Review: East India Company

Mango chutney, tamarind sauce and cilantro sauce at East India Company. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

Mango chutney, tamarind sauce and cilantro sauce at East India Company. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

East India Company
349 York Avenue
204-947-3097
Neighbourhood: Downtown
Website: eastindiaco.com
Facebook: none

Twitter: twitter.com/east_india_co

East India Company is a Winnipeg institution. The Mehra family opened the original downtown location 32 -plus years ago. A second Ottawa location opened more than two years ago.

Their longevity speaks to the quality of food and the quality of service.

Their longevity also speaks to the sheer length of their lunch and dinner buffet.

Everyday, the kitchen rolls out an epic buffet loaded with chutneys, pickles, yogurts, and salad and dessert bars. About 20 hot entrees are on the go every day too. Find all your favourite dahls and curries, biranyi and bahjis.

It is a ridiculous and delicious display of culinary talent. East India is a very popular spot for downtown professionals. Weekday lunches are a blur of bodies, all taking their turn shuffling along the buffet line with plates in hand.

Don’t fear the spice here. Dishes range from mild to hot, hot, hot. Everyone, no matter what your heat tolerance, will fill their plates here.

No one goes home hungry here.

The chutneys and sauces are spectacular here. Butter chicken is outstanding. Peas and cheese (paneer) deserves a special shout out too. Grilled hicken kebobs are a lightly spiced with aromatic leaves of cilantro throughout.

If you’re an East Indian food neophyte, head to East India Company. Staff will help you take baby steps and recommend dishes to ease you into this fantastic global cuisine.

Mango chutney, tamarind sauce and cilantro sauce at East India Company. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

Feasting at East India Company. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

Samosas and pakoras. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

Samosas and pakoras. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

Chicken kebobs at East India Company. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

Chicken kebobs at East India Company. (Photo by Robin Summerfield.)

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.

Event: Farmers’ Feast 2014

Farmers' Feast by Food Matters Manitoba (Photos by Molloy Photography & Design)

Farmers’ Feast by Food Matters Manitoba (Photos by Molloy Photography & Design)

Food Matters Manitoba’s Farmers’ Feast 2014
Thursday September 11, 2014
St. Norbert Farmers’ Market
3514 Pembina Highway (south of Winnipeg, past the Perimeter)
Website: Farmers’ Feast
Twitter: twitter.com/foodmattersmb
Facebook: facebook.com/FoodMattersManitoba

Harvest time in Manitoba is a special season.

We locals bask in the baskets of fruits and vegetables fresh off the farms. Everything from apples to beans, gourds and grapes, parsnips and potatoes, to wild mushrooms and zucchini, are ripe for the picking.

And if you’re an avowed foodie, it’s a fantastic time to dig in at one of many must-attend food celebrations.

Food Matters Manitoba’s Farmers’ Feast is a favourite on my list. The annual event is held at the province’s premier farmers’ market: St. Norbert Farmers’ Market.

The outdoor party celebrates Manitoba farmers and the bounty of the harvest. It also brings together some of Winnipeg’s top chefs, pastry chefs, food purveyors, brewers and artisans.

Guests wander to food and beverage stations throughout the market, mingling and sampling delectable eats along the way. Chefs, farmers and food purveyors introduce themselves and happily (and enthusiastically) talk about their passion for local ingredients.

This year’s edition, the sixth, promises to be even better than ever. This year Food Matters Manitoba has reduced the number of tickets from 300 to 200. Tickets now cost $100 each. In past years, the event has been a bit of a crush of bodies. With a limited number of tickets, the event will definitely sell out.

Guests are never disappointed. The 2014 edition includes chefs from: Diversity Foods (Elements the Restaurant); Prairie 360˚; Chew; Red Ember; Chaise Restaurant & Lounge; The Red Ember; and Manitoba Beef. Gourmet Inspirations is in charge of appetizers. Desserts are made by: Shut yer Pie Hole; Cake-ology, Chocolatier Constance Popp; and Cornell Creme. Drinks will be provided by: Half Pints Brewery; Green Bean Coffee; Almost Urban Tea; and Steeped Tea.

Farmers' Feast by Food Matters Manitoba (Photos by Molloy Photography & Design)

Farmers' Feast by Food Matters Manitoba (Photos by Molloy Photography & Design)

 

Farmers' Feast by Food Matters Manitoba (Photos by Molloy Photography & Design)

Farmers' Feast by Food Matters Manitoba (Photos by Molloy Photography & Design)

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: Little Maria’s Porchetta & Meatballs

Little Maria's Porchetta & Meatballs

That’s a meatball. (Photos by Robin Summerfield)

Little Maria’s Porchetta & Meatballs
101-77 Edmonton Street
204-691-2185
Neighbourhood: Downtown
Website: none
Facebook: facebook.com/littlemariaswinnipeg
Twitter: none

A serving of Little Italy has landed on plates in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.

