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Restaurants Reviews and Such

Little South America Tour

I first did the Little South America Tour 8 years ago. Then it was a one night event sponsored by the Exchange district biz. This time around I visited each of the restaurants over the space over several weeks. My update on each will appear in bold.

One thing I will say, right of the top is that 8 years between visits is far too long. I need to find a way to include them into my rotation at least once a year. 

A selection of meat on my Little South America Tour
While on my personal Little South America tour, I enjoyed a selection of meats at Carnaval.

About a week ago I received an email from Stephanie Scherbain at the Exchange District Biz. In it was an offer to participate in the Little South America Tour. The Little South America tour is one of the Food Tours that the Exchange District Biz operates during the summer.

This tour features three restaurants on the East side of the Exchange:  Carnaval, Hermanos, and Corrientes.  Having never been to any of these restaurants, I was more than happy to take up the Biz’s gracious offer to sponsor me as a media member of this tour.  I also have to admit, I don’t visit the East side of the Exchange very often.

Our Little South America tour began with the group meeting up together in Steven Juba Park across Waterfront Drive from Carnaval.  The group was a mixture of familiar faces and new people.  One of the new people I met was Eden from Eden in Winnipeg, a blog that I have yet to reference here, but one worth checking out.

Hayley, our tour guide, started the evening off with a brief history of the Exchange District. Along with that she laid out the itinerary for our tour.  Hayley did a great job leading the tour, and for me, as someone who does a lot of public speaking, it was great to hear someone who knows how to project when speaking to a group in an outdoor setting.

Carnaval:

Starting off my recent Little South America tour was once again at Carnaval. One thing I learned this time around was that this is a restaurant that is best visited as part of a group.

A glass of sangria to go with all that meat.
A little Sangria helps the food go down on my Little South America tour.

The restaurant still uses the green/red coasters to let you stop and go it you need a break. I found myself at the restaurant at a time when there weren’t a lot of customers in the restaurants. As a result there seemed to be someone coming up to my table every three minutes. 

The food was still very enjoyable. One thing I really like about the meat is that it is fatty. Fatty, but not greasy. I only ordered one of the side dishes. My choice was the soup of the day. Which warmed me up nicely.

Soup of the day
The soup of the day.

The first stop on our Little South America tour was at Carnaval. Carnaval serves Brazilian BBQ.  When we arrived there was a festive atmosphere in the restaurant. Possibly related to Brazil just having defeated Cameroon 4-1 at the World Cup.

We were shown to the upstairs of the restaurant where they had joined several tables together for us.  At this first stop I had the pleasure of sharing my place with a group of women who had come in from Portage La Prairie to take part in the tour.

Carnaval has great art hanging from the ceiling.
The bright art mobile hanging from the ceiling at Carnaval gives the space a real happy and cheerful look.

I had heard that Carnaval is a carnivores delight, and it is. What took me by surprise was how good all the sides were. Most of the sides do not contain any meat.

 What we were served was a scaled down version of their Rodizio Menu, which is an all you can eat meat delight.  You can also bring your vegetarian friends, because the sides offer plenty of selections to allow a vegetarian a full and complete meal.

Little South America Tour
Little South America Tour
 

Little South America kale Salad
The Kale Salad was one of the top rate sides available at Carnaval

 

Carnaval coaster green means go. Keep on feeding me.
There is a stop sign on the other side of this coaster. Needless to say, my coaster stayed green for the whole time.

The way the meal works is that you are given a little coaster with a green side, that tells your server you want more, and a red side that tells your server you’re full.  Needless to say, I never turned mine over to red.  

IBrazilian BBQ is different from North American. In North America it’s about the sauce.  In Brazil it’s about the cooking.  All the meat was very good.  The lamb was exceptional. Along with the meat and sides, I got to try a great habanero hot sauce, and a glass of red wine from Brazil.

Carnaval offered a pleasing red wine.
A pleasant red.

Little South America Tour Goes To Hermanos:

 

tomato salad
During my visit to Hermanos on my Little South America solo tour, I enjoyed the tomato and watermelon salad.

On the original post, Hermanos was my second stop. For my solo Little South America tour Hermanos was my final stop.

I might not have finished this version of my Little South America tour, if it wasn’t for the owners decision to reopen. They had closed during the pandemic, but are once again open to the public. There weren’t many people in when I visited during a late lunch.

I started off with a tomato and watermelon salad. In addition to this there was some nice red onion, cashews, greens, and more. The dressing was good and light.

