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Hot Dining

Chef Spotlight: Wayne Martin

By Teena Legris

CAPITAL COMFORT

After years cooking in Vancouver, Chef Wayne Martin has embraced the authenticity of Winnipeg. Since opening Capital Grill and Bar three years ago, he has been impressing diners with exacting techniques applied to unfussy comfort food. This self-professed chef of the everyman sprinkles hints of his west coast tenure, throughout his menu, like a Dungeness crab cake that has made waves within his fanbase. Accompanying Granny Smith apple slaw accompaniment demonstrates the expertise of his kitchen. Experience a perfect blend of haute and homey at 3116 Roblin Blvd, 204-615-3116.

To check out Chef Wayne Martin’s recipes, go to ciaowinnipeg.com.

Park Yourself in Banff for Fondue at the Distillery

By Calli Naish

When you move to a new town, you subconsciously search for old familiarity in the new surroundings. Cheese, bread, good whiskey—these are some of my old faithfuls – and thankfully, although I just recently moved to Canmore, I have some good company to share my food with. On a near weekly basis, we meet in Canmore, Lake Louise or Banff and study the comfort of food in one of far too many establishments to choose from. Our most recent savory library was Park Distillery.

As the name suggests, this restaurant offers no shortage of cocktails to choose from, and cocktails were our first order of business. We settled on two beverages of completely different styles both made from Park Distillery’s own spirits. The Backcountry Tea was selected for its rye base, sweet citrus flavours, and mint melodies. The tasting notes of the tea didn’t appeal to me, so I opted for the bolder flavours offered by the Observation Peak. I would be lying if I said I chose it for any other reason than the smoked cedar square it wore (which is currently being used as an air-freshener in my car, still exuding a log cabin fireplace aroma each time I open the door). Perfection.

With drinks suiting our personalities in hand, we were shown to our table and we sipped in happy silence while perusing the menu, which offers a variety of starters, smaller bites, shareable items, and full campfire-style dinners. It didn’t take long before we had decided that we were in need of a little cheese therapy and ordered the Banff Ave. Fondue to start and, believing that the chicken would be a nice lite fare after this decadence, two orders of the ¼ Rotisserie Chicken as our main. While we waited for our orders we took in the atmosphere, which is a little rustic Canadian, and a little industrial pub. Warm plaids and dark woods create a laid back feel, and are complemented by the denim-clad servers, while the garage doors and metallic sheen off the glass cased still remind you that this isn’t your average “backcountry cabin” themed restaurant. If we’d shown up on time we’d have been able to tour the distillery, but we showed up a little later than 3:30, and so simply admired its copper presence from a distance. The place was busy but comfortable, and thankfully there was minimal wait as we were quickly dipping into our first course.

We were presented with a large fondue pot of bubbling Gruyere, accompanied by several pieces of lightly toasted bread, a selection of pickles, sliced pear and radish. In a matter of minutes were considering asking for more bread as we had consumed all but the radish slices (neither of us particularly like radish) and were left staring longingly into the lingering cheese. Before we had a chance to ask for additional dipping items the forks had been drawn and the pot impolitely consumed sans bread. We shamelessly enjoyed every molten bite so much so that before our second course had even arrived, we were already discussing how we were going to be set for lunch the following day. Despite our fullness, we welcomed the delicious sight of two plates of rotisserie chicken on beds of mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, garnished with grilled lemon and tiny skillets of gravy. Needless to say, we made room and gorged ourselves on a second course that was as satisfying as the first.

An experience as fulfilling socially as it was nutritionally, the Park Distillery is definitely on my “again” list. With a cocktail list that has a variety of tastes in mind and fondue for days, it should probably be on everyone’s “try” list. If you do go, maybe pair your sharable dishes with some of the smaller bites. Or follow in our footsteps, allow your eyes to be far bigger than your stomachs and stretch your dining experience into tomorrow’s lunch.

