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The Ground Floor

Neighbourhood: Downtown
190 Smith St.
Phone: (204) 949-0376
Entrees: $14-$22

(Editor’s Note – This business is no longer open.)

The Ground Floor isn’t your typical greasy spoon. It’s not everyday that a diner is so dedicated to using local ingredients. Creative uses are found for Manitoba beef steaks, wild rice and Bothwell cheese, among many other regional foods punctuating Chef Sam Sar’s menu.

Formerly known as Pastel’s, The Ground Floor opened after a complete makeover of the concept, space and menu. In December 2009, this urban diner opened its doors, serving up affordable homestyle dishes for lunch, dinner and, of course, an all-day breakfast.

The new look includes a dozen pieces of abstract, vibrantly coloured artwork by Winnipeg artist Shirley Elias, yet another example of The Ground Floor’s commitment to all things local. In the sophisticated, yet casual space, diners sit in shiny booths or at tables. Mirroring the décor, the menu is chock-full of casual fare with some more upscale surprises.

Enter the double cut pork chop stuffed with a generous mix of nutty Manitoba wild rice and tart sundried cherries. A sweet ‘n’ sour apple and blueberry glaze lightly coats the plump, juicy chop in this dressed-up dish. Sides of steamed broccoli and cauliflower, and a choice of rice, baked potato with sour cream, mashed potatoes or hand-cut fries are all no-fuss accompaniments.

Manitoba ingredients also take centre stage in the char-grilled Manitoba strip loin steak. The kitchen competently seared steak to medium-rare as ordered. Earthy crimini mushroom demi-glace subtly heightens the meat’s brawniness, while a golden halo of crispy onions punches up the texture.

Sourced directly from Manitoba’s lakes, silky, pan-fried pickerel is an absolute standout. The fresh fillet is coated in lip-smacking buttery crust, vaguely reminiscent of pancakes. A wedge of lemon injects citrus tang to the graham cracker crumb-dusted fish.

Even Cajun chicken fettuccine gets the regional treatment with made-in-Manitoba Nature’s Pasta. The thick, chewy noodles—made with Vita eggs and produced in Steinbach—are coated in creamy alfredo sauce. Cajun-spice rubbed chicken fires up the taste buds.

Chicken fingers, yes chicken fingers, are also noteworthy at The Ground Floor. Made-from-scratch buttermilk breading and pleasing picante jalapeño aïoli for dipping are addictive, palate-pleasing flavours. Not one crispy crumb of this finger food remained on the plate.

Entrées are great value as diners get to choose from four starters—soup of the day, Caesar, spinach or Greek salad. The spinach salad impresses with its sliced strawberries, crispy bacon bits, crumbled pecans and zingy vinaigrette, which plays off the bitterness of the baby greens.

If, after all this, there is spare room, complete the diner experience with the miniature house-made apple pie presented with caramel swirls around the plate’s edge.

The Ground Floor is open Mon-Fri 6:30 am-11 pm; Sat 7:30 am-11 pm; Sun 7:30 am-9 pm.

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