The Black Bird Brasserie
Neighbourhood: St. Boniface
Address: 101-300 Tache Ave
Like pubs, tasques, or biergartens, the brasseries of France are informal restaurants that draw locals in with simple, hearty food. An ocean away, in our prairie province, the newly opened The Black Bird Brasserie is doing a first-rate job at living up to its name.
Flavour-packed French comfort food is cooked up in the kitchen headed by chef Norm Pastorin, part of the team behind The Grove and The Cornerstone, popular pared-down spots for mouthwatering meals. He believes food is a conduit for community, and Black Bird is quickly becoming a neighbourhood favourite as well. Delectable dishes are so well executed and seemingly effortless that one might guess it has been turning out top-notch food for decades, rather than mere months.
Large windows provide a sunny look out onto Tache avenue at lunch, and reflect the restaurant’s smoky-blue walls in the evening. The décor is simple; the food being prepared in the open kitchen speaks for itself.
Begin a culinary adventure with olives escabeche. The marinated green olives are garlicky with a hint of chili sauce, topped with carrots, peppers, and a sprinkling of sesame seeds, served with slices of buttery grilled baguette. Poutine Monsieur marries French cuisine with a Quebecois favourite. Fine-cut fries layered with smoked ham, cheese curds are lavishly covered in buttery béchamel. Bits of cornichon punctuate with a hit of sour.
The delectable chicken confit sets a new flavour bar on how a chicken dinner should taste. A succulent chicken leg sits atop buttery mashed potatoes, sweet French green beans, and large pieces of pancetta, all surrounded by a pool of intensely flavoured mustard infused jus.
Succulent steak and crispy frites are a brasserie classic. Create the perfect bite; soak up the Madeira sauce with a piece of juicy flat iron steak, add slices of sautéed mushroom and braised shallot, and enjoy. French fries and a bowl of dressed greens accompany the meal.
Pickerel à la meunière presents a favourite Manitoba fish, Frenchified. The lightly breaded filet sits on a mound of plump Israeli couscous covered in a tangy lemon caper butter sauce topped with radish and chives for a pop of colour. Fried capers sprinkled on top add crunch.
Don’t overlook Black Bird’s bourguignon, a long-simmered version that would have made Julia Child swoon with delight. Tender braised brisket, pearl onions, carrots, potatoes, mushrooms and pancetta are covered in a silky, thick Burgundy wine sauce ready to be sopped up with a grilled baguette. After dinner, step through into the connected Canteen Coffee Shop, owned by Black Bird, for a steaming cup of joe. Leaving a meal feeling warm and satisfied is surely what the brasserie is all about.