PSA: PSL has become a corporate shill, and you best not climb that played out hill.
Instead, check out how these places are crushing the gourd game, utilizing the local bumper crop toward pumpkin perfection.
Hildegard’s Bakery – Starting with something traditional here, this past weekend we had a pumpkin pie from Hildegard’s and it was honestly the best pumpkin pie we’ve ever had. The texture was velvety like a finely whipped mousse, the flavour was like biting into fall (they really let the pumpkin do the talking – if that makes sense) and Hildegard’s flaky, buttery, and sturdy pie crust (love that ample rim) is perfection. We chose a maple-vanilla whip cream for it (see lede photo) and never wanted it to end.
Sargent Sundae – The real legend of the fall isn’t Tristan Ludlow, it’s Sargent Sundae. While its pumpkin pie soft serve may not have Brad Pitt’s looks, it’s been a staple for years for Winnipeggers. Why? Because it literally tastes like pumpkin pie that has been mashed into a creamy confection of soft serve. No artificial flavour here – it’s all pumpkin baby, just like Brad’s dimples.
Frenchway Café – Local pumpkins from St. Leon Gardens are getting the royal treatment at this Corydon Avenue bakery. We’re here for the crunchy-yet-chewy pumpkin macaroons for something sweet, while on the savoury side it has been making pumpkin Danish with sweet potato and bacon filling that the café can’t keep in stock.
Eadha Bread – How good do these pumpkin spice babka knots look? Plus, they are made from a sourdough base so that’s kinda healthy, right? Pumpkin is woven in throughout the batter and as anyone who has had Eadha’s icing will attest to (this one is a classic cream cheese base), Eadha knows how to make a glaze that deserves some praise.
Tallgrass Prairie – Surely no place in the city buys more local gourds than Tabitha and the crew at Tall Grass, as each autumn it brings in more than 6,000 pounds of pumpkin from surrounding organic farms! Tallgrass makes all manner of magic out of these fabulous fruits and right now you can find pumpkin in so many delicious things, including cheesecakes and its pumpkin pound cakes.
Oakwood Café – This little neighbourhood gem in South Osborne has your PS cravings covered with silky cheesecakes and milkshakes. While you are there, be sure to get a plate of Vladimir Poutine, which features some of the city’s best on one plate including Karpaty kubasa, Mom’s Perogy Factory, and Bothwell curds alongside gravy and sauerkraut.
The Burger Place – The pumpkin pie shake at this fat boy joint takes the idea to its logical conclusion, literally blending a piece of pumpkin pie right into the shake.
Torque Brewing– Of course, milkshakes aren’t the only way to drink-in the season. Torque’s Witching Hour Dark Pumpkin ale has an unmistakable pumpkin aroma while the malty flavour ensures you are not being smashed with too much pumpkin on the actual palate. It’s toasty, a little sweet and an all-round pumpkin beer that celebrates the season.
Fête Ice Cream and Coffee – Our love for this place seems to know no bounds. It started with its brilliant ice cream sandwiches while this autumn we are all about Fête's pumpkin pie ice cream pies, which updates the classic by using a crumbly graham cracker-like crust, whipped cream cheese frosting, and its amazing pumpkin spice ice cream. They taste great and the texture alone is so worth the calories.
Magic Bird Fried Chicken – Leave it to Cold Mike to come up with such a hot fall number that is akin to getting your whole Thanksgiving plate onto one fork. October’s featured fried chicken sandwich is called The Gobbler, and it features pumpkin pie aioli slathered over the always-crispy thigh, along with sage stuffing, yam chips, and cranberry sauce. Make it a true Thanksgiving experience and pair it with dry Riesling and an awkward political debate with relatives!
Scout: Coffee + Tea – This super cute little shop on Portage which is tailored to your tots started making mini vegan doughnuts this year that are perfect for dunking. This season, it is making pumpkin spice ones served hot, with a jaunty pumpkin glaze that is ready to be dipped in your PSL (which is the only PSL we are putting on this list because when you dip a doughnut in it, it makes it so much more than basic).
Barn Hammer Brewing Co. – Last but certainly not least, is the Moonlight Desires Smoked Pumpkin Saison from Barn Hammer. While a Gowan soundtrack is, of course, appropriate, we’re sticking with the statement that this beer tastes like Neil Young’s, Harvest Moon sounds on vinyl. It has the right amount of smoke, plenty of depth, has a bit of a long lingering finish (after 10 minutes, “Natural Beauty” is so epic that it grants you plenty of time to take in all 473 ml), while the beer showcases the season with spices like nutmeg and allspice. While you’ll want to drink it cold, it’s as warm and inviting as those opening notes of “Unknown Legend.”