Peasant Cookery's executive chef/partner Tristan Foucault presents his charcuterie board with its cured-in-house meats like pig's tongue, pigs face, chicken liver mousse as well as house pickles.
Peasant Cookery has been on my list of must-try restaurants for what seems like ages.
Set on the main floor inside a vintage, multi-storey brick building in the heart of the Exchange District, the restaurant beckoned with its huge windows and prime location beside Old Market Square. Old Market Square is a beautiful green space in the middle of downtown, where in summer it serves as the backdrop for numerous events, such as the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival and Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, that bring life and energy into the area.
Today, I lament all the time I have wasted not eating at Peasant sooner.
Billing itself as a place for 'real food from the land,' Peasant Cookery excels in its field, delivering a rustic-yet-refined menu and experience that works on several levels.
Basic ingredients are elevated in preparation, sophisticated sauces and inspired complementary ingredients. For example, a roasted half chicken accompanies sage and thyme spaetzle.
Meanwhile, pork chops are stuffed with oka and braised in locally brewed Half Pints beer and mustard. Pountine packs extra punch with bacon gravy and locally produced Bothwell cheese curds.
Pickerel, Arctic char, beef sirloin steak, cassoulet and beef bourguignon also make appearances on the menu, among other main dishes in this homegrown bistro that has touches of French flair.
Mussels are served with fresh-cut fries that retain honest potato flavour found at chip trucks. Mussels are tender and plentiful and served in a sweet and smooth garlic and lime broth the night we visited. Mussels get frequent makeovers at Peasant, so don't expect to get exactly the same broth on subsequent visits.
Beets (a Manitoba staple) get star billing in one salad. A heaping of sliced sweet, earthy bulbs lay on a generous smear of creamy goat cheese and are topped with handfuls of slightly peppery arugula. For extra crunch, toasted walnuts are also on board.
The entire menu, which also includes fresh oysters and charcuterie, is very reasonably priced from $14.99 to $25.99.
Service is friendly, fast and competent. (On my visit, I was with a party of 16 or so and dishes came out promptly, one after another, which is not an easy task.)
With exposed duct-work and super-high ceilings, Peasant Cookery is a boisterous and loud scene. (Granted, our 16-person table may have been largely responsible for the decibels.) An adjacent, postage-stamp sized bar and lounge handles any overflow from the restaurant.
Peasant Cookery is owned by WOW Hospitality, the group behind other Winnipeg restaurants including steakhouse 529 Wellington, Los Chicos Mexican restaurant, Muddy Waters Smokehouse at the Forks and Terrace Fifty-Five at Assiniboine Park, among other city restaurants. For more information about WOW properties go to wowhospitality.com.