Neighbourhood: St. Vital
Address: 1131 St. Mary’s Rd
In Winnipeg, dining trends ebb and flow. Restaurants like Maxime’s Restaurant and Lounge that grow stronger over time become institutions bathed in nostalgia and validated by continued excellence. This St. Vital landmark represents an important link to tradition in Manitoba’s culinary landscape.
The elegant 150-seat dining room transports guests to old-world Europe, while formal service makes each diner feel special. Dark woods and red textiles are the backdrop to illuminating brass chandeliers and vaulted ceilings trimmed with ornate gilt crown mouldings.
Two massive, goddess-carved pillars seem to support the ceiling and are a suitable metaphor for sisters Liza and Antigone Bekios, the owners and force behind Maxime’s. Their parents built the place in 1984. Since then it has expanded to include a 65-seat lounge, while maintaining a traditional European atmosphere and classic continental dishes for almost three decades.
Maxime’s commitment to quintessential western European food is a sharp contrast to playful modern plates. Chef Peter Long precisely executes a nine-page menu starring favourites like baked French onion soup and chicken cordon bleu. Fancy but not fussy, these dishes bridge generations and facilitate family dining.
Begin with a generous serving of savoury tiger prawns in creamy white wine and garlic sauce that mimics the prawns’ silky texture. This stunning appetizer is thoughtfully served with a crostini for sopping up any delectable topping that remains.
Succulent and juicy, Maxime’s prime rib is renowned throughout the city. Cooked well to spec, buttery beef is complemented by a rich red wine and herb au jus. When faced with a choice of potatoes as fries, mashed with gravy or baked, I pick the latter. It arrives with an entourage—a toppings caddy brings sour cream, green onion and bits of bacon to give your potato’s jacket tasty flair.
The kitchen spotlights local flavour using Manitoba pickerel. When simply battered and pan-fried, the fresh, clean flavour of the flaky fillets is enhanced with a squeeze of tart lemon and creamy tartar sauce.
One of a handful of meatless options, four cheese ravioli á la primavera is richly sauced and heartily satisfying. The large, square pillows of pasta are densely stuffed with a blend of mozzarella, Romano, Parmesan and ricotta cheese. A mild cream sauce seasoned with pesto and sundried tomato brings out the earthy flavour of accompanying mushrooms, spinach and onion.
Maxime’s is open Mon-Wed 11 am-10 pm; Thu 11 am-11 pm;
Fri-Sat 11 am-12 am and Sun 10:30 am-10 pm.