Browsing: Restaurant Features

Leopold’s Tavern-Winnipeg

July26

At D’s former job representing a major food-service company, he often had to travel to western Manitoba and Saskatchewan. He didn’t especially enjoy the travel unless he was in Regina. In fact, a couple of times he even took me along to enjoy the city. He often remarked at how well populated Regina was with restaurants, bistros, café and taverns. In fact on a per capital basis, he thought Regina had more great restaurants than Winnipeg! He was especially fond of a place dubbed Leopold’s Tavern.

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Fast forward a couple of years and Leopold’s has found its way to Winnipeg. Opening in the heart of south Osborne, next to the Park Theatre in the former Deseo location, it was easy to locate and find parking. It wasn’t so easy to cross Osborne at midday so here’s a little tip: park close to one of two pedestrian crosswalks. That way you’ll be eating sooner and back to work that much earlier as well. This day was one of their pre-opening events-free lunch to suppliers and friends!

We were invited to share an appetizer and each order an entrée. Since their lunch menu also covers off the evening, we got a great preview of what will be offered up.

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We choose Buffalo Cauliflower where Leopold’s pretty much duplicates the taste of Buffalo Wings without the high calorie count of actual wings. The crumbled blue cheese and dressing cooled of the pleasant fiery tastes. Our helpful server indicated that on Wing Wednesday you can choose the cauliflower with 8 other wing sauces. We tucked that info away for good keeping.

With a nice cool pint of 1919 by Little Brown Jug, I could have pretty much called it lunch and been satisfied, but our entrees had not yet arrived.

At first glance I decided upon their Fish & Chips and was hoping that D would select the Mac & Cheese. He remembered the fried chicken from Regina and opted instead for Leopold’s Buffalo Chicken Ranch burger. When he generously offered to share his fries, I switched to Mac & Cheese myself, adding bacon for good measure. Because after all, I was ordering the fish to get the fries, so why not indulge in both!

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When the burger arrived, two rashers of thick meaty bacon were escaping the premise-made hamburger buns. The crunchy chicken was as superb as D remembered it and he was very content.

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On the other hand, I was a little overwhelmed when my casserole of Mac & Cheese was delivered to the table. I felt like a glutton, but tucked in anyway. The tart mix of white wine with three gooey cheeses made for delicious eating. The added bacon, crumbled Ritz biscuits and parmesan put the dish right over the top! Perhaps I completed an eighth of it when I put my fork down and surrendered.  The left overs will be much appreciated by my hungry family.

I recognised the front windows and staircase of the former restaurant inhabitants. Leopold’s brightened it up with skylights on the stair wells and various retro paraphernalia adorning the walls.

As well as meeting the General Manager, pretty much every staff member greeted us upon arrival and departure. I am quite sure that soon they will be the place “where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came” sing with me now…..

Kath’s quote: “Food is not about impressing people. It’s about making them feel comfortable.”-Ina Garten, ‘The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook’

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Era Bistro-Winnipeg

July11

In the same manner that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights elevates our city to a national (even international) tourism level, Era Bistro elevates the Museum to even higher heights. I have had the pleasure of noshing at the at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Musee D’Orsay in Paris, The Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem

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and more recently the Ufizzi Gallery in Florence (my husband and I at the Ufizzi pictured above). All were tasty enough but none had the integrity of local produce and regional menu as Era does.

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I have met both the Director of Food and Beverage and the Executive Chef at Era Bistro. The former named Toni is gluten intolerant and strives to give persons with this, vegan and vegetarian preferences plenty of menu choices. On the lunch menu alone there were nine delicious options. I enjoyed the gluten free Quinoa Salad on my visit.

Executive Chef Kirk Hanson couldn’t visit for long as he was hands-on in the kitchen. He did linger long enough to fill me in on their seasonal menu emphasizing locally sourced, Certified Fair Trade and sustainable products. Somehow they manage to do all of this and keep their lunch prices reasonable, ranging from $8-21 at lunch.

