If ever there were an impenetrable case to be made about not judging a book by its cover, Osborne Village Café should be exhibit No. 1.
The folksy diner is located in the Osborne Village Hotel, a property best know for its gritty rock bar Ozzy's in the basement.
The café is a bright and breezy breath of life into the hotel. Diners enter the main-floor restaurant through the lobby. Sidewalk-facing windows add cheer to the diner setting. Green vinyl booths and chairs and white stucco and brick walls lend a slightly dated, down-home vibe.
The menu is best described as diner deluxe. Burgers, salads, soups and sandwiches are taken up a notch or five here. A fantastic pineapple chutney topped a grilled chicken burger. A tangy poppy-seed vinaigrette delivered a sweet sting on the spinach salad. Crunchy (hemp-seed? encrusted) peanuts added extra za za zooey.
Five inspired omelettes—including The Pegger with mozzarella, red wine mushrooms, bacon and Manitoba wild rice—populate the menu. Six additional breakfast items are also served all day.
Poutine gets an upgrade here, too. We ploughed through the vegan poutine topped with soy-based gravy, avocado and pea shoots and red pepper. We cheated and topped it with mozzarella. It actually is served with soy cheese in its original form. Turkey, pulled pork, traditional, Quebecois (cheese curds and sauce brune) and Manitoban poutine (mozzarella and gravy) rounded out the options. Next time, we're going for the turkey with cranberry chutney.
Local, local, local is the message here. A chalkboard welcoming guests lists all the Manitoba food suppliers used inside the kitchen. That isn't just lip service. It's obvious that fresh, local ingredients are in play here. And that makes a huge difference when you're at the helm of a soup, sandwich and salad menu.
One tiny quibble: Music blares from the kitchen. Every time the door to the dining room opens, diners are assaulted with rock and pop classics. Upon further investigation, we were told that the kitchen staff has been told numerous times to turn down the tunes, to no avail. Turn down the music, please.
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