November 24, 2017

Winnipeg
3° C, A few clouds

Full Forecast

Bygone bites

Some of Winnipeg's most famous restaurants have faded away, but readers still remember all those delicious flavours

Two Saturdays ago, we profiled the 10 oldest restaurants in Winnipeg, in a calorie-filled piece entitled Eternal Eats.

At the tail-end of that story, we invited readers to let us know which long-gone locales they missed most.

It didn’t take long for our in-box to be crammed full with communiques lauding the likes of Shakey’s Pizza, a Transcona joint notable for its stained-glass décor and all-you-can-eat, lunchtime buffet; Alycia’s, a North End institution famously favoured by actor John Candy; and the Red Lantern, the St. Boniface steakhouse where Fern Kirouac Jr., owner of much-lauded In Ferno’s Bistro, once cooked for his father, Fern Kirouac Sr.

In addition to jogging people’s memory banks, we also whetted a few appetites, apparently.

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 60 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 1763 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

Hope you enjoyed your trial.

Add a payment method

To read the remaining 1763 words of this article.

Pay only 27¢ for articles you wish to read.

Two Saturdays ago, we profiled the 10 oldest restaurants in Winnipeg, in a calorie-filled piece entitled Eternal Eats.

Alycia's Ukrainian Cuisine is seen in 2007. (Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Alycia's Ukrainian Cuisine is seen in 2007. (Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press files)

At the tail-end of that story, we invited readers to let us know which long-gone locales they missed most.

It didn’t take long for our in-box to be crammed full with communiques lauding the likes of Shakey’s Pizza, a Transcona joint notable for its stained-glass décor and all-you-can-eat, lunchtime buffet; Alycia’s, a North End institution famously favoured by actor John Candy; and the Red Lantern, the St. Boniface steakhouse where Fern Kirouac Jr., owner of much-lauded In Ferno’s Bistro, once cooked for his father, Fern Kirouac Sr.

In addition to jogging people’s memory banks, we also whetted a few appetites, apparently.

Red Lantern owner and chef Pierre Molin stands in front of the restaurant in 2002. (Jeff de Booy / Winnipeg Free Press files)

THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Red Lantern owner and chef Pierre Molin stands in front of the restaurant in 2002. (Jeff de Booy / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Michael Macey, who nominated Percy’s Chicken Shack, a Lulu Street staple that closed its doors in 1996 after a 44-year run, wrote, "I still crave (their) fried chicken, to this day; numerous trips to the southern United States were never able to duplicate the delicious-tasting fried chicken dinner and fries that were served at this quaint place, accompanied with the fine piano entertainment of owner Percy Haynes (RIP)."

Also, Kathy Stokes, whose pick is the Rugbee Inn ("on the east side of Pembina Highway, about where the Pony Corral is, now"), told us she could "still taste one of the best burgers of all time."

"The Rugbee Inn’s burgers were a bit different, as there was no beef patty," she wrote. "Instead, the buns were filled with a large spoonful of a runny, beef mixture, flavoured with tomato sauce and spices; pleasant memories for an octogenarian."

In no particular order, here’s what other readers, all of whom we thank for taking the time to read our original story, as well as share their reminiscences, had to say…

"Harman’s Drug Store lunch counter, on Portage Avenue: We were regulars for weekend breakfasts for years.

"The waitresses treated us like family, always giving us extra toast or bacon and unlimited coffee refills. They would spot us in the parking lot and have our usuals on the grill before we walked in. If we wanted to change our order, we had park out of sight and sneak in.

"We were so close to these gals we even exchanged Christmas gifts." — Ben Goebel

C. Kelekis Restaurant and its patrons in 1989. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

C. Kelekis Restaurant and its patrons in 1989. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"Kelekis on Main Street: for sitting at the counter eating the best fries in the city, and listening to Mary’s (owner Mary Kelekis) stories. Martini’s on Sargent Avenue: for excellent lemon veal and drinking in the glamorous Italian atmosphere." — Janet Wasney

"We loved Mr. Mustard on St. Mary’s Road, Angelo’s on Henderson and Napoli’s on Marion Street.

Mr. Mustard was located at the corner of St. Mary’s Road and Britannica Road, where the 7-Eleven is now. They had fabulous burgers and homemade fries." — Wally and Ila Schlegel

"I have visited every establishment that claims to have amazing cinnamon buns in the city and province, and not one has anything like the buns from Caesar’s Palace, formerly in Polo Park.

