There is something extremely enticing about the notion of “wild and free!” As a guest, the very thought of being part of an atmosphere where you wait in anticipation, is a rather exciting one. And to be pleasantly surprised by the unexpected is even better. And this is exactly how my friend and I felt as we stepped foot into the freshly opened restaurant doors of Manitoba.
Manitoba is all about “wild.” The restaurant focusses on simple plating and unusually natural and nature-inspired ingredients. The intention: to highlight the importance and true beauty of our environment. Once a dream and now a reality for co-owner, Elisabeth Cardin, she is beyond exited to see her dream come to fruition. Cardin, and business partner Simon Cantin, have created a space where nature meets fine dining. Earthy tones accentuated through wood, concrete and bare metal elements. The greens, greys and browns are relaxing and inviting. I admire the restaurant’s simplicity. And the inviting aromas of quality, well cooked produce is nearly impossible to refuse.
The evening was an incredible experience. My friend and I were warmly greeted and showed to our table. Manitoba offers a range of organic and bio-dynamic red and white wines, house beer and a wonderful cocktail list. We each enjoyed a glass of rich and full bodied white. It was a lovely start to the evening.
The food was, of course, incredibly interesting. A menu boasting seven savoury and two dessert options for the evening, Manitoba is far from having a set menu. Sourcing wild and fresh ingredients, the menu is expected to change weekly, sometime daily, depending on the ingredients available. I think this is a wonderful concept. The dining style is similar to that of tapas. Small plates encouraging people to share. Cardin aims to create a space where people can share wonderfully organic food, drinks and company.
We chose three savoury plates. Each was beautifully presented and each was as interesting as the other. My favourite, by far, was the “gésiers canard confit, lichen frit et bluets savage ($13).” Confit duck stomach served with a wild blueberry compote and gin soaked and fried lichen with a touch of leafy green to garnish. The smear of purple berries with the vibrant green and otherwise earthy tones created an elegant dish. We also enjoyed the “grilled veal tongue, arctic char gravlax served with a mustard sauce” ($14) and the “sagamité croquette served with creme fraiche, spiced pear puree and marinated beets” ($13).
For dessert, we decided it was best to try both specials for the evening. The five-spice tartlet served with coffee poached pears, rosemary whipped cream and a tiny side of blueberries ($8) was delicious and simple. Quite possibly too simple. However the second dessert was certainly the winner for the evening. A butter, caramel and white pine crumpled oat cake, baked with a plum compote and served hot with a drizzle of caramel. The sweetness and tartness of the plums were a deliciously balanced combination. A wonderfully sweet ending to the meal.
As our evening came to a close, and while my friend and I absorbed the wonderful food, company and atmosphere of Manitoba, it was clear that this evening was another incredible food experience here in Montreal. For owners Cardin and Cantin, Manitoba is certainly a restaurant to be proud of.
Manitoba is open Monday and Tuesday 10am – 4pm, Wednesday to Friday 10am – 12am and Saturdays 4pm – 12am. 271 St-Zotique West.