Restaurants Reviews and Such

X-Cues Cafe and Lounge

X-Cues Cafe & Lounge is my newest review. It may seem that I’ve quit eating out, but I found myself reading a group of books that were related to each other in topic, so I decided to take the time to write them up together. While I’m expanding my writing, I’m still going to be eating out and reviewing.
If you’ve followed Dining with Donald for a while, or if you follow some of my other social channels, you may know that I enjoy open mic. I’ve been visiting various open mics around Winnipeg for that last year, year and a half. Most frequently I attend the one at Strong Badger Coffeehouse. I’ve also hung out at the one at Sam’s Place, and recently started singing at X-Cues Cafe & Lounge as well.

X-Cues Billiards and Cafe beer
Local beers such as the Little Brown Jug 1919 are part of the enjoyment at X-Cues.
English Conversations in Hotels and...
English Conversations in Hotels and Restaurants - Arriving At The Room

The X-Cues open mic is run by a group called CaRaVaN. I ended up going for the first time, because one of their hosts, Ronel, is a regular at Strong Badger, and he invited me to come along some time. CaRaVan meets on Mondays 1,3, and 5 at X-Cues Lounge and Bar, Mondays 2, and 4 at Forth Coffee, and during the summer at The Cube. If you’re in Winnipeg an interested in attending, sign-up is at 6:30 pm, with the show starting at 7 pm. Each performer is allowed two songs or five minutes if you do poetry, etc.
I sing. I’m a fan of Johnny, Hank, Willie, etc. I like to describe my style as depressing songs done A Capella. If you’re feeling brave you can check out some of my efforts on my YouTube channel.
X-Cues is part sports bar, part cafe, and part performance space. There are pool, ping pong, and foosball tables, along with shuffle board and several big screen TVs broadcasting a variety of sporting events.

X-Cues wings
A basket of moist and tender chicken wings. They were the hot wings, and the heat was fairly decent.

I must admit that although X-Cues is in my neighbourhood I hadn’t really ever taken the time to stop in. I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. One of the first things that caught my eye when I entered was the clientele. X-Cues is located in the Spence Neighbourhood, which has a great deal of diversity in it’s demographic makeup, and this diversity was present in the X-Cues crowd. It’s clearly a neighbourhood kind of establishment.
One of the things that makes X-Cues such a great place for an open-mic is the owner. Open mics work best when everybody is friendly and welcoming, and Sal, the owner of X-Cues sets the bar high when it come to setting the example. This community spirit is also evidenced by X-Cues serving as the host location for the Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, fall supper.
Also, when I showed up for the open-mic, I noticed that there were some food items on the menu, but I had already eaten supper. So, on my first couple of visits I just enjoyed a beer as I participated in the open mic.
However, as I was sitting and watching I noticed that the food that was coming out of the kitchen was looking pretty good. I decided that I needed to make a point of giving some of it a try sooner rather than later.
The first item I tried was a simple bowl of Chicken Vegetable soup. This is terrific soup. Clearly home made, it has a great ratio of broth to filling. What I especially enjoyed about this is that the vegetables all maintained a degree of crispness. Also, it contained a plenty of herbs to add to the flavour of the whole.

X-Cues Billiards and Cafe
A hearty bowl of chicken vegetable soup.

X-Cues has a regular menu. This menu is smaller than some that you will find, but one of the reasons for this is that there are also two or three daily specials. My next time at Open Mic I went for one of those specials. It was a seven cheese Mac & Cheese. This Mac and Cheese is baked and served like a piece of cake. I didn’t notice it when I placed my order but it also came with a stuffed red pepper on the side.

X-Cues macaroni and cheese
A hunk of macaroni and cheese from X-Cues.
X-Cues stuffed pepper
Stuffed red pepper to go along with my mac and cheese.

The macaroni and cheese was both cheesy and featured firm macaroni. It’s the kind of dish that you want to gobble down, one mouthful right after another. The Stuffed Pepper was well seasoned and still retained a measure of firmness in the pepper.

X-Cues bean soup
Another soup from X-Cues. Ths one is bean and vegetable. I really enjoyed the peppery flavour of this one.

Another X-Cues Special

On my most recent visit I once again tried one of the specials. This time it was pork tenderloin. I had the choice of rice or pasta, and went with the rice, along with a salad. When my order arrived it also had some potatoes that the chef had decided to add. This certainly wasn’t expected, but wasn’t surprising since generosity seems to be a theme for X-Cues and that it on occasion extends to the dish being served seems apropos.

X-Cues pork tenderloin special.
The pork tenderloin special.

The pork was stuffed with a well-seasoned mix of vegetables. The rice was tender. There was also a nice little bit of variety in the salad, and as I went along I discovered there were also several tender-crisp green beans hidden between the rice and the salad.
X-Cues also offers a selection of sweet treats. These include such things as cookies, mini cinnamon buns, and fruit crumbles among other things. The only problem with these is that they were all so enjoyable that everyone I’ve tried, I’ve eaten before I had the chance to get around to taking a picture of them.
I’m definitely going to be going back to the open mic at X-Cues, and I’m also definitely going to be regularly ordering my dinner when I’m there. There are undoubtedly new specials to try, and current specials that are worth the repeat. Take a trip down to X-Cues. Come down on a Monday night, try some food, try some open mic, or just sit and listen. I may even sing you a tune, and I’ll try not to sing out of key.

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.