It wasn't just the cinnamon buns with the perfect dough, raisins and just the right mixture of cinnamon, sugar, butter and maybe some cocoa. It was also the waitresses in uniform, the orange, fake leather booths and diner-type counters with swivelling chairs.

"To this little girl’s delight, if I was good while Mom shopped, that meant a trip to Caesar's Palace for a massive cinnamon bun and a float of some kind. So sad I couldn't introduce my children to this one-of-a-kind restaurant in the heart of Polo Park, when they were growing up."— Cathy Kinsman

Fred Solomon's Simon's Deli, seen in 1989. (Glenn Olsen / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Fred Solomon's Simon's Deli, seen in 1989. (Glenn Olsen / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"Simon's Deli on Main, just north of Oscar’s (Deli): better sandwiches and borscht (than Oscar’s). PS: Wish I could find their borscht recipe." — Brian Thompson

"I really miss the original Beachcomber restaurant, which was in the now torn-down Carlton Inn, just north of the convention centre on Carlton Street. It was like being in the tropics going there.

The décor was unreal, and allowed one to forget about the winter blasts outside — at least for a while. The food, from steaks to dressed-up Chinese food was fabulous, particularly the barbecued lean pork, which melted in your mouth; great food, fabulous atmosphere and great tropical drinks. The waiters were superb as well." — Dale White

The Beefeater Restaurant, seen in 1989. (Glenn Olsen / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The Beefeater Restaurant, seen in 1989. (Glenn Olsen / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"We miss the Beefeater Restaurant (corner of Osborne Street and Stradbrook Avenue) with its British atmosphere, great garlic toast and good service. We never found out why it went out of business, as it was always packed whenever we went there." — Brian McCulloch

"Pembina Highway: Rancho Don Carlos, Jack's Place and Mama Trossi's. Portage Avenue: Moores, the Paddock, Dartnell’s (hot)Dog House." — Wg Eamer

"In the ‘50s or ‘60s, there was a high-end restaurant in St. James. I was a teenager and an avid Blue Bomber fan. I always watched a TV show named (I believe) Football Huddle with Jack Wells and Andy Currie. I entered a question and "stumped" the sportscasters. My prize was a dinner at this restaurant from where I believe the show was broadcast.

I took my parents to dinner. It was a great occasion. I hope you or someone can remember the name of this restaurant." — Kathleen Smith

Lisi's Ranch House Restaurant on Main. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Lisi's Ranch House Restaurant on Main. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"I would like to enter two iconic West Kildonan restaurants for your article. They are (Lisi’s) Ranch House Restaurant on Main Street, the after-hours spot in West K for years. Next is Rene's on Main, the go-to spot for locals of all ages, in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

The Ranch House was famous for their steak sandwich and Rene's was the place for cheeseburger platters. I spent many hours in both as a teen and adult in WK." — Clay Eccles

"Carlton Street Fish Market: I don’t think it lasted long, but the choice of fish dishes was amazing and always tasty.

My friend had a broken leg and told the waiter just to pick a lobster. The waiter returned with a live lobster on a plate to ask my friend if it would do." — Ken DeLisle

"Your piece Eternal Eats brought back some great memories. As for your upcoming piece, I hope you see fit to include one of my all-time faves, Chan’s, which was on the west side of Main Street, in the 500 block for many years. The food was to die for, and their signature Moon Room featured a giant dragon on the north wall with eyes that alternated on and off. Needless to say, as a young boy, I found the place absolutely fascinating.

 The Paddlewheel Restaurant in the Bay's downtown store is seen decorated for the holidays in November 2004.   (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The Paddlewheel Restaurant in the Bay's downtown store is seen decorated for the holidays in November 2004. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"Also high on my list were two icons of Winnipeg’s downtown department-store scene: Eaton’s Grill Room and the Bay’s Paddlewheel Restaurant. Both featured good food at reasonable prices, at a time when you would expect to meet just about anybody downtown.

As a member of the Winnipeg Boys Choir, I also had the privilege of performing at the Grill Room one Christmas, and being treated to a complimentary order of their famous fries afterward." — Larry Roberts

Shanghai Restaurant at King Street and Alexander Avenue. (Ken Gigliotti / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Shanghai Restaurant at King Street and Alexander Avenue. (Ken Gigliotti / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"I still cannot find a Chinese restaurant that can come close to duplicating the flavours and recipes of the Shanghai (on King Street)." — Fred Mazepa

"I nominate Venice House, a small, family-owned Italian place on Marion Street that burned down maybe 20 years ago. Everything was good, but I still taste their lasagna in my dreams (yes, I dream about food... frequently.)

