September 25, 2018

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Delightful bites

From a taste of Brazil to a cool coffeehouse/pub

Opinion

As the name suggests, Deli Brazil Café celebrates all things Brazilian.

Located in a small strip mall in the West End, this friendly, family-run venue is cheerfully decorated in the colours of the Brazilian flag, with green, blue and yellow showing up on the walls and in the slip-covered chairs.

The café serves up all-day breakfast and Brazilian-influenced weekday lunches. There’s a nice creamy soup made with potatoes, kale and loads of sausage, as well as a juicy pulled-beef sandwich, served on ciabatta with house-made salsa and garlic sauce. The coxinhas, small pyramidal chicken croquettes, are delicate and crisp, and the paes de queijo, small cheese buns, are soft and chewy with a sharp cheese taste. Guarana, a popular Brazilian soft drink, is also available.

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As the name suggests, Deli Brazil Café celebrates all things Brazilian.

Located in a small strip mall in the West End, this friendly, family-run venue is cheerfully decorated in the colours of the Brazilian flag, with green, blue and yellow showing up on the walls and in the slip-covered chairs.

The café serves up all-day breakfast and Brazilian-influenced weekday lunches. There’s a nice creamy soup made with potatoes, kale and loads of sausage, as well as a juicy pulled-beef sandwich, served on ciabatta with house-made salsa and garlic sauce. The coxinhas, small pyramidal chicken croquettes, are delicate and crisp, and the paes de queijo, small cheese buns, are soft and chewy with a sharp cheese taste. Guarana, a popular Brazilian soft drink, is also available.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Owner Sanderson Rabelo at the Deli Brazil Cafe.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Owner Sanderson Rabelo at the Deli Brazil Cafe.

The desserts have the fresh and unpretentious appeal of good home baking. Sampled cakes — the selection changes from day to day — were milky and tender, as is common in Central and South America, with icing made from sweetened condensed milk. The lime cake, sprinkled with zest, nicely balances sweetness with some citrus tartness, and the mild chocolate version is also good.

The Taste

Click to Expand

Deli Brazil Café
510 Sargent Ave.
204-588-4164; delibrazil.ca

Go for: home-style Brazilian cooking
Best bet: the absolutely fabulous feijoada

Tuesday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Feijoada: $14.99; Desserts: $2.00-4.50

★★★★

Brigadeiros, sometimes called Brazilian fudge, are dense, creamy little balls of sweetness — Brazil is the world’s largest sugar producer — also made with condensed milk. Featured flavours could include chocolate, coconut, strawberry or milk, as well as a version that plays on the Italian flavours of tiramisu.

The weekday lineup at Deli Brazil Café offers tasty food and solid value.

But you really want to go for the more elaborate Brazilian specials served only on Saturday, which could include an absolutely fabulous feijoada, a traditional stew of black beans, smoky braised porky bits and sausage. Served with rice, shredded collard greens, homemade salsa, sliced orange and farofa (manioc flour cooked with bacon fat), the dish is beautifully arranged on a great big plate.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Cheese buns on display at the Deli Brazil Cafe.</p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Cheese buns on display at the Deli Brazil Cafe.

You can mix and match, so that every bite is a little different, with subtle contrasts of taste and texture. The richness of the stew is cut by the greens, with their slight edge of bitterness, and finished with the crunch of farofa. It’s just oh-my-gosh good.


Near the corner of Portage and Main, Grey Owl Coffee and Pub has set up in the turn-of-the-20th-century Scott Building with a very handsome space. Now, I like white, bright industrial modern resto decor as much as the next girl — maybe more — but it’s good to see a local coffee joint trying out a different esthetic. Lush and moody, Grey Owl’s historical look is grounded in the colours of black and darkest green, accented with oversized botanical prints.

Grey Owl Coffee and Pub on the main floor of the Scott Block resembles a coffee house out of London.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Grey Owl Coffee and Pub on the main floor of the Scott Block resembles a coffee house out of London.

A combined coffeehouse and pub, Grey Owl offers multiple coffee possibilities, including the usual espresso-based drinks, precision pour-over options and cold brew, along with an edited selection of natural wine, local beers and artisan ciders. This combination of light bites, coffee and (possible) day-drinking might account for the easy, amiable atmosphere.

The Taste

Click to Expand

Grey Owl Coffee and Pub
272 Main St.
greyowlcoffee.com

Go for: third-wave coffee, small bites and good-looking ambience
Best bet: coffee, of course, but the omni salad will also pick you up

Monday-Thursday: 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday: 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

Coffee: $2.60-4.50

★★★1/2

 

STAR POWER

★★★★★ Excellent
★★★★ Very Good
★★★ Good
★★ Mediocre
★ Substandard
No stars Not recommended

There is a revolving selection of coffee beans from roasters across North America, which should keep java nerds on their toes. I tried a medium-bodied Ethiopian, which was, as the helpful barista suggested, "fruit-forward," with sweet, bright undertones of citrus.

A sampled iced tea of the day, a ruby-red, not overly sweet hibiscus brew, uses big block ice for a slow melt. Heading into the liquor menu, a Catalan rose had an edgy taste and cloudy look, with a touch of that natural-wine funkiness so much debated among oenophiles.

The small plates, salad and sandwich selection features several healthy options, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free possibilities. The hummus plate is good, accented with garlicky, silken-white toum and vegan ricotta and served with crisp, thin toasts and veg.

A chicken sammie, with blueberry-beer compote and basil and mint vegan cheese, seems a little confused in its flavours. More consistent is the sandwich made with smashed tandoori-seasoned chickpeas, herby vegan ricotta and minted chutney.

The omni salad is aptly named, being a well-balanced bowl packed with quinoa, arugula, crunchy veg, pickled onions and lightly wrapped in herby vinaigrette.

Baked goods include cookies and muffins, plus a daily rotation of energy bites, the carrot cake-style warmly spiced and packed with walnuts.

One quibble: The menu could use a few more cocktail-style snacks — beyond spiced nuts — to help match the wine menu and the sophisticated big-city space.

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

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