Opening in July, Little Maria’s Porchetta & Meatballs is one of the newest restaurants on the city’s buzzing food scene. (An estimated five new food purveyors are expected to open in the Exchange District and Wolseley by the end of September.)

Located just steps south of Broadway on Edmonton Street, Little Maria’s is a cute and kitschy diner with a deli vibe.

Mismatched tables and chairs, including a white arborite table, decorate the sunlight spot. Guests can also take a seat at several tables on the sidewalk patio. Inside, walls are painted a cheery pink and yellow. Your mood instantly lightens as soon as you walk inside Little Maria’s.

Guests order at the counter and then friendly staff deliver meals to the table. Food service was speedy and boy, was it hot. Steam came off the plates.

Little Maria’s serves exactly what it proclaims in its name: porchetta and meatballs.The menu is tight and focused. Eight sandwiches loaded with all kinds of meat, cheese and veggies, all on Italian loaf, are the stars here. Or choose from three different meatballs (chicken, classic beef and pork, and veggie), then add your own sauce (tomato basil, rose parmesan, arribiata and bolognese).

The size of a billiard ball, these meatballs are hefty. Expect tender and moist bites.

A note about the tomato basil sauce: It was an absolute highlight. Bright, fresh and clean tomatoey flavour burst forth. A touch of sweet spiked this light and oddly summery sauce.

A conversation with chef/owner Joe Pelligrino, formerly of Pop Soda’s Coffeehouse and Gallery, revealed the secret to the sauce. It’s a family recipe that goes back to his great grandmother. Whatever’s inside, it’s a winner. That sauce also made an appearance on the daily pasta-baked penne with parmesan.

Porchetta is slow roasted and tender with a hit of salty divineness. It bathes in all its porky, fatty decadence. Order a six-ounce plate of porchetta for a unadorned taste. The accompanying sautéd garlic and spinach was a nice touch of green on the plate.

The Gandolfini sandwich was stacked with salami, capicolla, provolone, sautéd red and yellow peppers, garlic spinach and thick-cut slice of ripe tomato. This ain’t Subway. Lightly toasted Italian loaf held this two-hander masterpiece in place.

Diners can add sides to their meals including: white bean and sweet peppers; peas, onions and salami; smashed burnt end potatoes; daily roasted vegetables; and the daily pasta.

A note to families: Come to Little Maria’s. Little people are warmly welcomed here. A play area with art supplies and toys is tucked into a small corner of the dining room and divided by sheer drapery.  Single meatballs on a mini-loaf or porchetta on a little garlic bun are good options, along with the daily pasta.

HED: Playing our luck at Club Regent and McPhillips Station Casino  Missus and I have a dream. One day soon, we hope to strike it rich.  We know Lady Luck is very particular and odds are, we won’t be hobnobbing with the upper crust any day soon. So in the meantime, we often play our luck at Winnipeg’s two fantastic casinos—Club Regent and McPhillips Station Casino, which are both overseen by Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries.  Our date nights have never been so risky. And we love it. 
We’re what you might call ‘low rollers’  but that doesn’t matter because we sure do have a blast hitting the tables and slots.   It’s like a trip to Las Vegas without ever having to leave Winnipeg. To start, Club Regent is a tropical oasis in the middle of the prairies.  The walk-through salt aquarium (the only one in Manitoba) is home to an array of exotic fish. And towering palm trees and vibrant flowers decorate this mini-paradise. We take a listen for the calls of tropical birds too.  Missus and I especially love to come to Club Regent in the heart of winter. It’s a nice change of pace from the snowy landscape and chilly temperature outside.  More than the tropical locale and the fun of games, Club Regent also hosts a fun line-up of performers and musicians all year long.  The Missus already has her eye on tickets to see Food Network star Robert Irvine September 12. The host of Restaurant Impossible will whip up mystery dishes on the fly as fans in the crowd yell out suggestions. It’s a live cooking demo with a twist: audience participation. Come to think of it, McPhillips Station Casino also has a whole lot of entertainment throughout the year too. We love live music and this casino hosts country, rock and pop acts that get us up on our feet and dancing.  While we’re at the Station, we always leave time for dining. Inside Michele’s Restaurant, we load up our plates from the buffet. Roast beef tenderloin, slow roasted pork, herb and tomato chicken and the perogies and garlic sausage are great picks. The menu changes every day and oh boy do we get our money’s worth. Missus has a lot of restraint while I eat enough for the both of us.  And in the end, even if we don’t strike it rich, we feel like winners after a night at Winnipeg’s casinos.   -Mister

The Gandolfini, Maria's Porchetta & Meatballs

The Gandolfini, Little Maria’s Porchetta & Meatballs

Porchetta and garlic spinach with baked tomato and parmesan penne at Little Maria's Porchetta & Meatballs.

Porchetta and garlic spinach with baked tomato and parmesan penne at Little Maria’s Porchetta & Meatballs.

Little Maria's Porchetta & Meatballs.

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.