The Fairmont’s brought a new chef to town

The Velvet Glove. Even the name sounds fancy – and maybe a bit traditional and old-school, right?

That’s what makes what’s going on in there right now so interesting – there’s change. Potentially big change! And based on what I tasted the other night, I like it.

I was lucky enough to be one of the first Winnipeggers to taste the creations of a chef that’s just come to town – Eraj. He’s the new master of the Velvet Glove’s kitchen, just moved here from the Hilton’s restaurant in Toronto. And his first order of business was to reinvent the menu. Top to bottom, breakfast, lunch and dinner – nothing’s escaping his review. (if you love it and you’re hyperventilating, relax – favourites will still have a home, although they may get a fresh twist)

They’ve done some reinventing outside of the kitchen as well – if you’ve been to the Velvet Glove before, the first difference you’ll notice is that it feels lighter, brighter, and airier. They’ve kept the warm wood panels around the room, but have swapped out the chairs for waaaay more modern low armchairs in pale fabrics and upholstered the booths in creamy white leather.

We started with an amuse bouche served on a granite slab, of pickled eggplant, artichoke, and bites of crisp little spheres with piping hot mushroom and cheese inside.

Eraj called the next course a bit of ‘Manitoba on a plate’ – a fresh take on salad, arranged like a constellation there were heirloom tomatoes, asparagus seared with a blowtorch, puffed grains to add some crunch, and addictive little dots of goat cheese mousse. Before eating it, it was bathed in a basil cucumber water – it almost turned my salad into a fun little soup!

To get our palates fresh and ready for more tasting, there was something Eraj introduced what he called ‘bubble tea from grown-ups’ – little beads of ‘caviar’ made from cassis with lemon with pinot grigio poured over it and

A much more solid and traditional entree – ribeye so tender I didn’t need a steak knife for it, with a sweet lavender honey sauce, smoked butter and truffle oil with mixed veggies and potatoes.

When dessert came out, he asked us to listen to it – as weird as it felt, we put our ears up to our dishes and heard the snap and crackle of maybe the last thing I expected to find at the Velvet Glove – pop rocks! They were crushed and sprinkled over a dish that was a play on peanut butter and jelly – a flourless chocolate brownie with peanut butter sauce, blueberry confit and drunken cherries. It was so rich I almost had trouble finishing it – but somehow managed to make it through. The things I do for material. 🙂

There are a lot of new things planned for the restaurant – when he sat down with us after the meal, you could tell Eraj was excited about the possibilities – he was already talking pop-up dining, reinventing old favourite for the menu, starting a fantastic brunch, and maybe even changing the name!

 

I can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

 

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