Visit to Winnipeg
While we prefer to stay in sunny Vancouver during the summer months 2010 was a year for our bi-annual summer visit to Winnipeg.  We spent 4 days in the city and 4 days at Betula Lake in the Whiteshell Provincial Park each with a set of relatives.  While in the city we had the opportunity to try a few new restaurants and visit others for the second time.

Located at 529 Wellington Crescent, 529 Wellington is known as Winnipeg’s finest Steakhouse.  The Manor House in which it is located was constructed in 1912 and became a Shriner’s house in the 1950’s.  For the last 9 years the grand staircase and polished woodwork have set the stage for some very fine dining.  The house retains its layout with dining areas being located on both sides of the grand staircase and on two floors.  With one room dedicated to the bar and small lounge area the rest hold 6 to 8 tables each.  A main floor terrace also provides semi-outdoor seating for a larger group of 12 -14 or a few small ones. We opted for an inside table for our party of 5 and sat in what was likely the parlor with a large window onto the expansive yard.

To Start
We had two waiters for the evening.  The first seemed a bit distracted to start but once things got rolling the second waiter jumped in and the service ended up being very good.  However what is really important here is the food.  The dinner menu was not overly large but featured a good selection of appetizers, salads and entrees.  The daily specials (two appetizers, one salad, one soup and three mains) all sounded delicious and made up a good portion of our order.  To start we had to try the Garlic Cheese Bread to see how it measured up to our favorite Hy’s.  While not quite as ‘gooey’ it did have a good mixture of flavorful cheeses toasted to bubbling.  We also had the Liver Pate with Toast Points.  The portion was large and we had to ask for extra toast points to ensure none of the pate got left behind.  The flavor was great (even for Tara to like it).  Jeff ordered the Lobster Bisque which had a generous amount of meat and the rest of us shared two Tomato Caprese salads.  The salads were served warm with the cheese slightly melted which is different than we have had before with fresh basil and vinaigrette.

The wine list was huge with a capital H and divided by Old and New world options.  Since we like to stick to Canadian wines Jeff ordered the Inniskillin Dark Horse Meritage which we have had before and was a hit with the rest of the table (and a second bottle was needed).  Our waiter brought out the tray of meat for ‘show and tell’ to explain each cut.  We have seen this a few times before but it was a nice touch to actually see each portion size that was available for each type of meat.  In the end the three ladies decided to share two seafood dinners (one of the daily specials) and the two guys each chose a different steak.  The Seafood Dinner consisted of a 3oz Scallop, a 6oz Lobster tail and a 6oz prawn.  With 15 oz of seafood for one platter it was a good thing that we split two orders three ways.  The prawn was the largest any of us had ever seen and flown in from Vietnam.  While not the most environmentally friendly fish choice it was absolutely delicious; tender, juicy and cooked to perfection.  The Atlantic Lobster Tail was also very good.  The scallops were our least favorite of the three as the bacon was very close to raw and the scallop a bit undercooked.  The NY Steak and the Beef Tenderloin were cut from the best available beef in Canada – Canadian Prime which represents only ½ of 1% off all beef produced in Canada.  A side of Cognac Peppercorn Cream Sauce and a side of Marrow Sauce to share made a great steak even better.  As the menu is served al a carte we chose Sugar Snap Peas in sesame oil and ginger, Au Gratin Potatoes baked in a Gruyere cheese cream sauce and the Chef’s Potatoes which were diced Pontalba potatoes with garlic, caramelized onions and mushrooms.  Yum to all three!

With no room for desert we chose the liquid variety of which there were many options.  This was definitely the best meal we have had in Winnipeg and while pricey by Winnipeg standards (Thanks Mom) it would easily compete with the fine dining restaurants in Vancouver at a slightly better price.  Open for lunch during the week the Rib eye Steak Sandwich or the House Pickled Corned Beef might be on our wish list for our next trip.

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