Sunday, 29 September 2013

Wake me up when September Ends

Almost a whole month of neglecting... wow.  So sorry.

In truth, I've been horrendously busy - Working two jobs, totalling around the 55hr/week mark pretty consistently and I've also gone back to school (granted, only one course).  For those of you wondering, I'm taking Intro Financial Accounting.  So far I really like it.  One thing I've realized is that I don't mind desk work as long as I find it challenging and not as boring as rocks, like archiving is 90% of the time (IN MY OPINION...).

I don't have a whole lot of restaurant reviews even to cover the month. This is mostly due to illness.  After the UTI fiasco that was the end of August, I broke out into a terrifying rash all over my body.  This time, armed with internet informations, I found a walk in clinic where I could get in within an hour almost consistently.  The first time I went to the walk-in, I stumped the doc.  He wouldn't really tell me what he thought, but he prescribed me some antibiotics and asked about my living conditions (particularly mould). He also told me that if my temperature elevates, I should seek immediate medical attention (emerg). I was on antibiotics for a week, but the rash continued to get worse.  I went back to the walk-in and saw another doctor, who decided to read the previous doctor's notes out loud. Terrifying shit - Impetigo, Mould poisoning, Scarlet Fever.  Yeah.  This doctor's first reaction was, "SCABIES" (equally terrifying).  Luckily, after further assessment, we determined it was not scabies. She then started to describe a condition called Pityriasis Rosea... and it brought back some painful memories of being treated for psoriasis by a dermatologist years back... and it being eczema the entire time.  I demanded a high-strength corticosteroid cream. She thought I was crazy... but I was right.  The rash is now almost complete gone.  Eczema can really look like some scary shit. On top of all my terrifying skin problems, the boyfriend developed Strep throat. Luckily he got it while I was on antibiotics so I ended up not catching it.  Funny how that worked out...

Another September fun-time was checking out ManyFest which happens on Broadway every year.  Apparently they call it ManyFest because there were so many festivals going on at the same time that it was difficult to distinguish between them.  This year the focus was a food truck war that took up a tonne of space on Memorial.  You purchase tickets at the ManyFest booth for food items at the trucks.  The unfortunate side of this was the long lines (people waited up to 45 minutes per truck) and trucks often ran out of food because the event was well-attended (probably more than expected).  Instead of this, the BF and I decided to try out beer and wine sampling.  I had a farmery, he had some Granville Island.  We then did some wine tasting (rather, he did, the wine made me sick last time).  It was nice to be out and about for the last hurrah of summer.  There were also tonnes of vendors with cool shit for sale and live music.

Speaking of live music, I also saw the Creepshow when they came to Winnipeg on September 14th at Union Sound Hall.  Overall, a great set.  The first band (whoever they were) was terrible, but the Hellbound Hepcats rocked it out as well.  Drinks were way too expensive, but hey, it's a club... (it sucks when you're used to Foufs).

Sushi Cushi

The boyfriend and I love sushi, so we end up going on sushi dates probably more than our pocket books really like us to.  We were in the Polo Park vicinity and were craving sushi, so we decided on a place called "Sushi Cushi" in the west end.  It was great since it was right next to an XS Cargo, and we all know how much I love looking at useless crap.

This was your typical sushi joint with some fantastic additions.  Firstly, they serve bubble tea.  Like to your table.  It's the little things that make an experience so much better.  I had yet to be to a sushi place in Winnipeg that does this.  Both the BF and I are huge bubble tea fans so this was a huge plus.  I also found the prices to be extremely reasonable for the portions that you ended up getting.  It's not Wako cheap, but for a sit-in, it's very good value.

Our service was so-so but existent.  I found that food took a little bit longer than normally noted.  However, the sushi was fresh and delicious.

Will return.


Sushi Cushi on Urbanspoon


A combination of hunger and not feeling well led us (the boyfriend and I, my partner in crime when it comes to trying new restos) to Dairi-Wip, a drive in located in St. Boniface.  I was dressed in icky sweats and did not want a sit-down meal.  I wanted greasy deliciousness that wasn't McDonalds.

Perhaps it's because I didn't grow up in Winnipeg and drive ins are not a huge thing in BC, but I'm enthralled by the concept of these little burger joints.  I should also mention I have yet to have a fat boy (also not a thing in BC).  Unlike other drive-ins I've seen, Dairi-Wip has fish and chips on the menu.  That's what I was feeling like, so that's what I had.

They made my fish fresh, so it took about 10 minutes.  That was fine. It was totally worth it.  The staff were unpleasant, but I didn't really care.  In this context, it didn't really seem to matter.

What did matter however, is how freakin' good my fish and chips were.  The fish (which I'm thinking was pickerel because it was so buttery and awesome) was fantastic and just the right about of fish and grease.  It came on a bed of fries, which were phenomenal and so good they didn't require ketchup.  They were somewhere between a shoe-string fry and a normal-sized fry.

The only downside I see here is that this joint is cash-only.