Q+A: The Dining Empire of Lance Hurtubise

By MICHAELA RITCHIE

Much has changed in Calgary since Lance Hurtubise made his first foray into our city’s culinary scene—as a dishwasher at the age of 12, making $2.10 an hour. From his days serving as a bus boy, waiter, bouncer and manager, to now as President and CEO of the Vintage Group, Hurtubise has seen it all in Calgary’s kitchens over the last four decades. (more…)

Hot Dining

By Trevor J. Adams

DATE NIGHT

  • Intimate Lot Six (page 61) on Argyle Street is a must for serious cocktail aficionados. The bar recently unveilled a new cocktail menu featuring 16 creations. The selection includes As the Valley Blooms (cognac, sake, chamomile, orgeat, lemon, grapefruit, egg white, grapefruit bitters) and the Green Swizzle (gin, lime, cucumber, chartreuse, sage).
  • With its French-inspired seasonal menu, Agricola Street Brasserie (page 59) has helped turn the North End into Halifax’s hottest dining destination. Artfully prepared seasonal dishes, including fresh Atlantic seafood, pair with Nova Scotian wine and beer.

 

CHILL OUT

Beat the summer heat with a tasty treat. At Sugah (page 52), on the waterfront boardwalk in Bishop’s Landing, you’ll find all manner of confections, but the star of the show is the house-made hand-paddled ice cream, showcasing unique Nova Scotian ingredients.

 

LOCAL FAVOURITES

  • Athens Restaurant (page 62) on Quinpool Road offers the Greek mainstays you’d expect, but Haligonians love it for weekend brunch: omelettes, eggs Florentine, and a buffet chock full of breakfast favourites like sausage, baked beans, pancakes, perogies, pastries, and more.
  • Maxwell’s Plum (page 62) on Grafton Street boasts a huge array of craft beers and brews from around the globe, served alongside burgers, sandwiches, fish, and chips, and pub grub galore.
  • Scratch-made vegan cuisine make Wild Leek (page 63) a Windsor Street neighbourhood favourite. With an on-site bakery, tasty gourmet desserts are the house specialty.

 

ON THE GO

Quick, casual, healthy, and flavourful: Burrito Jax (page 62) on Barrington Street ticks all the boxes for an urban-exploration power lunch. Scratch-made burritos are the house specialty. Pulled pork and pepper steak will bring the big traditional flavours purists demand, or you can give it an East Coast twist with North Atlantic cod.

 

ASIAN ADVENTURE

  • In a historic building on the corner of Morris and Hollis streets, Talay Thai (page 63) serves up heaping portions of traditional dishes like creations like Gung Pad Pik Pow (basil prawn with chili paste), Pla Muek Tod Katem (garlic shrimp), and curries aplenty.
  • Japanese fine dining, showcasing traditional and fusion dishes, is on offer at Sushi Nami Royale (page 62). Check it out on Dresden Row in the heart of the downtown or Lacewood Drive in Clayton Park.
  • Don’t let the strip-mall exterior or industrial-park cul-de-sac location fool you: Dhaba Casual Fine Dining & Express (page 61) on Oland Crescent serves some of the tastiest Indian food around. The volcanic chicken vindaloo isn’t for the fainthearted; the flavours are unforgettable.

 

Editor’s Choice: ABOVE IT ALL

Take a lofty perch above the bustle of Spring Garden Road to enjoy the rooftop patio at Your Father’s Moustache (page 63). This perennial summer favourite is the ideal place to laze away a sunny afternoon with a cold beverage, including four beers that downstairs neighbour Rockbottom Brewpub (page 56) crafts just for this bar. There are daily lunch specials but locals know to go for a signature sandwich (like the haddock bahn mi).  