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Over a couple of visits I have managed to tuck into the Pickerel Po’Boy and California Club, having a difficult time trying to discern my favourite. The former was assembled from panko-crusted Manitoba pickerel and iceberg lettuce, tomato, pickled onion & jalapeño remoulade. The latter, roasted herb-marinated chicken breast and prosciutto, lettuce, tomato, avocado spread, mayo, sprouts & aged cheddar. Both were wedged between halves of toasted ciabatta buns.

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In addition, I just might have tried Era’s famous carrot fries where beer-battered carrot sticks were served with  a fresh herb & jalapeño buttermilk dip for…..dipping!

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Era’s desserts are in a league of their own. Both that I have sampled were gluten free-the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with a blueberry lavender and lemon compote

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and the Roasted Peach and Rhubarb Parfait with house-made graham crumbs and Chantilly ream. I understand their home-made ice cream and crème Brule daily specials are amazing too.

As I was oohing and ahhing, Toni reminded me that Era Bistro is the exclusive caterer for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and does off-site catering as well. The Bistro is available for private events like weddings, holiday parties and corporate soirees.

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As my lunch date and I were leaving I popped outside to get a glimpse of the beautiful summer patio. In addition, I just had to stop in at the boutique where I made a mental note to purchase future hostess and birthday gifts.

Kath’s quote: “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.”-Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet) (1694-1778)

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Love never fails.

 

 

The Flight Club-Winnipeg Airport

June21

We love to travel and have recently learned from friends how to make the entire airport departure part more pleasurable. They are members of a couple of executive lounges and enhance their leave-takings with a leisurely visit where they can enjoy a beverage, some delicious food, flip through magazines and the like. Before a long overnight flight overseas recently they arrived in time to enjoy a meal at the Flight Club and gave the bistro on the arrivals floor of the airport, glowing accolades. She asked if I had a chance to dine there. As a matter of fact I had.

We were away in March and thought that we would return to spring in Winnipeg but we had no such luck. Spring teased us through April and I was overjoyed to receive an invite to a tasting at the Flight Club where their menu is inspired by herbs and seeds. I was craving green…anything green.

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Sister #3 (my date for the evening) and I were delighted by the Roasted Heirloom Beets and Tomato Salad. The vine tomatoes  and white balsamic vinaigrette produced just the right amount of acidity to offset the silky beets and pungent goat cheese. Between the fresh thyme and rosemary and the sweet candied pistachios which added crunch and sweetness, I knew by that first dish that the evening would be a delicious success.

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The Spiced by the Sea Ahi Tuna Tartare was also a hit -flavoured with pickled ginger, lime, chia seeds and microgreens. I like my tuna tartare with a smidge of sesame oil which was missing, but satisfying nonetheless.  To offset the seriousness of the plate, the tartare was accompanied with a side of deep fried knotted nori.

Jumbo Shrimp Wonton Soup

The Jumbo Shrimp Wonton Soup warmed us up and even though I am not partial to miso, the broth with hon shimeji and shitake mushrooms was light and lovely.

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We skipped over to the Asian section of the Flight Club menu and landed at the Indonesian dish of Nasi Goreng. Sister #3 and I agreed that this was the best dish that had been sampled up until that time. We loved the sunny-side egg over the spicy and sweet fried rice and were over the moon when we tasted the chicken satay skewers! There were four of us sharing each dish and we could have easily gone home after this delectable one, but our tasting time was not over, in fact we had just started!

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In addition to all the savoury food, samples from the Flight Club’s juice and smoothie bar came out in between plates. This gorgeous one called Charge Me Up was a nutritious blend of grapefruit, pineapple, lemon, lime and lemongrass. If this smoothie doesn’t get you going, I am not certain what will.

