Neighbourhood: North Kildonan
Address: 9 – 925 Headmaster Row
Entrees: $18 – $46
The flavours of Rae’s Bistro are eclectic and exciting. The location? A bit more unassuming. At the end of a suburban commercial strip mall neighbouring an animal hospital, medical centre and butcher shop, you’ll find grilled pineapple sweetening a new school wedge salad, lamb shank so beautifully braised it breaks free from the bone before a fork meets it and beet and goat cheese infused risotto equally vibrant to the salmon it accompanies.
With a shift in demographics and tastes, locally owned places are finding a home in Winnipeg’s suburban extremities and their ambitious cuisine is less unexpected than some may think. Millennials, the new generation driving growth, have increased the urban feel to many suburbs, a change manifested in independent restaurants.
This Kildonan hub offers something modern by elegantly straddling the line between pub and fine dining. Warm lighting and well-spaced tables allow for easy conversation between friends or family in an upbeat setting. A long bar top seated with guests watching the game hints at the welcoming vibe. The expansive menu confirms its aim to accommodate.
Appies deliver bold and rich flavours right from the get-go. Served atop crisp wonton crisps, sushi grade tuna is juxtaposed against sharp notes of thin rings of fresh jalapeno. A generous drizzle of chipotle mayo and a dollop of accompanying mango salsa round out these elevated nachos. Haute ahi appears in a poke bowl and is sandwiched in a casual burger too.
House made ingredients are key to upholding classic recipes. Sauces, dressings, breads and desserts are all made from scratch and attention to the details really shine. A burst of citrus enlivens a poppyseed dressing on a butter leaf wedge salad, playfully updated with grilled pineapple, blueberries, pomegranate and pumpkin seeds. Sweet apple and sundried cranberries get a jolt from red onion in an enticing mixture of greens glazed in a blood orange balsamic and honey rosemary vinaigrette.
Eye pleasing food bowls embrace ingredients that display pretty colours. Seafood linguine hits the mark for comfort seekers. Dressing that linguine, a rose sauce pops with plump white prawns, scallops and mussels fortified with roasted red peppers, spinach and red onions.
Shrimp pesto pizza, true to its namesake layers peppery arugula pesto with sweet white prawns, spinach, red onion, roasted red pepper. A lovely doughy crust and gooey cheese blend stands up to the best pizza places around.
A meal can be enjoyed without ordering an entrée, but to forego New Zealand lamb shank perched on a pool of piquant tangy harissa, sprinkled with toasted almonds would be to miss one of the best we’ve tried. Luscious mushroom risotto rounds out the earthy bites with its decadent creaminess.
Finish the evening with a divine piece of pumpkin chai cheesecake and be happy for new suburban restaurants with pros at the wheel.
Rae’s Bistro is open Sun-Tues,11:30 am-10pm, Wed,Thur 11:30am-11pm, Fri,Sat 11:30 am-12 am.