Winnipeg's Exchange District is arguably the city's chicest neighbourhood. With its historic turn-of-the-last-century warehouse buildings, independent boutiques, delectable eateries, creative cocktail corners and myriad of events, this is where art and design and food meet.
The Exchange District is no stranger to walking tours. Over the years they've curated and cultivated numerous historic walking tours focused on the hundreds of unique stories that give the Exchange its character. From learning about the city's theatrical past to the General Strike of 1919 to a time when Winnipeg was known for its less than wholesome side, there is no shortage of facts and fables to find here.
The Exchange's Feast on Food Tours take all that one step further by combining a little of that history with some nosh and nibbles from some of the area's most beloved and well-known restaurants and bars.
It was on a gorgeous summer evening that a group of girlfriends escaped from the kids, gathered at Old Market Square and spent a delicious evening amongst the stories and bricks that make up the Exchange District.
Stop 1: Cordova Tapas & Wine
The tour started at the Spanish-inspired tapas bar located on Albert Street. Locals will know this spot as once being home to The Fyxx. Gone are its coffee and sandwich shop days which have been replaced with a gleaming wooden bar, golden gilded ceiling and twinkle lights a glow.
We started off with a platter of perfectly chewable chorizo slices and olives marinated in rosemary, citrus, cumin, smoked paprika and fennel. That was followed up by a trio of crostini. The first topped with smoked salmon and capers, the second (and my favourite) with a roasted red pepper stuffed with ham and Manchego cheese and the final with a Mediterrean crab salad. All of it was washed down with a crisp glass of sparkling Spanish white wine.
Stop 2: Amsterdam Tea Room
Don't let the name fool you, this spot does a lot more than serve tea. To be sure, the first thing you will notice on entering are the dozens of silver cannisters holding a range of exotic and flavoured teas that grace the back of this bright and airy space. Park at one of the bartop tables and you'll see they also offer a menu with cute appies like Old Dutch chips served with Andalouse sauce (a Belgian creation combining mayo, tomato paste and peppers), as well soup and sandwiches.
The thing to take note of though is their extensive cocktail menu with its host of creative mixes. On this night we were treated to a taste of a drink termed 'matcha caipiroska', featuring ceremonial grade matcha, vodka, lime and sugar. The group consensus was this tasted like a grown up version of a lime slushie. It was perfect for the hot summer evening. We also tried 'respect your elders' which combined elderberry tea infused gin, elderberry tea syrup, egg white and lemon. The pretty pink results tasted refreshingly sweet with a hint of tartness.
Stop 3-Forth Cocktail Bar
Our final stop of the evening was at Forth Cocktail Bar. By day this hipster mecca is known for its coffee and bright airy interior, as well as its ever expanding patio on McDermot. By night head downstairs to the cozy and candlelit bar area for a host of creative cocktails, and in this case, a little dessert too.
Our drink consisted of a sweet and sour combination of Aperol, orange juice, grapefruit juice and a splash of cava that was perfectly refreshing. Dessert consisted of three moist and cakey hazelnut chocolate truffles resting on a bed of almond cream.
Insider tip: Don't be shy about hanging out after the tour is complete and trying out the 'bartenders choice' where a mystery drink will be crafted for you after your server asks you a series of questions. To quote: 'We can take it from there. Trust us. We have your best interests in mind.' Who can argue with that?
Along with the delectable treats and tipples, you'll also be graced with historical tidbits and stories as you move from location to location, creating an experience you won't soon forget. The Exchange District BIZ offers three versions of their food tour alternating on Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays in July and August. For more info and to book, click here.
Tuesdays-Savour the Exchange
Featuring La Carnita, The Saddlery on Market, and Corrientes
Wednesdays-Decadence in the District (the tour featured in this post)
Featuring Cordova, Amsterdam Tea Room and Forth
Featuring Kevin’s Bistro, Alycia’s, and Across the Board