Steak skewers
My main. Steak skewers with house made chips.

For my main course, I ordered the steak skewers with house made chips. I decided to go for my steak rare. It was a great job on the skewers. The searing was great and the interior was tasty and nicely chewy.

The chips were good and crispy. I really enjoyed the fact that the chips were consistently well cooked. The surprise was the side bowl of mushrooms that came with the steak.

my Hermanos cocktail
A Capirihna cocktail to finish off my Little South America tour.

Next on the Little South America Tour was Hermanos.  Hermanos is located in the old Ashdown Wearhouse.  The Ashdown Wearhouse is on of the oldest buildings in the exchange and serves to represent a period of great growth in the history of Winnipeg. Inside the owners have managed to blend well the historic characteristics of the building with a contemporary vibe in the seating and set up.

Here the food represents a mixture of southern Brazilian, Uruguayan and Argentinian food. The owner of Hermanos, Noel Bernier was our host.  This was called the Little South America Tour. However,  he wanted to emphasize that the aim wasn’t to create ethnic restaurants.

Rather, his goal was to create restaurants where a Canadian sensibility was brought to South American food.  These restaurants are places of collaboration and creativity.  As a result they are not chef driven. Also, the staff regularly visits South America to experience it first hand.

This kind of fusion was demonstrated by the Ceviche, made with Manitoba Pickerel.  I also tried the sausage with grilled vegetables.  Milanese bites, which are schnitzel like.  It was not originally part of the plan, but Bernier decided to drop some empanadas for us.

These were close to perfection. Crispy, light wrapping and moist, flavourful filling.  I washed it down with a Pisco Sour.  A grappa based, lime flavoured beverage that was very refreshing.

Little South America Ceviche
The photo doesn’t due justice to how appetizing the Hermanos Ceviche is.

 

The Sandwich board outside Hermanos
A sandwich board on the sidewalk outside of Hermanos.

Wind Up at Corrientes:

The smaller picada option
There is plenty of food in the smaller sized Picada order.

The middle stop on my Little South America tour was at Corrientes. Despite it being a pizza place, I didn’t order pizza. This was a repeat of my first visit.

I decided to order the six piece Picada plate. You can order a six item plate for $20 or the twelve piece for $40. The smaller version would be good for two. It contains a little bit of everything. There are bits of meat, vegetables and cheese. There is also a side plate containing a fair pile of flat bread.

Of the items on the tray, I really enjoyed the eggplant. It was well prepared, with all the bitterness soaked out of it, and the sauce made it good and light. The mix of olives was really enjoyable. Those two items stood out the most to me.

Little South America Empanadas
I added a beef, and a spinach, empanada to my meal on my Little South America Tour

Not knowing how much food was on the Picada platter, I also ordered two Empanadas. One was Spinach filled, and the other was Lamb filled. I really enjoyed the Lamb one, but also appreciated the cheesy spinach flavour of the first one.

Little South America Fiaca cocktail.
The Fiaca is a delightful cocktail from Corrientes, part of my slow Little South America tour.

When it came time for a beverage choice, I chose the Fiaca. This was something I hadn’t come across before. The menu describes it as:

Tequila, White Wine, Pineapple Juice, Homemade Strawberry Jam

It was almost like a thin milkshake in texture, and the fruit made it a very refreshing beverage. 

Our final stop on the Little South America tour was at Corrientes.  Corrientes derives it’s name from the central street in Buenos Aries.  A street that is at the heart of the cultural life of the city.  Corrientes is best known for their pizza.  We were there for dessert.  If their pizza is anything near as good as the dessert we have, it must be great pizza.

Our dessert was a mousse based on their Guandia.  The Guandia is a chocolate and hazelnut torte, but the mousse was a great alternative.  We had eaten a lot already. The Guandia mousse was nice and light.

 

Little South America Sign outside Corrientes
The sign hanging outside of Corrientes.

 

Little South America Inspiration.
A photo hanging in Corrientes showing it’s South American inspiration.

 

Little South America Patiio.
The patio outside of Corrientes.

This was the only place where we received our food on individual plates.  All three restaurants we visited focus on dining en famille.  Not only is the cooking collaborative, but so is the eating.

Visiting three different spots on the Little South America tour gave the opportunity for the group to mix and match.  Each restaurant found me sitting with a different group.  There were about 20 on the tour.  

This gave me the chance to have a few words with almost everybody.  If you have an evening free this summer, think about going on this tour.  If this doesn’t suit your fancy, check out the other walking tours of the Exchange.

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.