Last month, we had the opportunity to visit some of Winnipeg’s new and notable restaurants on our weekend culinary staycation. With limited travel these days, this was the perfect opportunity to get out of the house and play a bit of foodie-tourist in our own city. We couldn’t believe we had only been to two spots on the whole itinerary!
But first—coffee. Our first stop of the day was Seven Café, located just off Wall Street and filling a much-needed gap amongst the breweries and kombucheries. Besides great coffee, the fridge is also stocked with goodies from local bakeries. We grabbed a couple lattes and tried one of the legendary cream puffs from For Us Bakery. Word of advice: If you stop by, make sure you leave with a cream puff. They are truly a thing of beauty.
By the time lunch rolled around, the cold weather was really starting to set in. Thankfully at Glady’s Caribbean every Saturday is soup day! That means you get a (generous!) portion of complimentary seafood soup at the start of your meal. It's delicious. We also ordered the oxtail bowl as well as the jerk chicken and plantain poutine. Both were so flavourful and the plantains added a sweetness to the poutine that we never knew it needed. Side note: The owners are not related, but both of their grandmothers happen to be named Gladys.
By late afternoon, beautiful thick flakes of snow were beginning to fall from the sky. As we approached our next location, we were mesmerized. The Kilter Brewery we had remembered as a tropical paradise had somehow transformed itself into a winter wonderland. The fairy lights peeking through the snow-covered trees made for a beautiful scene. We ordered a flight of beer, sat down on a couple lounge chairs, and enjoyed the soft music and cozy vibes in the brewery.
Conveniently located just a short drive down the street, we headed over to the Norwood Hotel to check in. The staff there is so friendly and accommodating (yes, they remember your name!) and our room was unexpectedly spacious and nicely renovated. With affordable prices and a great location (parking included), the Norwood is a true hidden gem for any staycation! After getting ready for our dinner reservations, we killed some time at The Wood Tavern — conveniently located on the main floor of our hotel. They also happen to have a great cocktail menu — the espresso-and-cognac- based “Central Perk” was the perfect pick me up! The bartender also reminded us that its Caesar won the honour of “Best Caesar in Winnipeg.” We’ll have to come back for that one.
After a short cab ride, we were at the Fort Garry Hotel for dinner at the newly renovated Oval Room Brasserie, where they brought back the 108-year-old lounge to its original look from 1913. It is quite a beautiful and unique space that you need to see in person to fully appreciate. Dinner here was equally as impressive. We tried the poached pear and cashew cheese crepes, which were a stand out. It’s hard to believe that this unique, sweet-yet-savoury dish is actually vegan and gluten friendly! We also had the chicken liver “brûlée.” This was like a savoury crème brûlée with a hint of port. Our taste buds were happy! Besides the warm ambiance, fantastic service and delicious food, the highlight of the night was the sommelier coming to our table and pairing the perfect wine with our meal. If you have the opportunity, don’t pass up on a chance to speak with him next time you visit.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early and made our way downstairs for breakfast at Pauline Bistro. Bonus that you can get here from the hotel without having to bring a jacket! Between the royal-blue walls, gold accents, marble tables and mosaic-tiled flooring, the space is chic, yet casual at the same time. We ordered the eggs Benedict. The eggs were cooked perfectly, with the bright yellow yolk oozing out on the smoked salmon. They were also very accommodating to dietary restrictions, offering both vegan and gluten-free options.
After checking out of our hotel, we headed out for a nice walk in the Wolelsey/West Broadway area before stumbling into Shorty’s Pizza for lunch. Between the retro style interior, great playlist and friendly staff, this spot is a whole vibe. The music alone will make you want to sit and hang out there all day. They serve large slices of floppy, delicious NYC-style pizza (the fold and eat kind!) as well as beer and wine. Though they have a variety of flavours to choose from, my favourite is the classic pepperoni. It had a unique sesame seed crust and deliciously chewy dough. Also, don’t forget to try the banana pudding for dessert (tastes just like the world-famous Magnolia Bakery one!)
Later that evening, we headed to Damecca Lounge for some appetizers before dinner. They offer a variety of Asian fusion cuisine with plenty of vegan options. In fact, our favourite dish was the vegan friendly mushroom sushi roll (which was plated SO beautifully!) It consisted of smoked sweet peppers, squash puree and vegan wasabi mayo. They also offer a unique “protein roll,” which is a sushi roll stuffed with all of the seafood but none of the rice — only the good stuff. Overall, great first impression and a perfect new addition to the heart of the Polo Park area!
Afterwards, we headed back downtown to our last stop on the culinary staycation, Zaytoon, offering Middle Eastern-Mediterranean cuisine in the heart of Osborne Village. You’ll be totally taken off guard by the beautifully bright interior as you approach this space. There are plants everywhere and the clean white with gold accents make this place really stand out. We ordered the baba ganouj and the grilled lamb ribs with hummus and veggies. We loved the flavor of the pomegranate molasses on the baba ganouj, and can say with confidence that the hummus here is the best we’ve had in the city. We wouldn’t change a thing about our order! Also noteworthy is that much of their menu was vegan and gluten free, making this a perfect spot for everyone to enjoy.
A big thank you to Tourism Winnipeg for sending us on a fun culinary staycation and giving us the opportunity to be a part of #hereforitwinnipeg. We are so here for it, Winnipeg!