For many years the White Star Diner was a mainstay of Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The diner was a little hole in the wall on Albert Street. It was mainly a takeout joint, with a limited number of seats. I had only been on one occasion and that hadn’t been enough to convince me to go back.
I wrote this update for the White Star Diner on April 24, 2019. As always, new material is in bold.
A few months ago, I heard that it was closing. Then a few months after that I heard that it would be reopening, this time on Kennedy Street. The location it took over had once housed a Greek restaurant, which was then turned into a combination Greek-Ethiopian restaurant. This seemed as odd as the Thai-Shawarma combo at Shaba Thai.
On my latest trip I discovered that the location had originally been a Salisbury House, a local burger chain. The Sal’s location was first opened in 1938, meaning that there’s been a restaurant of some sort or the other in that location for over 80 years.
The current White Star Diner was a Salisbury House. that Sal’s was opened almost 80 years ago.
Lunch at White Star Diner
There hasn’t been a lot of change put into the new location since converting it to the White Star. The main difference is that it’s been repainted and the booths are neater and tidier than they had been. The other main difference with the former restaurant is the pictures of ocean liners and copies of books on the Titanic.
The Titanic has a fairly strong connection to Winnipeg. There were 10 Manitobans and 16 immigrants listing Manitoba as their destination who were on board ship. Only four of the twenty-six survived. You can find that story here. The Fortune building, named for one of the Winnipeggers lost on the trip still stands today, and has been the site of a good deal of controversy as to what to do with historic buildings.
I returned recently to give a try to one of their milkshakes. After I placed my order, I took a look around and noticed that there was a low counter that faces the far wall. Perhaps it was there all along, but it caught my attention.
My afternoon milkshake visit was during a quiet time for the restaurant. It was only a couple of hours before closing time, and I was the only customer in the building.
As far as I could tell, the person who took my order and made my milkshake was the only employee as well. I looked up at the board, and was quite overwhelmed with the number of milkshake choices there are. I ordered the roast pineapple. Each table has a little card on it that lists all the milkshakes available. After placing my order and taking my seat I took a look at the card and noticed that there were 40 milkshakes listed.
I had ordered my milkshake to stay and so it was served to me in the metal cup in which it had been made. It was reasonably thick, but certainly not the thickest. The Pineapple came through quite nicely without being overly strong or sweet.
I hadn’t realized until visiting the new location that the restaurant’s name was inspired by the White Star line of ships. In between the pictures of ships that are also a few retro signs.
On my first visit I decided to order the Pulled Pork Sandwich. The soup of the day was a Mushroom Barley that was one of the choice of sides available with the meal. I also ordered a side of onion rings.
I chose the Pulled Pork Sandwich because that was what I had the first time I had visited the White Star, and I hadn’t been particularly impressed. That may have been due to watching my portion being pulled out of the fridge and stuck in the microwave before it was served to me. My second time with the Pulled Pork Sandwich didn’t change my mind. It’s not a bad sandwich, the pork is moist, but it lacks any kind of pizzazz as far as the flavour goes.
The onion rings, on the other hand, were among the better ones I’ve had. While thin, without a great deal of onion inside, the coating is crispy and the onion doesn’t all fall out on your first bite. I also really enjoyed the soup. It was a good, rib-sticker Mushroom Barley. (pictured above).
White Star Diner Return
My first visit had been in the middle of the lunch hour. The place wasn’t overly full, but it was pretty busy and service was good and efficient. On my return visit I was there after the post lunch rush, and there was only one other table occupied.
This time I decided I would take their menu claim at their word, and try one of their hamburgers. I went with the Bacon-Cheeseburger and fries. A classic burger with classic side. I also added gravy.
In my last post I tried the burger at Canada Fries. The burger at White Star Diner is also homemade with a sizable patty. Two big differences that work in favour of the White Star. The burger is moister and chewier, and in addition to the bacon and cheese, there are several other toppings. It would rank close to the top of the burgers that I’ve had in Winnipeg. The Burger Club liked it too.
The fries were also very good. Cooked nice and crispy on the outside, and not turned to mush on the inside. There’s a good plateful in the serving as well. The gravy is nice, meaty, and thick. Although, and it may sound strange coming from me, it could use a little more salt.
Not being to anxious to head out into Wednesday afternoon’s downpour, I went for a Chocolate, Raspberry, and Balsamic milkshake to finish off my meal. This is a good, thick milkshake, although the Balsamic didn’t really come through all that well. Apparently I had tried one of the milkshakes before. This one was definitely not as thick as the first one, but the flavour held up, so it’s a bit of a saw off. Still, if you like milkshakes White Star Diner is a good place to go. I’m sure there are enough varieties to find one you will want to return for.
The service on my second visit was even better on the first. The burger is quite sloppy, and my server noticed that I would need another napkin and brought an extra without a request. The White Star Diner will most certainly be a place I visit again.