Three Dinners in Winnipeg

Still haven’t been on a real road trip, but I spent the weekend in Winnipeg at KeyCon, a convention for fans and creators of Speculative Fiction. If you want to read about how that went for me, head on over to Timothy Gwyn Writes. This blog is about travel, food and wine. Not necessarily in that order.

Friday night, we ate at Deseo Bistro. I just reviewed it here a few weeks ago, so you could just scroll down if you want to know more about this fine restaurant. We picked it for the first night because we know we can trust both the food and the service.

Saturday night, after an exhausting day of stair-climbing at the Radisson (Keycon sprawls over three floors, not counting the hospitality suites) we joined our friend Donna for a dinner at the Deer and Almond in the Exchange District. It’s another tapas style restaurant, with very wide-ranging cuisine influences. I cannot remember everything we tried, but my personal favourite was the scallop dish with an Asian salad. We all enjoyed the mushrooms with Gruyere, and the Salmon tartare was inspired. It would have been impossible to match wine with everything, so we just went with the Argentino Malbec and enjoyed it.

Sunday night is tricky in Winnipeg; a lot of places close. Our first choice was Bonfire Bistro – it was well located (on Corydon) for us to hit on the way out of the city, but it was not open. After texting Donna for a recommendation, we rolled down Corydon almost to Confusion Corner and parked at Mano á Mano. Caroline wanted funky pizza, and in our tired and somewhat cranky state, we almost walked out because the menu reads like pretty standard classic Italian, and that’s not what we were in the mood for. However, with nowhere else to go, we stayed and looked more closely at the menu, and were very glad we did.

I had the Ensalata Misto, a salad of mixed greens with apple and goat cheese, and it was wonderful. We chose two pizzas – they have a wood-fired oven there – and they were both more interesting than the menu might have suggested. The ‘White Pie’ was a primarily mushroom pizza with fennel pesto, and we loved it. The Ham and Pineapple was not to be confused with any kind of chain pizza. It featured Prosciutto for one thing, fresh pineapple that had been marinated in honey something-or-other for another, and hot peppers that were not for the faint of heart. The crust, by the way, was thin, but not insanely thin. We both liked it.

I should also mention that our server was knowledgeable, helpful and patient, as well as efficient. Lastly, someone there has a good eye for visuals. We ate in the lounge, because there was construction noise from a deck-building project affecting the dining room and the management had chosen to close off that area. Oh yeah, the chairs were comfortable. The colour scheme was predominately grey, but the use of texture on the walls was both attractive and easy on the eyes. The salad was beautifully presented, too. You can only do so much with what pizza looks like on a plate.

When I’m doing Trip Advisor reviews, I have a very difficult standard for giving five points: I have to wish we could do the whole meal over again without changing a thing. Think about that for a minute. If I order the wrong thing, even if the chef sweat blood over it, the restaurant loses a point. That’s not entirely fair, but it speaks to how well the menu and the staff out front communicate with me. I give Mano a Mano my full endorsement. We liked it so much, we took another identical salad (dressing on the side) to enjoy at home.

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