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Neighbourhood: The Forks
Address: 215-1 Forks Market Rd
Phone: 204-942-6075
Entrees: $48 prix fixe

Whether for love or money, the best place in Winnipeg to showcase your knowledge of cutting‑edge cuisine and mood-inspiring atmosphere is Sydney’s at the Forks.

It is suiting that visionary owner/Executive Chef Michael Schafer chose The Forks to meld these two integral veins of the dining experience. Schafer successfully brought the table d’hote concept to the city in 2004. With the help of talented Chef Scott Bagshaw, Sydney’s continues to wow diners with its fresh and innovative monthly menus.

The first impression upon entering this restaurant is that something gastronomically amazing is about to occur.

Exposed brick walls and three flickering gas fireplaces create a dramatic atmosphere. Soft lighting provides intimacy for admiring your guest across the table. Knowledgeable and gracious staff make this a relaxed, yet sophisticated experience.

The $48 four-course dinner menu is a bargain with its generous portions and exceptional presentation. With four options for each lavish course, decisions are not made lightly. But it’s difficult to go wrong. As each course arrives, it ignites excited conversation.

One night’s balsamic roasted roma tomato purée sets the tone for the meal. A handsome dollop of creamy garlic-infused chèvre gradually melts into the soup, creating a perfect marrying of flavours. An ironed cheese toast makes this a clever, distinguished take on the tried‑and‑true tomato soup and grilled cheese. This opening act is an example of what Sydney’s is all about: turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.

La phet salad is lush with green tea leaves and shreds of icy savoy cabbage, mixed with crushed peanuts, red peppers and thin sheets of Hanglay curried pork. Presented in a cavernous, slanted white bowl, the salad’s bright colours and interesting textures are strategically highlighted. Curry erupts in the mouth, but is extinguished when the cool cabbage comes into play.

Sydney’s reuben appetizer is a miniature reinvention of the mainstay. Rosenthal swiss is melted on house-made corned beef and biting sauerkraut, all sandwiched between the starchy tang of a sourdough biscuit. Nickel-sized malt vinegar chips provide an addicting accompaniment.

A stunning ratatouille takes form in a colourful garden’s wreath of sliced zucchini, egglant, roasted pepper and onion bathed in tomato water. A delicate provençal gastrique provides a savoury backdrop to the sweet braised vegetables, making every nibble divine.

The main lives up to the expectation of its prominence. Brined pork loin is fanned over a massive pile of cloud-like mashed potatoes and is beyond tender. Its mustard and cranberry flavours hit the palate with just enough tartness and disappear quickly. Peach relish blushes with hunks of the orchard fruit, adding a flirty sweetness to the succulent meat.

The Callebaut dark chocolate and pistachio dacquoise dulce de leche torte is enhanced immensely with a suggested glass of rich cabernet sauvignon. It is a strong close to this exceptional culinary performance.

Sydney’s is open Mon‑Fri 11 am-2 pm; Mon-Sat 5 pm‑12 am.

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