Of course it's Dine About Winnipeg!
The wildly popular dining extravaganza is the brainchild of Ciao! magazine. Every year, about 10,000 diners explore new flavours while getting the most bang for their buck.
The participating restaurants, most of which are in Winnipeg, but there are one or two out of town, offer three-course, prix fixe menus for $25 and/or $35.
At Beachcomber, fresh Manitoba pickerel is prepared with a crispy sliced almond crust and topped with a refreshing swirl of crème fraîche. Fusion Grill's grilled bison petite tender with grainy mustard rub and Fort Garry beer-battered onion rings is a must try. Manitoba pork tenderloin with maple beet coriander sauce won't disappoint at Blaze Bistro.
Down Home and Mouth-Waterin'
The smokin' deals begin at Lovey's BB & Smokehouse (did you get that one?) where you get salad or wings followed by a full slab rib dinner, beans, coleslaw, cornbread and fries or potato salad (go for the latter, you can have fries anytime). You also get their southern-style banana cream pudding, which I'm usually too stuffed to have, but I force it down anyway, every last spoonful. And you get a drink. It's $25.
You might want to go global. If so, your choices abound including Cafe Dario's Colombian-style alligator empanada appetizer; grilled ahi tuna with pineapple cachaça salsa prepared at Hermano's; and a Greek-themed meal at Dessert Sinsations, where a house-made lamb burger with mint and basil mayo takes centre stage.
Fancy for Almost Free
For a swish setting, head over to In Ferno's where the $25 menu seems far to meager a sum for your many choices of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Speaking of dessert, you should opt for the maple sugar pie (pictured here).
First-time participants and brand new restaurants include classic Italian dining at La Trattoria; Latin American-influenced Deseo Bistro; modern Italian delights at Tomato Food and Wine Bar and authentic Mexican eatery La Bamba, named one of Ciao!'s best new restaurants 2011.
"The menus are a testament to the city's talented chefs and restaurants. Since 2004, both the local restaurant industry and the people of Winnipeg have come to anticipate Dine About Winnipeg with great enthusiasm. The buzz the event creates is phenomenal and it is a great way for people to show their support for the local restaurant industry," says publisher Laurie Hughes.