Dairi-Wip Drive-in on Urbanspoon

Sargent Sundae

Winnipeg has a plethora of ice cream shops that operate in the summer.  It makes sense - summer is short, winter is long.  Winnipeggers enjoy all the summer they can before the -40 hits.

Sargent Sundae is located across from Assiniboine Park in St. James (all you have to do is cross the river to get to the park - they have a cute little bridge for this).

Ice cream was good. Staff were friendly.  Apparently it's the "BDI" of this side of the world.  Apparently it's an institution, but neither of my parents had heard of it (my dad grew up in River Heights, my mom in East Kildonan) because they both went to BDI.

I've heard a rumour they have pumpkin soft-serve that I absolutely have to try...


Sargent Sundae on Urbanspoon

Banana Boat 

In all honesty, the only reason we went to Banana Boat was because I had an Entertainment Book coupon that I snagged from my roommate (and the more I think about it... I need to use up the ones I clipped since the majority expire in November).  It's really your standard ice cream shop - they have hard ice cream as well as soft serve.  What stood out for me was the myriad of toppings you can get to turn your ice cream into a sundae.  I had an excellently gross combination of some sweet cake-flavoured hard ice cream with marshmallow on top.  Fabulous.

The nice thing about Banana Boat is the location - it's right on Osborne past confusion corner so it's a five minute drive from the house.  Great for an ice cream craving and open pretty late too.  Winnipeg and their ice cream, I tells ya.

Overall a very fun post-bowling treat.


  Banana Boat on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

This is the End... of August.

Hi everyone - I know I have been neglecting my blog. For that I apologize.  I've been super super SUPER busy with work and life.

First off, I'd like to point out that there are some pretty serious gaps in the Manitoba health system.  I have now lived in three different provinces, and Manitoba is #2 in my books for health care (Quebec being the worst, BC being the "best").  I was in some serious pain on Friday, but I didn't want to waste time at emerg, so I tried to find a walk in clinic.  I worked at 1 so I figured I would go up Pembina and find one (I usually go a clinic on Broadway that takes pretty much everyone).  I saw quite a few on Google Maps and figured it wouldn't be hard.


So... I guess walk in clinics by and large are closed on Fridays here? And closed for lunch? I went to four different clinics - 3 weren't open and one refused me saying that they're at capacity for the day (a la Montreal apparently).  Finally I find a clinic that isn't a walk-in, but I just plead for help. Any help. I was in so much pain and completely exasperated.  The lady just shook her head and told me where the hospital was. So that's where I went.  At this point I was in tears, but I was told it would be a 6 hour wait at Victoria.  I needed to go to work, I haven't been at my job long enough to accrue any significant sick time.

You know what I ended up doing? Sucking up my pain, going to Walmart and getting any OTC remedies I could think of that would (at the very least) reduce my symptoms so I could walk.  $60 later, I was at least "normal" enough to sell stuff, but I was certainly not well.  Although my infection cleared itself up by itself (or at this point I hope), I'm still really angry and bitter about the experience.  Why are walk in clinics predominantly not open on Fridays? Why are they closed for lunch?  Why did the lady at the clinic just tell me to walk to the hospital when I was clearly doubled over in pain?  It's not only a good case in what is wrong with the Manitoba health system but also with humanity as a whole.


For the last couple of weeks, I only have one review for you! At first I was impressed with myself because this means that my boyfriend and I are eating out less... but that's not really the case.  We just continue to go to spots we like or sometimes chain restaurants or fast food.  Similarly when I dine alone, I go to my favourite places in the village and on Corydon that I have already reviewed.  So no, god forbid I save any money. Ever (and I need new face cleanser, waaaah!).

Tokyo Sushi

Tokyo Sushi is located on Portage in the western part of St. James heading towards Unicity (yes, this is how I describe directions in Winnipeg... more on that...).  We decided on sushi since we had both been craving it for a while and I wanted to try somewhere new in a different area (the only sushi places I've been to in the city are in the village and Corydon areas).  By the time we got to the restaurant, we were both extremely hungry and were ready to gorge on deliciousness.   We were promptly seated in the middle of the restaurant.

The decor of the restaurant is lovely and more what I'm accustomed to being from BC.  When you walk in there is a large wooden arch that is reminiscent of O-Zeki restaurant in Kelowna. You can also see the sushi chef preparing rolls to the right of the restaurant; this is always a good sign.

Our order was taken promptly and as per my usual, my eyes were much bigger than my stomach.  I ordered a sunomono salad, chicken teriyaki roll, alaska roll and some nigiri (salmon, tamago, inari, crab).  So yeah, a lot of food.  Our meal started coming out in various odd parts.  My boyfriend received most of his meal in one go where as I had to wait for each piece to come out.  The largest of these was my sushi which had on the plate tamago, salmon, and crab nigiri, teriyaki chicken roll and the alaska roll.  So where was my inari? How about that sunomono salad that's an appetizer? Hm?

