While Winnipeg’s culinary scene is always a gift, this holiday season it is the gift that keeps on giving if you are looking to try new locally owned spots.*
On December’s menu for this New & Notable, you’ll find two new great kiosks at The Forks Market; an indulgent dessert and bakery café on Main Street; the return of a celebrated Italian chef to the East Exchange; some young entrepreneurs from Hong Kong serving big bowls of fusion food on Corydon Avenue; a Ukrainian couple who are being cheered on at a hockey rink for their very authentic offerings; and more!
Plus, RAW:almond tickets –– the famed temporary tasting menu restaurant on ice by chef Mandel Hitzer and architect Joe Kalturnyk –– go on sale online on December 10 at 8 a.m. (CST), with an international lineup of chefs along with plenty of local talent too.
BASTA! Filipino Kitchen – The Forks Market
Award-winning chef, rad skateboarding dad, and all-round great guy Norm Pastorin is back, having opened the newest food kiosk at The Forks on December 1.
BASTA! Filipino Kitchen features all the popular Pinoy classics –– lumpia with banana ketchup, vegetarian pancit, tosilog with house-cured pork and garlic fried rice, ihaw-ihaw (grilled, savoury-sweet pork skewers) and leche flan for dessert –– all amped up in Pastorin’s signature style. Locals, particularly ones who used to frequent the now-closed The Cornerstone where Pastorin was cooking and cumulating awards, are obviously stoked, given how great some of chef’s Filipino dishes were at that pub and at Black Bird Brasserie (see the “award-winning” link to learn about Pastorin’s pork belly with poached egg and spicy adobe sauce –– man, it was so good!).
Basta means, “it just is,” and Pastorin emphasizes this is the first time he’s been able to create an all-Filipino menu for the masses. Thus far, he’s been flattered at the support he and his crew have received. “Opening weekend was more than I could ever have imagined,” said Pastorin. “I sold out a couple of times. Sunday, we ran out of food by 2 p.m. so we closed to do some prep and reopened at 6. Simply put, opening weekend was nuts. But [it] also melted my heart with the outpouring of interest and support from Winnipeg and The Forks.” Now that’s what we like to hear!
BASTA! Filipino Kitchen is open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Check it out on Instagram.
Passerby – The Forks Market
Another new concept at The Forks Market that opened in autumn comes courtesy of celebrated bartender Josey Krahn (whose credentials include deer + almond, Bonnie Day, the original basement bar at Forth and his traveling Tiny Bar service). Located in the former home of Passero, Passerby is about as chill as it gets, offering a space to sit and eat away from the full bustle of the market that is complimented by a fabulous selection of seasonal craft cocktails from Krahn. Right now, you’ll find an extensive list of libations that includes “seasonal sips” like hot toddies, a tomatillo Caesar and mulled wine, along with a Saladito made with mezcal, ancho reyes, honey and lime (under the “a bit boozy” section), plus some low and zero alcohol options too. Krahn is also occasionally hosting cocktail making classes like he used to with Tiny Bar, which could make for a great gift idea (hint, hint).
While you can bring in food from other kiosks, Passerby also has a daily selection of snacks by chef Zac Chizda (formerly of The Roost and Oxbow Natural Wine Bar) that includes irresistible items like mozzarella sticks served with red sauce and basil, charcuterie boards, chips and house made dips, and even Basque cheesecake topped off with angostura caramel. On Sundays, they do brunch featuring plates like cured trout with latke, crème fraîche and pickled onion, and fried chicken on a sweet potato waffle with maple jalapeno cream cheese. On top of the regular Passerby food menu, Krahn has also been hosting guest chef pop-up menus that thus far have included the above-mentioned Norm Pastorin, and the fellas from Primo’s Deli.
Passerby’s regular hours are Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m.. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. More details here on the Passerby site.
Hello Asian Fusion – 753 Corydon Avenue
We somehow missed this one when it opened in late summer on our last September New & Notable guide. Sandwiched between Make / Coffee & Stuff and Corydon Cycle and Sports, Hello Asian Fusion brings a little bit of Hong Kong to the Corydon Strip, courtesy of three young owners –– Ernie Leung, Chung Tsang and Samuel Siu –– from that food-crazy city. The menu looks across all of Asia, all served with bowls, plates and latware that they brought directly from HK. Pretty much, if you want it, Hello Asian Fusion has it, from Japanese-style ramen to Macau pork chop buns (featuring a deep friend marinated pork chop on a large roll), several flavours of super crispy wings, satay beef noodle soup, rice bowls and even deep-fried meatballs.
As you would expect, the chili oil rocks (and is plenty hot), plus the prices and friendly service are a bonus. These gentlemen really wanted to bring a little slice of their home city and it shows.
Hello Asian Fusion is open Monday to Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. and is closed on Sunday. Check it out on Instagram.
