Review: Craft and art at work in Smith

Dinner is served at Smith. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Dinner is served at Smith. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Smith

Smith
Inn at the Forks
75 Forks Market Road
204-944-2445
Website: http://www.smithrestaurant.ca
Twitter: @smithwinnipeg

Facebook: none

Welcome back Alex Svenne.

Yes, it’s true, one of Winnipeg’s most talented chefs is back in business at Smith, the Inn at the Fork’s new in-house restaurant and lounge.

Svenne is behind the line and all over the menu at the new restaurant, which opened Sept. 13, 2014. (Smith serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.)

The menu is all about meat. (This is the sample menu and is subject to change.) You name a beast, it’s probably on the menu. For proof, this rustic chic restaurant actually serves something called ‘Beast of the Day.’

Bison, Berkshire pork, lamb shoulder, New York steak, kielbasa, beef brisket all have a spot on this meaty menu. Chicken thighs, pickerel, oysters, steak tartar and the seriously fantastic Smith Burger also take their positions.

Dinners can choose their main protein and then order sides like creamed corn, mac and cheese, garlic onions and mashed potatoes with chives, among other options. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly pedestrian side dishes. They were all super flavourful. The creamed corn and a multi-cheese mac and cheese were both standouts at the table.

The Smith Burger is a massive and juicy undertaking a good four-inches high. My dinner partner topped his with a fried egg to put this behemoth over the top.

Crispy fries with truffle oil and a dusting of pecorino cheese were a cut above.

Like Svenne’s former restaurant Bistro 7 1/4, this Winnipeg born-and-raised chef also loves small plates too.

Absolute must tries include: Hot and Sticky Nuts, Devilled Eggs and the absolute divine Devils on Horseback — prunes stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in crispy bacon.

Smith is bringing back family style dining too. Sunday dinner will soon become a weekly feature where guests can fill their plates from the carved proteins and side dishes on the table.

Smith, with Alex Svenne at the helm, is a great addition to Winnipeg’s restaurant scene.

And Svenne is a perfect fit for Smith.

The Smith Burger

The Smith Burger

Mac and Cheese at Smith.

Mac and Cheese at Smith.

Chef Alex Svenne (right) behind the line at Smith.

Chef Alex Svenne (right) behind the line at Smith.

Dining in comfort and style at Smith.

Dining in comfort and style at Smith.

New York steak with creamed corn (right), grilled garlic mushrooms and mac and cheese at Smith.

New York steak with creamed corn (right), grilled garlic mushrooms and mac and cheese at Smith.

Peg City Grub is your ultimate source for food in Winnipeg. From the hottest chefs to the best new restaurants to the most delicious events, we’ve got you covered. Follow us on Twitter @pegcitygrub and visit www.tourismwinnipeg.com for more on the city’s fabulous dining options.

Peg City Grub is a Tourism Winnipeg culinary initiative.

Review: Small plates celebrated at Enoteca

Let the eating begin at Enoteca, chef Scott Bagshaw's newest venture. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Let the eating begin at Enoteca, chef Scott Bagshaw’s newest venture. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Enoteca Wine Bar
1670 Corydon Avenue
204-487-1529
Neighbourhood: River Heights
Facebook: facebook.com/EnotecaWineRepository

Twitter: twitter.com/YourEnoteca
Website: none

Chef Scott Bagshaw is one of Winnipeg’s most notable chefs. When he opened Deseo in October 2010, the Spanish tapas spot was instantly praised for its innovation on plates.

Winnipeggers instantly fell in love with his little and big plates that all captured his joy of cooking.

And since then, Bagshaw has been a visible player on the city’s vibrant and ever-blossoming food scene. Dinner at Deseo is still a hot ticket in this town.

And now we have another place to sample Bagshaw’s stellar bites. In August 2014, he debuted Enoteca, his small plates eatery and wine bar in River Heights.

With its slick wooden tables, leather banquettes and open kitchen and chef’s table, Enoteca’s design screams modern urban. It is simple, unfettered and sophisticated all at once.

And so is Bagshaw’s menu. With just 15 options on the menu, the carefully considered plates really showcase Bagshaw’s talent for layering flavours, serving the best of the season and pushing our palates. Take a look at Enoteca’s menu here.

On our visit we started with a green salad like no other. Rough-cut chunks of jicama, celery, cucumber and romaine were the foundation for a melange of slightly spicy wasabi peas, edamame and pistachios. A lime vinaigrette and a generous smear of creme fraiche finished this delightfully crunchy salad with equal parts heat, sweet and tart.

Dishes came at a quick but manageable pace. House-made duck pastrami on brioche ranks up there as one of the best sammies in Winnipeg. (Deer + Almond’s Benny and the Jets still has my heart too.)

Roasted cauliflower with parmesan gratin, apples, Marcona almonds and cocoa had me rethinking my ‘meh’ feelings about this wishy washy vegetable. The tender and tasty flowers make a smart and much lighter replacement for any potato craving.

