Sometimes, our fondest memories of a place aren’t about the big things that happen. Looking back on a particularly good holiday, you may recall seeing the Eiffel Tower, walking the Great Wall or exploring the Forum, but often the things that really stick in your mind have nothing to do with world landmarks.
Maybe it’s that bottle of champagne you shared with a loved one in paper cups sitting next to the Grand Canal with the stars twinkling above, or maybe it’s that boy (or girl) you met for one brief night at Okotberfest that still feels like the one that got away, or maybe it’s that unbelievably fresh croissant you ate from a quaint boulangerie wandering next to the Seine.
Whatever it is, those little things are what often define a place, and one’s own city is no exception to that.
With that in mind, I thought I’d run down some of my favourite things to do downtown. I’m planning to do a small series here–five things I love, each time with a different theme. Let’s start with food because that’s also one of my favourite things.
1. Speaking of croissants (I was above in case you forgot), you don’t have to go to France to get some of the best you’ve ever tasted. Witness the line up any Saturday morning at Tall Grass Prairie Bakery at The Forks Market for proof. The thing to try is their cheese croissant. Crunchy, delicate and crispy it’s got a deep earthy flavour and I go into a swoon when I get one where the cheese has oozed out a little and it’s gotten all brown and crispy. If it were possible to marry pastry, this one would become my soulmate.
2. Restaurant Dubrovnik is one of the city’s oldest and most elegant places to eat. Sitting along the river, the beautiful old house it resides in takes you into another world. Waiters in tuxedos, the tinkling of a grand piano and an aura of old world charm permeates throughout. On their appetizer menu is a classic that is well known amongst Winnipeg foodies. Their seared foie gras comes served on an almost cake-like brioche and poached pear and is doused in a port sauce. It is simply to die for. Even if you think you don’t like liver, you have to try this. It will make you a believer.
3. I live for drinks on the patio and Tavern United is definitely the city’s best. As big as the entire building, it definitely feels like you’re on top of the world up here. I love to sit at the high tables along the edges and look out into the city. On a Friday after work, it positively buzzes with energy. And since you’ll probably be hungry, I’d highly recommend the sweet potato fries. They come with a creamy dipping sauce that is perfect when paired with an ice cold beer.
4. I also live for cupcakes. Chef Candace at Eat! Bistro located inside Aqua Books is a master of her craft. While I love the little nibbles characteristic of her menu (PS-you have to try the thick, crunchy onion rings), it’s her desserts that really make me sing. Creative combinations using things like root beer frosting, passion fruit cake, lemon icing and even just tried-and-true chocolate and vanilla are the best ending to a meal or a pick me up in the middle of the day. Mini cupcakes allow you to indugle without stretching your waistband. Now that’s a win-win for everyone.
5. And finally, one of my favourite spots in the entire city to meet up with a friend is at the Palm Lounge inside the Hotel Fort Garry. I adore the plush seats, the elaborately decorated room, the crystal chandeliers and the feeling of luxuriousness inside. I always order the antipasti platter loaded with meats and cheese and served with soft fluffy bread. Even if they offered nothing but atmosphere, I would go regularly.