Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Discovering Two Lunchable Joints in Winnipeg

The Winnipeg franchise of Smoke's Poutinerie, a small location in the Exchange District.
Looking back at my past blog entries of places I've tried in Winnipeg, along with having chats with my buddies who read my blog, I realized that I hadn't made as strong an effort to try places for lunch compared to dinner.  The main reason why I haven't tried lunch in Winnipeg as often is simply that I often haven't been waking early enough in order to have lunch in Winnipeg rather than a brunch back in Brandon.  With my recent and comparatively more frequent daytrips to Winnipeg, I managed to try a couple of noteworthy places for lunch.

Smoke's Poutinerie
First opened in Toronto, Smoke's Poutinerie now brings the now famed Québec dish up a notch across the country.  Québec, the birthplace of poutine, has been a hotbed of creative variation to the fast food dish of fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.  Known variations from la belle province include but are certainly not limited to breakfast poutine (bacon and eggs), smoked meat poutine, lobster poutine and even foie gras poutine.  Smoke's menu selection of approximately 20 variations is nothing to sneeze at either, which put me in a momentarily indecisive situation when ordering at the counter.
Smoke's Pulled Pork Poutine.
In the end I opted to try the Pulled Pork Poutine, one of Smoke's simpler concoctions.  I ordered the small size, and even then I felt quite full after I finished it.  The large size is definitely not for the faint of heart unless one is sharing with at least one other person.  I actually enjoyed the addition of the chipotle pulled pork on the poutine with its additional texture and BBQ flavour playing against the gravy.  Hopefully another time I return here for lunch I'll have a larger appetite to attempt something heartier such as the Philly Cheesesteak Poutine.  The Winnipeg franchise is pretty small, so on busy days, if the weather is co-operative, it wouldn't hurt to enjoy some of Smoke's poutine outside.

Name: Smoke's Poutinerie
Address: 131 Albert St., Winnipeg, MB
Cuisine: Canadian; Fast Food
Price Range: $6-$15
Accessible: Yes

The Qualico Family Centre in Assiniboine Park, home of the new The Park Café.
The Park Café
During a recent walk at Assiniboine Park under a warmer-than-seasonal sunny Saturday, I had noticed a change to the duck pond, including its reconstruction, the construction of a new building called the Qualico Family Centre and the advertisement of the new The Park Café in that building.  Open for breakfast and lunch only, The Park Café is definitely a more laid-back and affordable alternative to the until-then only other on-site dining choice in the park, Terrace Fifty-Five (which admittedly I've yet to try).  When the building is not in use for meetings, functions or events, the café is certainly a convenient spot in the park to either enjoy a light meal with a view of the duck pond, or, during the winter, to pop by to warm up for some hot chocolate or relaxing in the Fireplace Lounge after skating on the duck pond.
The Park Café's Grilled Salmon Club Wrap with sweet potato fries.  The basil pesto aioli for the fries arrived after I took this photograph.
I opted for the Grilled Salmon Club Wrap with sweet potato fries on the side; the side had to be ordered as an extra.  Though there were a couple of bites where I could taste where the grill marks were found on the salmon, overall the wrap was alright.  The wrap was actually a decent portion, and in hindsight I didn't need to order the fries.  That said, I definitely enjoyed the dip that accompanied the fries.  To be quite honest, I'm beginning to lose interest in the chipotle mayo that I get with the sweet potato fries at Clancy's, a place I frequent haunt compared to other dining establishments in Brandon.  The Park Café, however, delighted me by providing basil pesto aioli with the fries.  The fresh, green flavour of the basil definitely gave the dip a pleasantly lighter and refreshing taste.

Name: The Park Café
Address: 330 Assiniboine Park Dr., Winnipeg, MB
Cuisine: Canadian
Price Range: $5-$30
Accessible: Yes

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