I figured it would arrive later.  By the time we were done our meals, we were both stuffed and  figured it was a blessing in disguise that the rest of the meal didn't come.  Just as we were getting up to go pay, my inari comes out (I should also mention I am the world's slowest eater, so maybe a half hour after we initially got our food).  I didn't really know what to say, but I asked for it to be wrapped up since we were leaving.  We made sure the sunomono that we never received was taken off of our bill, and it was.  However, we didn't receive anything aside from a half-hearted apology at the till regarding it.

The sushi was okay, the seaweed was a little chewy for my liking.  It was maybe a tinge better than average, but nothing to cry home about. The terrible service, however, sticks in my brain pretty hard.  It's the old adage in customer service: If a customer receives good service, they'll tell 5 friends.  If they receive bad service, they'll tell everyone.

Tokyo Sushi on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Taco Taco Burrito Burrito

I'm always looking for the next great taco. There. I said it. I really like tex-mex taco/burrito concepts and Winnipeg just happens to have a slew of restaurants in the "Taco Del Mar" theme, but done much, much better.  I've already reviewed one (Burrito Del Rio) but now I have two more to add to the list.

Modern Taco Company

Situated on Academy road, really close to Kenaston, Modern Taco Company is in a pretty convenient location for me and there is lots of parking in the back.  Ever since I've been driving in Winnipeg, this seems to be a deal breaker for me. Looking at reviews on UrbanSpoon, I can't help but feel the need to defend this place because it actually is quite good and we didn't even have the Groupon.  It has been on my list of places to try for a while now, so we (the BF and I) went for a late lunch to this little spot.

First off, the place was quite crowded. It's a small restaurant, so on a busy night I could imagine it being crazy.  You order tacos "Unburger" style (ie. you pay ahead and then get served).  Since we were just trying it out, we got four different tacos:  Beef, Pork, Chicken, and Shrimp.  We also shared some chips and dip. Being a foodie couple, we probably looked absolutely ridiculous splitting these little tiny tacos (I'd have half, he'd have half) but we wanted to make sure that we both got a chance to try everything.  For $10, you get four little tacos which are four little bites of delectable goodness.  This is when I realized why Winnipeg doesn't like this place- it's not Burrito del Rio.  You're not going to be stuffed to your face for $10.  That being said, if I was hungry the four tacos would fill be up easily. $10 is not that expensive.

The stand out taco for me was the tequila shrimp taco.  The sauce was delicious and the marinade on the shrimp made it an interesting bite that I'm curious to try again.  Next up was the chipotle pork - delicious texmex style taco.  The only true disappointment for us was the beef taco (we got the beef and queso).  We found that it didn't have enough sauce (we actually considered for a moment that they forgot it) and that the beef was quite dry.  The chips and dip were phenomenal - the salsa was very fresh and the guacamole served with it actually had a really nice kick to it.  We also sampled some of the hot sauces on the shelves and they were all pretty interesting (except the green one - there was something a bit too weird about that one for me).

All in all, I'd come back to try more items on the menu.  If they do another Groupon blast, I'll be sure to pick one up.


Modern Taco Company on Urbanspoon

Burrito Splendido

I ended up at Burrito Spelndido on the advice of multiple people who told me that if I like Burrito Del Rio, I really need to try Burrito Splendido.  "But it's in Unicity!," I'd complain.  However, now that I have a reason to actually head out that way, Burrito Splendido was on my list of taco restaurants to try.  You can tell it's brand new and very clean.  The first thing I noticed was that they were making the tortillas fresh! Wowza!

Similar in set up to Burrito Del Rio and Taco Del Mar, you pick your toppings as you go and they fold it up into a burrito the size of a small child.  The concept is quite familiar.  The end result, however, is not.  You really can taste the fresh tortilla. I had guacamole on mine which was some of the best guac I've had in the city.  I had the shredded pork and it was to die for.  I guess what I'm saying is that it was one of the best burritos I have ever had. Period.  In fact, I'm thinking about driving out to Unicity today to go back and get one.  Om nom nom nom nom.

Like Burrito del rio, they offer a wide variety of beverages including beers and Jarritos (and I love lime soda made with cane sugar, it's one of my faves).

Next time I'm there I'm going to make sure I get chips and dip. That guacamole... yum yum.


Burrito Splendido on Urbanspoon

On a completely unrelated note, I need to go out and buy a filing cabinet today. Or a new vacuum. I haven't decided. I went on a mini shopping spree yesterday at the new Zumiez store and picked up a new Obey hoodie, some socks and a new Obey T.  Other than my Bench stuff, it is my love love love. Needless to say I'm going to be broke for the next while, so expect fewer reviews. Maybe.  I do love me some food...

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

My Weekend at the Lake(ish) and Fringe Festival

Hi friends!

I'm really terrible at this "posting regularly" thing, so sometimes I need a swift kick in the butt to get me to write about stuff.  Anywho, this post is about two weekends ago now (see, really bad at posting regularly) when I actually took a weekend off (say whaaaaaaat?!) to go do things with my friends and be happy.  And stuff.

