Years ago I lived in the South End of the city, and took the bus to work everyday in East Kildonan. Depending which bus I caught downtown, I would either travel over the Disraeli bridge, or take North Main and cross the river via the Redwood Bridge. One of the landmarks on the North Main root was California Fruits, at the corner of Main and Euclid. It was a rather dismal place to pass. Working in a grocery store as I did, what I saw advertised and through the window of the bus as I went by gave me no reason to want to stop or shop there.
Well that has certainly changed. In the last two years, Neechi Commons, a North End food co-op that has been in operation for over 20 years, has taken over and transformed the old California Fruits building. On the main floor there is a spacious, bakery, fruit market and grocery store, and on the second floor there is Neechi Niche, a store focusing on artwork and other creative products, and the Come ‘N Eat restaurant. Neechi Commons is hoping to be part of redevelopment in the North End, particularly among the aboriginal residents who make up a large part of the community. You can read more about that on their website.
The other parts of the commons are worth checking out, but I’m going to focus on Come ‘N Eat. The restaurant is spacious and airy with a whole wall of windows overlooking Main Street. These wall also bring in lots of natural light. The tables and chairs give the feeling that you might actually be sitting in a small town diner, rather than just outside the downtown of a large city. The menu is placed on a series of large chalkboard that hang above the kitchen and ordering area.
Eating at Neechi Come ‘N Eat (Tansi)
The first time I was there I tried the Reuben Omelette, which as the name suggests contains corned beef and sauerkraut. The corned beef was nice and lean and the sauerkraut fairly mild. It came with boiled potatoes, nicely cooked with skin on, two biscotti shaped pieces of bannock and a fruit cup. The portion size was substantial, and the price reasonable. I also went and tried their hamburger. Well-cooked, moist along with two thick slices of tomato and some lettuces. I had poutine on the side, which I wouldn’t call great, but which was still quite good. I also had a can of grape pop, something that enhanced the small town diner feel.
The service is friendly and prompt. The cutlery is placed on a table opposite the till, so you need to remember to pick it up as you proceed to the table to await your order. Also, there is art on display on the restaurant walls, which you may wish to browse either before or after your meal. Currently there is an exhibition featuring the art work of Jackie Traverse.
The food services manager at Neechi Commons is Talia Syrie of The Tallest Poppy fame. Like the Tallest Poppy, Come ‘N Eat is offering a Sunday Brunch. As the sign below says, it’s all you can eat for $12.95, and that’s not only a good price, but great food a good price.