I am confident that you see the trend of this post. Every dish was creatively concocted and plated, utilizing the finest ingredients and complex taste profiles. I am running out of descriptive words for the multitude of dishes, so I think instead I am going to post the rest of the entrees that we sampled and list the ingredients from their menu.

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Shiromiso Salmon-Miso-marinated Atlantic salmon, pan-fried and served with roasted cauliflower, wasabi and a Yukon gold puree, elegantly paired with pickled ginger beurre blanc.

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Flight Club Veal Cheek-Veal cheek wrapped in smoked bacon and cooked in a sous vide style with hints of fresh rosemary and thyme, served over creamy truffle-scented mashed potatoes with ratatouille and crispy fried leek.

Flight Club Lamb Steak

Flight Club Lamb Shank-Lamb shank cooked in a sous vide style with black pepper and sweet onion and served with a Yukon gold potato puree and garnished with a Tuscan Cipollini onions confit with raisins and pine nuts.

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Crispy Green Tomato Sandwich-Breaded Green tomatoes on a Kaiser bun with fresh avocado, spicy jalapeno cheese and lettuce and buttered with a smoked chipotle aioli.

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I believe this one was (I may be incorrect-hey even foodies forget sometime!)…

Banh Mi Grilled Pork Wrap-Grilled pork marinated in a lemongrass topped with pickled king mushrooms, fresh garden vegetables and softly lathered with our “Flight Club” special sauce.

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Golden Roasted Chicken ‘n’ Rice-Roasted chicken served on a bed of flavoured rice and fresh vegetables with traditional chilli sauce.

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Vegetarian Red Curry-Healthy blend of vegetables and tofu cooked in a lightly spiced red curry sauce served with apricot and almond rice pilaf and crispy pappadam.

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Sweet Lemon Cheese Dumplings-Lemon cheese filling in a sweet parcel, deep-fried and served with chocolate and salted caramel sauce.

We were delighted when the dessert came out, not because we had the room for something sweet but because it meant we could soon put our forks down. These little packets popped in your mouth!

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Death by Chocolate-Decadent chocolate ice cream, bittersweet chocolate chunks, chocolate cookie crumble and milk chocolate sauce.

I have always considered this dessert title an odd one, but so appropriate in this case. I thought that I might die if I took another bite, but that didn’t stop me.

Kath’s quote. “Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.”-Francois Minot

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

Kevin’s Bistro-Winnipeg

June7

Confession time…..I recently got to suggest a place for my girlfriends and I to dine out. Since the occasion for our get together was to celebrate my birthday-I got to pick. When I went on line to see that Kevin’s Bistro only serves mac and cheese, I thought perhaps I had made a dining mistake. Was Kevin’s going to be too casual for our get-together? Was everyone going to be able to find something to eat? Would we all go into a carbohydrate coma?

I needn’t have worried. Kevin’s Bistro at 141 Bannatyne was the perfect spot. Parking was a bit tricky since it is recital time at the Pantages Theatre and the Concert Hall but we managed to find a great spot not far from the restaurant. It was a glorious evening. We were delighted by the building itself with its exposed brick walls and long narrow space. It felt to me like one of the many restaurants I have visited in New York.

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We started by sharing vegan brussel sprouts that had been tossed in a apple cider vinaigrette that was as dark as a balsamic one. They had been cooked to just barely el dente and were firm and crunchy.

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We also loved the panzanella salad which reminded me of bread salads I had eaten in Tuscany. The ribbons of basil which topped it were particularly tasty and let’s face it…I love anything made with bread!

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My picture of the traditional mac and cheese dish was out of focus but looked a lot like this dish called Nooch (minus the garnish). We all had tastes but couldn’t distinguish the nutty taste of the cashew sauce.

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The hit of the evening was this Caprese dish. The fresh tastes of bocconcini, basil and tomatoes lightened the combination of macaroni and cheese.

