Opinion

The new food hall at True North Square includes the enclosed full-service Gusto North (reviewed earlier this month), along with more casual kiosks. This week, we’ll start with Yard Burger and the Good Fight Taco.

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The new food hall at True North Square includes the enclosed full-service Gusto North (reviewed earlier this month), along with more casual kiosks. This week, we’ll start with Yard Burger and the Good Fight Taco.

Restaurant review

Hargrave St. Market 
242 Hargrave St., second floor

Go for: a local restaurant sampler served up with food-hall amenities
Best bet: small tacos with big taste
Mains: $10-$15

Hargrave St. Market
242 Hargrave St., second floor

Go for: a local restaurant sampler served up with food-hall amenities
Best bet: small tacos with big taste
Mains: $10-$15

Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m.-midnight; Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
Licensed: yes
Noise level: high during busy periods
Wheelchair accessible: yes

Hargravestmarket.com

Yard Burger: ★★★1/2 out of five

The Good Fight Taco: ★★★★ out of five

 

STAR POWER

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

The Hargrave St. Market immediately signals its distance from the much-maligned mall food court. Its setup, sleek and contemporary, follows the model of the upscale food hall.

The food kiosks are local ventures, not chains. There’s a variety of seating, from lounge-y areas to long communal tables, some with banquette seating, as well as small tables and counter stools. At night, the lighting is atmospheric, and in the daytime, sun streams in through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Food comes out on sturdy metal trays with real dishes and real cutlery, and, of course, the venue is licensed, with wine, artisanal cocktails and local beers on tap at the Rose Bar, along with options from the Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, which will be brewing on site later this year.

The el pastor tacos, featuring pulled pork shoulder and pineapple, from the Good Fight Taco. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)

The el pastor tacos, featuring pulled pork shoulder and pineapple, from the Good Fight Taco. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)

The downtown location, kitty-corner to the Bell MTS Centre, means the hall fills up before Jets games and other events at the arena. And while parking can be tricky at these times, getting dinner is not. The Hargrave St. Market is designed to handle crowds, whether that’s hundreds of sports fans who need to be fed and on their way before the puck drops, or folks like me, who just want some good tacos.

Along with efficient kitchens, there’s a buzzer system — after placing your order, you’re given a buzzer that flashes when your food is up — which keeps a crush from developing around the counters.

And the food? Mostly, it’s casual but considered.

Yard Burger, for example, keeps things simple. These burgers aren’t gussied up with truffle oil and Roquefort and caramelized shallots. They’re more like well-executed versions of an old-school cookout burger, straightforward and satisfying, simultaneously nostalgic and hip.

The 342 hamburger keeps the focus on the Wagyu beef patty, which is darkly crisp, even crunchy, at the edges and meaty in the middle. The fixings aren’t overly fussy, consisting of cheese, butter lettuce, a thin slice of pickle and a little house sauce. Bacon or Bothwell cheddar are optional surcharged add-ins.

The smashed 342 Burger features a Wagyu beef patty. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)

The smashed 342 Burger features a Wagyu beef patty. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)

Everything is wrapped into a pleasantly squishy Martin’s potato bun. Currently the "it" bun used by trendy U.S. chains like Shake Shack, this unassuming roll complements the meat rather than competing with it.

Along with the classic beef burger, there are chicken and plant-based options. Fries are also good, medium-thick-cut and salted just right.

The Good Fight Taco — along with Yard, an outpost of the Merchant Kitchen — serves up small but mighty tacos (three per order). The taste-packed barbacoa comes with cabbage, a scattering of queso fresco and smoked Wagyu beef cheek. (Though I’m not sure Wagyu beef is really necessary here: the whole point of barbacoa-style slow-cooking is making cheap cuts taste good).

Also good are the al pastor, rich pulled pork shoulder getting contrast from small-diced pineapple and pickled onions, and the Rooster, with tons of tasty crunch from its deep-fried chicken thigh and a little heat from drizzles of hot sauce and chili aioli.

The new downtown food court features sleek bench seating and floor-to-ceiling windows. The room gets packed before Jets games. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)

The new downtown food court features sleek bench seating and floor-to-ceiling windows. The room gets packed before Jets games. (Mike Sudoma / Winnipeg Free Press)

There’s also a big — really big — salad, starting with delicate butter lettuce and finished with avocado, black beans, queso fresco and crisped tortilla strips.

(Reviews of other Hargrave St. Market venues, including Saburo Kitchen, Miss Browns and Fools + Horses, will be published in the coming weeks.)

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.

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