Monday, 25 April 2011

All Aboard for French Cuisine

Happy Easter Everyone!  With another long weekend, I had another opportunity to try another restaurant in Winnipeg.  I'd passed by Resto Gare French Bistro & Train Bar a few times but never got around to try it until now.  It had also been a while since I've had some French cuisine, so without further ado I decided to give this place a go.
Inside the train car portion of Resto Gare.

Apparently this family-owned place had a refit in 2008, its website claiming to turn from a "white tablecloth dining" establishment to a bistro.  The main building itself is historic to St. Boniface.  As the name implies, it was St. Boniface's Canadian National Railway station since 1913.  I only managed to have a few glimpses of the station portion of the dining area, but from what I could tell it appears that a significant portion of the interior was well preserved, including the timbered vaulted ceiling.  The rail car, where I was seated, was decorated with the nostalgia of when rail travel was in its heyday.  Of course, being located in an industrial area as most stations historically have been (and unlike some cities where some industrial areas have been redeveloped, St. Boniface's is still actively industrial), the view from the rail car windows is not worth mentioning, but in my opinion it's always better to be at a place with good food and a poor landscape than the reverse situation.
Champignon Fricassée.
Once again I was at an absolute loss on what to try, so I was thankful for the server narrowing down my choices.  For my choice of starter I couldn't decide between the Coquilles St. Jacques (scallops), the Escargot Casserole and the Champignon (Mushroom) Fricassée, to which my server suggested I satisfy my love for mushrooms.  Sauteed with thyme, drizzled with a black garlic vinaigrette and topped with shaved parmesan and baby cress, it was a delightful dish to start dinner.
A close-up of the Champignon Fricassée.
The parmesan provided the salt to this dish, and I could taste bite-size morsels of shiitakes, oyster mushrooms and either button or cremini mushrooms.  Though there appeared to be a bit more oil than I personally preferred to see, the mushrooms didn't taste or feel greasy.  The toasties, sliced from the same baguettes served at the tables, were a thoughtful touch, as they allowed me to soak up the sauce that was left on the plate.
Bison Manitobain: braised boneless bison short ribs were featured in this dish.
Had the server not told me that the restaurant was out of Confit Canard I would've had to choose between five main courses.  In the end my server suggested that I go with Bison Manitobain.  The feature in this dish was some cuts of braised boneless bison short ribs.  Leaner than the beef equivalent and the meat having a considerably tougher texture, braising the short ribs made the meat tender to the bite and each fiber of meat fell apart easily as seen in the following photo.
A piece of the braised bison short ribs in Bison Manitobain.
Garnished with some beet sprouts and resting on a bed of asparagus and whipped truffle potatoes, bison short ribs were a delight.  The blackberry gastrique added a pleasantly mild sweetness to complement the bison.
Chocolate Passion Fruit Cake; this was a special as part of the city-wide Ciao! ChocolateFest this month.
As for dessert (all made in-house apparently), once again I couldn't decide from three items, one of them being a slice of maple tart, but in the end I opted for the Chocolate Passion Fruit Cake, since it was a special here only for this month while the Ciao! ChocolateFest was in effect.  Interspersed between layers of dense chocolate cake were firm layers of mildly sweet passion fruit creme.  Though the cake itself was slightly on the dry side for my personal preference, the flavours of the cake went well.

Overall it was a relaxing and enjoyable dining experience at Resto Gare.  The restaurant is literally a hidden gem tucked away in an area not normally associated with fine dining, but it is definitely at home in a neighbourhood with a strong historic French presence.


Name: Resto Gare
Address: 630 Rue des Meurons, Winnipeg, MB
Cuisine: French
Price Range: Dinner $15-$60
Accessible: Yes

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