Neighbourhood: St. Boniface
Address: 166 Provencher Blvd.
Garages and good food are not two things that you would normally hear in the same sentence, unless, of course, you’re talking about the cozy French eatery, Le Garage. Nestled in the heart of Winnipeg’s French Quarter, Le Garage is named after the fact that the restaurant was built by renovating a former bus garage.
Originally bought as a coffee shop in 2007 and re-modeled into its current state in 2008, the restaurant has developed a reputation in both culinary and musical circles in the city. Owner Ray Beaudry is a music fan at heart and it’s evident by the overall feel of the restaurant. The walls are decorated with large paintings of album covers by local artist Larry Rich, featuring the likes of Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson and Neil Young. Not only that, some staff could make an all-star Winnipeg band themselves, with members from local indie groups Inward Eye and Doc Walker serving and cooking meals.
The stage at the back is always sitting ready for anyone to jump up and jam. Each night sees different musicians up there, playing all the best rock, blues and jazz the city has to offer.
Meanwhile, the menu offers an eclectic and tantalizing mix of southern-inspired cooking, French-Canadian favourites and smaller plates for nibbling. The appetizers offer something for any palate. Puffy salmon croquettes are a light beginning to any meal. The lightly breaded spherical duo gently falls open with tender flakes of salmon and fluffy potato. Creamy red pepper aïoli is the perfect accompaniment for the dish, with it’s light texture and flavour.
Even if you have not been to Le Garage, you may have heard of its famous “Best Ever” poutine. This French-Canadian classic is given the royal treatment with slender homemade fries, rich gravy and a generous portion of gooey cheese curds topped with a sprinkling of green onion curls.
The menu’s dinner entrées give diners a choice of everything from sandwiches to meaty plates to uniquely detailed creations. The large half portion of jerk chicken is brimming with a variety of different textures and flavours. The chicken’s spicy bite is calmed by crisp lettuce and cucumber, which mingles amongst grainy couscous and satisfying cheese.
Vegetarians will swoon over the Mediterranean toss with its long strands of mafalda noodles, chunks of creamy feta and piles of salty olives, peppers and artichoke hearts. The bounty of flavour amongst the ingredients comes through without any need for additional seasoning.
For those craving more heat, flavours from the fire cracker shrimp and scallops explode on the tongue. Plump, tender shrimp and scallops are coated in a balanced sweet and spicy sauce atop a wild rice and fresh mixed vegetables medley. All desserts are house-made and change daily. Mile-high tortes, creamy strawberry tartlettes and crème brûlée are just some of the items that were available on our visit. The shortbread crust and heavenly pastry crème filling of the strawberry tartlette was a delightful ending to our meal.