Address: 1390 Erin Street
Phone number: 204-783-2813
Neighbourhood: West End
"Inexpensive fine dining" may often seem like a fruitless pursuit for diners.
But one trip to Café Dario proves it's not only possible, it's tasty too.
Take the corn-flour crusted basa fillet, served at lunch recently. The fork-tender white fish is coated with a light dusting of corn flour mixed with salt and freshly-cracked pepper and a light dash of chile. A hot pan, no oil and brief cooking time results in a crisp coating that envelopes the luscious and light fish within. A burnt-butter mango sauce was a great companion to the delicate fish.
Accompanying mashed potatoes, grilled zucchini, carrots and mashed beets complete this fantastic $12 lunch.
Admittedly, there are more expensive items on the lunch menu but a tempting chicken breast stuffed with persimmons and a pork tenderloin rubbed with chiles and lime were also $12.
Meanwhile, a grilled rib-eye steak with peppercorn sauce ($18) was equally impressive. The brawny and decadent sauce brought the heat with loads of peppercorns.
Soup of the day (a scrumptious potato dill with leek on our visit) and fresh bread is served with all lunches. Lunches range in price from $12 to $22. The menu changes frequently and depends on, among other things, available ingredients.
The West End lunch and dinner restaurant is hard to categorize. Colombian-born chef Dario Pineda-Gutierrez peppers his menu with dashes of that South American country's cuisine. Seafood and meat (lamb, pork and beef) are regulars.
Café Dario is off the beaten path, located in a light industrial area at the corner of Erin Street and Wellington Avenue deep in Winnipeg's West End, a culturally diverse neighbourhood west of downtown. The restaurant is understated and homey, which makes sense given it's located in a converted bungalow. The casual, two-room dining room seats about 50.
If he's not too busy, expect a visit to your table from Pineda-Gutierrez, a cheerful and warm fellow who happily answers any questions about the menu. Very competent and amiable servers also know their stuff.