Neighbourhood: Oakbank, MB
Address: 67086 Heatherdale Rd 25E
To pull off truly impeccable regional cuisine, two elements must be at play—a commitment to and understanding of the land and the creativity to transform every ingredient into a culinary masterpiece. At Pineridge Hollow, where ingredients can come not only from within the province but from the garden mere steps away (eat your heart out, 100 mile diet), the merging of these two passions is evident.
Executive chef Matty Neufeld, who joined the team this year, displays a passion for local cuisine. Regional specialties are crafted with Manitoba ingredients from Wild Earth Farms and in season vegetables fresh from the garden, from edible flowers and herbs to a bounty of cucumbers, tomatoes, berries, fennel, apples, and potatoes in the summer months.
The setting is a picture perfect retreat inside an elegant carriage house. The prime seats are in the sunroom, decked out in whitewashed board, rustic tableware (yes, those salt and pepper shakers are mason jars), and strings of fairy lights. Attentive servers glide across the length of the room, delivering pitchers of fruit infused water to tables.
In recent years, chefs been inspired by the foods that have been eaten here for centuries, creating new twists on heritage flavour. Unique preparations of ever more popular regional ingredients set the cooking at this idyllic spot apart. While you’d be hard pressed to find a restaurant these days that doesn’t have a beet salad on the menu, here the earthy vegetable is served as crispy chips, presented bountifully on a wooden board alongside a creamy and tangy goat cheese dip. Beets’ sweet, earthy flavour (and vibrant colour) also perks up the risotto that accompanies an entree of steelhead trout, which flakes into rosy petals at the touch of a fork.
Perogies are a long time staple for Winnipeggers, and the addition of a rich wild mushroom filling and a creamy dill-laced sauce is welcomed by even the most ardent perogy purist. The dumplings are plated in a row, each set atop a crunchy cucumber coin.
These staples of Manitoba eating are joined by more cutting edge additions as well. Organic camelina oil, originating in province, is used for cooking and dressing salads. Like flax, a hearty seed that can withstand, even thrive, in the prairie climate, camelina is cold pressed into a wonder oil that is dazzling health nuts with its high smoke point (meaning it can be used for cooking without breaking down its nutritional value) and abundance of omega-3 and vitamin E. Of course, these health facts are secondary when scarfing down a juicy, sous vide chicken dressed in the oil—sopping up every bit of the accompanying golden lemon honey butter sauce is much more pressing.
Gorgeous desserts are a good way to stave off leaving the peaceful atmosphere of the sun-dappled porch. Attention to every detail leads to incorporating Manitoba honey into a cheesecake and making silky lemon curd, draped over a frozen stack of meringue, in house. There are other ways to stretch out a stay, too, by perusing shelves of cute gifts at the attached boutique and expansive furniture store, or feeding the goats outside.