March 28, 2020

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ABOVE THE FOLD

A neighbourhood gem

Wolseley eatery Ruby West has small but flavourful menu

Opinion

I once went to a potluck where everyone was asked to bring comfort foods from their childhoods. Among the evening’s nostalgic offerings were a couple of iterations of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, mostly involving canned Campbell’s soup and sandwiches made with Kraft singles.

Restaurant review

The Ruby West

898 Westminster Ave.

Ruby-west.com

Go for: an edited but eclectic menu in a friendly neighbourhood venue

Best bet: a perfect tomato soup

The Ruby West

898 Westminster Ave.

Ruby-west.com

Go for: an edited but eclectic menu in a friendly neighbourhood venue

Best bet: a perfect tomato soup

Mains: $13-16

Tuesday-Thursday: 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – midnight; Sunday: 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Licensed: Yes

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Noise level: low

Reservations: yes

★★★ 1/2 out of five

Two of the dishes at a new bijou Wolseley eatery retain that reassuring sense of comfort while upgrading the ingredients considerably. The tasty Adult Grilled Cheese, as the menu bills it, combines Swiss and Muenster cheeses in crisped pressed bread and finishes things off with tomato chutney and verdant chimichurri. The house-made Ruby Red tomato soup is very good — beautifully balanced between robust tomato and a subtle coconut-milk creaminess, with a hit of spicy heat and some perfect croutons.

It’s not just familiar foods that will make you feel at home at The Ruby West, though. This small venue feels like a real neighbourhood joint.

The modest but comfortable Ruby West features an eclectic menu of familiar foods, including tomato soup with an ‘Adult Grilled Cheese Sandwich,’ which combines Swiss and Muenster cheeses.</p>

The modest but comfortable Ruby West features an eclectic menu of familiar foods, including tomato soup with an ‘Adult Grilled Cheese Sandwich,’ which combines Swiss and Muenster cheeses.

Service is slow at times but very friendly — Wolseley friendly.

The space — the former Neighbourhood Bookstore and Café — is small and welcoming. A complete reno has created a modest but comfortable, nicely lit room with a mix of two- and four-tops, counter stools and a long centre table, all adding up to about 35 seats.

Like the venue, the menu is small. Offerings will rotate. At this point, there’s just over a handful of dishes, which could be a drawback for diners who crave variety.

Still, what’s there is good, with a few standouts, including the aforementioned soup. There are sandwiches, tacos, salads and bowls, along with a petite liquor list.

The porchetta press could have been porkier and juicier — and it has none of those crisp crackling bits — but all the fixings (chimichurri, roasted red pepper and some stretchy provolone and mozzarella) are good. Fish tacos start with small flour tortillas and pack a lot of flavour, pairing smoked salmon with some crunchy veg, spicy mayo and maple ponzu. The chicken tacos (also available with mushroom for a vegetarian option) include refried black beans and a creamy avocado basil sauce. You can also request corn tortillas for a gluten-friendly option.

The creamy-spicy red curry rice bowl is nicely put together, with cauliflower, edamame, red peppers and baby corn — and I know baby corns come from a can but there’s something very cheerful about them. Like a few of the other mains, this can be ordered with chicken or tofu.

Three flour tortillas with smoked salmon, shredded cabbage, carrot and avocado make up Ruby West’s fish tacos.</p>

Three flour tortillas with smoked salmon, shredded cabbage, carrot and avocado make up Ruby West’s fish tacos.

House salad is light and lively, with tender greens, some crunch from pickled onion and candied walnuts, all wrapped in just the right amount of cilantro lime dressing.

Dessert options currently include a warm, deeply chocolatey brownie served with melting ice cream, and sometimes carrot cake, which was a touch dry. There’s also port served with blue cheese, fig jam, dried figs and ginger thins, which is nice for lingering (though, as with so many restaurant fromage plates, I wish the refrigerator chill was off the cheese).

Something even sweeter than dessert to think about: We might currently be under a half-metre of snow, but looking ahead, the Ruby West has a very nice courtyard patio. The owners are currently applying for an extended liquor licence.

alison.gillmor@freepress.mb.ca

Alison Gillmor

Alison Gillmor
Writer

Studying at the University of Winnipeg and later Toronto’s York University, Alison Gillmor planned to become an art historian. She ended up catching the journalism bug when she started as visual arts reviewer at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.

Read full biography

Ruth Bonneville

Ruth Bonneville
Photojournalist

As the first female photographer hired by the Winnipeg Free Press, Ruth has been an inspiration and a mentor to other women in the male-dominated field of photojournalism for over two decades.

Read full biography

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