Hot Dining: Pretty Patisserie

Photo by Ian McCausland

Photo by Ian McCausland

Sweet delicacies are having a moment in the sun, but for Nathalie Gautier and her husband Gilles, Instagram-worthy desserts are not a fleeting trend but a representation of years of hard work spent mastering time honoured techniques. At bustling Main Street bakery, A L’Epi de Ble, these French ex-pats bring a slice of Provence to the prairies. Loaves are made with the traditional process—no preservatives, dairy, or gelatin, and never shortening—and the pastry case holds treasures like colourful macarons and eclairs stuffed with rich pastry cream. With her broad smile and lilting French accent, Nathalie herself is part of this cozy nook’s charm. 1757 Main St, 204‑334‑2526

Top 5 Rooftop Patios

Stella's Cafe & Bakery. Photo by Dustin Leader.

Stella’s Cafe & Bakery. Photo by Dustin Leader.

Besides food, the best way to a Winnipegger’s heart is the word “patio”. These spots take it to the next level—literally—with rooftop spaces to dine al fresco.

Local favourite Stella’s Cafe & Bakery has 8 locations across the city, and the newest, on Pembina Highway, boasts a sweet rooftop patio. Go at dusk when the cafe lights come on and cast a romantic glow over quinoa dragon bowls and plates of Scandinavian gravlax.

  • 1463 Pembina Hwy, 204‑275‑2001

Tucked among the treetops, The Roost‘s intimate rooftop setting gives a bird’s eye view on bustling Corydon Avenue. Clever and complex craft cocktails and elegant small plates have us crowing.

  • 651 Corydon, 204‑414‑9313

Cravings for pub grub and powerful frozen margaritas are sated on Tavern United‘s sleek patio. Get an unbeatable view of downtown’s SHED (sports, hospitality, and entertainment district) and watch ground being broken on the new True North Square.

  • 260 Hargrave, 204‑944‑0022

Learn what Dean Martin was crooning about while dining outdoors at Pasquale’s. The St. Boniface area restaurant has a secluded rooftop patio perfect for winding down with a glass of wine and a hearty plate of lasagne.

  • 109 Marion St, 204‑231-1403

Take in an iconic Winnipeg intersection from above at Confusion Corner Bar and Grill. The smoky barbeque chicken pizza, drizzled in tangy bourbon barbeque sauce, is a prime patio pick.

  • 500 Corydon Ave, 204‑284‑6666

Now Open: Brazen Hall

Courtesy of Brazen Hall.

Courtesy of Brazen Hall.

Winnipeg’s craft brewing scene has exploded recently, with new breweries popping up all over the city. Brewpub Brazen Hall is the latest joy for homegrown hopheads. This well-designed Fort Garry spot styled with rustic wood, plush leather, and gleaming geometric fixtures opened to instant approval from pub lovers who now fill the space with lively chatter. A crisp blonde ale and peppery bière de garde are now on tap with more varieties brewing in the tanks on site. Superb suds are complemented by a fun menu of twists on pub favourites, like gussied-up burgers and wings, as well as filling pastas and brawny meat dishes.

  • 800 Pembina Hwy, 204‑453‑7980

Hot Dining: French Twist

Photo by Ian McCausland.

Photo by Ian McCausland.

It has been a long journey leading chef Cam Tran of Café Ce Soir to his petit Portage Avenue bistro. A child of Vietnamese immigrants, who escaped their country by boat, Tran began working in kitchens with his father as a teenager. A winding career path eventually led him to move to France to study as a pastry chef at the Michelin starred Gastronomicom near Montpellier. Today, in his welcoming 23-seat café, chef Cam whips up marvelous pastry creations, crème brûlées infused with flavour, and classic French cuisine. A member of the slow food movement, this passionate chef makes everything from scratch in the kitchen with local ingredients. 937 Portage Ave, 204‑414‑7647, cafecesoir.ca

Now Open: Two New Restaurants for Casual Cuisine

Photo by Mike Linton, Centric Productions

Photo by Mike Linton, Centric Productions

Popular board game cafe Across the Board outgrew its small space on Albert St and has moved into a bright location on the corner of Main St and Bannatyne Ave. The spacious new room, boasting high ceilings and picture windows, sees its game selection upped to more than 1000 offerings, and an expanded menu of snacks, appies, and entrées for hungry players to eat between turns. 211 Bannatyne Ave, 204‑691‑3422, acrosstheboardcafe.com

