Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Restaurant on river ice 'so fun,' family finds

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Kerry LeBlanc serves breakfast latkes to his daughter, Kwynn (left), and son, Karter, during brunch at the River Pop-up restaurant located on the Assiniboine River at The Forks.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Kerry LeBlanc serves breakfast latkes to his daughter, Kwynn (left), and son, Karter, during brunch at the River Pop-up restaurant located on the Assiniboine River at The Forks. Photo Store

WHEN Kwynn LeBlanc's parents told her the family was having brunch Sunday at The Forks outside on the frozen river, the 10-year-old froze in her tracks.

"I'm like, 'Wow, it's really cold. Why would we eat outside?' " she laughed. On Sunday, it felt like -35 C with the wind chill and there was blowing snow with wind gusting to 60 km/h. She was onto something, but as it turned out, it didn't matter.

The LeBlanc family, including Kwynn's mom, Chris, and dad, Kerry, brother, Karter, 13, and sister Kalyn, 14, settled in for a five-course brunch at Raw: Almond, a pop-up restaurant at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.

"It's warm in here and it's so fun," Kwynn said. "I think this says people from Winnipeg are outdoor people and we don't care about the cold."

"I just thought it was such a cool idea and I really wanted to experience brunch outside," Kalyn said.

The restaurant, making a special appearance for the second straight winter, is in a tent designed to look like ice rising from the river. The flaps opened this weekend and will be open for the next two weekends for brunch at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

And don't panic -- they've got bannock.

Bannock Buddies are a special bannock breakfast sandwich stuffed with eggs, bacon and spinach and served with fruit salad.

For $22 per person (cash only), you get Red River cereal with wild blueberries, blueberry pancakes with poppy bacon, breakfast corn dogs on a stick with latkes and homemade apple sauce and sour cream and the Bannock Buddies along with juice, hot chocolate and coffee.

It's the creation of chef Talia Syrie, of Tansi at Neechi Commons.

A 12-metre-long table has room for about 30 people while bundled and cheerful servers such as Brookelyn Herszkop,

"People are telling us it's amazing here, that it's so much fun," said Herszkop.

Karen Poetker, who is 81/2 months pregnant, was joined by her partner, Adam Herstein, to get in a special brunch before her Feb. 10 due date.

"I just really wanted to experience it, and coming for brunch just seemed to be a better idea than dinner in my delicate condition," she laughed.

The pop-up restaurant was started last year by Mandel Hitzer, owner and chef at Deer + Almond restaurant, and Raw Gallery director Joe Kalturnyk.

"The challenge is it's super-cold, but there's nothing we can do about that. But it's wonderful here. Everyone is in great spirits," said Avi Waldman, Syrie's brother, who was assisting with serving.

"We love feeding people, and this is one way you can just make people happy by putting some delicious food in front of them in a unique atmosphere."

Dinner, served on select evenings to Feb. 13, costs $100 per person and is created by some of Winnipeg's top chefs. The offering sold out last year. For brunch, you can just walk up. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/deerandalmond.

ashley.prest@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 27, 2014 B1

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