We started going there when we were of legal-ish drinking age: lots of dates, group meals before/after socials, and finally with our kids. Dark panelling, dim lights, comfy booths and... "the Barrel."

The focal point of the room was a walk-in-size wooden replica barrel, with two booths inside. We always hoped it was available when we walked in, and my kids loved sitting it while they slurped their spaghetti. Definitely one of a kind, and I’m still a little sad every time I drive by the site." — Mike Schettler

Victor's Restaurant, seen in 1978. (Winnipeg Free Press files)

Victor's Restaurant, seen in 1978. (Winnipeg Free Press files)

"Some of our favourites were Victor's in Osborne Village and Brothers Restaurant on Portage Avenue." — Lori Grandmont

"First on my list would be Matheos in Charleswood: it even had a maitre d’ to show you to your table. One side of the restaurant had a great lounge with local performers keeping the large crowds happy.

The steaks were excellent, prices reasonable and the surroundings perfect for Charleswood and, dare I say, even Tuxedo. Bon appetit." — Allan Tucker

Albert and Gus Zoratti of Zoratti's Restaurant, a fixture of Portage Avenue in the 1950s through '70s. (Supplied photo)

Albert and Gus Zoratti of Zoratti's Restaurant, a fixture of Portage Avenue in the 1950s through '70s. (Supplied photo)

"Zoratti’s, on Portage Avenue: My husband still talks about the spicy bean soup and a bunch of us from the office hung out in the bar downstairs, for years." — Gail Derby

"Ellett's on Ellice for Winnipeg goldeye. It was on Osborne Street, north of the Park Theatre, on the same side of the street. I believe the building still exists." — Lussier Garage

Mother Tucker's buffet, seen in 1980.  (Winnipeg Free Press files)

Mother Tucker's buffet, seen in 1980. (Winnipeg Free Press files)

"One that I really miss is Mother Tuckers on Donald. It used to be in an old Masonic building, I believe. Ate there several times as an adult and always loved the food and atmosphere." — Lori Walker

"Chi Chi’s, Fingers and Lock, Stock and Barrel. Also, Ponderosa and Bonanza (I didn't say great places, but we did go there)." — Ken Meakin

"Please include the Original Food Bar on Main Street. It made the best spaghetti ever; they also made a dish called half-and-half, with beans and spaghetti.

I have tried unsuccessfully to duplicate the recipe with no luck. Maybe your readers can help. If memory serves me correctly, it was a very popular place for railroad men, my father being one. He is the one who introduced me to the restaurant." — Beverley McKay

"The Oxford Grill in Transcona served the Oxford Special: so good. It was on Day Street in the centre of old Transcona.

The special was a big burger on a bun with relish, covered in gravy with fries and coleslaw. We used to always go there when we were dating (50 years ago)." — Shirley P

Longtime owner Louis Mathez holds up the famous clubhouse sandwhich in his Wagon Wheel Restaurant on Hargrave. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

Longtime owner Louis Mathez holds up the famous clubhouse sandwhich in his Wagon Wheel Restaurant on Hargrave. (Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press)

"The Wagon Wheel restaurant, which closed down four or five years ago, had the best clubhouse in the city. Seating was at a premium." — David Bowles

"My long-gone faves are the Wagon Wheel, the Midtown (all-you-can-eat buffet), the barbecue restaurant (across from Eaton’s, on Donald Street) and Dionysus." — Bernie Perreault

"The restaurant my family really enjoyed was Trapper John's, in the Polo Park area. We used to go there in the 1970s and '80s.

The motif was western; some booths were like a stagecoach. The staff really catered to the children with the menu and drinks." — Lloyd Simonson

The Paladin Restaurant on rue Des Meurons in St.  Boniface is seen in 2008. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The Paladin Restaurant on rue Des Meurons in St. Boniface is seen in 2008. (Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press files)

"My wife and I really miss the Paladin Restaurant on Des Meurons Street in Saint Boniface. They made a clubhouse sandwich with fresh turkey that rivaled the Wagon Wheel's. We also miss their tourtière meat pie, one of the best in the city.

We also miss the cozy and eclectic atmosphere you had there, all those small rooms with unique decor, old Winnipeg photos, the Elvis/Rat Pack room/lounge - if you want to call it that - and the very cozy upstairs. We still talk about it years after it burned down in 2012." — Paul and Helen Balcaen

 

david.sanderson@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by David Sanderson.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.