2012 Restaurant Reviews

Arkadash Bistro & Lounge

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

Karen Peters spent two years based in Turkey serving as a chef aboard a gulet boat sailing between Mediterranean ports. Now she’s sharing the savoury flavours of one of the world’s most diverse culinary regions at her 100-seat restaurant, Arkadash Bistro & Lounge.

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Aalto’s Garden Café
(Various locations)

Strategy is imperative to a seamless, satisfying buffet experience. Most avoid filling up beforehand, but the pros know prepping the stomach with a small meal in advance is imperative.

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Bistro By Basil

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

Long before the trend towards tapas took over town, Basil Lagopoulous fostered social eating with a menu designed for tasting and sharing. The determined restaurateur with a 27-year history in Osborne Village endured a 2008 water main break at this location, and the subsequent web of municipal red tape, in order to open his latest incarnation, Bistrot by Basil, in December of last year.

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Café Carlo

Long before the tapas craze hit the city, Café Carlo was offering an appealing selection of “little plates.” Described as “Californian-Italian fusion”, the menu nevertheless explores flavours and cooking techniques from many other regions. From the Japanese influence of panko crumbs on the bistro’s prawns to the Mexican flair of its fish tacos, there are a wide variety of appetizers that can be combined for a satisfying meal.

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Café Mercadito Latino

When Robert Frost penned the famous line, ‘I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,’ he could easily have been waxing poetic about all the hidden gems in Winnipeg’s restaurant scene.

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Carbone

In the battle for pizza supremacy in Winnipeg, it takes more than just outside-the-box ingredients to bring hungry crowds. For one of the newest kids on the block, it’s all in the oven.

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Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria

In a city increasingly saturated with quick, casual fare, it takes the unexpected to excite diners.  Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria hits the nail on the head, delivering a fresh take on perennial pizza paired with exciting empanadas.

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deer + almond

Deer + almond’s understated, bare bones aesthetic is a sharp and comfortable contrast to its refined and revelatory vision. This tenacious, chef-driven restaurant is home to aptly executed, adventurous and consistent plates that have impressed us since its opening.

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Eat Venture: Asian Markets
(Lucky Supermarket, &
ING Supermarket)

Take a stimulating jaunt to the Far East, without ever leaving the city, at Winnipeg’s most authentic and affordable Asian markets.

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Fusion Grill

Local is a buzzword, and it’s been fusion grill owner, Scot McTaggart’s mantra since his 40-seat Academy Road eatery opened in 1996.  You can taste his effort and intention in each dish—from Manitoba strawberries that garnish desserts to sustainable freshwater fish. Food here is delectable and transparently socially responsible.

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Harman’s Cafe

You might remember a Harman’s that offered deli sandwiches at a lunch counter in the back of a now-defunct drug store on Portage Ave. You can still get a hefty corned beef on rye at a new Harman’s, but this year-old Ethiopian restaurant, named to commemorate the owner’s former workplace, is a world away from that lunch counter.

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IGI BBQ and Sushi Bistro

Pack appetite and head down Pembina to IGI BBQ and Sushi Bistro, the second eatery of Dee Chan and the owner of close by Cantonese favourite Sun Fortune, and the first for partner David Kong.

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InFerno’s Bistro

Fern Kirouac is Winnipeg’s latest chef/owner to expand shop with a second spot. His beloved French-Asian mash-ups and nods to provincial bounty that have established flagship Des Meurons bistro as a dining darling for nearly a decade have taken root in River Heights.

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Kokeb

Ethiopian meals—a colourful array of curries and stews set on a canvas of injera bread— are a painter’s palette of mysterious and magnificent flavours. Chiles, red onion, garlic, ginger and cilantro are touchstone tastes of this East African cuisine.

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Kum Koon Garden

As if it were entertainment, Kum Koon Garden orchestrates a certain understated show with its possibilities of exotic Cantonese chow coaxing diners senses via push cart.

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Los Chicos

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

The South slub’s dining scene diversified this year, adding Tex Mex cuisine to the existing mix of steak, pizza and chicken chains. Fiesta themed Los Chicos Restaurante y Cantina took over the former digs of Dacquisto’s this winter. A vibrant coat of rainbow-hued paint, touristy Mexican artifacts and handsome hammered metal light fixtures transformed the former tony Italian restaurant into a fun factory with a casual vacation vibe.

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The Park Café

Chef Heiko Duehrsen, formerly of the Gates on Roblin, had the unenviable task of designing a menu for The Park Café that needed to appeal to the broad cross-section of the population that frequents Assiniboine Park and live up to the lofty expectations set upon it by its spectacular location. He succeeded.

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Pho Mama’s Noodle House

The cover of the menu is in Vietnamese; Chinese fans hang on the walls; and a TV plays a Filipino soap opera. Welcome to Pho Mama’s Noodle House, a fast,  astonishingly affordable Asian diner on the edge of one of Winnipeg’s most culturally diverse neighbourhoods.

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Promenade Cafe and Wine

Setting the stage for romance with candlelight flickering across the smooth tops of custom-made, rustic wooden tables, Promenade Cafe and Wine boasts breathtaking views of the bustling Esplanade Riel, the historic Red River and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

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The Rib Room

The return of the Winnipeg Jets has sparked a downtown dining revival. Not only are we seeing new local upstarts and national chains, but also institutions that may have faded into the background of the dining scene now find themselves players in a new game. One such place is the Rib Room at the Best Western Charterhouse.

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Round Table

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

As the slowest time on the wine-and-dine circuit, post Christmas is the bane of many restaurateurs existence. You wouldn’t know that from the crowds at the Round Table Steakhouse & Pub one recent Tuesday evening in mid-January.

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Rudy’s Eat and Drink

Winnipeg’s downtown is in the midst of a revitalization movement — and Chef Michael Schafer of Rudy’s Eat & Drink is one of its frontrunners. His opulent 227-seat chophouse offers downtown denizens elegant escapism.

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Sensei Wine Lounge

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

Since opening in October 2010, Sensi Wine Lounge has become the intersection between Winnipeg’s well-heeled and upwardly mobile professionals. The swish, 50-seat, evenings-only spot is located above sister restaurant Tre Visi,  in the east Exchange District.

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Simon’s Cuisine

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

Simon’s Cuisine is a cozy little diner with black and white checkered floors. There are just a dozen seats and warm orange walls sprinkled with exotic photographs.

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Sukhothai

Over the past decade Sukhothai has become a mainstay in Osborne Village, and with a recent expansion the eatery has grown from 50 to 100 seats. The dining room is tastefully decorated in muted shades of beige. Customers dine by flickering candlelight, two window-lined walls offer street level glimpses of the diverse cast of passersby in the bustling walking district.

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Yellow Dog Tavern

Simple, scratch-made food make The Yellow Dog Tavern the perfect place to have a pint and a plate. The downtown pub attracts a diverse clientele from business lunchers and creative types by day to studded leather punk-rock types after dark, all sharing an appreciation for no-frills, deep fryer-free pub fare.

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