I recently decided to visit the Long Island Cafe on Portage Avenue just across from the University of Winnipeg. It’s been quite a few years since I last visited the cafe. At the time it was largely a coffee and dessert sort of place. Since then it’s become more of a lunch/early supper place with an emphasis on Vietnamese cuisine.
The prices are quite good and there is a good bit of variety on the menu. The cafe does a lot of takeout. As a result a lot of the dishes are pre-made, and the freshness tends to vary. If you are regularly in the neighbourhood it seems like the sort of place where you could find out the best days for certain dishes.
The cafe is an interesting place to walk into. There are coolers and freezers all over the place, It gives the vibe of being coffee shop, restaurant and tuck shop all rolled into one. Despite it’s small size, there are still a good number of seats to choose from.
Long Island Lunch
One of the issues with Long Island cafe is; the owner struggles a bit with English. I went in and ordered the sticky rice with chicken. It was out of stock, so the owner asked if I would take the fried rice. I asked if that was with chicken and she seemed to say yes. I thought the price was a little cheap, but perhaps that was to make up for not having the sticky rice. However it is one of those dishes that sits in the cooler in the counter to be reheated when served.
I ordered a Corned Beef Sub to go along with the rice. Fortunately this made of for rice quite nicely. There was a large portion of meat in the sub and a good mixture of vegetables to go along with it. I’d prefer one of these to a Subway sub any day. The Cafe also offers Bahn Mi (Vietnamese subs).
Pho and Salad Rolls
I went back a few days later. It was a little later in the day, and so the place was fairly empty. This time I decided I would stick with Vietnamese specialties. I ordered the Pho with pork balls and tomato, and the salad rolls with shrimp.
Again, the salad rolls weren’t the freshest, and the shrimp flavour was quite strong. Also, the paper was stretched so thin that they fell apart as I was trying to eat them. On the plus side, they were well filled and there was plenty of crunch to the vegetables. The price is also quite good, as are all the prices at the cafe.
The Pho on the other hand was good through and through. The broth was flavourful, there were several of the pork meatballs, along with a good pile of noodles. I’d recommend this as a must try if you visit the cafe.
One thing I do like about the cafe is that if you want a soda, they offer them in the 710ml bottle for $2.25. Increasingly this is what you’ll pay for a 591ml at the various food outlets downtown.
Despite the language difficulties, the service is friendly, and they do a good job of processing your order. If your budget’s tight, the Long Island Cafe is a pretty good place to get a good, quick meal on the cheap.