Guest Blog: Globe and Mail (Calgary) Food Critic Dan Clapson on Where to Eat in Winnipeg - Dan Clapson - Globe and Mail (Calgary)

Dan Clapson - Globe and Mail (Calgary)

By: Mike GreenSeptember 13, 2016 // Where Chefs Eat

When Dan Clapson isn't visiting Winnipeg and taking Instagram shots of everything he is eating (ample evidence below), he can generally be founding galavanting across Canada so he can produce works for Food Network Canada Online, WestJet Magazine, Eat North (which just came out with a national restaurant job posting Dan would like to make you aware of, and more.

At home in Calgary he is the restaurant critic for The Globe and Mail, as well as a writer for Avenue, Culinaire and The Bay St. Bull. He has appeared on Cityline and pops up on various morning news shows across Western Canada, but most regularly on Global Calgary as their restaurant and food travel correspondent.

Below, he dishes (all in his own words) on what he loves about dining in Winnipeg:

It doesn't matter if it is in the depths of winter when temperatures dip and the city comes alive with Festival Du Voyager and RAW: almond, or in peak summer when every patio is packed with people eating and drinking, Winnipeg is a city where there is always something I can look forward to.

After traveling here regularly over the past four or so years, I have really come to love this city's thriving food scene and and the vibrant personalities passionately involved in making it so.

I could go on and on (and on and on and on) about where I enjoy dining in Winnipeg, but here's a few of my favourites (alphabetically):

Boon Burger (79 Sherbrook Street & 141 Bannatyne Avenue) – Do you know how hard it is to find a decent veggie burger in this country? It’s pretty damn hard and finding a delicious vegan burger is approximately one million times more difficult. Boon does a great job of being an ethically-minded burger joint that delivers in the same "meaty", hangover-curing way that, say, the Royale from deer + almond does (also a ridiculously tasty burger). My favourite thing to order here is the Prairie Fried Chik’n Burger with a Boon Shake on the side.

Enoteca (1670 Corydon Avenue) – I haven’t eaten here since the wintertime, and just a handful of times in 2015, but Scott Bagshaw’s eatery has all of the makings of top tier North American restaurant. The menu changes often, but signatures like tartare and foie gras are always around. It’s a dish that should always hit your table. I also enjoy that this great spot only offers wine because as cool as cocktails can be, wine culture isn’t celebrated nearly enough in Winnipeg.

Beef tartare at Enoteca (photo by Dan Clapson/Eat North)
Beef tartare at Enoteca (photo by Dan Clapson/Eat North)

Forth (171 McDermot Avenue) – There aren’t many places in this country where you could effectively spend an entire day in. Since Forth opened, it’s been my go-to spot to have coffee (roasted in the building) and get some writing done in the mornings while I’m visiting Winnipeg. And although Instagram has made avocado toast an overexposed and occasionally eye-rolling picture to look at, it is very tasty here. The cocktail bar downstairs is an awesome spot for drinks and the interior design is even better. Sitting down there feels like you’ve been transported to some European mecca for a fun night out. Doesn’t get better than that.

Nick’s on Broadway (287 Broadway) – I feel like there is a constant discussion of what’s better: King and Bannantyne or Nick’s, and King does make some tasty sandwiches, but I like the more gritty feel of Nick’s and that their sandwiches are a bit more "down and dirty." If I want a simple, quick and easy lunch in Winnipeg, this is where I’m headed.

Segovia (484 Stradbrook Avenue) – The first time I came to Winnipeg, I remember that almost every single person that I bumped into would say: "You need to go to Segovia." There’s always the danger of a hyped restaurant failing to deliver, but this place always delivers in terms of food execution, stellar service and ambiance. The Spanish classics like chorizo and apples (my favourite dish) or anchovy toast are impeccable and the other contemporary dishes like the fried beets with cashew gremolata are out of this world (you can order the beets at Clementine too in The Exchange). Yes, I fangirl pretty hard over Segovia. I wish I could transport it to Calgary somehow!

Sous Sol (22-222 Osborne St) – I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly the inspiration behind this cocktail establishment’s design was, but I’d describe it as dungeon-meets-grandma’s-house-meets-thirft-shop? I mean that in the most loving way possible. It’s always a fun time having the well-crafted libations in this funky space and chef Mike Robins classic French food is top notch. Classic French food can be a little stuffy, but in a room like this one, Sous Sol manages to shake all the pretences.

The Tallest Poppy (103 Sherbrook Street) – What makes Poppy special doesn’t necessarily lie in its from-scratch comfort food, its surprisingly good cocktails, the quirky interior, or its unique artists-in-residency program. It’s a combination of it all. The idea of community that has been created around Talia Syrie’s restaurant is, to me, very unique for Canada and 100 per cent genuine, which makes it even more special. If you sit down to eat a BLT on that delicious, cheesy bread or the bourbon peach cinnamon toast — it is so good and only $5, steal of a deal! — it doesn’t feel like you're supporting an independent restaurant; it feels like you're supporting Winnipeg. I love that.

Vera Pizza (670 Osborne Street) – Vera is such a great example of the K.I.S.S. mentality. You know, "keep it simple, stupid." Find a quality pizza dough recipe, keep your menu nice and tight, keep the space small and what you end up with is a no-reservations spot that people are willing to wait an hour (or longer) to get into. From the well-dressed house salad and the meatballs to the Salsiccia pizza with house-made fennel sausage and, last, but not least, the buttermilk panna cotta, this little pizzeria is always a home run.