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I was over the moon with my choice of the el Mejor where jack cheese, roasted poblano chilies, smoked chorizo and Mexican seasoning were adorned with chicharron (pork rinds), fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. The girls all commented that it had some heat. That would have been from the roasted poblano chillies because the spicy chorizo which I am accustomed to eating, was really quite mild in Kevin’s version. I adore anything with lime and cilantro and was quite content.

All my friends demurely put their forks down when they were half way through their dish. Even though I could have carried on, I followed suit. I sure was glad that I did, when I got to enjoy the left overs for the next day’s lunch.

And since it was a birthday we ordered both desserts offered up by the kitchen with 4 forks. I enjoyed both of the with equal delight.

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No one had ever tried a beignet before and so it became the favourite of the two, especially as it was topped with pecans and a golden sauce. I had enjoyed them when I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans. Beignets are French for fritters or doughnuts. As we tucked in we noticed that the dough was a bit tough and we requested knives to tear off bite sized pieces. I contend that if you put pecans and a caramel sauce on just about anything, it will taste amazing!

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Since bread (and potatoes) are my true loves, I was quite enamored with the second dessert of a chocolate bread pudding. It was not too sweet but dense with deep chocolate tastes.

I was thoroughly enjoying my time with my lovely friends even before the gift giving commenced. They know me very well and their presents were true gifts from the heart.

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 (New York restauranteur)

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

Mon Ami Louis – Summer 2018

June5

There are certain signs of summer when you live in Winnipeg-the fruit trees in full bloom, the quickly flowing Red River, bikes and pedestrians everywhere and in the case of this year, the end of the hockey season. In addition, now that Mon Ami Louis opens only for the fair weather months, the opening of its doors on the Provencher Bridge.

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Three good friends were assembled that day-one of the first sunny and balmy days of the season. The air conditioning actually provided some relief as we entered. I was warm from making the trek from my parked car and across the bridge when one of the trio pointed out that there is some designated parking for Mon Ami Louis guests on the east side of the river. I will research that option next time.

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The menu has been revamped since the autumn closure of the facility. We were delighted to sample a couple of new lunch features with our host. We had all eaten too much over the Mother’s Day weekend so we pledged that we would go light and then only one of us kept that commitment. The Rainbow Beet salad was bulging with delicious ingredients like apples, goat cheese, candied almonds and quinoa. The cider vinaigrette offset the tastes beautifully.

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This gorgeous sandwich was packed with roasted vegetables like roasted zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, apples, pickled onion, almond pesto, tangy goat cheese, lettuce and tomato, all on 12 grain bread. Our friend could barely fit her mouth around it, it was so substantial.

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My selection was the mussels in white wine and cream sauce. They were meaty and plentiful and I loved slurping them up with my delectable fries.  An entire pound of mussels had been sautéed with shallots, garlic, and herbs and were served with toasted baguette and roasted garlic aioli. I left the baguette on the plate and dumped my fries right in the bowl with the mussels-oh so very good! On the way out we ran into Chef Luc Jean who declared: “what’s a French restaurant with out mussels et frites on the menu?”

You absolutely cannot go wrong with any of their Tarte Flambés that appear on both the lunch and dinner menus. Speaking of their dinner menu (also revamped), I would be hard pressed to decide between the Roast Tarragon Chicken, Seafood Bouillabaisse, Pan Roasted Berkshire Pork Chop, House Made Gnocchi or Walleye and Chips. I am so glad that summer has just begun so that there will be lots of opportunity to visit.

Kath’s quote: “Bouillabaisse, this golden soup, this incomparable golden soup which embodies and concentrates all the aromas of our shores and which permeates, like an ecstasy, the stomachs of astonished gastronomes. Bouillabaisse is one of those classic dishes whose glory has encircled the world, and the miracle consists of this: there are as many bouillabaisses as there are good chefs or cordon bleus. Each brings to his own version his special touch.”-Curnonsky (1872-1956)

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Love never fails.

 

 

 

 

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