A new season, a new New & Notable.
This autumn Winnipeg diners are in for a treat given the number of nationally acclaimed culinary contributors about to open (or reopen) special eateries and cafés in our market. This fall edition is all about bakeries and high-end Italian, plus we’ll touch on all those late-summer food events and share some great national news about two of our city's best openings from the past year.
Passero (774 Corydon Ave) – If you follow Passero on Instagram, you’ll see that this past long weekend chef Scott Bagshaw (Enoteca) and Amanda Coe re-opened the doors of their celebrated Italian restaurant in its new location on the Corydon Strip. The room – which used to be the home of vegan shop Cocobeans – looks slick and spacious with banquettes that seemingly wrap around the room to accommodate the two- and four-tops. On the outside, you’ll find a large mural by local artist Payton Clark.
Every dish at the former Forks location was ‘close-your-eyes-and-chew-slow' good. Regulars will notice new dishes like calamari fritti with roasted garlic aioli and ‘chicken parm bianco’ (which should be incredible given the former legendary status of the Corto chicken parm –– more on Corto below), as well as pastas like casarecce (those little hammocks that hold the sauce so nicely) lightly dressed with basil pesto and cherry tomato, and baked gnocchi with roasted tomato and whipped ricotta.
Former favourites have been tweaked too, including seared octopus with crisp potato, romesco and pickled peppers while our workmate Alyssa Ward, who just ate here on Tuesday says, “the arancini is the best-ever arancini,” while also raving about the salami toast, the baked gnocchi (which is an ode to New York-style pizza with sesame-seed crust), and the lemon mascarpone cheesecake with warm lavender butterscotch that she simply cannot stop thinking about.
And yes, that beef tartare is still there in all its glory.
And yes, for locals that couldn’t get enough of it at The Forks, the Corto casual lunchtime service will continue via a takeout window from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (find the menu in the above link).
Once a month, expect Máquè Mondays, a nod to Bagshaw’s third restaurant (the first was Deseo). Bagshaw recently closed Máquè, right after it made the Canada’s 100 best list. Chef Bagshaw’s flagship restaurant, Enoteca, also made Canada’s 100 best in the past, and surely 2023 is the year Passero appears there too (how it hasn’t before is beyond us).
Open seven days a week, 5 to 10 p.m. For menus and reservations (which will be a must) go to www.passerowinnipeg.com
Le Croissant (276 Taché Ave) – The much-loved artisan bakery by Jérôme and Fabienne Boulanger recently changed hands to a trio of Winnipeg restaurant aces – Marc Priestley, Kyle Matheson and Dana Cherski – owners of Juneberry, one of the city’s most popular and best brunch spots. Matheson and Priestley also own the local Nuburger chain.
Jérôme Boulanger has stayed onboard as head baker, joined in the kitchen by chef and bakery manager Francesca (Fran) Agatep – whose numerous culinary credentials include La Belle Baguette, Juneberry and most recently, The Tallest Poppy – as well as a mighty fine team of young bakers. The pastry counter and breads showcase many of the bakery’s original recipes, plus there are new menu items that will surely be a hit on the streets of Saint-Boniface.
The boulangerie had been closed for most of 2023 while the interior and façade was completely remodelled to charming effect. The new signage, logo and awning beckons you to choose from a vast pastry and bread selection, along with sandwiches and pizza doughs too. Once you enter, there’s no escaping it: You’ll be sitting down for an espresso and pain au chocolat to take in this scene that’s a little slice of France. Since re-opening, Le Croissant has been busy, so take that into account if you are looking to grab bread and pastries to go.
Open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit www.lecroissant.ca for more info.
Honey Bunny Bake Shop (832 Corydon Ave) – Run by mother-daughter team Vira and Finnen Volt, this new Ukrainian bakery is is another culinary addition to Corydon (all within steps are Frenchway, The Cheese Mongers, Pennyloaf, Café Carlo, Peking and Tommy’s). Vira has ample baking experience from Ukraine, while, as you can read in this profile by Winnipeg Free Press reporter Eva Wasney, she also spent the last 17 years in Winnipeg developing 1,500 dessert recipes while working in the legal field.
The cases at Honey Bunny are brimming with Eastern European tarts and cakes you won’t find anywhere else in the city, featuring less sugar and sweetness than typical pastries.
Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. No social media.
Bistro Boreal (85 Israel Asper Way, located in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights) - WOW Hospitality Concepts, the restaurant group behind notable Winnipeg restaurants like 529 Wellington, Peasant Cookery and Bluestone Cottage, has taken on the restaurant space nestled within Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The menu highlights local ingredients and innovative flavours, amongst which the taro root chip and dip is a must try. (House taro root chips, roasted garlic chickpea hummus, spicy tomato chutney and pickled onion – it’s so good). This is a great place for vegans, with two vegan starter options and three options for main dishes.
Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed on Mondays. Here's the menu.
