Café ce Soir is coming upon its first anniversary and I cannot believe that it took me this entire year to discover them.
Located on the north side of Portage Avenue between Arlington and Wall St., you will not find French spoken here, as is often the case when you dine in St. Boniface, but the passion for wholesome ingredients and classic French cuisine is authentic.
As you enter the sun-filled bistro, you note that Chef Cam Tran is a member of "Slow Food Canada" whose vision and mission is: "… a world in which all people can access and enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.... Slow Food is an international grassroots membership organization promoting good, clean and fair food for all," as stated on the international movement’s official website, slowfood.com.
Slow Food figures prominently into a book that I am currently reading entitled The Table Comes First: Family, France and the Meaning of Food by Adam Gopnik, where the movement is additionally described as encompassing: "localism, seasonal cooking, farmers’ markets, (and) organic produce."
Chef Tran worked for many years in the restaurant kitchen formerly dubbed La Vieille Gare.
Lunch began with the sharing of a roasted beet salad, crowned with whole, raw walnuts, creamy goat cheese and pear strings enhanced with a dressing of lemon, oil and a drizzle of maple syrup. Large nuggets of pink sea salt adorned the plate and brought out the glistening tastes of each bite.
My daughter-in-law spied the gnocchi on the menu and could not resist. The best way to describe this old-world treat is that it is dumpling-like pasta made with the inclusion of potato.
When gnocchi is prepared by a skilled chef (and Chef Tran is definitely this), they are lighter than air and taste like the food that angels might feast on.
In direct opposition, I decided upon the fried frogs legs, with a thyme sour cream. I first tasted frog legs on the very first night of my honeymoon at a Quebec City bistro. At one time Picasso’s Seafood Restaurant here in Winnipeg served them and more recently, Inferno’s Bistro. I have missed the taste. I can best describe the flavour as being a blend of chicken and seafood and I love both. Chef Tran can pan fry them with notice if you are sensitive to gluten.