October 19, 2020

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See the forest for the treats

Thriving restaurant scene makes Charleswood a delicious destination

The sign at the edge of Charleswood calls it "the suburb beautiful" and at the height of August, this neighbourhood is beautifully, poignantly green. There are those hectares of the Assiniboine forest, of course, but even many of the residential streets, with their unpaved lanes and deep ditches, retain a rural feel.

As its thriving restaurant scene suggests, though, Charleswood has plenty of big-city amenities.

 

COFFEE TIME:

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Owner Alex Meron Gamili takes orders at the friendly neighbourhood Joy Coffee Bar.</p></p>

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Owner Alex Meron Gamili takes orders at the friendly neighbourhood Joy Coffee Bar.

Start your day with strong coffee and a smile at Joy Coffee Bar (3311C Roblin Blvd., 204-219-7463, facebook.com/joycoffeebar), a friendly neighbourhood locale that serves up bold Americanos alongside Middle Eastern breakfasts. The red shakshuka (you can also get green) features eggs poached in tomato sauce, served with tahini, crisp chopped vegetables and two little buns for sopping up all that chili-warmed sauce.

The long narrow room offers some indoor seating, and there are currently red café tables on the sidewalk as well.

 

PATISSERIE PERFECTION:

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>S Squared Pâtisserie on Roblin Blvd. offers exquisite little gateaux at its airy Parisian-style bakery.</p></p>

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press

S Squared Pâtisserie on Roblin Blvd. offers exquisite little gateaux at its airy Parisian-style bakery.

You can smell the butter and sugar when you walk into this airy Parisian-style bakery. S Squared Pâtisserie (3416 Roblin Blvd., 204-914-5112, s2patisserie.com) has a tight, perfect menu, starting with flaky croissants, made with high-test European-style butter. Flavours include the ispahan, which combines the delicate perfume of roses with a jammy raspberry and lychee centre, and the ube, made with purple yam and toasted coconut.

There are elegant sandwich cookies, a rainbow selection of tender-chewy macarons, and for a showstopping dessert, S Squared offers exquisite little gateaux layered with textures and tastes and finished with an artist’s hand.

S Squared is open on the weekends only, and pre-orders are encouraged.

 

CAPITAL GAINS:

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Greg Gunnarson, co-owner of Capital Grill, shows off his restaurant’s steak salad.</p></p>

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Greg Gunnarson, co-owner of Capital Grill, shows off his restaurant’s steak salad.

Capital Grill and Bar (3116 Roblin Blvd. 204-615-3116, capitalwinnipeg.com) specializes in refined, beautifully executed takes on classic bistro dishes.

Take a cauliflower soup given a complex umami undertow with miso, or a salad Niçoise made with rare seared tuna, or the sublime truffled fries, dusted with herbs and Parmesan.

Also welcome right now is the restaurant’s wooden-decked patio, which offers pleasant al fresco dining, weather permitting. (And thank goodness, in this difficult summer, the weather has mostly permitted.)

 

FAMILY PIZZA NIGHT:

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Ethan Hrabinsky, a supervisor at Fast Fired, prepares a pizza.</p>

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Ethan Hrabinsky, a supervisor at Fast Fired, prepares a pizza.

Fast Fired by Carbone (3116 Roblin Blvd., 204-400-4379, fastfired.ca) offers tasty build-your-own thin-crust pizzas with endless toppings (including options like vegan cheese and gluten-free bases). There are also several Seinfeldian salad possibilities — "a salad, only bigger, with lots of stuff in it," as Elaine would say.

A bonus for harassed parents: Kids under 12 eat free on the weekend (with a mini pizza thrown in with the purchase of a regular pie).

Walk-ins are fine, or you can order ahead with an app for contactless curbside pickup.

 

CARGO CULT:

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press</p><p>The open-air Cargo Bar vibe is kind of European and very civilized in Assiniboine Park.</p></p>

Daniel Crump / Winnipeg Free Press

The open-air Cargo Bar vibe is kind of European and very civilized in Assiniboine Park.

Cargo Bar (Assiniboine Park, cargobar.ca) is an outdoor pop-up venue cleverly constructed from a shipping container. (Shipping containers are so hot right now!) Located in Assiniboine Park on the edge of the Duck Pond, the bar offers seating at small tables spread out in the sun or under the shade of three big conifers, currently with a physically distanced capacity of 50. And since this is an all-ages at all hours vendor, that could include children and dogs.

The drinks menu includes local craft beer favourites, wine, artisanal cocktails, mocktails and coffee. Drinking a vodka mojito, clean and summery, was nice, but soaking up the en plein air Cargo Bar vibe — kind of European and very civilized — was even better.

 

QUICK TAKEAWAY:

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Homemade barbecue sauce at White House Ribs on Roblin Boulevard.</p></p>

JESSE BOILY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Homemade barbecue sauce at White House Ribs on Roblin Boulevard.

The White House Restaurant (3312 Roblin Blvd., 204-488-7427, winnipegsbestribs.com) may not be a longtime Charleswood landmark – it’s only been in its current location a few years — but this rib joint is a Winnipeg fixture, located in River Heights for decades and before that in the North End.

There are chicken options, but ribs are really the thing here, with tender meat and sticky sauce. Fries are bountiful — the small order was actually enough for three of us — and the vinegary, peppery coleslaw is a perfect counterpoint to the richness of the meat.

This location has always been pickup and delivery only, so service is fast and efficient (with delivery to Charleswood and several surrounding neighbourhoods).

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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