Crumb Queen (166 Osborne Street) – Culinary power couple Cloe Wiebe (Crumb Queen; former pastry chef at deer + almond) and Andy Koropatnick (Oxbow Natural Wine Bar, The Roost) have taken over the former Stella’s space in the Village, where you can expect lines to form soon. Given the popularity of Wiebe’s crullers (her sourdough also rocks), you can expect the doughnuts to fly first thing in the morning. The space will also offer lunch, which surely will include Andy’s mortadella sandwiches on focaccia. The last time we were this excited about a 'coming soon' announcement was when we saw Ralph Fiennes was set to play M. Gustave in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Like the film, you can expect this place to be a masterpiece, with Andy's moustache game being equally strong.
Vida Cucina Italia at The Fort Garry Hotel – It turns out that Italian celebrity chef Rosanna Marziale is friends with Fort Garry Hotel & Conference Centre - Ascend Collection owner Ida Albo, and that they’d planned on opening a restaurant together many years ago. Well, what better location than Winnipeg’s castle where the new 50-seat dining room for Vida (meaning life, and also featuring Ida) is set to open this autumn. Marziale’s menu is an ode to traditional Italian cooking and her status as the “Queen of Mozzarella,” while showcasing a few dishes that landed her a Michelin star at her family's restaurant Le Colonne near Naples. Having tried a few of the dishes while shooting a video with the duo (we’ll release it around opening day), we can say that the presentation is gorgeous, with the flavours highlighting all the local terroir used to bring these dishes to Manitoba.
And the dining room… stunning! There’s a private black marble room too, and the wallpaper when you enter is simply splendid. A room to see and in which to be seen.
Full story and video coming soon.
National acclaim for two of our best
Congratulations are in order for both Bar Accanto and Petit Socco on making the prestigious Air Canada/ enRoute long list for Canada's Best New Restaurants! Regular readers who read Mike's rave reviews from August 2022 (Petit Socco) and April 2023 (Bar Accanto) should find this as no surprise, while we assure you both spots have only become even more delicious since opening. Perhaps we'll see something from above on the 2024 list too?
This bit was updated on September 14.
Events at a glance
Winnipeg VegFest (September 9 at University of Winnipeg) - Manitoba’s largest vegan and animal rights festival is a pretty sweet showcase for the local vegan food scene. On top of featuring several speakers, VegFest will host a pop-up food court with both sweet and savoury vegan dishes from local vendors. Plus, you can bring the kids to relish the Kids’ Zone. Free admission.
Event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More info here.
Le Burger Week – From now until September 14 you can try upwards of 190 specialty burgers in Winnipeg as part of the annual Le Burger Week. This year you’ll find Barbie-themed buns (and blue buns too), along with all manner of meat and vegetarian patties to satisfy your burger needs.
Here’s all the info.
Manitoba Food Truck Battles (September 9-10 at Assiniboia Downs) – No ManyFest Food Truck Wars in 2023, no problem! Food truck operators are once again rejoicing as Assiniboia Downs has stepped up to host its second Manitoba Food Truck Battles to close out summer. You can expect dozens of food trucks at The Downs throughout the weekend, while there will also be a tattoo artist pop-up. Admission is just $5. Be sure to 'know before you go' with our Annual Food Truck Guide.
Saturday from noon to 11 p.m., Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. Here’s more info.
Chinatown Night Market (September 9-10 at 180 King St.) – FoodTrip Market and the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre have come together to create this second Chinatown Night Market. Like all great night markets, expect live entertainment, while on the food side of things FoodTrip has you covered with its always delicious lineup of stalls and food trucks to service the evening, featuring a variety of dishes spanning Asia.
Noon to 9 p.m. Free admission. For more info go to FoodTrip Market’s Facebook.
Brew at the Zoo (September 15 at Assiniboine Park Zoo) – Tickets are going fast for this adults-only (18+) event where you get unlimited samples of local craft beer, cider, spirits and wine. With 27 vendors, including almost all the local breweries as well as breweries from Brandon and our local wine and distilleries, this is the perfect showcase for our local drinks scene. The culinary team at Assiniboine Park has also created special menus for the zoo’s food kiosks so you can pair your beverages with brats, charcuterie boards, pulled pork and pretzels with beer cheese sauce.
Tickets available in premium, general and designated driver. Event runs 7 to 10 p.m. (with premium tickets starting at 6 p.m.)
Food Fest MB (September 17 at St Norbert Arts Centre) – The 3rd annual Food Fest MB will once again be a brilliant showcase for local food producers, catering companies and restaurants. This year’s lineup features 45+ vendors, covering everything from African cuisine to local spirits, syrups, wines, beer, butter tarts, seasonings, ciders and coffee roasters. As always, there will be plenty of samples , and you can purchase products and dishes directly from producers.
12:30 to 6 p.m.; $25 for tickets which you can purchase here.
FortWhyte Alive’s Goose Flight Feasts - Starting September 20, this annual event pairs a seasonal multi-course meal by the farm-to-table specialists at Diversity Foods (click the link, the menu sounds amazing) with the spectacle of thousands of fowl flying down onto the lakes at night. The sounds and sights alone are worth it at sunset, while the corresponding dinner always feels like a warm welcome to fall.
For tickets and more info click here.