Rudy's Special is Chef Michael Schafer's modern twist on a Manitoba favourite—perogies. The Ricotta gnocchi with house-cured bacon, crème fraiche and crispy onions has a comfort-food sensibility but with slightly more sophisticated ingredients and more depth in flavours than your standard cheddar cheese and potato perogie.
When you go to a Michael Schafer restaurant, expect great service, imaginative food and a memorable time. The 35-year-old chef has made a name for himself on the Winnipeg restaurant scene as a creative force in the kitchen.
His first restaurant, Sydney's at the Forks, is the more serious, introverted older sibling who watches their Ps and Qs while the newest addition, Rudy's Eat and Drink, is the playful and scampish younger brother.
Sydney's is a polished fine-dining experience. A meal at Sydney's is truly an experience; the food is imaginative, complex and consistently splendid. For me, it's the closest restaurant I've found in Winnipeg to celebrated Chef Jean Georges Vongerichtenin's Central Park West location in New York City—that was the best meal I've ever eaten.
Meanwhile, Rudy's Eat and Drink is Schafer's crack at high-volume, casual eats that deliver big taste at easy-to-swallow prices in a modernized “Mad Men” era-setting. The new swish and slick downtown eatery opened in January but celebrated its grand opening in mid-May.
Located in Manitoba Hydro Place, downtown on Portage Avenue, Rudy's is a mash-up of contemporary and retro-inspired eats. The 277-seat restaurant and lounge was four years in the making and it's clear Schafer had his hands on pretty much every detail. In the summer, a patio facing Graham Street will add an additional 140 seats. A bank of iPads are mounted in front of seats at the bar so solo diners can surf, watch TV or return e-mails. Insider's tip: Rudy's is located on the south end of lobby of Manitoba Hydro Place. You can enter via Graham Street or Portage Avenue. The interior lobby sign wasn't posted yet, making it a little hard to find.
But what about the food?
Most everything is made in house from the pastrami and bacon to the charcuterie to the bread and pasta and pickles. Lunch is a medley of burgers wraps, old-school sandwiches (reuben, monte cristo, corned beef and pastrami) along with house-made pastas.
Rudy's even kicks it old-old school with a deviled eggs trio served with greens. On my visit, Schafer served me his version of Manitoba "perogies," ricotta gnocchi with bacon, crème fraiche and crispy fried onions. (Insert sound of squealing here.) So good, so yummy.
Rudy’s Eat and Drink is opening a new patio and we’re on the hunt to profile some more. What are some of your new favourite local patio spots? Leave a comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @pegcitygrub with your suggestions.