Warm and welcoming chefs, hearty fare, sweet concoctions and unique culinary experiences make up our list of the best spots to eat and drink this winter. A few I’ve been to, some are at the top of the list to get to, and one, I’m side-eyeing you RAW:almond, is near impossible to get into. Here are quite a few ways to warm up your belly this winter…
The Sentruhl Project
For $58.00, you get to devour a tasting menu inspired by Canadian culture and prepared by Gordon Bailey, who’s happily back in town after spending a few years perfecting his craft on the east coast — at Lot 31 in PEI to be exact. To say the menus are inspired is an understatement. Bailey’s meals are creative and unique and only served for a couple of nights before it’s on to the next one. So if you see a menu that’s right up your alley, book it! Because it’s not happening again. I’m still kicking myself that I missed East Coast night.
The Blind Tiger Coffee Co.
Is there anything more thrilling than a secret hideaway? By day, the Blind Tiger serves up coffee, but at night, make your way through the secret door and enter into a prohibition era speakeasy. Behind the looking glass you’ll discover a menu full of robust French fare while bartenders mix up some cocktail magic.
What more can be said about the frozen river pop-up? Winnipeg’s top winter dining experience has been receiving the highest accolades over the last two years from both food lovers and winter enthusiasts alike. And this year’s venue looks to be cooler than ever. If you want to get a ticket to the hottest cool event of the year, you better hurry, tickets sell like hotcakes. They go on sale Dec 13 at deer + almond and online Dec 14.
Roost Social House
Looking for a chill place to take a hot date this winter? You can’t go wrong with settling in at The Roost. This great new joint is serving up small plates and well-crafted cocktails that have names like “drunk at high tea,” “kentucky fried rabbit” and “the young drunk unicorn.” Visit them in the treetops at 651 Corydon. It’s a small spot, so get there early.
Churchill Northern Studies Centre
It doesn’t get more “from scratch” than dining at the CNSC. I got the chance to stay at the centre a few winters ago for their winter skies learning vacation and I’m still drooling over the homemade meals head chef Laura O’Sullivan whipped up. This remote centre might not have exotic fare, but what Laura lacks in fancy ingredients she more than makes up for with her homemade recipes. My colleague and I agreed that the CNSC should be Michelin rated. The best part is Laura leaves her freshly made desserts out in case you want to run down to the kitchen for a snack attack after a late night watching the northern lights. Oh do I want to get back up there.
Festival du Voyageur
You can’t talk winter eats in Manitoba without mentioning Festival du Voyageur. Canada’s largest kitchen party knows how to serve up authentic French-Canadian cuisine. You can roll up pure maple syrup sweetness in the Sugar Shack, take a hard shot of blood-red caribou, warm your insides with a hearty bowl of pea soup, savour a slice of tourtière, load up on poutine, or nosh on beaver tails…of the breaded kind. This year’s festival runs from Feb 12 to 21. Arrive hungry.🍴
The Ole Farmhouse Cafe
Lunchtime road trip, anyone? There’s a lovely house in Rosenort where you will find the most amazing lunches. The Ole’ Farmhouse Café embraces the amenities of a restaurant, with all the warm comforts of home, creating the most unique atmosphere. This café’s fare is fresh and the desserts are out of this world. Also, they’ve been know to serve perogy soup…mic drop.
A L’Epi de Ble
If you haven’t tried a macaron from A L’Epi de Ble yet, you’re definitely missing out, they are tiny little discs of happiness — and a personal weakness of mine. These delightful treats taste like how a real French macaron should taste: light, not overly sweet, a little chewy, with a filling that has a silky smooth finish. When you’re grabbing a box of goodies at the shop, don’t forget to pick up a fresh-baked loaf. They have one made with caramelized onions that makes for a sassy dinner companion.
The Hansel & Gretel Schnitzel House
That Hansel (& Gretel) Schnitzel House is so hot right now. And why wouldn’t it be? A snowy winter day is a fantastic time to cozy up in Brandon‘s quaint German spot and nosh on homemade schnitzel. This place will make you feel like you’re eating in Oma’s kitchen. So sign me up! Plus, the dinner for two is no joke. Look at that thing, it’s a beast!
A visit to Swan River is now on my list after discovering that Madoco is Manitoba’s number one rated restaurant on TripAdvisor. By the sounds of it, a lot of that has to do with two things: French cuisine carefully prepared with a superb attention to detail and exceptional service from owners Doug and Margaret.
My favourite place for sushi is an Italian restaurant. Say what?! A few years ago, friends introduced me to one of Mona Lisa’s unique dishes, Mezzo/Mezzo, which means half and half. The restaurant takes the flavours of Italy and marries them with the traditional Japanese art of sushi. The Il Paisano is my go-to roll, but all of them are delish. And so is everything else on the menu.
Winnipeg’s West End is where you’ll find some of the best cuisines from around the globe and one of my favourite places to eat in the area is Viva Restaurant. Viva might not have the most glamourous address, but their menu will make you forget all about that. The prices are super cheap and they make a Vietnamese coffee that is sweet and strong. The Deluxe vermicelli is my go-to, it’s a big, steaming bowl full of charbroiled pork, grilled shrimp and spring roll pieces.
The Orange Toad
I discovered this homey coffee shop when I was up in Flin Flon last spring. First and foremost, The Orange Toad is a bustling café, but it’s also a used book store where you can sit back (preferably on the sofa), relax and read quietly. This place just exudes rural hospitality, so much so that a nice gentleman paid for my London Fog before I could even reach for my wallet. Pretty sure this is the kind of joint that has a “Norm!” walking through the door every day. Hmmm, maybe that guy who paid was Norm?!
Oak Hammock Marsh
Winter is the best time to bake bannock at Oak Hammock. (Sorry, gotta take the rhyme when it’s staring me right in the face.) Head out to the marsh during the Louis Riel weekend to participate in Voyageur Day (Feb 16) and wrap a stick delicately with some delicious bannock dough and roast it over the fire pit with your besties.
Have a favourite place you would add to this list? Tell us in the comments!