Prairie Ink Restaurant & Bakery at McNally Robinson Booksellers
Address: 1120 Grant Avenue (inside Grant Park Shopping Centre)
Phone number: 975-2659
Neighbourhood: River Heights
Prairie Ink Restaurant & Bakery inside McNally Robinson Booksellers is one of those local eateries with a charm that endears it to folks of all stripes. (Insider's tip: Prairie Ink is kid friendly.)
Located in Grant Park Shopping Centre, diners flock to the sun-drenched eatery to gobble up earthy yet modern and healthy breakfasts, lunches and dinners that use many local ingredients. Prairie Ink also has plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options on the menu.
The West African Peanut soup is legendary around these parts. Chunks of tender sweet potatoes swim in a dense and impossibly peanuty celiac-friendly and dairy-free chowder.
Seasonal menus change regularly and capture the ingredients of the moment or tap into a new cookbook on the shelves. (When we visited, A Family Farm in Tuscany by author/chef Sarah Fioroni was the inspiration for the specials which included saffron risotto, a barley salad with tomato and basil and a saffron lasagna.)
The humble beet, a Manitoba staple, is one of those love-it-or-hate-it vegetables. Prairie Ink's roasted beet salad with sheep's cheese will turn haters into lovers. This meal-sized salad is light yet filling with loads of the sweet and fork-tender red roots. The beets are piled high with baby spinach, rings of red onion and plenty of crumbled tangy cheese. Roasted walnuts add extra crunch and depth and the whole works are dressed in simple red wine vinaigrette.
Ink's curried lentil and cashew veggie burger is surprisingly meaty. This version hasn't been mashed into oblivion. You can see whole ingredients in the patty, which is also topped with melted gouda and a citrus-spike lemon-basil aioli.
The lunch and dinner menu also includes deli sandwiches, artisan pizzas and larger plates like Manitoba baby pickerel, herb-roasted chicken, ribeye steak and a double-cut Berkshire pork chop. Breakfast includes all the favourites.
Insider's tip: Sunday's brunch is a lovely and satisfying affair replete with an omelette station and all the breakfast classics, chocolate fondue, fresh salads, warm pastries and a carving station starring a freshly roasted cut of pork, beef or turkey. Make Sunday reservations.
If you live in Winnipeg and haven't made a visit, you must. If you're just visiting, Prairie Ink is a great spot for an impromptu meal. Afterwards, browse the stacks for the latest best-sellers and hard-to-find titles.