional year of Winnipeg Dining. I was recently at the Food Bloggers Canada conference which highlighted the adventures of two bloggers and their trip across Canada. When asked what their biggest surprise was, they quickly answered “Winnipeg-the food scene is amazing there”!

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Ethnic restaurants still abound, especially in Winnipeg’s West End where I enjoyed Mercadito Latino,

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Halong Bay,

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Sushi Cushi,

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and Nhu Quynh.

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I revisited old favourites like the Falafel Place on Corydon,

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Olympia Diner on west Portage Ave. ,

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East India Company on York,

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Piazza di Nardi on Taylor

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and The Cottage Bakery on Pembina.

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Visiting new (or relatively new) restaurants kept me busy and satiated: Bermax Caffe + Bistro on Corydon

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Saddlery on Market,

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Beet Happening on Notre Dame

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and Harth Pizza and Wine Bar on south St. Anne’s Road.

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The burgeoning craft brewery scene had me loving the fare at One Great City,

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Brazen Hall and

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and KYU Grill at The Commom at The Forks. I have the newest brewery on my “must try” list: I understand that Timmy Tom’s Pizzeria at The Trans Canada Brewing Company is in the running for the best pizza in the city.

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Across the Board was in a category on its own where you can sup on carefully made food while you play a board game from their inventory of hundreds.

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There were a number of delightful surprises for me in 2017: 1) The amazing Ruben and hand cut fries at the Diner’s Grill in a St. Boniface Industrial Park

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2) Black Garlic Linguine with arugula and parmesan at Crème D’Essence in another Industrial Park (Inkster)

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3) The modern dishes rooted in First Nation Foods of pickerel and bannock at The Feast Café Bistro

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4) the unique atmosphere and premise-made delights at Caked with Love

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and last but nowhere near least 5) the restaurant and butcher shop that is Boucher Bouchee. With their focus on local, small-farm, sustainable meat & artisanal local goods, they represent exactly what surprised my trans Canada trekking blogger friends.

Kath’s quote: “Going to a restaurant is one of my keenest pleasures. Meeting someplace with old and new friends, ordering wine, eating food, surrounded by strangers, I think is the core of what it means to live a civilised life”. -Adam Gopnik
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Love never fails.

 

Aurora Pizzeria and Cafe

December21

I think that I have dined in each of the restaurants that have been located in the former bank building at Lilac and Corydon Ave. It started with Gluttons where the private banquet room was reserved in my honour for a special birthday party ending with a zero. I was delighted when Mise made a go of it. I loved their “Angel Hair Pasta with Grilled Vegetables, Roasted Red Peppers, Concasse Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Feta Cheese, Pickled Eggplant, Wilted Greens and Artichoke Hearts” and then Ripe Bistro’s latke fries.

As soon as I entered the newest manifestation-Aurora Pizzeria & Café, I was greeted by good friends who indicate that they are at the Café every single morning for what they claim is the best cappuccino in the city. There were more accolades from the Italian couple sitting behind us in the dining room. They indicated that the food was exceptional because it was authentic Italian food-simple ingredients well prepared. The owner Giuliano took care of us himself. He shared that he is from a community close to Rome in Italy and that he had only been in Canada a handful of years. His English was very good. But we would have made our choice known to him even if we had to stand on our heads! We were hungry and so looking forward to this treat.

First order of business were our wine selections. I chose a Sangovese & Merlot blend that suited me just fine.

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One of my lunch dates selected a fusilli topped with rapini, sausage and pepperoncino.

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Another settled on the spaghetti carbonara with pancetta, romano cheese and eggs.

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I decided to go with the lasagna alla Bolognese. As we simultaneously tasted our dishes, we all emitted a similar sound that was something like a groan.

I was surprised that the lasagna did not have the promised white sauce but in truth the red sauce was so fine that I was content. It is a good thing that the sauce was stellar because there were only two other ingredients-6 layers of delicate lasagna noodles with a ground meat in between each layer. No ricotta, no mozzarella and still it might have been one of the best lasagnas I have ever tasted (except perhaps when I have dined in Italy).

When the enormous portion was placed in front of me, I cut it into two and decided to eat one half and take the other half to my husband for his dinner. Unfortunately for my ever-patient husband, he never did get a taste because I could not stop eating half way. Instead, one of my friends and I have decided to return with both our husbands to try something else on the menu.

We sat in a space that was to the side of the main room, kitchen and bar. It is simply decorated with lots of natural light flooding in through the west facing windows. Since we had the owner taking care of us himself, the service was perfect. Giuliano did not rush us at all and was more than patient when we couldn’t stop chatting long enough to give him our order.

