2020: at least the food was good.
That’s our motto for this year where things were not ideal for anyone–particularly the local restaurant biz. And yet, we discovered that so many of the city’s best restaurants and chefs were perfectly capable at perfecting takeout while going above and beyond feeding healthcare workers and those in need.
From noodles to pastries, to rice dishes, waffles, kimchi and tacos, these are some of the best things we ate (along with some other fun things too) in Winnipeg in 2020. Note: this is part one of a three-part series.
Everything from Hildegard’s Bakery–from the best-ever pumpkin pie to outrageously lush focaccia, to those barely set indulgent butter tarts… this place is on fire.
Enoteca's beef tartare. Chef/owner Scott Bagshaw has always been known for tartare at his restaurants, but this latest version–with its pho aioli (it’s spectacular), Iberico XO sauce (again, we would eat it by the spoonful), quail egg and foie gras is something from another dimension of flavour. Plus, it travels well–as does everything on the takeout menu - including the also must-order fried chicken with that black garlic ranch. And really, we could also mention every dish from both Passero and Maque too (his other two restaurants) as both spots have amazing crews (both in the kitchen and front of the house) that ensure an incredible dining experience.
The jollof rice from AFV Express. This is a comfort food dish you should reach for this winter, while chef/owner Folasade Akin-Akinbulumo was our favourite interview this year.
Sous Sol for being Sous Sol. The fact that you can order a candle + holder to match the dining room’s ambiance, the delicious foie gras torchon with five-spiced cherries, the duck confit, the expertly crafted wine list, the cocktail kits and for continuing to have the world’s best website, which owner/barman Erik Thordarson built.
Waffles. So many of them, including this new savoury one from Modern Electric Lunch that is a dream at $5 and includes this smoked gouda sauce that just doesn’t quit while combining with the waffle to form a new level of lusciousness.
Grant Hyundae Mart for homemade kimchi and so many delicious things. Our favourite little grocery store always stocks napa cabbage, king oyster and enoki mushrooms, galbi and so many types of gochujang and countless Korean products to marinate it in, and housemade kimchi that we put on everything. The kimchi is just spicy enough, the cuts of veg are thick and crunchy, and it’s available in three sizes in case the 3 litre format is too much to handle.
Pulled pork empanadas from La Pampa. The shopping experience at both locations alone is worth it, as the vast array of empanadas belies belief. The pulled pork has recently won us over as they are super juicy, while the corn and béchamel ones are luscious.
Clementine’s whole menu, with special mention to the ever-evolving fried chicken toast and the kale Caesar salad with its crunchy crumbs and smoked tuna. Everything here is perfection.
The oxtail from Famena’s Famous Roti. Lord bless Mohamad and Famena Ally and their West Indies joint situated in a downtown parking garage. The huge rotis are hard not to order, but that simple braised oxtail on rice with that hot sauce that hits you in waves is sublime.
Pop tarts by Lark. The pastry is so flakey and they use local maker Flora and Farmer strawberry vanilla beet jam for the filling. The perfect coffee accompaniment when you are in The Exchange District.
The smoked buffalo chicken sandwich from King + Bannatyne. That soft bun absorbing all the ranch and buffalo sauciness, the crunchy lettuce, the ultra-tender chicken. Chef’s kiss.
Those chili wontons from Aroma Bistro. Chef Louis has now developed a cult following for these absolutely delicious wontons – the dough is great, as is the filling, while that warm/Autumn spice chili oil puts it over the top–that it sells hundreds of per day.
Torched tuna from Close Co. Perhaps our favourite one-biter in the city. All the components–a little spice via a thinly shaven ring of jalapeño, the sweet pungent black garlic, the crisp chip, the soft, meaty tuna… perfection.
Spicy hot chocolate from Chocolatier Constance Popp. That smooth texture, the pure indulgence and that hit of heat after the first sip. A must-have this winter.