Anyways, we decided to check out the carnival/festival that was happening in Winnipeg Beach and then head up to Gimli because I hadn't been there since I was a kid.  I wish I had taken more pictures of the Winnipeg Beach carnival! It was incredible to see that the main waterfront street had all been blocked off and rides and concessions were all set up along it.  On some of the side streets were independent vendors from the area selling everything from art and jewellery to henna (I have to ask, does Winnipeg really like their henna? There were like fifty henna kiosks.)  I was happy to have gone with someone who enjoys carnivals and rides as much as I do - I've always loved the atmosphere of these things.  In Kelowna, I used to go to Westside Daze or the Rutland carnival every year.  We went on pretty much every ride aside from the really small kid rides (however, I must admit we were the oldest people on the bumper cars) and the one ride that you sit upside down for far too long for my liking (I don't like going upside down at the best of times).  The carnival had some of my faves (the high swings, pirate ship, tilt-a-whirl) as well as some newer ones which I hadn't tried yet (like the spin-out, absolutely terrifying). This carnival does it right in Manitoba - you can check them out here.  I should probably mention that I am still the reigning Whack-A-Mole champion - in October, my pal Stevie and I went to La Ronde and it started to rain, I started to get angry and so we decided to take our anger out on Whack-a-Mole and I actually won a prize that wasn't the sad little consolation prize. I've got good hand-eye coordination apparently!

After spending the day at Winnipeg Beach, we decided to go up to Gimli for dinner.  We decided to just park in town and take a walk around to see what we felt like to eat. We ended up at Seagull's restaurant which is located in one of the major hotels.  The fish flies were pretty bad that day, so we were lucky enough to get a spot on the patio since the dining room was completely full. Seagull's has a large menu with enough variety to appease even the pickiest of eaters.  I was all about eating pickerel that day (I think it makes sense - fresh pickerel at the lake is one of the best things in the world).  I had the pickerel fish tacos and my partner had a pickerel sandwich.  The fish tacos had a chipotle-mayo sauce that I didn't care for, but didn't mind either.  The flavours in the taco were fairly benign, which, for a normal fish taco would not be okay.  However, given that this is pickerel, I was excited that I could actually taste the buttery deliciousness of the fish without a whole lot of conflicting flavours.  I just wish there was more fish.

Our service was slow and the waitress was constantly apologizing.  On more than one occasion she forgot about us even though we weren't sitting anywhere secluded. The ambiance was same-old hotel style restaurant. When we were leaving, I couldn't help but notice that there was a wedding going on right beside the restaurant in the banquet hall. I can't seem to find this restaurant on UrbanSpoon, so I'll just give it a solid 5/10 right now.

Half Moon Drive In

The next day, we decided to take a drive out to Lockport to go to the Half Moon Drive In - a Manitoba classic.  I even remember my mom mentioning this place and then gasping with horror when I said I'd never been (however, I do remember going to Skinner's as a kid).  This place is kind of one of those "musts" for drives out to the lake.  I don't really think there is a BC equivalent (at least in the Okanagan).

Given the importance placed on some of these places by long-time Winnipeggers (I'm sure Half-Moon belongs in the same mythos as Kelekis') I was happy to go, even if it was a disappointment or just plain bad (which I kinda always felt about Kelekis).  Anyways, we had burgers, split some fries and had a couple of sodas and the whole she-bang came out to a little over $20.  I actually thought the bacon cheeseburger was quite good - you could taste the beef and the bacon was smoky.  The bun was not too big nor too small.  The fries (which are allegedly renowned) were just "OK" for me.  I found them to be too greasy and fairly limp (I prefer my fries really crispy and on the thin side).

Overall it's a cool little spot in Lockport.  Definitely something to check out at least once.


     Half Moon Drive In on Urbanspoon

Fringe Festival 

In my efforts to become a better Winnipegger, I've really been trying to get out to all sorts of different events just to get a feel for the city and the culture.  One such event that I went to this summer was Fringe Festival.  A lot of cities have them, but I had yet to go to one.  I spent a couple days in the beer garden watching the street performers (which I think is really cool) and it was a very entertaining way to spend an evening.  I didn't go to as many shows as I would have liked, but I was glad to have seen Grim and Fischer, a mime performance done with large expressive masks.  Last year they put on a show about a man who fell in love with the moon which was apparently brilliant.  Grim and Fischer was (I'm sure) equally brilliant and exquisitely performed and was an absolute wonder.  Wonderheads often play Fringe, so if you're in another city, make sure to see if they're on the roster and DO EEET. It will be worth your while! 

