Blaze Bistro & Lounge
Address: 350 St Mary Ave
More than a decade ago, Blaze Bistro opened its doors on the forefront of Winnipeg’s push for regional cuisine. With a recent facelift and some menu tweaks, this chic restaurant is still roaring strong, with contemporary applications of local product.
Housed in the downtown Delta Hotel, Blaze balances the cater-to-everyone spirit of hotel dining with a love for local flavour. Beets, wild rice, pickerel, elk and bison can all be spied on a menu of fun and filling classics.
The space is as comforting as the food. A brief closure to refresh the decor has yielded an open restaurant and lounge replete with invitingly cushy seats and warm autumnal colours. Oil paintings of prairie sunsets on the walls and a Tyndall-stone fireplace remain from the restaurant’s previous iteration, a nod to the space’s local leanings. The cozy room lulls visitors into the feeling of dining in a living room – albeit a living room with excellent table service. Shareable apps along with meat and cheese boards (like a classy take on the typical social spread) are perfect for nibbling in the lounge.
Entrées meld fine dining finesse with home-cooking comfort, like traditional but impeccable beef bourguignon, rich with red wine. Local brew Fort Garry Dark Ale adds a malty, deep note to chicken, cooked until fragrant and served with a piped rosette of smooth, garlicky mashed potatoes. Perky Saskatoon berries step outside the pie crust, instead topping a flaky pink cut of Arctic Char to bring out the fish’s natural sweetness. A swirl of sautéed peppers and a mound of buttery pearl barley accompany the dish.
Midday visits are rewarded as well, with a menu of filling and flavourful sandwiches. The double decker Voyageur club enlivens chicken and thick back bacon with zing from horseradish mayo and a sweet smear of tomato jam. Exceptional burgers are an antidote to fast food cravings. Thick, charred patties of ground chuck would be excellent unadorned, but are even better atop a sweet, slow burning jalapeño relish. A crisp edged potato bun flecked with scallion completes this crowd pleaser.
Long, loungy meals beg an excuse to stave off leaving. Individually sized apple pie fills this need nicely, tart apples liberally accented with cinnamon and topped with a plate-dwarfing scoop of ice cream to end the meal the way it began: with indulgence in simple, unfussy pleasure.