Neighbourhood: Osborne Village
Address: 161 Osborne Street
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.
The retro-diner-style restaurant attracts crowds with a combination of traditional baking and hip marketing. The decor is a throwback to days past with menu items written on chalkboards lining the walls, black and white checkered floors, bright red tables and galactic silver booths. Yet the presentation is modern and eye-catching. Stylized images of cute cartoon cakes and burgers saying “bite me” and “take me” adorn the space and servers wear funky blue t-shirts bearing similar slogans.
The first thing diners see is the abundant display case filled with decadent tortes, golden pies and sky-high cakes. So save room for later, because the kitchen’s savoury dishes have something to show-off as well.
A full dinner menu contrasts the elaborate desserts with simple, understated savoury dishes. The restaurant excels at creating delicious comfort foods using fresh ingredients and in-house preparations.
The triple-decker grilled cheese with bacon is not to be missed. Mild cheddar and mozzarella, salty bacon and buttery slices of French bread all combine to create the ultimate gooey sandwich. Keep a stack of napkins handy if you decide to indulge in the chili burger. A thick, moist patty is heaped with a robust and piquant chili. Served alongside sandwiches and burgers are lightly salted house-made French fries, which come with the skins on.
A rustic dish of spaghetti and meatballs demonstrates the care put into every dish. The tomato sauce is fresh and sweet; and the meatballs are tender, dense and full of mellow spiced flavour.
But an evening at Baked wouldn’t be complete without standing in front of the glass case full of sugary options and wrestling with an inner struggle, as each cake looks more delicious than the last.
A towering chocolate cake of moist layers sandwiched between swaths of orange chocolate mousse is reminiscent of the taste of Christmas. It even comes wrapped in a layer of solid dark chocolate. An impressive mocha torte combines coffee-flavoured cream with a dozen layers of chocolate cake that complement each other with just the right amount of sweetness.
The cherry cheesecake is rich and tangy with hints of citrus. A top layer of glazed cherries is tart and offers a pop of fresh flavour that balances the lushness of cake. The Oreo cheesecake makes you feel like a kid reliving the days of dunking milk and cookies. The creamy cake has pieces of Oreo cookies dispersed throughout and a chocolate cookie crust.
Baked Expectations is open Mon-Thurs noon-midnight, Fri-Sat noon-1 am and Sun 11 am-midnight.