There’s a lot of buzz around the coffee scene in Winnipeg, and it’s not all caused by excess caffeine. Thom Bargen is soon to be part of a new space on Graham Avenue. Twist Cafe has new owners, and Nils Vik of Parlour and his partners are working with Dogwood Coffee to bring small batch roasting to the city. They are sharing space with Forth Coffee, a new coffee house/restaurant in the Exchange. The cafe at Forth is managed by Renee Girard, with the support of Pamela Kirkpatrick as Head Chef.
Forth Coffee is tucked in between Johnny G’s and The Mitchell Block on McDermott Avenue just east of Main Street. As you walk up the stairs you find yourself in a long somewhat narrow space. The decor is done with a lot of blonde wood which gives a bright feel to the room. It also helps with sound absorption. This means conversations don’t bounce so much, keeping it fairly quiet even when busy.
The room is divided up with a small cozy dining area at the front, and a more spacious area at the back, with the counter/kitchen area separating them. In addition to being bigger, the back area also hosts a variety of seating arrangements designed for comfort to match a variety of moods and configurations.
The back portion also contains the roasting area. On my first visit the roaster was in operation. The main surprise with this was that there was no odour. I like the smell of coffee, but roasting coffee can be quite noxious and overpowering. Forth Coffee has done a good job of eliminating this.
Forth Coffee for Breakfast or Lunch
Forth Coffee is taking a menu approach similar to that of Fools and Horses, but offers a bit more on the meal end of things. My first visit was fairly early in the morning and so I decided to go for a couple of breakfast type items. I ordered an Americano, my go to coffee beverage, along with toast and jam, and a seared grapefruit with mint. I enjoyed the Americano, but it was the grapefruit that really popped for me. The searing brings out the grapefruit’s sweetness while still allowing it’s natural sour qualities to show through. At the same time the mint gives it a real clean flavour. The jam they served with the toast was Saskatoon Berry, and was good and thick without any liquid flowing off the toast.
After I had eaten I switched up and had a Noisette to finish. Noisette, often goes by the name Gibraltar. I prefer the term Noisette, as it is French for Hazelnut, and you can taste a slight Hazelnut finish to the drink.
Forth Coffee has hired Pamela Kirpatrick, former owner of Cake-ology as executive chef. If the what I tried at breakfast and what I’m about to say about lunch are any indication, this was a great hire on their part.
Yesterday I visited for a second time. This time I ordered lunch. I had the Short Rib sandwich, along with the Roasted Parsnip and White Bean soup. Both of these were tremendous. The earthiness of the parsnips and white beans was nicely contrasted by the greens swirled through the soup. I couldn’t quite identify what it was, but it had a brightness that balanced off the earthy qualities.
The Short Rib sandwich was piled high with beef. The beef had a certain sweetness to it, and was very moist and tender. The addition of the Kimchi on top and a nice vinegary contrast to the meat. The Kimchi was also relatively mild, so it would still be enjoyable for anyone who isn’t a fan of spicy food.
For a beverage I ordered tea. My tea of choice was ginger, and it had a real robust ginger flavour to it. The one thing I would hope for in the future, would be that it would come in a pot, allowing me the opportunity to get a refill of hot water on the beverage.
*Forth Coffee also offer beer and wine sales, but I didn’t order any on either visit.
That would be my only quibble with this place. The service is excellent and friendly. Parlour set a high standard for service quality, and Vik and others have maintained that as they have broadened their presence in the marketplace. While I don’t get into the Exchange all that often, Forth Coffee with definitely be receiving future visits from me.