Notre Dame Avenue is becoming a bit of a hotbed of new restaurants and food outlets.
Starting with the easternmost offering, there’s Altanour Restaurant and Deli, which has been open for about four months. It’s owned and run by Talal Dalank and his wife, Dounia, the former owners of Shawarma Time on Ellice.
Dalank, who immigrated to Canada from Lebanon about 26 years ago, made headlines in 2017 when he donated two days’ worth of his restaurant’s profits to the refugee centre Welcome Place, after being inspired by seeing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcoming Syrian immigrants with winter jackets.
When the Dalanks had to return to Lebanon to deal with a family emergency, they reluctantly sold Shawarma Time. However, the family maintained their residence in Winnipeg; on trips back to the city, Talal would frequently run into former customers who missed his food. When he was able to return, he and Dounia opened a new place. The menu is slightly expanded and also offers catering options, thanks to a larger kitchen in the simply decorated two-room restaurant.
Located at the corner of Notre Dame Avenue and Lydia Street, in a long-vacant space that used to be home to a Filipino grocery, Altanour specializes in Lebanese and Turkish dishes. The menu includes falafel and shawarma (beef, chicken and lamb, $8.99-$10.99), as well salads such as fatoush (toasted khubz, or Lebanese pita, with greens, radishes and tomatoes in a tart dressing), tabbouleh (greens, parsley and bulgar wheat tossed in a lime dressing) and foul meddamas (fava beans with garlic, lemon and olive oil, served with olives, pickles, tomato and onion), and dips including hummus and baba ghanouj.
There are enormous platters ($11.99-$15.99) featuring such combos as rice, shawarma meat, salad, dip and pita; or a shish-tawook wrap with a side of fries, hummus and salad; and family-sized meals, such as a half-kilogram of mixed skewers with rice, salad, dip and pitas for $50.
Desserts include flaky treats such as baklava and kanafeh.
The unlicensed space at 587 Notre Dame Ave. seats 45, including an adjacent room with a fireplace and TV that will be a hookah/shisha lounge as soon as the final permits are issued.
It’s open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m to 10 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Just down the road at 636 Notre Dame Ave. is Pitza Witza, a 100 per cent halal pizza restaurant that is coming soon (follow them on Facebook for information on opening day).
Also coming soon in the spot that was formerly Notre Dame Burgers is the similarly named Notre Dame Bistro. The small stand-alone building at 784 Notre Dame Ave. will serve elevated comfort food.
The work-in-progress website (bistroonnotredame.com) promises such items as a kale salad with "lentils, smoked olives, mushrooms, candied nuts and onions with sun-dried tomatoes, spicy eggplant and artichoke hearts on a chickpea and black bean purée with a choice of citrus and ginger vinaigrette or Green Goddess Aioli"; a selection of grilled cheese sandwiches, from classic to harissa; sandwiches (Moroccan spiced turkey and fried northern pike among them); bowls (from Mediterranean mac and cheese to biscuits and gravy); waffles; and fritattas.
Owner Dean Herkert says he’s still working on solidifying the opening date with his builders, but once the doors are open, the bistro will seat 32 to 36 on the main floor and 10 to 14 in a private dining room in the basement.
And yet another "coming soon" sign on Notre Dame is for Little Nana’s Italian Kitchen, in the former location of the sorely missed Beet Happening, at the corner of Beverley Street. The restaurant has applied for a liquor licence.
A bit further west down the road, at the corner of McPhillips Street, is Springroll Queen, owned and run by Roweliza Lulu. The "take-and-make" location at 975 Notre Dame Ave. has actually been open for more than a year, but it might escape drivers’ notice, especially since the hours are quite limited — Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. — and the building’s awning still boasts the faded sign of the previous tenant, an HVAC company.
Springroll Queen isn’t a restaurant, but a shop containing just a service counter and a freezer full of lumpia out front, and a full kitchen in back where the exuberant Lulu and her part-time crew roll up hundreds and hundreds of the flavourful Filipino snacks. (Their record is 1,600 rolled in 31/2 hours.)
In addition to the traditional pork fillings, Lulu also offers fusion flavours such as jalapeño with bacon, loaded mashed potato or crab rangoon, as well as dessert lumpia such as pina colada cream and apple pie. They’re cooked from frozen and make a perfect potluck contribution. Prices are $25 for 100 pork, and $15 for 50 of the other varieties (or 40, depending on flavour); delivery is $5 within a five-kilometre radius. Call 204-296-8751 or visit the Springroll Queen Facebook page to find out what varieties are available or to place an order.
February will mark the debut of Food Network Canada’s newest cooking competition series, Wall of Chefs. The show’s format pits four home cooks against each other in three rounds of culinary challenges: crowd-pleasers, making a dish using three staple ingredients from the home fridge of one of the chefs, and a restaurant-worthy creation. Last cook standing wins $10,000. Presiding over the competition is the titular Wall of Chefs, 12 Canadian culinary masters who will offer their expertise and commentary throughout the competition.
Two Winnipeg chefs are included in the Wall: Feast Cafe Bistro’s Christa Bruneau-Guenther and Deer + Almond’s Mandel Hitzer. They’re joined by a list of well-known Canadian chefs that includes Lynn Crawford, Rob Feenie, Christine Cushing, Joël Watanabe and Susur Lee.
Wall of Chefs, hosted by actor and familiar Food Network face Noah Cappe, premières at 9 a.m. on Feb. 3.
It’s the time of year when we start to treat chocolate like a food group of its own, but rather than stuffing entire rows of Pot of Gold into your mouth, why not try a more refined form of indulgence? On Friday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m., Doreen Pendgracs, the Winnipeg author of Chocolatour, will host an event at McNally Robinson featuring a sampling of fine chocolates from around the world as part of a class called Celebrate the Joy of Chocolate. Pendgracs, who travels widely to chocolate-producing countries, promises to share some of her booty, along with teaching the basics of mindful chocolate appreciation.
Nov. 30 marked the last day for North End dessert spot Snozen Shaved Ice and Eatery.
The restaurant, which served elaborate customizable shaved-ice treats, as well as such savoury dishes such as noodle bowls, congee and banh mi, made the announcement in an Instagram post last week.
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We would like to take a moment to thank each and everyone of you for your continuous love & support throughout our journey at @snozenwpg With that being said we regret to announce the official closing at the end of the week; Saturday November 30th. We apologize for the sudden short notice but invite you all to come visit one last time until we move on to our next Journey.❤️ . . . . . #thankyou #goodbye #dontworrybehappy #wpg #closingtime #ontothenextchapter #snozen #ywg
Senior copy editor
Jill Wilson writes about culture and the culinary arts for the Arts & Life section.