Aurora Pizzeria & Café is located at 842 Corydon Ave. at the corner of Corydon and Lilac St. They are open from 9 am until 11 pm daily except Friday and Saturdays when they close at 2 am. Check with them directly for their holiday hours.

Kath’s quote: “No dish in history has as many variations, colors, motifs, tastes, textures and subtleties as a dish of pasta.”  ― Marc Vetri, Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto    

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Love never fails.

The Cottage Bakery

December18

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There are two good reasons to visit The Cottage Bakery and Café: one is to be a part of the Cottage Bakery legacy which dates back to 1932 and the other is to savour their tasty fare. The history of the Bakery has been carefully written onto a large chalkboard which takes up a great deal of wall space. Both my lunch date and I read the entire history and at first I wondered why others in the café were not. With the bakery being close to a high school, all of the other patrons were regular customers, having seen the message many, many times.

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I chose the Mediterranean pesto Panini melt and broccoli cheddar Soup. The gal serving us indicated that she had made the soup herself that very morning. I felt that I would be insulting her cooking if I didn’t taste it. The crunchy Panini was started with a chicken breast, roasted peppers and cheese (of course). What was unusual about the Panini was the inclusion of what I thought was an olive tapenade (which originates from the south of France), as opposed to a basil pesto. I am quite fond of the pungent tastes of a tapenade so was quite content. I also appreciated the crispy Panini which occurs when just the right amount of time and pressure is added to the Panini maker.

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My lunch date also chose the soup and a chicken burger which looked to be on special that day. It too started with a chicken breast, coated and deep fried in this case, and was also adorned with cheese (unmelted).

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Even though I don’t typically indulge in dessert, especially at lunch time, we were lunching in a bakery so of course we had to sample something! We decided upon splitting a date square. In Manitoba and other places on the prairies the date square is called matrimonial cake. I tried researching the roots of the wedding reference unsuccessfully. But I did come across the pun that “many dates lead to matrimony”. Sounds logical to me!

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The Cottage Bakery and Café is located at 1382 Pembina Highway at Dowker Avenue. It is currently owned by Peyman and Ronak Esfehani. They have an all day menu available and are open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am until 6 pm. Saturday they close at 5 pm and Sunday they are open from 9 am until 5 pm. They are wheelchair accessible.

Kath’s quote: “If baking is any labor at all, it’s a labor of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation”. -Regina Brett


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Love never fails.

Bermax Cafe and Bistro

December4

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One of my favourite cookbooks is “Jerusalem”. The book is as much an intriguing story about the people who dwell together in the ancient city as it is a catalogue of excellent recipes. The book is where I first came to know the egg and tomato sauce dish known as Shakshuka. The authors of “Jerusalem” state that the dish is actually Tunisian in origin.

I first tasted the dish prepared by a French trained, Italian chef in a little café called “The Fat Hen” in Seattle. I have also enjoyed it at a couple of spots in Winnipeg. The Bermax Café and Bistro is a kosher Italian Café that does a very good job with their version of Shakshuka.

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I would have preferred my egg to have been slightly less firm so that I could have allowed the piping hot sauce to finish cooking the egg. This is not a complaint as the tomato sauce was out of this world with the unusual inclusion a smoky paprika and cumin. I plan on returning so that I can enjoy that sauce on a pasta dish.

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My breakfast date chose a pineapple pancake when her request of a granola pancake was not available. Sweet chunks of pineapple were mixed into the batter as well as being served on top of the pancake. The cake also came garnished with cottage cheese. Was the dish a breakfast or a decadent dessert? At home we often enjoy pancakes with a generous scoop of cottage cheese, sliced bananas and maple syrup. My family has inherited my sweet and salty addiction!

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I am actually surprised that I have resisted Bermax for as long as I have. The bistro is walking distance from my home and all my favourite foods are contained on one menu: black truffle, eggplant, artichokes, gnocchi and pizza. They even have a Shakshuka pizza!

The Bermax Caffe + Bistro is located at 1800 Corydon Ave. They have an extensive all day breakfast, lunch and dinner menu available. They are open Monday- Thursday 8 am until 9 pm. They close at 3 pm on Friday and are closed Saturday. The are open Sundays from 9 am until 9:00 pm and are wheelchair accessible.

Kath’s quote: With reference to shakshuka- “It sounds like the name of a comic book hero. Or some kind of fierce, long-forgotten martial art. Or perhaps something that said comic book hero would yell as they practiced this elaborate martial art, mid-leap with their fist in the air“.-Smitten Kitchen

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Love never fails.

 

 

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