Last year on Saint Andrew’s day I celebrated the day and my ordination anniversary with a variety of Scottish food and beverages. This year is a milestone year, as yesterday marked 10 years of ordained ministry.
Given that I thought I try and do something a little special and celebrate the day with some good single malt, among other things. In preparation for the day, I posted in the Manitoba’s Bartenders Guild group on Facebook. This a group that I joined a little while ago to make up for my lack of knowledge of cocktails, etc. They are also the group that sponsored the Bruichladdich Scotch tasting event that I attended earlier this year.
I received several good suggestions, but the most common answer I received was that The Toad in the Hole in Osborne Village was the place that I should go. I took their advice and made my plans, intending to go to the Toad for 6 pm. I also invited any friends who wanted to join me. However. I didn’t bother to check when the Scotch was available and it turns out that the Toad only opens it’s whisky bar at 8 pm on Fridays. I still need to make a visit to Toad in the Hole to see what the list is really like.
Now, I could have waited, but I’ve reached that point in my life that I like to be in bed by a reasonable hour, and if I wanted to enjoy my beverages during an extended evening, I was prepared to start drinking that late(In other words, I’m old and need my sleep).
One of the people who had responded to my request on Facebook, was Stephan Poissan, the manager at the Langside Grocery, a relatively new cocktail bar in the West Broadway neighbourhood of Winnipeg. Given where I was, the Langside Grocery is a fairly quick trip over from The Toad in the Hole.
Langside Grocery derives it’s name from the fact that it’s premises were, in former times, a grocery store. As I arrived I noticed that the building has big windows that are divided into many small panes. I had recently watched The Christmas Carol that Goes Wrong, and have been reading Gyles Brandreth’s, Oscar Wilde Mysteries, and thought the building has a real nice Victorian look to it.
Inside their are two long bars along the streetside windows, with two long banquettes along the interior wall. These banquettes feature a few tables, with some chairs opposite. It makes for a tight and cozy little place.
Langside Grocery opens at 5 pm every night, and when I arrived at 6:30 pm I was the only person in the place. I took a seat at a table at one end of the smaller banquette, and went to take a look at the whisky’s behind the bar. My server came and asked if I would like anything to drink, and brought me their whisky menu when I told him what I was looking for.
They don’t have a large selection of single malts, but I was simply hoping to try a couple that I hadn’t tried before. Looking over the menu I chose the Auchentoshan Three Wood. This is a lowland single malt whisky which derives it’s name from the fact that is aged in three different types of wood casks. This is the scotch pictured at the top of the post.
Langside Grocery is more of a drinks and nibbles place than a restaurant, so there’s a limited menu. However, they do offer a decent charcuterie board, and since I hadn’t had supper that’s what I ordered to go along with my scotch.
While I was enjoying my beverage and waiting for my food, I had a chance to talk with Stephan, the manager, who had responded to my Facebook request. Stephan is a former dancer with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, who, after he retired a couple of years ago took his current position with Langside Grocery. Stephan is a friendly and engaging individual. I’ve run it several ballet people working in the service industry of the years, and have inevitably found them really good people to deal with.
The charcuterie board itself, is quite compact, but the emphasis here is on the delivery food rather than placing it in decorative fashion. There were three different cold cuts, which I liked, and among the other items that were on the board, I really appreciated that there was a good little pile of almonds and not just two or three for decoration.
While I ate my charcuterie, I decided to order a second beverage and this time chose a scotch based cocktail. This one’s called The Penicillin, it’s base is Johnny Walker Red Label, and has a bit of Lagavulin to give it a bit of extra flavour. the picture above doesn’t quite do it justice, as the actual colour is more bright orange, but I was really fighting with the lighting as I took the picture. I found this to be a really tasty cocktail.
As I was enjoying this drink the place was beginning to fill up. Soon, there was a party of four that was seated at the table next to me. They were quite willing to go with that arrangement and the server was quite happy to have me remain where I was, but since the bar by the window was completely empty I decided to move there. Before I left the server recommended to the table The Penicillin Cocktail, a recommendation I heartily endorsed.
After moving I had finished my cocktail and was considering what scotch I would order next. While I was pondering my decision, my server came up with another penicillin cocktail. It was a complementary beverage from the party. It was much appreciated, and I took the opportunity of thanking them before I left.
After finishing my second cocktail, I decided I wanted one more scotch and a little bit of dessert to go with it. For the dessert I chose the Creme Brulee. It was good and smooth and with a sugary top that gave a really good crack when you hit it with the spoon.
My final scotch for the evening was the Oban 14 year old. This scotch seems like a good introduction scotch for people who haven’t drunk scotch before. It doesn’t have much of the fiery character of the more peaty scotchs, but has a really smooth flavour and is easy drinking. A nice way to finish the evening.
I ended up spending the evening on my own, but the staff at Langside Grocery made the whole evening feel very relaxing and comfortable. Langside Grocery is definitely a place I intend visiting again.
On the way home, I stopped in at Safeway and ran in to my friend Merle West. Merle was the parish administrator at Holy Trinity when I was ordained, and her grandson was the first person I baptized, so that encounter was a fitting end to this anniversary evening.