Indulge Café and Bakery - 272 Main St Unit B
Bringing fresh bread and other goodies to downtown, Indulge Café and Bakery opened mid-October a few steps from 300 Main and Winnipeg Square. Open seven days a week, Hayley Pache (former head chef at Rossmere Golf and Country Club) is winning over the lunch crowd with homemade soups and sandwiches, all made with the freshest ingredients, all served on that amazing bread. Speaking of bread, when you pop in, you’ll find some or all of the following on offer: baguettes, sour dough, 12-grain, honey whole wheat, cheese and/or European rye. Pro tip: show up when they open at 9 a.m. on weekdays or 11 a.m. on weekends for the best bread selection. They also feature a rotating selection of sweet treats, including macrons (flavours change daily), rich and chocolatey ganache brownies (featured in photo), and single-serve snacking cakes (our favourite is Hayley’s red velvet).
The café itself is beautiful (it’s the former home of both Grey Owl Coffee and most recently Fusian Experience Desserts & Café), with large, bright windows, high ceilings and funky lighting. There are also plenty of power plugs to make this a convenient and charming spot to catch up on work while having a seasonal gingerbread latté.
Indulge Café and Bakery is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Entry by Susan Ainley
Borgo Antico - 173 McDermot Avenue
The former home of The Mitchell Block, which was also the former home of Tres Visi for ages, has had a homecoming of sorts. The Appices –– that being chef Giacomo and Susan Appice –– are back in this slender room in the Exchange’s Theatre District serving hand-rolled pastas just like they did during Tres Visi’s heyday from the early 90s through to the late 00s (for context: I can remember eating here as a tourist in my teens after watching Keanu play Hamlet at Manitoba Theatre Centre back in 1995! Also, check out that link on how it used to be celebrity go-to). Anyway, back in 2013-14 Giacomo sold this Exchange location after opening a second location, that being the popular spin-off Tres Visi Café (in the former Spuntio’s) in 2012 that still operates at 926 Grosvenor Ave via his original business partners.
He’s now back at 173 McDermot –– the old part of town you could say, which is what Borgo Antico means –– with a menu that features plenty of hand-rolled and die cut pastas, Italian cocktails, local beers from Nonsuch, and an impressive, mainly Italian-focused wine list that provides lengthy descriptions of each bottle. The room has also had a makeover courtesy of Debbie Grant of local Grant Design Group that you can see here. Learn more via our friends at the Exchange District Biz.
Borgo Antico is open Tuesday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Here’s the website.
Centre Ice Café’s Mashyn Family Food– Dakota Community Centre, 1188 Dakota Street
Tip of the hat to The Free Press’ David Sanderson and CTV Winnipeg for telling this uplifting story about Ukrainian couple Olha and Oleksandr Mashyn, who have landed in Winnipeg after fleeing the Russian invasion of their homeland. The Mashyns, along with their three employees who are also from Ukraine, can now be found at the Dakota Community Centre seven days a week serving up what surely is the most authentic Ukrainian food in the city out of the rink’s small canteen. The couple started their one-year lease in September, so you can find them all winter long serving dishes like pelmeni, cabbage rolls and several different types of pierogi (along with hockey rink staples like chicken fingers) that have already proved popular well beyond parents and kids at the rink. You can also order food to-go, while the menu is an incredible bang for your buck (10 pierogi for $10! They are giving it away!).
Centre Ice Café is open Monday to Friday from noon to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. More info here.
Must Be The Place - 484 Stradbrook Avenue
The former home of Segovia in Osborne Village is now a zany sort of dive bar featuring hand drawn drink menus and a dim sum-style food list that encourages you to build your own sandwiches and nachos. It just opened last month and the service is great, there’s plenty of vegan toppings and fillings for the nachos and sandwiches (which are built on some of the best breads that Gunn’s Bakery makes –– that being the cheesy, green onion-studded Fergassa loaf, and their 8” potato roll) and the $16 cocktails are all strong and sassy, just like the bar’s Instagram game. After midnight, the kitchen, run by chef Keith Csabak, makes a bologna sandwich that is said to be something special, and the kitchen also makes special dishes too until they run out. Go have some fun kids.
Must Be The Place is open Wednesday to Sunday, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
And finally, we must let you know that RAW:almond tickets go sale –– online-only –– on Sunday, December 10 at 8 a.m. CST.
The famed temporary restaurant on ice by chef Mandel Hitzer and architect Joe Kalturnyk will have a whole new look this year (here’s more on the design team) while the chef lineup once again provides a vast array of options, including plenty of local and Canadian talent (including several new chefs from the Prairies which is fun), Michelin-starred chefs, and a number of chefs coming from far-off locales like Portugal, England, Los Angeles and Mexico City.
Set your alarm because tickets will go fast.
*’Tis the season for clichés too.