Smoke's Poutinerie 

Whilst sitting at the beer garden on one of the last days of Fringe, I decided to try out Smoke's Poutinerie which is right in the Market Square where all the performers were.  I feel it's strange that I haven't yet tried it given that I lived in Montreal for years and therefore I should know my poutine very well (to be honest, my favourite poutine is still a toss up between New York Fries and Sturgeon Hall in Kelowna).  I love the concept of Smoke's - poutine with all sorts of different toppings - but the execution could use a bit of work.  Unlike other reviewers on UrbanSpoon, I found my service to be really quick and I only waited maybe 3 minutes for my poutine.  I ordered the bacon poutine which was essentially the classic poutine with bacon on top.  In hindsight, I probably should have ordered the classic poutine or the poutine with pulled pork because I felt that the bacon didn't work.  It was too shredded, and too "packaged bacon-bits" for my liking.  I think a crispy bacon would compliment the smokiness of the gravy far better.

Despite the bacon, the gravy was delish.  It had a pepperyness to it that was quite memorable.  It's a cute little spot, but I can't see this being somewhere I frequent, especially when New York Fries is still just so damn good...

Smoke's Poutinerie on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Resto Review Mash-Up Pt. 2

I've been to so many new restos in the last month that I now have to write YET ANOTHER wonderful review mash up (two in one weekend, GO ME!).  In a way it's good - it's concentrated information to your brains.  When I look at my stats, it is clear that most of my traffic is coming from UrbanSpoon and I'm sure UrbanSpoonites don't really care about my insane personal life.  So without further adieu...

Kenko Sushi

I'm a sushi lover, I'll admit it.  So whenever friends want to go out for sushi, I am there. It doesn't matter how broke I am. Don't even care. Om nom nom nom nom etc.  Kenko Sushi is located on trendy Corydon (the cool part, where there are a lot of restos and bars etc... Little Italy and a little further towards Stafford) amid many other sushi restaurants.  With diners having this much choice, sushi places really have to stand out in some way or another in order to survive.  Kenko Sushi stands out from the rest of the sushi joints because it is a separate building all together.  Aside from that, it is painted fuchsia. You can't miss it.  The restaurant inside was beautifully decorated with a lot of interesting details (the flooring, for instance, looks like typical "fake wood" vinyl flooring, but it has little flowers creeping out of it here and there).  The seating was the most interesting part and it felt like you were sitting on little loveseats.  They were very comfortable, but I had never seen this type of set up before.

As a party of two, we decided to order the maki combo since we were indecisive on what rolls to get.  That's when the wait started (in the end I'm pretty sure we waited up to an hour for our food).  Luckily this was noted by the serving staff who offered us edamame on the house so we didn't starve to death (although it was served cold - I prefer it warm, but I wasn't going to argue about freebies).

When the sushi finally did come, it was superb.  The small maki combo filled us both up for a pretty decent price (around the $30 mark).  It came with a mix of traditional rolls and fusion rolls (deep fryed, spicy sauces, the whole bit).  To me, the rolls were very fresh and well constructed. The wait was worth it... somewhat.  Although the rolls were good, I have had good rolls elsewhere too. I understand having a one-off time issue with service, but looking at Yelp/TA/US this seems to be an issue overall for the restaurant.


Kenko Sushi on Urbanspoon

Market Burger

I was so excited to try Market Burger, a new addition to the slew of restaurants on Corydon.  I'm such a huge fan of Unburger that anything with a similar concept totally intrigues me.  Upon entering the restaurant, you can already tell the vibe that the owner(s?) were going for, which is completely opposite the Unburger concept.  It has a rustic flair to it - none of the chairs match, there is a chalkboard menu, but the bar looks lovely and new.  The concept is eclectic and I like it very much.

Given that it is a brand new restaurant, it was extremely busy.  We wanted to sit on the patio, but unfortunately it was full.  We decided to sit inside, but the table we got was very claustrophobic - My ponytail kept touching the ponytail of the woman sitting behind me, which was probably an uncomfortable situation for us both.  After about 5 minutes, we noticed another table came up in a corner, so we alerted the server and switched tables.  It was much more comfortable.

The menu is extremely different to Unburger, which is nice (you can frequent both and not get sick of anything).  The concept is local, not necessarily health.  They had some unique options like the mac n' cheese burger, a Vietnamese style burger or a butter chicken burger.  I had the butter chicken burger (done skinny style - they offer this on most burgers... it comes with a smaller patty and a smaller bun for a buck cheaper if you don't have the world's largest stomach... such a nice feature!). My dining companion (there has got to be a better word for this) had the mac n' cheese burger (he added fried onions, the server warned us that the mac n' cheese burger was devoid of any vegetables).  We also decided to share an order of half fries/half onion rings (after I embarrassingly asked the waiter if the onion rings were made in house, which, of course, they are). A neat feature - all of their buns are from Stella's. Nice!

