Wanting again on 2021: Winnipeg’s foods and drinks scene

The worldly West End in Winnipeg continues to rock, surely one of Canada’s best hidden gems when it comes to a culinary scene. New for 2021 were Jamaican spot Gladys Caribbean Kitchen along with Gâto Bakery, where Mauritian pastry chef Laura Gurbhoo creates earth-conscious pastries worth celebrating. 

The city’s Middle Eastern scene continues to grow, with one notable standout being Zaytoon, a lush new space in Osborne Village. Plus, Ramallah Café has opened up a second location, so folks around Kildonan Crossing can now experience the joys of shawarma with the fries wrapped right inside. The city has also fully embraced the birria taco trend, with Filipino and Asian fusion spots like Kyu and Oda Best really doing wonders with braised meats, cheese skirts, and consumé dip.

In Wolseley, the new neighbourhood hub The Ruby West has been transformed into the super cozy Bonnie Day (half the ownership team has remained the same). The cocktail menu is by local barstar Josey Krahn, and the comfort food menu is helmed by chef Pamela Kirkpatrick. Pam, along with being a gem in general, you may recognize as the founder of Cake-ology, a place that once again changed hands this year. It’s now co-owned and operated by a young chef whose CV features multiple Michelin-Starred kitchens. Austin Granados’ pastries at Cake-ology are flaky AF (and airy, buttery ), and you can taste the pedigree in creations like his kouign-amann that reach back to kitchens like Hong Kong’s VEA, and NYC’s Dominique Ansel.

Cake-ology is located in the Exchange District, an area of the city that also warmly welcomed the opening of the James Avenue Pumphouse. This room is so cool; the owners have created a dining room that works like an aquarium, with huge glass windows showcasing the massive early 20th century gears, pumps and equipment that once protected downtown from fires.

South Osborne keeps getting cooler and cooler, this time via the opening of Tabula Rosa by the Sous Sol crew. These people have a PhD in making dining fun, so it’s great to see them take over a space that once housed Bistro 7 ¼, which was always known for its breezy-yet-professional nature.

And then there’s Nola, surely Winnipeg’s most anticipated new room. It’s owned by Mike Del Buno as part of his Burnley Place Hospitality (which includes King + Bannatyne sandwich shop and its second location beside Nola) and is run by executive chef Emily Butcher, who’s been unstoppable these past few years. 

Butcher’s recent accomplishments include third at the Canadian Culinary Championships, and a sixth-place finish on Top Chef Canada. At Nola, the menu combines her heritage with competition-winning dishes, all served out of an open kitchen to a room that invites the whole neighbourhood in through windows that run the length of the dining room.

(If you are paying attention, you’ll also notice that 2021 was all about incredibly talented female chefs kicking ass, which is so nice to see.)   

Comments are closed.