Winnipeg's Best New Restaurants 2014
Winnipeg has had a banner year for new restaurants. Every month it seemed a new, locally owned eatery was opening. All this movement and evolution in our local food scene is good for business and great for Winnipeg's growing reputation as a food city worth its salt and then some.
There are other new restaurants, coffee shops and eateries on the horizon for 2015. Couple that with an explosion of small-batch food purveyors and we have ourselves a bonafide food rush. Many other big, food-related projects are also in the works.
With all the new openings in 2014, it's hard to play favourites with restaurants. That said, here are my picks for top new restaurants of 2014. What are yours?
The return of Talia Syrie's The Tallest Poppy—a quirky eatery with down home, southern-inspired food—was long overdue. Fans of the original Main Street location with its homey menu of salads, sandwiches, matzo ball soup, brisket and epic family style brunches, lamented its slow demise. Syrie kept catering at the original location while she hopped over to Neechi Commons to oversee the Come n' Eat Café (aka Tansi). Now Tallest Poppy is back and better. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. (Breakfast is available Friday to Sunday.) Many of Syrie's classics are back along with new favourites like deep-fried chicken and waffles.
Prairie 360˚ Skyline Restaurant and Lounge
After a multi-year hiatus, Winnipeg's revolving restaurant is turning again. Located on the 28th to 31st floors of downtown's Fort Garry Place, Prairie 360˚ is a jewel in the city's local food scene. Every 70 minutes or so, diners take a round trip around the city, and on clear days, casting their eyes out to the vast prairies spread out below. A hearty and rustic menu is a love letter to Manitoba farmers and producers and the cultural mosaic of the province. Berkshire Pork Wellington, game meats poike, Cornish Game Hen and bison perogies, to name a few dishes, all reflect that commitment to local eats. A Sunday brunch buffet has also become an instant classic.
Chef Scott Bagshaw, celebrated for his first venture Deseo, is back with Enoteca, a new small plates eatery in River Heights. This 32-seat spot brings more of Bagshaw's intelligent and thoughtful cuisine. The location, a former Quiznos subs spot, has no hint of its former tenant. Diners sit just feet away from this truly open kitchen. No food is prepared behind the scenes. The restaurant has quickly become a fan favourite. Reservations definitely recommended.
Marion Street Eatery
Just lately, a cohort of Winnipeg restaurateurs have resurrected formerly disheveled real estate. Dive culture has never looked or tasted so good. The Marion Street Eatery, located in a well-loved hotel in St. Boniface, has reinvented the hotel eatery. A homey yet smart menu mirrors a polished yet comfortable dining room complete with mismatched wooden spindle chairs and heavy wood tables. Chili, chicken pot pie and mac and cheese get an updo here. House-made everything, lead by chef/co-owner Melissa Hryb, sets the eatery apart. In very short order, Hryb and her co-owner Laneil Smith, have enticed the masses to this hopping spot.
Little Sister Coffee Maker
So Little Sister isn't a restaurant. But what it is and what it represents is worth noting. This independently and locally owned coffee house has taken on the big guns—Starbucks and Second Cup—on their turf, Osborne Village. Baristas with a devotion and understanding of coffee, combined with slick urbane decor, drive the crowds down the steps to Little Sister. The coffee is intense and gorgeous. The vibe is crackling and urban. Take a seat, grab a joe and soak in the scene.
Smith and Era
In 2014, Winnipeg-owned Sparrow Hotels opened two new restaurants—Smith and Era. Both are notable for the freshness and light they bring to Winnipeg's food scene. Smith is the new incarnation of the house restaurant at Inn at the Forks. After a decade, the boutique hotel's original restaurant, The Current, was in need of an overhaul. Chef Alex Svenne, formerly of Bistro 7 1/4, brought his modern farm table sensibility to this polished new space. Like the name suggests, food is a craft. Big cuts of meat, family style sides and everything from-scratch drives this enterprise. It's sister restaurant, Era Bistro, delivers a masterful menu anchored by Manitoba ingredients. The food, by chef Barry Saunders, is as impressive as its location inside the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Bearcat pickerel, Manitoba lamb loin, short ribs poutine and bannock with a trio of dips all stand out.
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