While downtown Winnipeg is changing and there are many new buildings and new restaurants popping up, it’s still a bit of a desert around lunch time on Saturday’s. Hopefully when the new True North Square and other projects get completed enough people will be down early on the weekends to get more places open for lunch.
Carbone Cafe Club Hours
Monday – Thursday | 11am – 10pm
Friday | 11am – 12am
Saturday | 10am – 12am
Sunday | 10am – 10pm
However, it’s not all bad. First of all, it made me do a little more walking, and given the amount of food I consume as part of writing this blog, the extra exercise is never a bad thing. Second, it took me back to Carbone Coal Fired Pizza on St. Mary Avenue. Since I made these visits, they’ve changed the name of the downtown location to Carbone Cafe Club. It’s the same place, in the same location, but with a different name.
The downtown location is one of four Carbone locations throughout the south end of the city. There is one in Charleswood, one on South Osborne, and one on Taylor Avenue, not far from Kenaston Boulevard. There is a location in Brandon, and three more in Winnipeg that will be open in the near future. Carbone is another local chain success story in the making.
My first experience of Carbone was about 10 months ago, when I visited as part of the Downtown Biz 2017 Patio tour. On that tour we had the opportunity to taste the White and the Tyrol pizzas. Both were excellent. This time around I would try some of the other dishes they offered.
Carbone Soup and Salad
Carbone opens at 1:00 pm on Saturday, and it was an hour or so after that when I wandered in. There is a dining and a bar area in the restaurant. There is also, of course, a patio for when the weather is warmer, and it’s a great space which gets lots of sun. The dining room has regular tables while the bar area tables tend to be taller. There weren’t many people in the restaurant when I showed up and I was shown to a table in the dining area.
I decided that I would go with something lighter for my lunch. The soup of the day along with a salad seem to make for a good choice.
The soup, pictured above, was butternut squash, and if my memory serves correct, carrot. I wasn’t listening all that closely when it was described to me. It was described as spicy, and it lived up to that. Not spicy in the heat sense, but containing a good blend of spices that gave the soup a peppery taste, to go along with a rich consistency that gave a nice feeling of warmth as I ate it.
For the salad I went with the Rucula salad. This features arugula which like the soup, has a peppery flavour to it. In this case though, the peppery quality is set off by the citrus in the vinaigrette. The crunch of the onions, and the squish of the tomatoes make this a salad where every mouthful is enjoyable in a slightly different way from the previous mouthful.
It turned out that I was hungrier than I thought and so I decided to add dessert to my meal. My choice was the crispy crumble which featured blueberries (my fave) and a cinnamon crumble. This is one of favourite desserts in quite a while. The blueberries still had give when I bit into them, the cinnamon really shone through in the crumble, and it wasn’t overy sweet. For a beverage I simply added coffee.
All three of my visits have been lunchtime visits, so the one thing they’ve had in common is that I haven’t been there when it’s busy. So, I can’t tell you what the service be like at at a busy time. However, all three times that I went the service was good and attentive.
This time I ended up in the bar area at one of the taller tables. Although the seating is all right, I must say that I prefer the lower tables. However, that’s a just me kind of thing. On this occasion, I went with the lunch size portion of the Tyrol pizza I had tried on the Patio tour. My server said that I might find this a little small, but I was only looking for a light bite so that was OK.
However, when I received the pizza I found that given that there was plenty of the toppings on the pizza that it was in fact fairly filling. This time I added a San Pellegrino Aranciata, not pictured, for my beverage.
Giving the Pasta a Go
On my third visit, I was again shown into the dining area. I was given a seat at one of the wall tables, where I could easily look up and following the curling match on the TV screen (Sweden-Russia, women’s semifinal). Watching curling is a real Canadian pastime. Particularly on the prairies.
Having tried the soup, salad, and pizza, I figured that this time around I would give the pasta a try. I ordered the Classic Pesto, and added the 100% Free Range Chicken. I have to admit I forgot to photograph this dish,(sometimes I just start eating right away). I was a little surprised when I first saw the dish, because it looked like the sauce might be thick and gummy.
Instead, I found the pesto sauce to be light and fresh tasting. As well, the roasted tomatoes that were served with the dish added a bright acidic counterpoint to the flavour of the dish.
The one thing I didn’t like about the dish was the chicken. At first it looked like that there were only two or three small pieces. I called my server over and asked about this and was assured there was more mixed in. It turned out there was more, but most of it was shredded and ripped apart, so there wasn’t as much sense of eating pieces of chicken. However, the flavour on this dish was still very good.
For a beverage I went with the Peroni. Peroni is a lager from Italy. It has a mild flavour that while not unpleasant, wasn’t very interesting. However, it is a light choice that goes well with the bold flavours of the classic pesto pasta.
Again, service was good. There was no such of being rushed, which was nice, because my meal was finished and there was still some of the exciting six end of the match to see(Sweden stole 2 on the way to winning).
I’m looking forward to more places being open for Saturday lunch in the downtown, but I will definitely be visiting Carbone again at some time.