Neighbourhood: River Heights
Address: 414 Academy Rd
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.
Inferno’s on Academy’s April opening has brought familiar tastes in a new format, you’ll find a handful of familiar offerings on the fresh and intriguing menu. In a few short months the 75 seat eatery has settled in as if it always existed here, and fits the neighbourhood fabric like a long lost glove.
It feels good to walk past happy couples living it up on the petite patio, a homey bounty of fresh baked breads and croissants shelved at the front of the house and a semi-open kitchen en route to your table.
Subtle interior tweaks have made previous space inhabitants The Frenchway and J Fox’s a hazy memory. Touches of turquoise, teal and macaw green paint enhance fieldstone feature walls, the stage has been thoughtfully repositioned for regular live music and lighting, seating and art add contemporary touches.
Two appetizers-duck confit spring rolls with red onion marmalade and crab cakes with chili aioli, mango slaw and supple corn shoot garnish-are versions of familiar In Ferno’s starters with varied flavour profiles.
Signature Inferno’s French onion soups shines on here, rich with port and a Gruyere smothered slice of baguette. It is joined on the menu by a rustic rendition of chowder that’s laden with smoky hunks of halibut and accompanied by a crostini heavy with addictive bacon jam.
Servers exercise mental muscles as they recite lengthy line ups of daily specials, a feat which with Inferno’s diners are fondly familiar. One night’s special, a lovely tortellini of beets and goat cheese was served nude over earthy yam puree with tangy sweet trails of reduced balsamic drizzle.
Another special, Moroccan spiced lamb shank, evokes sweet and smoky notes throughout the moist, succulent meat. Fit for a prehistoric appetite, the massive 28 oz hammerchop impresses with it’s seared crust sealing in juicy medium rare goodness. A salty side of crisp truffle fries rounds out this meat and potatoes offering.
Chef Kirouac adds his personal touch to each meal with a handcrafted sweet finish, creating each dessert that rounds out the pastry case’s enchanting array. The strawberry Bavarian cream is superbly suited to sultry summer nights, gracefully walking the line between refreshing and rich with its airy melody of whipped cream and cream cheese drenched with sweet red fruit.
Inferno’s on Academy is open Tue-Fri 11 am-11 pm & Sat 5 pm-11 pm.