I’ve been seeing posts on Facebook about Modern Coffee for the last few weeks. The place looked and sounded to be quite an interesting new coffee choice. I don’t get up to the north end of Winnipeg very often, but last Saturday was the installation service for the Right Rev. Geoff Woodcroft, the new bishop of our Diocese of Rupert’s Land.
The installation was held at St. John’s Cathedral, which is located just off of Main Street. The service was in the afternoon. I decided I would build a day of eating around this. I started off with breakfast at the Newcastle Restaurant. Ended off with supper at Binh An, In between I stopped for a beverage and a sweet treat at Modern Coffee.
So, the first thing I noticed is that you need to keep your eyes open as you are traveling down Main Street. The building is on Inkster Boulevard, just across from the No Frills parking lot. The building front is going through some renovations, so look for their sandwich board sign out on the corner.
When you walk in, you walk up a couple of steps into the coffee shop itself. The building is long and narrow, with the counter stretching along the back wall. There are only five dining style tables in the coffee shop, but there are also a couple of coffee tables with chairs beside them and a few stools up at the counter.
The style of decor is thrift-store chic. In many ways it puts me in mind of the Strong Badger. More on that later. When I arrived, shortly after noon on Saturday, the shop was full. However, by the time I placed my order, a family was leaving and I was able to secure one of the chairs by the coffee table.
I was also pleased when I discovered that one of the baristas, Robyn, was someone who had worked at Cocoabeans, which was located just down the street from St. Philip’s, my home parish. This tells me that Modern is hiring good people to work there.
My morning breakfast had included a couple of cups of coffee, so I decided I would start off with a hot chocolate. This is one area where I noticed a similarity to Strong Badger. The prices at Modern are in keeping with the neighbourhood that they are located in. I had a medium hot chocolate that was $3.75.
Having eaten a large breakfast, I figured I would keep my snack to the small size and chose a gingerbread cookie. This was an Incredible Hulk gingerbread, and despite the fact that he was angry, I liked him.
My cookie, along with most of the baked goods featured at Modern Coffee are from Gunn’s Bakery. an iconic north end bakery. The gingerbread was nice and crunchy, with a good, sweet icing.
I was working on my blog during my visit, and had a bit of time to kill before I headed down to the installation. I added a second beverage to my visit. Among their cold beverage offerings Modern offers San Pellegrino sodas, and I had my favourite.
Just Another Modern Monday
Monday is generally my day off, and with Winnipeg covered with a big blanket of snow, I thought it would be a good day to take a leisurely journey up North Main once again. Bus travel wasn’t particularly bad, except where the ploughs had done their worst. While the streets were quite clean, the snow drifts made it really hard for buses to get to the curb to let people off.
Again, when I got there, the tables were all full. If my first two visits are any indication, business is going to be good for this place. I found a spot in the same corner that I had used on my previous visit. This time on the coffee table I noticed there was an open box of art pencils, crayons, finger paints, etc.
Modern isn’t child friendly in quite the same way that Scout is, but children are clearly welcome. In addition to all the vintage art work, and coffee paraphernalia, the walls are covered with a variety of children’s pictures. There were several parents with children who stopped by on both of my visits, particularly the Saturday. Also, despite the fact that the space is a little on the crowded side, and there are a good number of children, the place is still very calming. The general feeling is like having been invited into someone’s living room, albeit with one with more tables and chairs than usual.
On my first visit, there were three employees on, but on Monday it was only Ally, the owner. However, she does a great job of service, and my Americano came out to me very quickly even with a few orders before me. I also ordered a chocolate almond biscotti to eat, but I started to eat it before remembering that I wanted to take a photo.
I said earlier that most of the baked goods come from Gunn’s. The coffee comes from Black Pearl Roasters, another North End business. At the end of my second visit, things were quiet enough in the shop that I was able to chat with Ally for a couple of minutes.
Ally has a real commitment to not just being a local coffee shop, but a neighbourhood coffee shop. Dealing as much as possible with companies that are close by. Even though must of the baked goods are from Gunn’s, she also makes a habit of going around the neighbourhood and looking for other baked goods to bring in from time to time.
Prior to opening Modern, both Ally and her husband were involved with Pollock’s Hardware Co-op, another North End business where the emphasis is on serving the immediate community. It’s clear that Modern Coffee is taking this idea and running with it. If you live in the north end, I would highly recommend this place if you are looking for a regular, local coffee shop. I know that when I have to be up along North Main, I’m going to try very hard to make time for a visit.