Address: 75 Forks Market Rd.
In recent years, a turn back to traditional craftsmanship, simple preparation of beautiful ingredients, and focus on local fare has swept the culinary world, resulting in an eager wave of chefs ready to cut their teeth on new applications of overlooked ingredients. Smith does just this, with the bearing of culinary mastery. Melding the now burgeoning arena of regional cuisine with a nod back to nostalgia, the restaurant is a well-executed mix of Canadian comforts.
The imagination at the helm, chef Alex Svenne, has smoothly transitioned from neighbourhood bistro (Bistro 7 ¼) to developing food for masses. The vast space inside Inn at the Forks welcomes on-site hotel guests and local culinarians with Canadiana at every turn. Hudson Bay blanket striped banquette seating, tree stump tables set near hunter plaid lounge seats, and deer antler chandeliers transform a corporate hotel into a stylish backwoods cottage.
Hunger pangs at all hours of the day are embraced, as the restaurant welcomes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night clientele. Morning choices provide a reason to rise and shine with hearty farm-style offerings like the red flannel hash, paying a tribute to winter with beets and potatoes, or the hearty cinnamon bun bread pudding.
Hunter farmer dishes of wild game like bison, duck, and Heritage Farms chicken are fine-tuned to celebrate our country’s bounty. House preserved pickles and sauerkraut (with house-made kielbasa) pay tribute to Manitoba’s pioneer spirit and traditional favourites.
This homey attitude makes family-style eating effortless, as most entrees are served on rustic wooden boards. Appetizers to share blend old-school ingredients and preparation with modern favourites and contemporary daring, like chicken livers with chorizo, tomato, and grits. Pounded-to-creamy Bothwell cheddar cheese and smoky garlic chips foster delightfully pungent flavours in a creative take on crackers and cheese.
Entrees served a la carte offer a chance for customization with an option of eight carefully crafted sides. Golden, skin-on fries with an earthy sprinkle of truffle salt, Pecorino, and thyme hit high notes, as do crispy kale chips with bacon and onion. Bison flat iron steak, grilled rare and succulent, is the perfect companion, this pepper-rubbed lean meat is finished with a subtly sweet whiskey glaze.
Snacks and comfort foods are standouts, and a lunch menu packed with all things warm and filling delivers. Well executed chicken pot pie keeps appetites sated for the rest of the day, as does the rich mac & cheese, topped with blue cheese and a crispy bacon crumble. Fried green olives stuffed with sausage are crisp, sour, and spicy, great for a palate-perking nibble to start a meal or pair with a drink.
Commitment to craftsmanship extends to a heady cocktail list packed with wild concoctions flavoured with house-made bitters, syrups, and garnishes. Tap beers are exclusively Canadian, including Manitoba’s big three breweries: Half Pints, Fort Garry, and Farmery.
Decadent chocolate pâté set on a drizzle of caramel is a perfect capper to a hearty, farm-to-table meal, a lingering morsel of nostalgia that tells us what we already know: we’ll be back.