The food took a while to come.  We watched the table next to us eat and pay their bill all in the time we were just waiting for our food.  I chalk a lot of this up to the follies of a new restaurant.  There are going to be some problems with service.  When we got our burgers, we weren't disappointed.  The butter chicken burger I had was delicious - just the right combination of sweet and savoury since it had chutney on it (yum yum).  I had a bite of the Mac n' Cheese burger which was also delicious (and the beef was very high quality, you could tell), but was in some ways really bland and needed more cheese.  The onion rings didn't disappoint - they reminded me of A&W rings but done better (I believe they were breaded with panko).  The fries, however, were extremely soggy and unpalatable.  They served the rings and fries with house made ketchup, which although a cute feature on maintaining an "everything local" flair, I didn't really get.  There wasn't enough ketchup for all of the items.  They serve everything on wooden cutting boards which, although a really cute idea, does not make it easy for tables to order multiple items since not everything will fit.

I see lots of potential here once the restaurant works out some of its kinks.  I'll come back at the end of summer and see how it goes.


Market Burger on Urbanspoon

The Nook

The Nook diner is located on the cusp of the West Broadway and Wolseley neighbourhoods and has been on my radar since I moved to Winnipeg.  UrbanSpooners and Yelpers alike proclaim this spot as one of their favourite greasy spoons in the city and a fantastic place to have breakfast.  Before a long (lol) trip up to Winnipeg Beach/Gimli, my friend and I decided to have a late breakfast at 'The Nook' since we had both been meaning to try it. (As a complete aside - apparently this place is "trendy" and "hipster"y?)

We were seated right away since we came between meal times (around 11:45) and noticed how eclectic the restaurant was.  There were booths, some chairs, and a little dining room attached to the main restaurant.  They also have a patio that looks onto Sherbrook.

I ended up having just a regular ol' breakfast (and for once, not pancakes or french toast!).  Scrambled eggs, rye toast, bacon, hashbrowns.  Food was fairly quick given that it is a busy little joint.  My eggs were done well, which is how I prefer them, but watch out if you like them a little on the soft side.  Bacon was crispy and delicious.  Toast was buttery and awesome. I did have some complaints about the hashbrowns; I'm a big fan of breakfast potatoes and these felt like potato mush that was undercooked (indeed, my friend had a crunchy undercooked potato in his).  Mine were also cold - such a let down.

Service was mediocre - I ordered a tea, she brought me coffee.  However, she quickly corrected this error.  I asked for ketchup and it was only when I was staring at her long enough while she was bussing tables did she notice we didn't have ketchup on our table and promptly brought it over.  Afterwards, I had about three different people ask me if I wanted more hot water for my tea. The bill was slightly below average for breakfast.

To me, The Nook is nothing special - just one of those fandangled Winnipeg institutions.


The Nook Diner on Urbanspoon

On a completely different note:

Kelowna, BC (my home town) now has the highest crime rate in Canada.  I'm surprised it took this long.  Anyone who has lived in Kelowna for any good length of time will tell you how seedy and horrific this place is.  I rarely go to visit (and my parents still live there).  My folks have really encouraged me not to and in fact, they prefer to come see me in Winnipeg.  There's something wrong with that statement, isn't there?  Smoke and mirrors, that's what Kelowna is.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Resto Review Mash-Up

Dang, dang, dang. I keep aiming to get this one done while these restaurants are still fresh on my palette, but since I eat out fairly frequently this has been coming extremely difficult.  For this post, I'm not going to talk about ANYTHANG besides restaurants.  Let's get started, shall we?

Deer + Almond

Perhaps the funniest thing about this resto is how I keep calling it "Deer plus almond".  Apparently it's "deer AND almond", but I like my version better. Anyway, my review is for their summer menu.  As is the case with a lot of independent restaurants, Deer + Almond has a seasonal menu that is appropriate for both ingredients and the weather.  At first glance the menu seemed very disjointed; it would be impossible to classify this resto into any category.  In a way, you could feel both the passion and eccentric nature of the owner/head chef just by reading the menu.

My order consisted of noodles with Thai vinaigrette,  marinated beef skewers, and "The Wedge" which is a speciality item of the resto consisting of pork belly, watermelon, romaine lettuce with a creamy dill sauce.  The latter was by far the best of the three dishes.  The smokiness and tenderness of the pork belly paired delightfully with the watermelon and dill.  The romaine served as a nice change in texture and added a much needed crunch to the dish.  The other two dishes were pleasantly mediocre.  I found the noodles to be over-sauced and a bit too sweet for my palette.  The beef skewers were tender and delicious, but lacking in creativity compared to "The Wedge".

The one thing I will point out was that the service was absolutely delightful and I could not have been happier with that aspect.  She took the time to explain the menu, was polite and courteous and always seemed to be there when needed.  I actually liked the decor of this restaurant.  It was modern, fresh, and just insane enough to pique my interest.

Overall, I'd come back in the winter out of sheer curiosity on how the menu differs and to see what creative concoctions the chef has created.  I did have high expectations for this place, and although a lot of these expectations weren't realized, it was still a solid meal for the price.


