Restaurants Reviews and Such

Garwood Grill – Pembina Highway

Garwood Grill is a family style restaurant located on Pembina Highway just a few blocks south of Winnipeg’s famed Confusion Corner. The Garwood Grill is one of those restaurants that is something of an institution. Once again however, it’s one of those institutions that until recently I’ve managed to avoid visiting. This despite the fact that I lived not far from the restaurant during a couple of stints of my early renting life.

Homemade Chicken with rice soup.
The soup that was included in the lunch special was a bowlful not just a cup.
Schwartz's Diner in Montreal
Schwartz's Diner in Montreal

I think the best way to describe the Garwood Grill is to say that it features old style diner food. It’s the kind of restaurant where you would take your family for lunch, knowing that you wouldn’t have to feed them more than a light snack come supper time.

The restaurant sits right on the corner of Pembina Highway and Garwood Avenue. The building is a rather long rectangular shape, with a tall front and lower back. As you walk in off of the street, there are tables down either wall, another dining area set off in the back and right in the middles is the register and hosting area. The lighting is a little on the darkish side, but pleasantly so.

On my first visit I was meeting with the two wardens from Holy Trinity to discuss my upcoming involvement in the ministry of that parish. We arranged to meet at 11:30, and by the time I got there, the lunch crowd was already settling in. This is clearly a popular place. I first took a look at the menu, but then glanced to my right where I noticed the special board.

The special for the day was: Hot Turkey sandwich, potato, coleslaw, and soup. Yes, that’s right, all four were part of the special. I didn’t pay all that close attention to the price, so I can’t exactly remember if it was $7.95, or $8.95 (one of the wardens was treating the two others of us dining). I wasn’t sure what I’d be getting for that, but I figured even if the portions were smallish that would still make for a good lunch.

Hot Turkey special at the Garwood Grill.
Honest to goodness, hearty Hot Turkey Sandwich special from the Garwood Grill. Also, this comes with a full bowl of soup included.

Hot Turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and coleslaw.As you can see from the pictures above, a small portions is not something that the Garwood Grill does. The sandwich was stuffed full of turkey, the mashed potato came in a good sized lump and there was a significant amount of coleslaw. On top of all that, the bowl of soup was a full sized bowl of soup. Finally, the gravy did indeed smother the sandwich and the potatoes.

There is nothing particularly fancy about this food. However, it is homemade, and it’s clear that the owners don’t want anyone to ever leave their restaurant feeling hungry. I think my favourite part of this meal was how much gravy came with it, and especially the fact that the gravy was rich and creamy.

Old style coke mugs
A decorative old mug for you to enjoy as you enjoy the beverage it contains.

An old style coke mug from the Garwood Grill.For my beverage I went with a Coke. The beverage comes a can, but they also give you a nice Coke glass filled with ice that is nice to drink out of and pleasant to look at as it sits on the table between sips.

I mentioned that the restaurant was quite full by the time we arrived, but our orders were taken quickly and the servers made sure to check that our waters, and for one of my table mates, coffee, were kept well filled. The Garwood is one of the places where, when the servers go around with a pot of coffee or jug of water, they make sure to check at all the tables they pass, not just the ones where they have taken the food order.

Back to Garwood Grill for Breakfast

I’ve made two trips to the Garwood Grill, My second one being a breakfast trip. I think, even though I’m writing up now, I’ll being making more trips in the future. One reason is that the menu is so large and there looks to be a few more things on there that I would like to try. If any of my Winnipeg readers want to make suggestions in this regard, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

On the Saturday morning that I visited for breakfast, I checked to see what was listed as the opening time. I read that opening was at 9:00 am. I thought I had timed it really well showing up at 9:01, However, when I walked in there were a good half dozen or more tables already occupied.

Garwood Grill offers a big breakfast
The Big Breakfast from the Garwood Grill. So big that the toast requires a side plate.

When I went in this time, I decided I take a bit more of a look at the layout of the tables. I noticed as I circled around the end of the service area, that there was one one-top table, much like at Luda’s, My server told me I didn’t need to take it, but I decided that it would be just right for me.

I’m a big fan of the bacon and eggs style breakfast, so I decided that I would order the Big Breakfast. This comes with eggs, bacon, sausages, pan-fried potatoes and toast. Again, despite the fact that there were several people eating my food arrived in good time. In fact, I suspect they have a DeLorean hidden somewhere in the kitchen, because I could have sworn that my food arrived at the table before I had even ordered it.

I tend to be a little suspicious when an order arrives that fast. I expect to find that something hasn’t been cooked thoroughly. Not here though, the bacon was crispy, the sausages were browned nicely on the outside and cooked through, the eggs were cooked and the pan-fries were just nicely going soft. Clearly they have the cooking breakfast routine down to a science(even without the time travel).

Garwood Grill, side plate of toast.
I took this picture at a bit of an odd angle. There’s just a bit of the jam package peaking out by the peanut butter.

I liked the fact that my toast came buttered and they brought a container each of jam and peanut butter. That allowed me to smear the toppings nicely over each of the pieces of toast. I’m not a PBJ guy. For me it was two pieces with the jam and the other two with the peanut butter.

Again, like the lunch time experience, the coffee was topped up on a regular basis. Even after I had finished all my food they were offering me more coffee.

A bottomless cup of coffee to go with my breakfast.
The refillable coffee keeps on coming.

So, if you like good, hearty fare, and appreciate getting good value for your dollar, I would highly recommend that you head on down to the Garwood Grill. There is nothing trendy about this place, but the food is good and honest as are the prices. On top of that the staff are hard-working, and friendly and will make sure that you are well looked after.

By Donald McKenzie

Anglican priest, and food blogger. This blog is focused on Food. It will feature reviews of places to eat books, and the odd recipe. I also write about what it means to gather together around food.