Metropolitan Entertainment Centre

The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre, is an event centre and restaurant located in the heart of downtown sitting. It draws it’s name from the Metropolitan Theatre, a longtime landmark in downtown Winnipeg that closed in the late 1980s. It sat vacant for many years gathering dust and historical designations, but no tenants. Finally, in 2012 it was reopened as the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre.

Renaissance convention center - Eve...
Renaissance convention center - Events place (birthdays, debuts, weddings) | Michael's Hut

The MET, as it’s also called is run by CanadInns a local hotel and restaurant chain. This was a big project for them to take on, as they had to not only renovate but do so according historical designation standards. My photography skills aren’t the greatest, but you can see some real good photos of the decor, here.

Salmon with grilled tomatoes.

The Metropolitan has several dining areas. There is a rather sleek and modern looking bar, on the main floor with large windows, letting in lots of natural light, Then there is the event space where the main body of the theatre was. This includes a big screen which is used for movie and meal nights, and for watching Winnipeg Jets games. That space also offers private balcony spaces for events. Then there is the Allen restaurant(named for the original owners of the theatre). Finally, during the summer, there is a rooftop patio which gives you a wonderful view of the downtown.
Over the years I’ve visited the MET a couple of times. It’s been the site of the annual meeting for Downtown Winnipeg Biz, and I’ve enjoyed the patio while having lunch with Merv Lanctot, a former rector at Holy Trinity.

Metropolitan Lunch

Holy Trinity is just south of the MET and the first of my most recent visits was with the current rector Enid, and Bishop Geoff. We went for lunch on a Wednesday after I had conducted the noon-hour Eucharist. We were after the lunch rush, so when we went up to the Allen room we found ourselves pretty much on our own.

The coffee keeps on flowing if you want it to.

We each ordered something different. Enid ordered the Charbroiled Salmon on Crispy Risotto, pictured at the top of the post. Geoff had the Manitoba Mushroom and Goat Cheese Wrap, and I had the Band & Blue Mac N Cheese. Both Enid and Geoff really liked their meals and so did I.

A hearty and wholesome mushroom and goat cheese wrap.

When it came to the Mac N Cheese, at first site, I wondered how much bacon there would be. However, as I ate my way through it, I noticed that almost every forkful seemed to contain some bacon. The bacon was crisp, and the saltiness of the bacon played off well with the sweet creaminess of the blue cheese. This would definitely be a dish I would order repeatedly.

Mac n cheese
Bacon & Blue Mac N Cheese. A satisfying lunch entree

Jets Game at the Metropolitan

My next visit to the MET I went the night there was a Jets game on across the street. Figuring that there might be a really large crowd before the game started, I arrived just after the beginning of the first period. Sure enough, there were a few people there but the place wasn’t overly full.
I discovered that on game night, the MET doesn’t have it’s usual menu. Instead you have a choice between ordering platters(nachos, etc.). or their game day buffet. I figured that the platters would probably contain more food than I would want to eat by myself, so I decided to go with the buffet. The buffet consists of three stations. The first is a poutine bar. The second is a noodle bar. The third is a shawarma bar.

Metropolitan Noodle Bar
A mix of items from the noodle bar at the Metropolitan Entertainment Centre’s Jets Buffet.

I started off with the noodle bar. There were choice of vegetables, chicken and beef, along with the noodles. the chicken came with a spicy sauce and was the best part of the noodle bar. Most notable was that the spicy sauce was in fact spicy, leaving me with a nice heat buzz after I finished it.

Metropolitan shawarma
Arriving as late as I did I ended up having to real pile the food onto the plate.
Shawarma from the Shawarma Bar.
The Shawarma bar offers a good variety of vegetables to go with the shawarma meat.

One of the things I didn’t realize when I arrived late, is they start to dismantle the buffet towards the end of the second period. So I only tried the noodle and shwarma bars, and not the poutine one. However, when I went to fill up at the shawarma bar, the staff, although they had started to take it apart, did put the vegetables, etc., back on the table so that I was able to fill up my plate with all the elements of the bar. The meat was really tender and well seasoned, and I enjoyed the good mix of vegetables that were available alongside.

Metropolitan beer
There’s a nice, not overly sweet, maple finish to this beer.

Beer seemed like a good choice for the buffet and the hockey game. I ordered a Maple Shack from Granville Island brewing company. I really enjoyed this beer. It’s a cream ale, with a nice, light flavour, and and the maple flavour comes through without being overwhelming.

Returning for Lunch

A couple of days later, I went back for lunch again. Again, it was after the lunch rush, and so I was pretty much by myself. I had seen the starter cheddar soup on the menu, and decided to order this time. This was a great choice. Much like the Mac N Cheese, the soup was filled with bacon and the Bothwell Cheese gives it a really good, cheddar flavour as well.

Metropolitan Cheddar soup
A really good starter soup
Metropolitan Wagon Wheel
Based on the Winnipeg Classic.

For my entree I went with the Wagon Wheel Clubhouse. This sandwich is a tribute to the clubhouse served at the Wagon Wheel, an iconic downtown Winnipeg restaurant, which closed a few years ago, that was known for serving the most substantial clubhouse sandwiches around. The MET version isn’t quite as substantial, but it still contains a good portion of turkey, etc. The fries that came with it were good and crispy. They were seasoned with a mixture of salt and pepper which I liked, but I felt there was too much salt.

Metropolitan Balsamic Vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar for dipping my french fries. A nice touch.

When they brought me my meal they asked if I would like vinegar with my fries, so I asked if they had any malt vinegar(that should be available anywhere fries are served). They didn’t, but my server offered to bring me some balsamic vinegar instead. I took the offer nad that made a nice, enjoyable touch to my meal. It’s always good when your server goes out of the way to do little things that make the meal better.

Metropoltan Creme Brulee
A sweet finish to my meal.

I was in the mood for dessert that day so I ordered a crême brulée. This came with a Strawberry and blueberry for topping, and after the satisfying crack of the caramelized sugar on top, the underneath was silky smooth.
One last thing about the MET that I really like is that the Allen restaurant, particularly when not very busy is a very calming. The great architecture and decoration allows you to soak in the beauty while the service, which is attentive but not intrusive, allows you to enjoy your time and the company of those you eat with. The MET should be visited, if for nothing else than enjoying a classic, beautiful space, but also for good food and good service.

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.