Chez Sophie's Sur La Pont
Address: Esplanade Riel
Neighbourhood: St. Boniface
Chez Sophie's has it all—decadent French food cooked by an actual French chef and served inside a cozy and quaint dining room in Winnipeg's French Quarter, and all the cream and butter anyone desires.
That same sensibility, but on a bigger scale, is at work at Chez Sophie's Sur Le Pont, the French bistro's second location, which opened in late June 2013.
Housed in iconic Winnipeg landmark, Esplanade Riel, Chez Sophie Sur Le Pont has landed the ideal location. The walking bridge links The Forks, East Exchange District and downtown Winnipeg with St. Boniface, the heart of French culture and history in the city. The half-moon shaped dining room overlooks the murky waters of the Red River and offers dramatic views of the Forks, the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights and St. Boniface to the east.
The space was previously occupied by Salisbury House, a classic Winnipeg-owned diner. Business was slow so Salisbury opted out in early 2013. Chez Sophie won the contract to overtake the space. Sal's burgers, fries and cheese dogs, while classic, don't exactly scream 'mangez ici.'
Location, for any restaurant, is obviously very important but the food keeps people coming back. Chez Sophie, the first location, has already earned a enthusiastic mob of followers with it's wood-fired pizzas, traditional crepes and tartiflette, a traditional potato, ham, cream and cheese mini-pie. (Rich and filling doesn't quite describe this incredibly fattening and fantastic crock.)
At the new bridge location, many of those favourites are still on the menu. (Sadly, pizza ovens could not be added to the bridge location.) Three days after opening, I lunched with pals at the Esplanade location. (Insider's tip: Make reservations for both lunch and supper to guarantee riverside tables.)
While all the bugs haven't been worked out entirely yet (meals were a touch slow to arrive), the kitchen delivered the same high quality plates that have made the original location a success.
We shared the aforementioned tartiflette; smoked salmon crepes with bechamel sauce and sliced white onions; and a smoked salmon Croque Monsieur.
All three plates impressed with their simplistic yet sophisticated flavours.
A simple spring salad with balsamic vinaigrette and a bowl of tomato soup (the soup of the day on our visit), preceded the main events.
Insiders tip: Oil your rusty French before you arrive. All servers speak French at the table but most can quickly switch to English.
Make sure to bring visiting families and friends to the new location. The view will impress but it's the food that will have people talking.
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