Grey Cup Eats in Winnipeg

By Tracy Hyatt

Edmonton. Toronto. Saskatoon. Vancouver (twice). I’ve been to five Grey Cups in five years and in all that time, I’ve only attended one Grey Cup game. That’s because for thousands of Canadians, like me, when you say you’re going to “Grey Cup” it doesn’t mean you’re going to the final game where the best western and eastern CFL team battle it out for Early Grey’s silver trophy. What they mean by “Grey Cup” is that they’re going to travel halfway across the country for five-day celebration of all things CFL.

Although Grey Cup activities can keep your daily scheduled fully occupied (more on that in my next post), I always make sure that I spend a few hours each day discovering the host city. This year, Winnipeg is throwing the Grey Cup party and I’m looking forward to visiting a few restaurants.

Every fall, Air Canada En Route magazine releases its annual Best New Restaurants in Canada list. Over the years, the lists have become my go-to restaurant guide when I’m visiting any major Canadian city. I trust it more than any Yelp review or Google review. This year, Winnipeg’s Enoteco restaurant landed ninth on the list. To the best of my knowledge, Enoteco is the first Winnipeg restaurants to appear on the list. The magazine describes the cuisine as “Almost-French, Almost-Spanish” which suits my palette fine. Enoteco is on the fancy-schmancy side so don’t go there if you’re the less adventurous, meat-and-potatoes kind of eater.

For more a more mainstream menu, dine at the official Grey Cup Festival restaurants. When you land in Winnipeg, grab a passport at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport and get it stamped every time you eat at an official restaurant for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to next year’s Grey Cup Festival in Toronto.

Another great dining spot on my radar is Deer + Almond located in the Exchange District. One of the things I love about restaurants in Saskatchewan and Manitoba is that they serve freshwater fish. In fact, Manitoba’s commercial fishing industry brings in about $30 million annually. Walleye accounts for more than 72% of the haul and the remaining species are Sauger, Lake Whitefish, Northern Pike, Goldeye and Lake Trout. To my delight, Deer + Almond’s dinner menu has a smoked goldeye and gnocci dish served with a creamy clam broth with dill, fennel, lemon curd and Manitoba white fish caviar. If you’re more of a red meat carnivore, you might be tempted by the beef tartare.

The People of Winnipeg might be mad at me for writing about Sous Sol. It’s one of those places that you hope is successful, but you wrestle to keep the secret close to your chest from the masses. The name Sous Sol is French for basement, and that’s your first indication that you’ll be heading below the ground. The menu is French obviously, and from what I can glean from Facebook photos, expect duck breasts, rabbit crepes, tartare and baked fish. Peg City Grub wrote a convincing review of Sous Sol that should leave you decided. The only sad note is that Sous Sol is open Friday through to Sunday. Bon appétit.

There isn’t a more fitting breakfast dish in Winnipeg for Grey Cuppers than the Breakfast of Champions at The Tallest Poppy — two pieces of cold pizza, a caesar (the drink, not the salad) and two Advil. It’s the perfect antidote to a night of drunken revelry at the Spirit of Edmonton party. The rest of the menu is the usual bacon, eggs, hashbrowns and toast plates. I’m thinking I may make this my daily morning stop because I want to try the Breakfast of Champions for the novelty, but I also want to sample the fried chicken and waffles.

For those who think that a good deli east of Montreal doesn’t exists, check out Sherbrook Street Delicatessen. I’m quite excited to try the smoked meat sandwich, matzah ball soup and pickles. I’ll be sure to let you know how things turn out in Winnipeg.