I typically like my anchovies hidden but I may have to rethink that policy after tucking into Enoteca’s zucchini fritters. Each fritter (a special on the day we visited) was topped with micro-greens and strips of anchovies. This earthy, crunchy morsel delivered a smidgen of salty brine in every bite.

A varied and thoughtful wine menu completed our perfect evening at Enoteca.

Insider’s tip: reservations recommended at this dinner spot.

Enoteca Wine Bar

Zucchini fritters with sardines and greens at Enoteca.

Zucchini fritters with anchovies and greens at Enoteca.

Enoteca

Roasted cauliflower with parmesan gratin, apples, Marcona almonds and cocoa at Enoteca.

Roasted cauliflower with parmesan gratin, apples, Marcona almonds and cocoa at Enoteca.

Duck pastrami on brioche with brusselkraut, sauce grebiche and emmental cheese at Enoteca.

Duck pastrami on brioche with brusselkraut, sauce grebiche and emmental cheese at Enoteca.

Green salad with romaine heart, edamame, cucumber, celery, jicama, wasabi peas,pistachios, lime vinaigrette and creme fraiche at Enoteca.

Green salad with romaine heart, edamame, cucumber, celery, jicama, wasabi peas,pistachios, lime vinaigrette and creme fraiche at Enoteca.

Peg City Grub is your ultimate source for food in Winnipeg. From the hottest chefs to the best new restaurants to the most delicious events, we’ve got you covered. Follow us on Twitter @pegcitygrub and visit www.tourismwinnipeg.com for more on the city’s fabulous dining options.

Peg City Grub is a Tourism Winnipeg culinary initiative.

WINNERS: ManyFest 2014 Food Truck Wars

Coconut banana fritters by Vilai's Spice Box, ManyFest 2014's Food Truck Wars. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Coconut banana fritters by Vilai’s Spice Box, ManyFest 2014′s Food Truck Wars. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Winnipeg’s second annual Food Truck Wars wrapped up this weekend after thousands of urbanites loaded up on the city’s best street eats.

The food truck contest was just one of the events held during ManyFest, a yearly street festival that celebrates life in the city.

This was also the second year I offered my services (and stomach) to judge Food Truck Wars. This year, 25 trucks parked along Memorial Drive, serving vittles to the teaming crowds. Diners feasted on a cultural miss-mash of eats including Greek, Italian, Japanese, Filipino, Caribbean, Southern Barbecue, Mexican, Mediterranean and good-old hamburgers and fries, among many other foods.

This year’s mobile food purveyors went all out for Food Truck Wars. The field doubled from last year and everyone put their best to the test. The enthusiasm of the cook/owners and the crowds speaks to the health of Winnipeg’s growing and vibrant food-truck scene.

The food was impressive, ambitious and creative. As a judge, it was hard to pick favourites. It was so hard this year that I awarded second and third place winners. Even though they weren’t the grand prize winners, their efforts must be acknowledged. With that, here are the winners and runner ups of ManyFest 2014′s Food Truck Wars.

Sake Salmon Roll by Waki Temaki.

Sake Salmon Roll by Waki Temaki.

Best Presentation
Winner
: Sake Salmon Roll by Waki Temaki
Second Place: Crab Rangon by Vilai’s Spice Box
Third Place: Special pizza with thick-cut ham, parmesan, baby arugula and beet sauce with roasted garlic cream sauce by Fired Up 

Food Truck Wars 2014 Winners: Roddy Seradilla from Pimp my Rice (left); Robin Summerfield, Peg City Grub; Derrek Collins from Poutine King; and Edward Lam from Waki Temaki.

Food Truck Wars 2014 Winners: Roddy Seradilla from Pimp my Rice (left); Robin Summerfield, Peg City Grub; Derrek Collins from Poutine King; and Edward Lam from Waki Temaki.

Best Bang for Your Buck
Winner: Filipino Sampler by Pimp my Rice, $5
Second Place: Shredded beef, pulled pork and shredded chicken tacos by Habanero Sombrero, 3 for $9
Third Place: Roasted turkey wrap by Healthy Eats, $8.50

The Fisherman by Poutine King (left).

The Fisherman by Poutine King (left).

Most Original
Winner:
The Fisherman by Poutine King
2nd Place:
The Beatle by Tot Wheels
3rd Place: Island Taco by Island Fusion

People’s Choice
Winner
: The Red Ember
Runner Ups: Tot Wheels, Stuff It and Island Fusion

And here are a few more shots of all the action at Food Truck Wars 2014. See you next year!

Downtown Winnipeg BIZ's managing director Jason Syvixay chowing down at Food Truck Wars 2014.

Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s managing director Jason Syvixay chowing down at Food Truck Wars 2014.

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Peg City Grub is your ultimate source for food in Winnipeg. From the hottest chefs to the best new restaurants to the most delicious events, we’ve got you covered. Follow us on Twitter @pegcitygrub and visit www.tourismwinnipeg.com for more on the city’s fabulous dining options.

Peg City Grub is a Tourism Winnipeg culinary initiative.