Posted by Andrew
Considering how a good handful of Winnipeg's locally notable restaurants are in the Osborne Village area there should be no surprise that the next place I tried was also in this trendier part of town. This time the restaurant was named Fude, and my first impression from reading the name was that this could be a fun place to eat. Unlike Mise further down the street, Fude doesn't have the added luxury of being located in a nicer building that's either old and historic or new and contemporary, and perhaps Fude should ask its landlord to spiffy up the facade to give the restaurant justice.
That said, once you enter the small, casual and cosy restaurant you're greeted by easy-going staff and a smart-looking interior (other than some light wood panelling at and around the bar the black furniture is surrounded by walls painted deliciously in aubergine and honeydew with prairie-themed posters), both of which help to lighten up the dining experience. Fusion-style cuisine is offered using as many Manitoba, and if impossible then Canadian, ingredients as possible in the dishes served here.
For starters I had a creamy mussel and saffron soup. The PEI mussels were sweet and tender, and the broth had a nice garlic kick and a velvety texture thanks to the pureed potatoes in the soup. For bread this place served two types of foccacia, multigrain and mixed herbs, but it was the dipping that caught my tastebuds. Based on traditional Italian cuisine balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil is the basic dipping for bread. True to this restaurant's motive the vinegar is infused with red beets, and the sprinkling of pepper flakes give the dipping a good "zing" factor on the tongue.
Of all the main courses I could've chosen, it was the chili chocolate chicken that kept beckoning me. Okay, maybe it was because I'm such a fan of chocolate, or maybe it was because I never tried a savoury chocolate dish until now... likely it was both ;o) ... but since I knew chocolate is used in traditional Mexican cuisine I had to find out how something associated to a sweet concoction could mix well with dishes that have a salt factor. The dish was in fact a pleasant surprise... in spite of the use of only cocoa powder and dark chocolate there was still a hint of sweetness that helped mellow out the spiciness of the pepper/cocoa powder coating the chicken breast. The fact that it was more of an earthier sweetness rather than a fruity one (my sister can attest my strong dislike for pineapples in savoury dishes!) thanks in part to the natural bitterness of pure cocoa ensured that it wasn't overpowering nor, in my opinion, conflicting with the other flavours in the dish. In spite of the larger-than-expected portion size (that chicken breast could've been a very young turkey breat for all I care), the dish was prepared well, and quality and taste were not impaired at this restaurant by the dreaded "big dish" factor.
For dessert I decided to try the feature, a napoleon made of caramelized Anjou pears and layered with cinnamon-topped puff pastry. Anjou pears don't soften up that easily unlike Bartlett pears, and so those caramelized slices held together very nicely. Perhaps reducing the sweetness just a touch would have made it taste more "natural" rather than "candied". The chai latte served at this restaurant was also rich and fragrant. However, I realized in hindsight I should've asked for some sugar... straight chai latte with no sugar reminds me too much of the bitterness of coffee.
If you're looking for a stylish restaurant in which you can kick back and relax and enjoy food inspired from all parts of the world, Fude could be one of those places. Fude is also one of those rarer places where an increase in quantity does not necessarily result in a proportional decrease in quality.
Address: 303-99 Osborne St., Winnipeg, MB
Price Range: Dinner $50-70