WINNIPEG'S coolest restaurant is returning next month.
Raw: Almond will pop up on the frozen Red and Assiniboine rivers on Jan. 24, serving gourmet meals in a heated tent resembling a shard of river ice. The pop-up restaurant, originally created by deer + almond chef Mandel Hitzer and Raw Gallery of Architecture and Design director Joe Kalturnyk, will run for three weeks and feature local chefs and a visual entertainment component.
Raw: Almond was incredibly popular in its first year. Despite -30 wind chills and the unpredictability of Winnipeg's winter, all of the restaurant's 60 dinner seatings sold out within one week.
The restaurant is so popular, in part, because it embraces winter in a positive way, Kalturnyk said.
The restaurant is adjacent to The Forks river trail and diners have to trek across the frozen landscape before they can enjoy their meal.
Kalturnyk and Hitzer will approach the outdoor dining experience a little differently in the new year by adding more seats in the new main dining hall and creating a tasting lounge to accommodate 10.
The dining tent, designed by Kalturnyk, was inspired by one shape turning into another. If you can imagine a square eventually morphing into a circle, and every shape in between connecting the two, that's what RAW: almond will look like.
Kalturnyk said the interior design will also be different but he wouldn't give any hints as to what the final dining room might resemble.
Chefs heating up the ice include Scott Bagshaw (Deseo Bistro), Adam Donnelly (Segovia), Aron Epp and Ben Kramer (Elements and Diversity Food Services), Tristan Foucault (Peasant Cookery), Eric Lee (Pizzeria Gusto) and Alex Svenne (Bistro 7º).
Some new names participating in Raw: Almond are Jesse Friesen (Lobby on York), Luc Jean (Jane's), Edward Lam (Yujiro) and an import from Calgary, Jason Barton-Browne (Teatro).
Each of the chefs participating in Raw: Almond will have control over the kitchen for two consecutive nights.
The five-course meal in the main dining hall is $100 plus taxes and tip. A sample-size plate is available in the tasting lounge for $45, plus taxes and tip. Both options include a beverage. The weekend brunch (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), served by Talia Syrie of Come 'n' Eat Café in Neechi Commons, costs $20 and is walk-up only.
Tickets go on sale Dec. 20 at deer + almond, but Raw Gallery members can pick up tickets on Dec. 10.