Tastes of the Mediterranean are the specialty at Agora Fine Foods. The spot, named after the ancient Greek market and gathering place, has plenty of reason to gather, from the shelves stocked with local and imported specialty foods to the sleek Indulge Bistro and Wine Bar that serves up Spanish, Greek, and Italian dishes in a smartly designed space. 1765 Kenaston Blvd, 204‑285‑4068, agorafinefoods.ca

Top 5 Souper Bowls

Cioppino at Cafe La Scala. Photo by David Lipnowski.

Cioppino at Cafe La Scala. Photo by David Lipnowski.

Soup’s on! In a city famous for winter, its no wonder Winnipeggers love to huddle up around steaming bowls of broth. These are the city’s most slurp-able.

Sana Souphouse is a haven for nearby office workers, with a comfortable interior and selection of soups both classic and novel. Try a bowl of the creamy cinnamon-scented red pepper bisque, or sample a flight of three varieties. 387 Graham Ave, sanasouphouse.com

Recent renovations have given Corydon Avenue mainstay Cafe La Scala fresh new digs, and the kitchen is equally skilled at updating the classics. Stellar cioppino piles tender seafood beneath a shimmery red stock, with a hit of Sambuca imparting modern edge. 725 Corydon Ave, facebook

Sherbrook Street Delicatessen has indecisive diners covered. A heaping bowl of mis mash soup has a little of everything–corned beef, matzah balls, veggies–thrown in. 102 Sherbrook St, sherbrookstreetdeli.com

A family-owned gem tucked into a St Boniface strip mall, Boun’s Restaurant serves a mix of Laotian, Chinese, and Thai cuisine. With hits of lime, roasted garlic, and cilantro, Laotian chicken noodle soup packs more punch than Granny’s and is equally sure to cure what ails you. 208 Marion St, facebook

Winnipeg’s French Quarter is the ideal place to find a bowl of French onion soup. Promenade Cafe and Wine offers a classic version with loads of gooey cheese. 130 Provencher Blvd, cafeandwine.com

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Now Open: Two New Restaurants with Old World Charm

Hunter chicken courtesy of Saddlery on Market.

Hunter chicken courtesy of Saddlery on Market.

Newcomer to the East Exchange District, Saddlery on Market, is paying tribute to the historic ‘hood with a gorgeous renovated room and a welcoming menu of comfort food. Modern-meets-heritage touches like barn board, brick, and pendant lighting decorate the space, with placards explaining the locations history as the site of the Great West Saddlery Company. Chef Michael Day does wonders with protein preparations, like delectable hunter chicken. 114 Market Ave, saddleryonmarket.com

Nose-to-tail eating finds a home at new St Boniface spot Bouchee Boucher. The cozy window-wrapped dining room is a backdrop to chef Alex Svenne’s concise small plates menu, which makes excellent use of prime cuts from the attached butcher shop. Items like braised lamb casserole with pomegranate and tahini show global inspiration. 101-300 Tache Ave, boucheeboucher.ca

Hot Dining: Crowd Pleasing

Photo by Ian McCausland

Photo by Ian McCausland

The RBC Convention Centre relies on organized efficiency. With a recent expansion having almost doubled the building in size, the food service team behind the scenes is busier than ever. For Executive Chef Quentin Harty, this means menu prep, purchasing, building relationships with suppliers, quality control, meeting with clients, and managing 85-90 staff. With hundreds, even thousands, of plates leaving the kitchen under his supervision, Harty must be sure his crack team is operating at full capacity. The seasoned chef enjoys the impact of cooking for a crowd: “whatever you can serve one person, you can deliver to hundreds.” 375 York Ave, 204‑956‑1720, wcc.mb.ca