Neighbourhood: West Broadway
Address: 102 Sherbrook St.
Phone: (204) 504-6945
(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)
The seedy motels and rooming houses of Sherbrook Street, which once served as the epitome of the neighbourhood, have now become just another casual observation, like the bakeries, yoga studios, and hipster joints that have become as commonplace. The latter best describes Fitzroy restaurant, which set up shop four months ago in what has arguably become Winnipeg’s most interesting neighbourhood.
Aptly named for a working class, ethnically diverse neighbourhood of Melbourne, Fitzroy feels right at home among the comparably eclectic culture of Sherbrook Street, even riffing off hearty blue collar staples like salt beef with city rye. Part of a wave of small, chef-owned restaurant ventures flooding the city, Fitzroy offers up a departure from late-night standards. And though the unmarked building with its narrow, stark interior and softly playing hip hop might initially suggest otherwise, Fitzroy does deliver on its “no pretense, just honest cooking” ethos.
Expect homestyle dishes like slow-cooked barbequed pork over corn porridge, topped with glistening shards of crackling, finely sliced chives and punctuated surprisingly with corn nuts. This spin on southern fare replaces peanuts with its crispy, less-refined, cousin, and this sort of witty substitution hints at a self-awareness and playfulness that sets Fitzroy apart. With a kitchen stocked full of big ticket gadgets like Rational ovens and urban cultivators, food at Fitzroy is as much about the taste as the experience of creating it.
Chef Jon Hochman, like Victor Frankenstein toiling in the kitchen, is spitting out deceptively simple dishes like the Manitoba smoked goldeye and eggs whipped with schmaltz on thick toast, topped with chives and herring roe. This might be the best use of smoked lake fish we’ve tasted. Look more closely, and you notice that you’ve just paid for, and been delighted by, what is essentially eggs on toast – and what’s more eggs (roe) on eggs, on toast. Cheeky.
Only time will tell whether Sherbrook will welcome Fitzroy with an open heart, but we’ve got to give it up to young chefs with the creative audacity to explode into overlooked markets and neighbourhoods.
Fitzroy is open Mon-Sun 4 pm until late.