. Deer + Almond on Urbanspoon

Spicy Noodle House 

I need to preface my review with some pertinent information before this all sounds too harsh:  In Montreal, I used to frequent a resto called "Cuisine Schezuan" which specialized in Northern Chinese cuisine.  This place was absolutely phenomenal and my friends and I made a habit of going generally twice a month.  From how my friends talked about it (many who have lived in China/were Chinese), the food served was very traditional (aside from a few dishes I'm sure are intended for country-bumpkin white people such as "lemon chicken").  I was excited to try Spicy Noodle House because I've not only heard such great things, but because their menu seemed to have a lot of Northern deliciousness attached to it.

I went with my roommates on a Tuesday night, so it was not busy, but there were still some restaurant patrons (we also went late; probably around 7).  We decided to split the spicy honey chicken, spicy beef with cabbage and mixed vegetables and a large bowl of rice.  None of the dishes were particularly spicy even though there were warnings about their spiciness.  I would say the only dish with even a mild kick was the honey spicy chicken.  I was also disappointed to see that there were no chilis floating around on the plates and no chili oil staring at me.  It was fairly Westernized.  However, all of the dishes were delicious and fresh in their own right.  My personal favourite was the spicy honey chicken (although it was breaded; sort of a pet peeve).  The leftovers have been delicious as well!

As an FYI, there were three of us and a large rice barely covered all of us.  For 2 people, it would be the perfect amount.  Service was exceptional for a Chinese restaurant and food came out fast.  We never once had to ask for water.


Spicy Noodle House on Urbanspoon

Tea Story

I've been to Tea Story on multiple occasions now and have yet to review it.  In theory, this should be the place that I love the most: I'm a huge tea drinker and I'm a fan of waffles.  I have also purchased loose leaf tea from them (Mango Tango) which is a fantastic Pom Tango substitute if anyone reading this is angry about the DavidsTea Pom Tango fiasco. 

The most memorable thing I have had at Tea Story (and I have been to both the Osborne and Corydon locations) is the bubble tea.  I had the real fruit peach bubble tea and it was absolutely phenomenal.  The tapioca was cooked perfectly and the peach was actually peach so it wasn't overly sweet. Delish! I prefer this leaps and bounds over the bubble tea I had at Kawaii Crepe.

I also highly praise their waffles. I ended up getting the "half-half" which is essentially sweet deliciousness incarnate.  It has nutella, strawberries and bananas with a bit of whipped cream served on a toasty waffle.  The waffle itself was the star - it was light, buttery and sweet; all the good signs of a good waffle in my opinion. However, this could be my bias as well coming from a Dutch family and waffles being, well, important.  I should have taken a picture! It was beautifully presented.  But I was hungry and it looked too appealing.

Note that while the Osborne location is a full service cafe with seats, the Corydon location is really to pick up things and walk - there is no seating.  This is fair as this location doesn't serve waffles, only tea and pastries.  The macarons they have at this location are just "okay"; the flavours are there, but they are a bit mealy for my taste.  I had the green tea one and in hindsight, I probably should have chosen one of the fruit flavours.

The cafe on Osborne has a very cute atmosphere and the staff are very friendly.  Overall, it was a very positive experience at both locations.  Will return.


Tea Story Cafe on Urbanspoon

Golden Loong

I'm so excited to report that at long last I have found Winnipeg's "Cuisine Schezuan"! Golden Loong is a bit out of the way (it is close to the University of Manitoba on Pembina), but is completely worth the drive.  It is in a very strangely shaped strip mall and is really easy to miss! It is in the same mall as a gas station and an Asian market.  Before you leave, make sure to look up the location on Google Maps to ensure you don't miss it. 

Golden Loong had a tidier appearance and was cleaner than many of the Chinese restaurants I've been to.  This could be due to differing standards (after all, this is white-bread Winnipeg) or that the restaurant is very new.  I was excited to look at the specials they had on the table - this resto specializes not in Schezuan but in cuisine from the Xi'an province which prior to my experience here, I was completely unfamiliar with.  We ordered the cold noodle special, sliced beef in chili oil and the deep fried green beans.  The hardest part about ordering was that I was trying to decipher which dish was which in comparison to my past Chinese resto experiences.  Luckily for me, my dinner companion spoke Mandarin and I could discern easily what my favourite dishes were by his descriptions of the menu items.

Don't be intimidated by what I'm saying here - I just have some favourites that you could translate into English in many different ways.  If you've never had authentic northern Chinese before, just order whatever sounds good to your palate!  

The star of our meal was the Xi'an cold noodle dish.  Deliciously sweet and sour in a very traditional way, the noodles are served with cucumber and other delicious vegetables. The beef in chili oil was to be expected, except that this one is served with sprouts at the bottom of the bowl (I'm used to excessive cabbage).  I was glad that there was still some cabbage in the dish.  The beans were a little bit different than what I was used to (they were cooked with some type of basil seasoning that I had not had before) but still extremely delicious.

Service was mediocre.  Food came quickly, but we often had to flag a waitress down to ask for things.  I understand that not all Chinese restaurants have five star service, but since I've be to a few in the city that have, I figure this is worth noting. Additionally, I'm not sure if the kitchen will prepare your dish without MSG - I didn't ask because MSG doesn't bother me.

