While we were already pretty stoked about all the new openings in autumn (which includes a few tasty numbers below that we missed), surely Christmas has come early for those of us looking to try something new this holiday season.
If your custom advent calendar includes mochi doughnuts, croffles and fatcarons you're in luck. There are also plenty of new restaurants including a Filipino-infused dry tiki bar, a new gem in Wolseley and so much more.
Bonnie Day | 898 Westminster
This is one of those "say it ain’t so(s)!" Followed by an "okay, I can deal with this and am, in fact, now very excited" scenarios.
The Ruby West, which has been such a lovely addition to Wolseley these past few years, has rebranded with some new familiar faces coming to the helm.
The kitchen now also features Chef Pamela Kirkpatrick, who PCG readers and some Winnipeg peeps will know as the founder of Cake-ology and for recently running the Bijou Pop-Up Bar downtown, along with co-owner Brian Johnson, who cooked at Ruby West and who cool cats may know from the super-secret SpeakPeazzy of summers past.
The cocktail menu is by noted bartender Josey Krahn (whose CV includes Tiny Bar, Bar at Forth, and deer + almond). He'll be slinging drinks two nights a week to accompany plates of nourishing comfort food, with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options.
The new management team also includes Rachael King (who is married to Brian), and Rachael's cousins Jimmy & Hilary King. It's a real family affair and one that is reflected in the name.
"It is an homage to our late, great uncle/dad who loved nothing more than to gather and 'break bread,'" said Rachael.
"We'd always commiserate as to the ideal place to go out for dinner. As soon as we struck gold on THE one, he'd cheer, "Bonnie day!" It's a double entendre that is both a nod to our Scottish ancestors, meaning a 'beautiful day,' while you at once hear 'Bonne Idée' - the French sentiment of 'good idea.'"
As to the vibe, they plan to make it cozy ("candlelit so you feel tucked in for winter") and local, using suppliers like Wolseley's Breadbox Sourdough while Free Time Ice Cream will continue to operate out of the kitchen and be used in some of the desserts.
As to that dessert menu, Chef Kirkpatrick (aka the "Duchess of Desserts") has 10 – that’s right 10! – items on it (including pies!), because it’s been a long, drawn-out pandemic and sometimes you just need that many reasons to come back.
Bonnie Day opens on December 1. Hours are Monday to Wednesday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday to Saturday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
While you're here, we may as well tell you that Rachael is also one-half of the Luckygirl team, whose next pop-up - featuring plenty of the city's finest breweries, bakers and food makers - is at the Concert Hall on December 9. You can get those tickets here.
Bahay Kubo Tiki Bar – Sober Speakeasy Pop Up | Address comes when booked
Allan Pineda continues to make the city more fun. His Baon Manila Nights pop-up series has staged elaborate boodle fights, multi-course meals, Filipino pizza nights and countless more events, while now throughout the holiday season he is hosting a tiki-bar pop-up that is drier than a Wes Anderson script and just as colourful as his films.
Bahay Kubo runs every Thursday from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. featuring tropical mocktails, a dj spinning old school jams and Chef Eejay Chua mixing up fun plates like spam fries (served in a Spam container of course), sisig tacos, and fried chicken with nori.
As you’ll read in Eva Wasney’s story in the Winnipeg Free Press, Pineda and his crew have put a fun Filipino focus to this whole tiki concept, with the dishes and drinks.
It’s all done in a 1930s tiki bar-style setting with plenty of knickknacks on the walls and black lighting, but as with all speakeasies, you only know the location once you are in, which can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or messaging @bahaykubotikibar on Insta.
The secret spot holds just 26 people, so book now as there’s just five Thursdays left: Nov 25, Dec 1, Dec 9, Dec 16.
