Monday, 18 September 2017

Teo's/Mano a Mano

Drinking my cool drink in a cool
mason jar on a cool patio on a hot
Since the weather quickly went frigid this weekend, I felt I should quickly pump out a couple of my dates that feature a patio in some way before they're completely irrelevant. I've noticed, actually, that quite a few places I've visited in town only really have their patio going for them; I suppose we're willing to suffer mediocre dining if it means we can spend some time outside during our gloriously short patio-season.  

Teo's fits that bill pretty well. Or is it Mano a Mano? I'm still a little confused as to why this bar/restaurant has two names. It seems that the kitchen itself has a specific name? I don't understand; it baffles me and I spent way to much time thinking about this as I sat on their sidewalk patio (with loads of solo seating). Actually, I wish more places in town had patios like this; I've seen a lot more in more pedestrian friendly parts of other cities like Montreal.

Pictured: Summer in a glass AKA
Gadda da Vida
Fortunately for me, Teo's (AKA Mano a Mano) stays open late if there's business to be had; it can be bloody hard to find a place open past nine on a Monday (because Winnipeg is a swinging, party town) and sometimes my date nights to myself start late. Although be aware that once the street lights snap on, it can kind of kill the ambiance. I found that this is another one of those establishments that is really more of a solo drink place than a solo meal place; there's some creative cocktails but the food is pretty ordinary. The sauce and pasta are nothing special and a lot of the fried things I ordered were rather bland. I was a huge fan though of the cauliflower in the Fritto Misto, if the whole dish was like that, we might be ok. The seafood, however, was fairly tasteless and the zucchini could have been 76% crispier. NB: The appetizers here are massive. you will likely only need one. I wanted to sample a couple of things for a more varied review and ended up taking a ton of it home. I wanted to give the antipasto a try, but it wasn't on the late night menu (remember, 9:30 on a Monday is 'late night' in Winnipeg).
Checking out Teo' bar; not to be
confused with the Mano a Mano

There's a chalkboard along the sidewalk that stated there were both food and drink specials available although I never did hear what either of them were and water wasn't provided even though it was crazy hot out at the time. It would have been nice to have had some, but no one else on the patio seemed to have a water glass either, so perhaps pure alcohol is the custom on this one. The server's suggestion for said alcohol, Gadda da Vida, was pretty much summer in a glass and helped cut the heat almost as well as H2O might have. The cocktails here generally did it for me; 2 oz, girly, but not crazy sweet. I get the feeling that this patio might be a better pre/post meal/outing kind of place to hang, especially after having the starchy, tasteless Arancinis which, to their credit were at least satisfyingly hot and crunchy.

I feel if you're not too adventurous palate-wise, this might be the kind of place for you. I found the food boring although it was rather inoffensive and the drinks were just fine. Since Winnipeg nights are going to be cooler and kick in sooner each and every day, you may want to hold off on this one for next summer so that you can enjoy the patio later on a weeknight, if that's your kind of self-date.

Price: $$$
Rating: *

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Peasant Cookery

While the bartender may not know
your name, she is unlikely to look
at you like you're a loser because
you're eating alone in the lounge.
If I'm going to keep going with my Exchange District theme, it would be silly to wait any longer to write about Peasant Cookery. Their patio is a nice alternative to the one at King's head; you can feel a little fancier and you can still see what's going on in Old Market Square, if there's something going on in Old Market Square.

Because of the patio/lounge seating and the small plates, I've come here a few times on my own; the servers always make me feel normal eating en seule and give me excellent service every time. However, I feel that the menu is getting kind of tired. Maybe I'm just there at the wrong times; the menu has got a date on it, so I assume there's some variation, but whenever I go I don't really see new items. The day I went I was dying for a cheese platter for some reason, but I didn't see it on the menu. A friend of mine swears up and down that there's a cheese platter there, but I equally swear I had no idea. Perhaps a cheese selection is posted inside somewhere; serves me right for sitting on the really awesome patio.

I feel there's a joke that I'm 
supposed to make here about the 
Peasant Sodas being, uh, fit for
teetotaling royalty or something, 
but I don't think I can without
sounding like a lame-o.
Even though I did not get the cheese that my heart desired, I was super pleased to see some cool, new sodas for their summer cocktail menu. Since my visit was during Fringe, non-alcoholic options were real nice to have since my liver can only take so much Festival boozing. My placebo cocktail was so well-made that it was virtually indistinguishable from its harder counterparts. This place might be a good option if you want to take yourself to drink fancy things but you can't do alcohol for whatever reason; the virgin drinks don't feel like they're missing anything unlike a lot of other alcohol-free attempts at a cocktail. If you are feeling drinksy, I really recommend Peasant Cookery for wines; all of the wines available by the glass are the same price so you don't have to worry about the server's recommendation being an excuse to tack on a couple extra bucks onto your bill or settle for a chardonnay when you really wanted a sauv blanc because the latter was five bucks more than the former.

Mmmmm... various meat products.
The pickles were all spectacularly
ordinary, but I didn't order this dish
 to get my veggies.
As is my custom, I go with a tartare whenever possible. I'm not a huge fan of their's though; it's dressed in a way that is super acidic. Too much... vinegar? Mustard? I'm not foody enough to know exactly what I do and do not taste, but whatever it is, it really overpowers the meat for me and, hey, if I'm going to eat raw meat, I wanna taste it. If I'm gonna risk the salmonella, I better get to experience the thing that's going to land me in the hospital. Speaking of things that come from animals that I really enjoy but other people find icky: the chicken livers are amazing. If you're the type to give organ meats a try, I feel you will not be disappointed with these. And speaking of things that are likely to give me gout, in lieu of the cheese board that may or may not exist, I went with a charcuterie. The meats were AMAZING and finally let me let go of the weird dairy craving I had. I was especially a fan of the pates/mousses/things that were on my plate that weren't sausages, although the sausagey bits were delicious as well. As I'm writing this, I realize that this is definitely a restaurant for a meatetarian, I feel vegetarians will miss out on the more delightful menu offerings that this place has. While I have enjoyed a salad or two, this one is definitely the place to go for an iron/B12 boost. 

Price: $$$
Rating: **