What's the best place for... Part two!
The second edition of our year-end guide to finding some of the best things to eat in Winnipeg
If you missed our part one on the "best place in Winnipeg for _________" click on the space and it will take you there.
Part two of our subjective list is below, and for this one we are covering important, divisive and massive categories like brunch, bread and ethnic eateries that should really be on your to-do list for 2017.
Let the debates begin!
What's the best place for...
Bringing out-of-town guests to (to blow their minds)
Sous Sol ( 22-222 Osborne Street) – There’s nothing quite like this place. You can have a meal that starts with a flaming Tiki mug rum punch, which you get to roast a delicious house-made coconut marshmallow over (the Sorrel Rum Punch with Fire $13), along with ostrich fan tartare (which is really good), while listening to gypsy jazz, with your feet on Persian rugs, sitting on antique furniture, while looking at walls adorned with candles, mini basketball nets, and pictures from circa 1960s French cookbooks. It’s brilliant.
Chef Michael Robins (who would also win the category for best chef hat) and his crew have created something really special in this basement at Confusion Corner. The food is excellent, from the seasoning on his salads and vegetable dishes, to the luscious sauces. The prices are super-reasonable, the service is excellent, and barman Erik Thordarson’s drinks are masterpieces. This is always our go-to spot to take newbies to (including parents and friends visiting from other cities) so they can bask in all its glory.
North Garden is our favourite spot for dim sum in Winnipeg (PCG)
North Garden (6-33 University Crescent) – Located in a strip mall a short walk up the road from the Investors Group Field, North Garden may look small from the outside, but it actually is relatively spacious, with large tables to accommodate your dim sum crew. They do great standards like har gow and shui mai while their baked BBQ pork buns are off the charts.
Also special mention to Noodle Express (180 King Street), which has always been a popular dim sum choice for chefs when I interview them.
Pre-gaming for a Jets game/event at the MTS Centre
The Merchant Kitchen (314 Donald Street, inside the Alt Hotel Winnipeg) – This place is always pumping before an event for no mere mortal can resist the allure of picante margaritas, Korean Fried Chicken, Thai fried rice, grilled corn, and other large share plates.
An aggressively delicious hot dog
Kyu Grill (often on Broadway throughout summer) and now at The Forks Market, Kyu’s Heroshima dogs – which are a form of yakitori in a bun, drizzled with kewpie mayo, along with other sweet and umami elements – hit all the flavour and texture notes, having seen them win the People’s Choice award at the last two year’s ManyFest Food Truck Wars. Their main restaurant, Kyu Bistro (185 Isabel Street), also has an excellent spicy miso ramen and some great izakaya dishes.
The Okonomi at Kyu Grill in The Forks Market (Lauren Harvey)
Also a stacked category, so we’ve settled it – after an office debate that sent fish sauce flying – on this list within a list:
Magic Thailand (842 Logan Ave) and Sabai Thai (1113 Corydon Avenue) for best coconut milk-based curries – particularly the super creamy panang mushroom curry and the Chiang Mai Noodles, which are oh so luscious; Siam Thai (587 St Anne's Road) for most authentic (and for being Cody Chomiak, our director of marketing's favourite spot); and Laos Thai (763 Selkirk Avenue) for best soups and because it is my favourite restaurant in the North End.
Food that makes you feel all warm inside
Promenade Café and Wine (130 C Provencher Boulevard) – As we recently wrote in, “Cozy up to winter at Promenade Café and Wine,” there’s no better place in the city for French bistro food.
If the waiting times for a table are any indication, then Clementine (123 Princess Street) is the new unofficial brunch king in this city. You can always find at least one of our staff members here, and more likely than not, devouring fried chicken toast, Turkish eggs, or the braised eggs Benedict – all of which are worthy of minstrel accompaniment, particularly one using a lute, plucking the praises of potato cakes with smoked Arctic char.
That being said, we also put this fun brunch list together in March, a bit before Clementine opened, that highlights some other very noteworthy brunches, like those found at Tallest Poppy (103 Sherbrook Street), whose fried chicken and waffle is beautiful and Miss Browns (288 William Avenue) where the smoked brisket hash on crispy cubed hashbrowns nearly brought me to tears a few weeks ago.
Two final additions I would make to this list are Bisita (637 Corydon Avenue) and Crème DeL’Essense (#16 – 1833 Inkster Boulevard) for their respective pork belly brunch dishes.
Sweet mercy is the proper way to describe the pork belly hash ($14) at Crème DeL'Essense (Jordan "J-Rex" Harvey)
The lechon kawali silog ($12) at Bisita is the ultimate hangover cure featuring garlic fried rice, pickled vegetables, two fried eggs and pork belly that is braised then fried and totally out of control. The “all purpose sauce” (made of pig’s liver, palm sugar, garlic, pepper and vinegar) that comes with it is sweet, vinegary and creamy and is the most unexpectedly fitting breakfast sauce. The pork belly hash at Crème has also become a hangover fighter of choice for patrons. It is served on hash browns with hollandaise, corn and pickled cucumbers to cut through all that fatty goodness.
Bread and baked goods
Another stacked category, one where there can be no clear winner. This past month we put together a fun list called “From France with Loaves” that lists all the amazing French bakers plying their trade in the city at spots like Tall Grass Prairie and L’Epi de Blé (1757 Main Street) that you can find in the attached link.
On top of those, there are some truly remarkable bakeries like La Belle Baguette (248 De La Cathédrale Avenue), which takes the title of smelling like heaven while producing incredible éclairs; Sleepy Owl Bread (751 Wall Street) which, along with fantastic loaves, also makes insanely flaky, dreamy Danishes; and Penny Loaf Bakery (858 Corydon Avenue), where the sourdough is so tangy and crusty that it demands you turn it into one of the world’s best open-face breakfast sandwiches.
Peasant Cookery (283 Bannatyne Ave) – Chef Tristan Foucault has made curing meats his forte, and the house-made, ever-changing selection at Peasant Cookery utilizes local pasture raised heritage hogs to great effect. Also, great fries and a nice lounge and patio for drinks when looking to do some people watching in the Exchange District.
And we have one more to go on Boxing Day featuring: cozy cocktails, vegetarian, family style, fine dining, potatoes, pizza, sandwiches and a personal short list of places we eat at the most!