Oct/Nov 2015 Feb/Mar 2015 - Page 29

A turn towards comforting , playful pub food swept the city in 2014 , with modern twists on comfort food classics typically defining this new order of gastropub . We lead with the fanciest , but all our eating was highly rewarding .
THE BLUE MARBLE Neighbourhood ........ Airport Address ... 1979 Wellington Ave Phone ......... 204‐594‐1967 Entrées ............. $ 11- $ 32
Despite its location at the airport , a gateway to the globe , The Blue Marble is Manitoba through and through . With a commitment to indigenous ingredients , sustainable dining , and elevating home-grown dishes to modern masterpieces , the restaurant proves itself a destination for weary travellers and locavores alike .
The space , inside the Grand Hotel , takes hospitality to heart , offering niceties like validated parking and after-dinner truffles . Complimentary focaccia set alongside whipped butters ( flavoured with maple and Saskatoon berry on one visit ) are a gracious start to a meal that unfolds with perfect execution of details .
A beautiful interior , awash in calming shades of blue , illustrates these details as well . An urban cultivator facing the dining room sprouts microgreens and pea shoots to grace diners ’ plates , and a custom built wine cellar visible through glass doors tempts with an extensive but thoughtful selection .
While the breakfast menu and a lunch / dinner selection of more traditional comforts boast some palate-perking twists , the modernist influenced tapas menu is not to be missed . Full of exciting interpretations , the selection presents a conundrum with dishes sized to share but good enough to hoard . ciao ! reviews
Manitoba ingredients populate the menu , like the Berkshire pork tenderloin , juicy from a birch and ginger marinade , which arrives in coins scattered over a sweet and nutty smear of pancetta creamed corn . Prairie produced cavena nuda (“ naked oats ”) are incorporated into a rich and chewy risotto accented with sweet pops of blueberry and salty Parmesan shavings . The flavour is reminiscent of mama ' s classic pork chop and cream of mushroom combo , but ups the ante on Sunday dinner with rich pork belly , seared to a crunch , and porcini mushrooms .
Local pickerel shines , with crunchy fried shallot rings and truffle aioli perched atop the well seasoned lake fish . Bright leeks and a watercress purée dotted with green peas supply vernal grassiness , while an earthy bite of morel mushroom balances the dish .
Other dishes reveal creative cooking with underused meats . Quail is served drizzled with tangy tamarind sauce emitting the warm scent of cardamom . Accompanying Brussels sprouts with their favourite bedfellow , bacon , are a bright contrast to peppery mashed potato quenelles . Oxtail ravioli amps up a tough cut , imbuing the meat with flavour and adding salty crunch from shaved Parmesan and bacon dust .
Marrying global inspiration with the tastes of home and some planetconsciousness , this airport restaurant is flying high .
The Blue Marble is open 6 am-10 pm ( restaurant ), 11:30 am-12 am ( lounge ).
BILLABONG GASTROPUB Neighbourhood . Osborne Village Address ........ 121 Osborne St Phone ......... 204-452-1019 Entrées ..............$ 7- $ 27
With its prime Village real estate , Billabong has become a fixture on Winnipeg ' s dining scene since opening in 2005 . Though tweaks and changes in ownership have been made in the past 10 years , this Aussie grub hub is still serving up exotic and creative takes on comfort food .
The dim interior oozes local watering hole vibes , with a deep red paint job highlighting wall art that points to the restaurant ' s Australian influences – boomerangs , vintage Foster ' s ads , and a climbing crocodile . The bar offers the usual suspects along with favourite brews from Down Under , while the cocktail menu features sophisticated twists on classic drinks .
This chic edge is present in the menu as well , which lives up to the gastropub moniker . Telltale signs of a clever kitchen can be spied in the use of Manitoba ingredients , like roasted beets , pickerel , and Bothwell cheese , as well as trendy elements like pickled red onion , chorizo , and sharing boards .
Steambucket mussels play on these hip flavours , served under a scattering of corn , garlic and chorizo . Crusty garlic toasts are on hand for sopping up a fragrant chipotle white wine broth .
Other dishes marry Australian ingredients with classic pub fare . Kangaroo nachos are no gimmick , just downright delicious – a mountain of corn chips loaded with the distinctively earthy dark meat , cheese , and veggies . The signature Aussie burger is also loaded , a juicy patty stacked with sliced beets , a ring of sweet pineapple , bacon , cheese , tomato relish , and , best of all , a fried egg .
A selection of entrées tempts those looking to tuck into more . Pan seared duck breast draped in honey balsamic sauce fills fine dining cravings , with carmalized apples and rosemary proving a tart , herby balance for fatty duck .
This restaurant also caters to a brunch crowd , with a Sunday morning menu of breakfast favourites amped up
ciao ! / feb / mar / two thousand fifteen 27