Address: 248 Avenue de la Cathédrale
Phone number: 204-235-0353
Neighbourhood: St. Boniface
"Do you have reservations?"
Those are the first words out of the hostess' mouth as we entered Chez Sophie on a recent Thursday morning just before lunch.
Well no, we don't. And why would we?
After all, this petite French bistro is tucked on a residential street in Winnipeg's French Quarter, seemingly away from the crowds.
"Sorry," the hostess tells us. "Even if I had double the space, I couldn't take you."
Lesson learned. So we booked a table for lunch on another day but wondered what all the fuss was about in the St. Boniface eatery.
Seems the fuss is more than warranted. Chez Sophie, under the guidance of chef/owner Stephane Wild, is a quaint bistro serving heavenly French fare that you won't soon forget.
In true French fashion, cheese, butter and cream lead the charge on the menu. French is also spoken at the table by both guests and staff. (Don't be afraid if your French is rusty or nonexistent, servers can also speak English.) Lunch is a melange of salads, quiches and savoury crepes.
A tartiflette (a.k.a. casserole) was ridiculously delicious. A bed of scallop potatoes bathed in decadent cream sauce acted as the foundation for honeyed slices of ham and strips of bacon. Melted Trappist and mozzarella cheese capped this divine creation. Wild knows how to treat his cheese. This cast-iron pot came out of the oven steaming hot at precisely the right moment with slightly browned cheese and still bubbling white sauce.
We also couldn't resist the Alsatian specialty pizza—which comes in five varieties and is characterized by its flame-kissed top. The Fermière--with cream sauce, white cheese, goat cheese, Camembert, Mozzarella--was a cheese orgy. Despite the abundance of cheese, it was easy to distinguish each one on the pie and on your palate.
The dinner menu brings other French favourites like beef bourguignon, mussels and frites and filet mignon with balsamic sauce.
Chez Sophie recently announced it will be taking over the restaurant space on the L'Esplanade Riel. The pedestrian cable bridge spans the Red River and links St. Boniface to downtown. The space will undergo a $150,000 to $200,000 renovation before opening on June 1, 2013. (Opening dates in the restaurant industry are typically a moving target. That date could change if renovations are delayed.)
That announcement has increased traffic to the St. Boniface location, housed inside a bright blue bungalow.
Don't wait for the new, much larger location to open. Book a table and taste what the fuss is all about now.
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