Oh man, I'm so happy I found this place. Finally, my comfort food in Winnipeg!

Half eaten deliciousness


Golden Loong on Urbanspoon

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Great Gelati War

Hi friends!

It's been a while since I've posted. My apologies! I've been really busy with work and attempting to make new friends.  I guess these things happen...

However, I was thinking of a topic that I couldn't wait to write about, so I'm giving myself 45 minutes before work to do it! That should be enough.  If it's not, well, I'll come back to this post and edit it so it's better.

I wanted to talk about Gelati in Winnipeg.  Apparently this is a thing.  A lot of people don't know that Winnipeg has a "Little Italy" that takes up about 6-8 blocks of Corydon.  Within Little Italy there are restaurants, bars, cafes and of course gelati hotspots.  Between UrbanSpoon and word of mouth, I deduced that there are two great places to get a gelato in Little Italy: G.G. Gelati and Nucci's Gelati.  I'm going to offer a review of both locations and then tell you my preference. HOW EXCITING!

G.G. Gelati

I first went to G.G. Gelati after going into Nucci's, looking at the line, looking at the top flavour list and went "meh" (I was with a friend and clearly we didn't look too hard).  So we decided to go to G.G.'s instead which is about a block over.  The interior of the gelati parlor was very clean, and it was clear that it had gone under renovation some time ago.  I found the prices to be in line with what I was expecting for a quality gelato product.  However, once we were served, I found the portions to be quite small ($4 for one little scoop of one flavour).  I had the lemon sorbetto (usually the citrus sorbets are my favourite) and my friend had the chocolate. The sorbetto was smooth; almost too smooth in a way.  For my taste, it was far too sweet and tasted similarly to commercially produced sorbet. My friend had no complaints about the chocolate gelato.  It appeared to be quite smooth, but I didn't get any raving reviews.  It was nothing special.

From the reviews I see on UrbanSpoon/TripAdvisor/Yelp,  G.G. Gelati is no longer owned by an Italian family.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but in this instance it kind of is.  When you're in the business of making gelati, recipes handed down from generation to generation tend to allow the business to remain a fixture in the community.  When the gelati changes, people are less inclined to go (worse quality and there are plenty of good ice cream/gelati places in Winnipeg).

G.G. Gelati on Urbanspoon

Nucci's Gelati

I went to Nucci's on a whim last night.  I had received my first paycheque and with that, my corresponding outrage of how little my take home pay is due to tax deductions (I'm still low income dammit!).  However, I came home to a cheque waiting for me from MPI for a whole $23.00 due to my Drivers re-assessment.  The idiot woman who handled my insurance registered me as a new driver and I had to go back and provide evidence of the contrary.  Luckily my insurance payments are now in line with what I had originally budgeted.

ANYWAYS, that's not my point.  The point is that I wanted some gelati to make my tears stop, so I decided to try Nucci's since it was later and I figured there would be very little line.  Luckily I was right about that! Nucci's has a ton of flavours (arguably more than G.G., but many of them aren't displayed).  Once you go up to the counter, there is a list of "new" flavours which are all almost exclusively in the back.  I decided on a strange combination I got lime sorbetto on the bottom and black cherry gelato on top.  I got a small for $5 and it was considerably more gelati than I received at G.G.  I also love how Nucci's is still owned by the family and their gelati hasn't changed much in the past few decades.

The black cherry was my favourite part.  It was smooth and had a real-tasting cherry flavour unlike many "cherry" ice creams you find at the grocery store or ice cream booths.  The lime sorbetto's texture was interesting.  I found that until it melted a bit, it had a tough time coagulating therefore making it difficult to eat. However the flavour was spot on from what I'd expect from a good home-made sorbet.  The lime was tart and it was not overly sweet.  Absolutely perfect flavour.

Nucci's Gelati on Urbanspoon

Clearly I prefer Nucci's.  That would be my recommendation between the two.  However, in this same post I'd like to address my other dessert experience: BDI!

Bridge Drive-In

Nestled down by the river on Jubilee Ave., BDI (Bridge Drive In) has been serving ice cream and shakes to Winnipeggers for decades.  When I first decided to move to Winnipeg, I had many people tell me that BDI was an absolute must for when summer hit and it was warm enough for ice cream.  

I can't really comment on the service since I went when it was fairly slow.  However, the kids running it seemed to know what they were doing and I received my peach milkshake quite promptly. It was pretty good, better than Dairy Queen.  I'm going to get a bit of flack for this, but I didn't find it to be anything special.  My milkshake wasn't very "peachy" and tasted more like vanilla to be completely honest.  However, I'm always up for trying it again.  I want to see what this "Goog" thing is all about.  

It's at a beautiful location with a bridge and walking trails to wander and stroll around with your ice cream-y treats!

Bridge Drive-In on Urbanspoon