Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's the most important meal of the day and at River Heights deli, you can enjoy it all day long

  • Print

Call it breakfast, call it brunch -- and now you can even call it dinner if you have it at Bernstein's, where the breakfast menu is available all day, and later than it used to be. The hours have been extended to range from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, until 2:30 p.m on Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the once-closed Sunday.

That's only one of the changes at this durable (almost 30 years) deli-cum-butcher shop-cum-restaurant. It's still your typically bare-bones deli, but now son Aaron is a managing partner with his mother, Marla Bernstein, and they have been joined by new chef Beth Jacob, of the late and much lamented Fresh Cafe.

The top-notch deli foods are still available for eating there or taking home -- I'm crazy for the fresh salmon spread and the marinated herring -- but this time breakfast was what I had come for, and although there are still the traditional eggs with a choice of breakfast meat, hash browns and toast ($5.50 to $8.25), Jacob has added several interesting dishes, which are listed on a feature sheet.

I didn't get to her Jewish chicken waffles -- schnitzel bits with little pancakes, chipotle maple syrup and blueberry compote ($11.25) -- or the charcuterie hash of deli meats and hash browns with two eggs and toast ($8.75), or the quinoa breakfast cereal with maple syrup and dried cranberries ($5.50). But I did have what must be one of the city's best breakfast dishes, the glorious latke stacker of potato pancakes, topped by corned beef, a poached egg and swiss cheese, ($10.25, or $11.25 with toast).

Also new is a whole-wheat wrap with cream cheese, dill and scrambled eggs, paired with a latke and sour cream ($8.50). Of course there's still the classic platter of lox with a toasted bagel, cream cheese, capers, red onion, cucumber and tomato ($11), but my favourite version is still the simplest -- a good, chewy bagel topped by a thick shmear of cream cheese and generous slices of silky, top-grade lox ($6.75). The Bernstein's omelette, with onions, corned beef, mushrooms, peppers and cheese, was always available ($8.50, hash browns $1 extra) but now it comes in a vegetarian version, and includes a latke or hashed browns and toast ($9.50).

Possibly some might not consider them breakfast on their own, but I would -- the excellent potato latkes, with apple sauce or sour cream ($5.75 for three, $2.25 for one). The crisp, skinny fries are delicious in the poutine with Bothwell curds ($6.50), which is even better with the addition of Montreal smoked meat ($8.50). I couldn't resist trying one lunch innovation which alone should earn Jacob a medal, i.e. the house-cured corned beef served warm in thick, hand-cut slices, on rye with hot mustard ($8.25). And the next time I'm there I'm determined to try the bison Reuben burger -- corned beef, bison patty, sauerkraut, swiss cheese and house-made Thousand Island dressing ($7.50).

Service is cheerful and willing but can be overwhelmed and confused at peak hours -- wise regulars know to come before or after the noon rush.

-- -- --

 

There have been some changes at Prairie Ink also, but in this case, not for the better. Sunday brunch, which had been mostly good, has been dropped, and now all breakfasts are only la carte, served from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday to Friday, to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

An omelette was cold and thin, filled with crumbles of hard bacon, mushrooms that were black with age and (representing the promised mixed cheese) two wafer-thin wee squares of cold cheddar ($11 with toast). Eggs Benedict came on a knife-defying hard muffin ($12). Worse, the thick slab of back bacon had a greyish tint, and was as dry and difficult to cut as the muffin -- that (our server explained, as though that made it acceptable) was because it was cut thick. And when we pointed out that some of the back bacon slices (with a dish of poached eggs and fried potatoes, $8.75) were pink, moist and tender, while others on the same plate were as poor as those with the Benedict, the server had no comment at all. They were left uneaten, there was no apology, and no adjustment to the bill.

Only huevos rancheros were acceptable -- two eggs with chorizo, salsa, corn and beans and a cheese quesadilla ($12).

But if your usual breakfast runs only to some kind of baked goods, you'd be in luck with the delicious individually baked cinnamon bun with caramel sauce, or the decent, if not very airy croissant.

If breakfast was mostly a bust, another of Prairie Ink's innovations -- High Tea -- was a winner, served on Tuesdays only (reservations essential) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. for a flat $16.50, all of it good, and good value, although some might object to paying an obligatory 15 per cent tip.

For the tea the inner section of the restaurant is set aside, with crisp white linens and pretty Royal Dalton tea cups on the tables. The set menu is changed each week; in our case there were appetizers of hummus-topped naan, cucumber cups with feta, tomato and olive relish, and roma tomatoes filled with a mixture of bacon, cheddar and panko crumbs; three tea sandwiches (salmon, egg and mixture of pureed peas with prosciutto), and a plate of fresh fruits and two tiny portions of cheese.

But for sweet teeth, the best was yet to come, in the pastries, for which Prairie Ink is justly noted -- a square of chocolate sacher torte, a puff filled with praline cream and cake layers with pistachio-flavoured filling, all perfectly lovely (although I did miss not having a scone). Less satisfying was the tea itself (13 varieties), which wasn't loose leaf, but had been tied into bags by the restaurant, and which didn't taste in the least like the Earl Grey we had ordered.

 

marion.warhaft@freepress.mb.ca

To see the location of this restaurant as well as others reviewed in the Winnipeg Free Press, please see the map below or click here.

Restaurants marked with a red flag were rated between 0.5 to 2.5 stars; yellow flags mark those rated between 2.5 to 4 stars; and green flags mark those rated rated 4.5 to 5 stars. Locations marked with a yellow dot were not assigned a star rating.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2013 C5

History

Updated on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 9:12 AM CST: adds photo, adds map, changes headline

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Weather for final Fringing weekend

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Great Horned Owl that was caught up in some soccer nets in Shamrock Park in Southdale on November 16th was rehabilitated and returned to the the city park behind Shamrock School and released this afternoon. Sequence of the release. December 4, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you like Gord Steeves’ idea to sell four city-owned golf courses to fund road renewal?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google