Dinner at Raw:Almond

As you can see from the first sentence, I hoped to put this up earlier than I did.

I wrote yesterday.about my brunch at the Raw:Almond pop-up restaurant, situated on the river ice, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers.  This little venture, the brain child of Mandel Hitzer, owner of the Deer & Almond restaurant and Joe Kalturnyk of Raw Gallery, has Winnipeggers talking (with their mouths full of great food if they’ve had a chance to eat at this little restaurant),

Some of the conversation has been around things such as the architecture and stability of the place, (I’ve been there twice and it was perfectly stable).  Others have of course, talked about the $85.00 dollar ticket price.  Yes, you are paying in part for experience of dining in a novel setting.  Yet, the dinner was a full meal, and while it may have left you wanting more, that was a result of the quality of the food, rather than a shortage of it.

When I signed up I was asked if I wanted any particular night, but I said that I would take any night.  While I didn’t know who all the chefs were, I had tried food from several of the restaurants listed, so expected a good food experience no matter who was cooking.  As the scheduling turned out, Ben Kramer from Diversity Food Services was cooking alongside Chef Hitzer.  This was quite pleasing as I had thoroughly enjoyed the food Chef Kramer had prepared for a friend’s wedding reception.

The dinner was a five course meal.  The 1st was a Chicken Noodle Soup.  The twist on this classic dish was that the chicken itself had been reworked and turned into the noodles.  This was not just a case of the chefs wanting to play with their food, it fit in with the gluten free quality of the whole meal.  There was no need to worry about this meal adding to one’s Wheat Belly.  Better yet, due to the great flavours, the gluten was in no way missed.

There was nothing in the way of a traditional salad course with the meal as the next three course were a mix of either meat and vegetable or fish and vegetable.  If there was one word that I would use to describe these three course and how will they fitted together, it would be tender.  First off, the bison short rib was falling off the bone and flaked apart without ever being stringy.  It was served on a bed of parsnips with bits of carrot, and brussell leaves.  I’m not one who likes parsnips, but I could eat them on a daily basis if they were this well prepared.

Next came trout that was prepared to ways.  One was in paper thin, melt in your mouth fillets, and the other was in a tartare.  There were pomegranate seeds on the side which gave a nice tart counterpoint to the mild trout fillets.  The dish also included some homemade vegetable chips which added crispness to the course.

The main course for the meal was duck confit.  Served with garlic mash, (the one somewhat less than stellar part of the meal, at least as far as my portion was concerned, as I didn’t really notice any garlic).  Then there was shiitake and kimchi on the side as well.

Finally, for dessert there was an Icewich,  Designed to look like an ice cream sandwich, but instead containing goat cheese and white chocolate parfait.  This made a pleasant and sweet, but not overly sweet ending to the meal.

Finally, much like the brunch, the dinner was a come and take a seat at the table.  I’m not sure that I’m going to have remembered their names five days later, but I ended up sitting with a group of three accountants named, Ken, Tara, and Janelle. Despite having only met at the start of the evening.  The conversation and the shared experience of a great meal made the meal, if not their names, all that more memorable.  One of the things that helped to add to the memorable character, was that the quality of this meal brought to mind other meals at other restaurants, making little connections between us that hadn’t been there at the start of the evening.  All in all, my dinner at Raw:Almond was everything I had hoped it would be and more.



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