Dear Mac DeMarco, the salad days are not gone.
In fact, here in Winnipeg this summer, we are about to serve you up a serious amount of salad, and we’re not talking hockey hair, nor (admittedly) Mac’s Shakespearean reference to youthful times because the list below is sure to make you feel fresh.
After leafing through our notes and getting bitter over bitter greens (no, not you beet tops -- despite what the artichokes will say you still have our hearts,) our marketing team has come up with a list of our favourite salads in the city – all dressed and ready to be peppered.
Capital Grill’s tuna nicoise salad – When polled, the majority of our marketing dept had Capital on their list, as chef Wayne Martin makes a mean big salad, the kind that Elain Bene would totally take credit for. The sear of the tuna is always uniform with the rare-pink interior providing a pop of colour on top of the vibrant greens, the crisp beans provide crunch and lovely little cherry tomatoes bring sweetness and acidity to balance the fattiness of the egg and fish.
Papaya salad from Sukhothai – There has to be a papaya salad on a salad list, and Sukhothai’s – in the words of our friend Kieran, who fancies himself a papaya salad expert, is the best in town because “they make theirs with cashews instead of peanuts, which is a nice touch.” The dressing is also not shy with the fish sauce, while you get a good sweat on while you go through hitting little spice slices of bird eye chilies.
Khao House's naem khao salad – We forgot how great this salad is, and have been ordering it almost once a week since Khao reopened. It is both warm and cold, and creamy and crunchy, featuring smashed sour crispy pork rice balls, crisp cucumbers and little spiced coconut dressing. Lovely stuff.
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Coming up to a whole year soon at @thatgoodwill! We wanted to put this bad boy up on the gram, for those that haven’t had it. This is the naem khao: sweet coconuty-limey-spicy-fishy little crispy rice balls crumbled on top of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes with a spicy coconut sauce and fermented cured pork sausage called som moo.
"A nice salad" from Nonsuch Brewery – When the name is “a nice salad,” it better be a nice salad. And in this case, it of course is. While chef Tyrone Welchinski’s menu is quite meat-forward, featuring house-cured meats, a crazy good burger, duck, sausage and elk tartare, he always is great with veg. This ever-changing salad currently features chevre, figs, local greens, edible flowers and little crunch bits, hitting all your taste and texture notes. It’s nice, as you can see in the lede photo.
Stegall Salad at Shawarma Khan - The sides at Shawarma Khan are always a good time, and we like to rotate through the beet and apple, the tabbouleh and the carrot one when getting our plates. The Stegall combines these on one plate with garlic sauce, super creamy hummus and that spit-roasted chicken making for a super food sort of plate of vegetables and protein. Plus, it's Milt approved. #touchdown
Crunch salad at Enoteca, the cucumber mint salad at Máquè, citrus salad at Passero – Another chef normally celebrated for meat, Scott Bagshaw also has plenty of game when it comes to greens. The crunch (also available at Passero) was another list topper for much of our staff (along with chef Ben Kramer, who is all about salad greens), with its crunchy jicama cubes and pistachios, creamy avocado slices and sweet lime vinaigrette, while the one at Máquè actually provides even more textures with the addition of watercress and cucumbers, which all comes together tasting like summer with mint and sweet/sour Thai dressing. That Passero citrus salad is a sunny day in a bowl; there’s something about sweet/tart Greenland Garden tomatoes, and grapefruit and blood orange segments coming together on top of fresh mozza. The Calabrian chili dressing provides just a hint of heat.
Tallest Poppy’s tomato bread salad – Another salad utilizing those local Greenland Garden tomatoes. This version marinates them first, before tossing them with fresh basil and chunks of good bread, almost like a panzanella that is more tomato forward. And please note, should the classic wedge salad return to Poppy (which also uses these beautiful little tomatoes), you should order it.
Gusto's Cesare – We decided there could be only one traditional Caesar on this list, and Pizzeria Gusto still takes the cake with that charred romaine slathered with an anchovy pronounced dressing and big shavings of parm and crispy coins of pancetta. That said, see below for more Caesar variations.
All hail the kale Caesar – The “it” salad of the moments finest incarnations can be found at Harth – which features marinated white anchovies, Clementine – which gets its extra umami from smoked tuna, and Circle Kitchen – whose vegan version has some delightful textures courtesy of coconut bacon and roasted chickpeas, along with a cashew parmesan dressing.
The Grove Salad at The Grove - A classic. Gala apple slices, Danish blue cheese, candied walnuts, sherry shallot vinaigrette and fancy lettuces. The ideal light lunch (although it's impossible to go to The Grove and not get a burger too, particularly The Harvard).
Stella's arugula salad – This verdant number is lunch classic, brimming with green peas, spa peas and radish for crunch, while the semi-bitter arugula is balanced by a basil-honey vinaigrette. The salty feta brings it all together.
Baby kale & mixed greens at Bonfire Bistro – This one makes the argument that roasted butternut squash should be the creamy element of your salad and we agree. It also has tart granny smith apple, feta, pickled red onion for a gummy texture with more sweet/tart flavour, a sweet lemon vinaigrette and a tahini drizzle for some nuttiness.
The “famous potato salad” at deer + almond – This is seemingly the one item that chefs Mandel Hitzer and Emily Butcher cannot take off the menu, as they would risk regulars flipping the tables. The little potatoes are crisp on the outside and buttery in the middle, while the crispy pork, tobiko and nori bring the umami while the creamy dressing underneath completes the package.
Please note: d + a is currently only doing takeout, and yes, this dish is on the menu. When they do reopen, their side salads at lunch (which accompany dishes like the rave-worthy Royal with Cheese and chicken friend chicken) are always a blessing.
One Great City’s beet & pistachio salad – While most places pair beets with chèvre and balsamic, OGC takes it further and adds the extra tang of queso fresco, while the apple fennel vinaigrette gives you a bit of a licoricey and tart element that compliments the earthy beets. For the full summer flavour experience pair it with their crisp Falcon Blonde American blond ale, which has just a bit of malt and some fruit-forward acidity.
All the salads at Verde Juice Bar – Seriously, we haven’t had anything here that could not be described as peachy. The power kale rocks with sweet potato black beans, chickpeas, avocado and sesame seeds, and makes you feel healthier just by eating it, while the the falafel bowl has inspired many of our salads this summer with its pieces of dates (why don’t all salads have dates?) luxurious garlic lemon tahini sauce, and little crunchy pickled cubes of beets.
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Treat yourself this week to the most delicious fresh & healthy bowl, the BURRITO BOWL! Kale, quinoa, refried beans, sweet potato, fermented purple cabbage, avocado, radish, cilantro lime vinaigrette & chipotle cashew cream. Give us a call for contact-less takeout or we also offer FREE delivery on DoorDash.
And finally, whatever salad is happening at the moment at The Roost - The tiny kitchen here excels at fun seasonally appropriate food. Right now, that salad features shoots, butter lettuce, apple and candied walnuts in a poppyseed dressing.
Should this list have inspired you to eat more greens, may we also recommend taking advantage of our local farmers’ markets and grocers like Vic’s Market and Jardins St-Léon? In particular, we highly recommend local farm Braman's Greens, whose leafy numbers are available at reputable shops across the city and whose ingredients you can find in many of the above salads. As well, we have been loving the selection from Jonathan’s Farms at the Wolseley Farmers’ Market – they do a mix of greens featuring beet tops, spinach and various other leaves, along with bags of pea shoots that taste so much like freshly shucked peas. Combine this with their radishes and cucumbers and you have a great base to grow off of.