Neighbourhood: Osborne Village
Address: 160 Osborne St
(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)
The Osborne Village Inn is best known for its dive-bar live music haunt, The Zoo, and its sister basement club Ozzy’s. It’s the kind of place where the smell of stale beer hangs in the permanently hazy air, where the paint is flaky and the floor is scarred.
As it turns out, it’s also the kind of place where you can get a breakfast that surpasses greasy spoon standard.
Indeed, the Osborne Village Café has been a welcome addition to Winnipeg’s dining scene, defying expectations. Chef Leighton Fontaine’s fresh take on diner classics make up a small but ambitious menu sprinkled with little delights, including housemade jams and condiments.
The space itself is spartan but comfortable, with clean white walls, forest green trim and potted plants. Sunbeams warm the brunch oasis.
Breakfast and lunch entrees are served all day. The pillowy soft ‘hipster omelette’ is easily one of the city’s best, with sharp cheddar, creamy chunks of avocado, a speckling of red-wine sautéed mushrooms and, unexpectedly, curried chickpeas, which provide a mild kick. No-fuss, no-muss portions here are barely contained on the plate.
Shredded beets add a robust notes to crispy potato latkes. Layered with spinach and topped with a silky dill-spiked dollop of crème fraîche, this colourful dish is first devoured by the eyes. Fontaine also turns out an excellent beet salad, with fistfuls of walnuts and crumbly feta and a grassy mountain of pea shoots.
A hefty grilled peanut butter, banana and bacon breakfast sandwich, dubbed The Elvis, eats like a salty-sweet dessert and reveals the chef’s playfulness. A menu of poutine toys with convention; crisp, golden fries smothered in turkey gravy and sweet-tart house cranberry chutney recalls Thanksgiving dinner.
Ingenuity also shines in the desserts. A wholesome, just-like-grandma’s apple crisp is given an edge thanks to a Jagermeister-spiked ice cream—a nice, if unintentional, nod to the cafe’s rock bar surroundings. The bitter, herb-based liquor imparts a tongue-teasing spiciness, but its bite is tempered by the soothing cream.
Osborne Village Café is open Mon-Sat, 8 am-8 pm; Sun 8 am-4 pm.