2008 Reviews

Baked Expectations

When Baked Expectations opened a quarter-century ago, dessert cafes were uncharted territory in Winnipeg. A precocious concept at the time, this Osborne Village hotspot has garnered a cult-like devotion and is still, in spite of increased competition, the definitive destination for the city’s sweet fix.

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Beachcomber’s

As we move into the lazy days of summer, Beachcomber’s restaurant at The Forks is the perfect resting spot to view sun worshippers soaking up rays, couples strolling the riverwalk, and boats cruising the Assiniboine River.

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Bombolini

Tucked beneath the wing of its upscale sibling Amici, Bombolini is the master of bistro fare. Over the past two decades it has built a distinctive identity with its authentic, yet affordable, gourmet Italian cooking.

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Bonfire Bistro

Bonfire Bistro, on a quiet section of Corydon in the middle of River Heights, has achieved ambient perfection. The atmosphere is so comfortable that guests table-hop regularly, and staff address the majority of patrons by name. Since owner Duncan Grant opened it six years ago, Bonfire has become the ultimate house party—one that you better not show up for late. Arrive after 5:30 pm on a weekend, or even some days during the week, and its good luck getting one of the restaurant’s 30 sought-after seats.

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Casa Grande Pizzeria

All senses are engaged as the red-and-white checkered curtain rises on a dining experience at Casa Grande Pizzeria. This bustling restaurant has been three decades in the making and is cinematic in its reproduction of a Lady-and-the-Tramp-style dining atmosphere. Tony Grande’s business is booming, and in the Italian tradition, still all in the family.

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Chez Sophie Bistro

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

Lifted right out of the French countryside, Chez Sophie is a charming, neighbourhood bistro nestled in the heart of historic St. Boniface. The affable owners, Sophie Wild and her husband—Chef Stéphane—have lovingly recreated the rustic ambiance of their native Alsace.

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Civita

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

During summer, the Corydon strip overflows with people vying for alfresco dining tables. At Civita, a small front patio serves the primary pastime of people watching, but its side patio, hidden from the buzz of the street, is the ultimate outdoor experience.

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Dacquisto

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

Italy has always played an important part in defining Winnipeg’s culinary scene. High-profile, specialty food stores, timeless mom-and-pop cafes, contemporary Mediterranean bistros—the category is saturated. Or so we thought.

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Don Pedro’s Mexican Grill

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

If the memories of your last tropical vacation have faded away and you’ve been longing for lively fiestas and fiery cuisine, Don Pedro’s Authentic Mexican Grill quells those cravings.

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Eat! Bistro

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

Diners secretly crave to make a meal out of appetizers for two reasons: it means you can sample a variety of flavours, and control portions with ease. First courses can be the highlight of a meal, mostly because chefs are able to perfect the tastes of compact morsels.

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Enorae Bistro

Chef Chris Stoneham’s popular neighbourhood bistro serves a dual purpose for denizens of the chic Academy Road district. Pronounced en‑NORA, the name stems from his background in karate; it translates to ‘relax.’

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La P’tite France

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

Tucked away on the edge of St. Boniface, La P’tite France has been quietly offering classic French fare for the past two years.

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Lovey’s BBQ & Smokehouse

Standing outside Lovey’s BBQ and Smokehouse, the haze of grilled meat hangs in the air. Before setting foot inside, you can taste those summertime barbeques where the aroma of juices sizzling on the coals wafts down the street making neighbours green with jealousy.

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Luce

It’s been five years since Morgan Carnegie left his comfortable office job to open his own restaurant. In this time, the chef/owner at Luce has kept a steady pace, wisely focusing on consistency and execution. The buttercup yellow and eggplant interior is more rustic with age, and the menu has been slightly tweaked, but still illustrates Chef Morgan’s deftness with classic Italian dishes, alongside contemporary and fusion versions.

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Noir Wine Bar & Eatery

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

Step down from River Avenue into Noir Wine Bar and Eatery, the Village’s newest cosmopolitan hang-out, to discover a modish haunt bustling with young professionals. This subterranean space is divided into two rooms: a black-clad, 25-seat dining room leading into a spotless white lounge anchored by a full bar.

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O Tacho

O Tacho is a cozy space full of lively neighbours eating, chatting and drinking as though at home in Portugal. Clay pots of various shapes and sizes decorate the otherwise nautical-themed room. “O Tacho” means “the pot” in Portuguese, and most dishes are served in the humble cooking vessel.

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Palm Lounge

The chateau-style Fort Garry Hotel was built in 1913 at a time when Winnipeg was the cross-Canadian rail transport hub. The hotel stands as a symbol of that period, and at its heart, the Palm Lounge brings to life a distinguished era when a cocktail was a fashion statement and a night out was a magnificent event.

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Pizzeria Gusto

In a city teeming with stellar pizza joints, Winnipeggers know their ’za. So when owner Bobby Mattola conceptualized Pizzeria Gusto, he had to offer something beyond the classic and gourmet varieties.

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Promenade Bistro

It’s easy to see why Chef Gojko, formerly of Restaurant Dubrovnik, chose Promenade Bistro as the backdrop for his intricate menu. Looking out to one of the most spectacular landmarks in the city—the Esplanade Riel—this simple space has been transformed from its former incarnation as a fast-food diner into a fine dining restaurant offering dishes far beyond ordinary.

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Royal Crown

Behind the grand Fort Garry Hotel, a glass elevator whisks guests up 30 stories. When the doors open, Royal Crown Revolving Restaurant’s main attraction is immediately apparent. Every table has one of Winnipeg’s best views. This restaurant is a great way for visitors to familiarize themselves with the city while checking out some top tourist attractions.

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Sydney’s

Whether for love or money, the best place in Winnipeg to showcase your knowledge of cutting‑edge cuisine and mood-inspiring atmosphere is Sydney’s at the Forks.

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Terrace Dining Room

The lilting bugle calls horses to post. Eyes turn to the dining room window as prancing thoroughbreds with colourful jockeys enter the track. Chatter erupts about which horse is the prettiest or looks the fastest. Bets are placed as the animals load the gates. “And they’re off.” The dining room lights dim, the clinking of cutlery stops and eyes fix on the action along the far side of the oval. As the horses round the bend, excitement mounts with diners cheering their horse to the finish.

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Tryst

Red velvet, black wood and silhouetted walls make Tryst Eatery and Liquid Lounge a sultry escape from the chill of midwinter.

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Vesuvio

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

Nothing says amore like the food of Italy. Freshly baked bread and made-from-scratch pasta have diners at Vesuvio feeling as though they’re at nonna’s table. But it’s spunky young Chef Adam Pimentel who’s in the kitchen sending out all that love. He’s succeeding because he cooks from the heart. “My sauce is a version of my grandmother’s,” he writes on the menu about his pasta al pomodoro.“No two batches are exactly the same, but are all infused with grandma’s love.”

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World Food: Chinese
(Emerald Palace, Five Spice, Logan Corner, Ming Court)

In the spirit of the Beijing Olympics, Ciao! editors set out on a mission to get reacquainted with Chinese food. Like all ethnic cuisines brought to North America, Chinese food has been adapted, twisted, and, at times, completely invented to suit our palates.

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