Damecca Lounge | 305 Madison Street
The newest non-chain spot in the Polo Park area (joining fine company like Preservation Hall, Foodtrip Kitchen, One Great City, and Les Saj – to name but a few) is Damecca Lounge. It opened in September and offers a little something for everyone from Asian fusion dishes like sushi towers, vermicelli bowls and chicken karaage to pastas, tacos and flatbreads. It also does aburi-style sushi (that's when the fish on top of the pressed rice is blow torched), which is the name of the game on South Pembina at Aburi Sushi (311 Pembina Hwy), which just opened in August.
Tuesday to Sunday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Basil’s | 287 Garry Street
Hat’s off to Irish Paul from Stone Angel Brewing for pointing out there is a real hidden gem that just opened in downtown’s Garrick Hotel. Basil’s Authentic Lebanese Food is just that – making its own yogurt, pickle turnips, and puts fries inside crispy shawarmas like beef kefta and shish tawook (skewered chicken). Basil also makes 10” thin crust pizzas on dough that is handmade daily.
Get the full story on owner Basil Farrage this weekend on CJOB’s The Main Ingredient with Kevin Burgin.
Tuesday to Friday, noon to 7 p.m.
Joa Croffle | 200 Main St.
Winnipeg’s newest dessert shop presses together two of our favourite breakfast batters in sweet, fluffy harmony: the croissant and the waffle. Serving up South Korean croffle creations both sweet and savoury, Joa Croffle has kept busy since opening this fall on Main St. as the top spot to play the sweet and stressful Dalgona honeycomb game made popular in Netflix’s Squid Game.
Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Zaytoon Restaurant & Café | 203-99 Osborne St.
This fresh new Osborne spot boasts bright lights, floor to ceiling greenery and perfectly plated Middle Eastern cuisine. Zaytoon is an ideal location for a late-night Turkish coffee date or even later night hookah service. Expect lots of great fruit additions to dishes, like citrus notes in chicken shawarma and pomegranate enhanced baba ghanouj.
Seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Suga Almond | Ghost Kitchen
Winnipeg’s newest ghost kitchen bakery has crammed colourful cookies full of flavours, fruits, frostings and flakes with huge double-stuffed macarons, a take on South Korea’s “fatcarons.”
These supersized sweets make just the right crunch on your first bite, but offer a creamy, chewy centre. With new flavours each week, you'll want to keep an eye out for ordering day!
To order, direct message them on Insta.
Queen’s Korean Chicken & BBQ | 1045 St. James St.
Newly opened Queen’s uses a 48-hour marinating technique to bring chicken to crispy Korean perfection, with tons of spice too. Large plates of full breaded BBQ chicken with sweet potato and sticky rice sides are perfect for sharing with friends and family, while K-Box options make the perfect solo lunch.
Monday to Saturday, noon to 10 p.m., Sunday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Not a Donut | 353 Langside Street
This spin-off from Not a Waffle (which is now located on the Corydon Strip below Saperavi) serves up fluffy, gluten-free mochi batter doughnuts with fun toppings like matcha and ube. Like Not a Waffle (which serves Hong Kong-style bubble waffles and fish-shaped taiyaki cones), Not a Donut is another popular import from China (this time Shanghai) from owners Echo Shen and Mumu Ma. Along with the main shop on Langside, you can also purchase these cute creations at The Icing Castle in The Maples. Learn more in this Winnipeg Free Press profile here.
In September, Ramallah Café opened a second shop at 1111 Munroe Avenue in Kildonan Crossing (the original is 325 Pembina Hwy). This Palestinian shawarma joint is just spectacular: the meat is cut from the spit, the garlic sauce stays with you for days, the pita is thin and wrapped nice and tight, and Ramallah even puts fries in it – a rarity in Winnipeg (the fact that we have two in this article – note Basil’s above – is a great sign).
Third wave coffee shops keep washing up in new neighbourhoods, several of which are bringing along their roasters with them. Harrison’s Coffee Co is showing no signs of slowing down, having opened new spots in The Johnston Terminal at The Forks and the Outlet Collection Winnipeg, along with a brand-new spot at 216 Princess Street in the Exchange to complement its original location on Waterfront Drive.
Empty Cup Collective also has a new spot in Sage Creek while a new location on Academy Road will open soon too.