After a morning exploring the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the ERA Bistro is the perfect place to rest, recharge, and reflect. It’s also a great lunch destination while discovering all that Winnipeg has to offer.
Location: ERA Bistro is inside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at 85 Israel Asper Way in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The bistro is located on the museum’s first floor and sits across from the boutique.
Menu: The menu features locally-sourced fresh ingredients whenever possible with an emphasis on Certified Fair Trade and sustainable products. The menu’s international cuisine complements the Manitoba-focused ingredients. For example, the Manitoba jambalaya is a hearty stew consisting of Manitoba’s favorite riches. Six-peppercorn Berkshire pork sausage and pickerel cheeks, a favorite Manitoba fish, serve as the plate’s protein foundation. Then, a variety of root vegetables including carrots and potatoes combine into a mahogany-roux sauce. Quinoa and the rye berries from Manitoba’s plains are the perfect base for the stew.
The menu indicates several options for those desiring a gluten-free or vegan option. The vermicelli bowl is both gluten-free and vegan. The dish has vermicelli noodles with sautéed bell peppers, carrots, and cabbage in a Fair Trade banana curry. Finally, bean sprouts, cashews, and cilantro embellish the top. By adding chicken or shrimp, the entrée transforms into a non-vegan main.
Thoughts: The restaurant’s décor has a contemporary vibe, with circular metal rings hanging over the center of the dining room at various angles and layered at different heights. The purple ERA logo adorns a jet-black wall over the host stand. Its circular font, in lower case letters, is reminiscent of an ellipsis, in this case symbolizing a pause to reflect on the discoveries at the Human Rights Museum.
The open-concept dining room and exhibition kitchen fit perfectly within the architecturally progressive building. Four simple wooden communal tables, seating a dozen diners each, center the room. Tables for smaller groups are scattered under the windows.
The servers’ uniforms are black shirts and pants covered with a black apron.
In addition to the indoor dining, summer includes patio dining. On selected evenings in the summer you’ll find live music on the patio.
Some of my favorite dishes include:
- The grilled flatbread with roasted red pepper hummus. The flatbread is buttered and grilled. It is firm enough to dip in the hummus and has a nice chew.
- The Pickerel Po’boy. This sandwich has fingers of panko-crusted Manitoba pickerel served on a ciabatta roll. The fish is crispy on the outside, moist and flaky on the inside. Topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, slices of ripe, juicy tomato, purple pickled onions, and a mildly spicy jalapeno remoulade add freshness. A choice of sides accompanies the Po’boy. The carrot fries are coated in beer batter and fried. Dip the carrot fries in the fresh-herbed buttermilk sauce with bits of jalapeno. These are an interesting switch from the standard fries.
- The dark chocolate semifreddo cake. The house-made Vietnamese coffee ice cream is a flavorful contrast to the dark chocolate. A series of adjoining circles made of raspberry coulis adorn the plate and decorative gooseberry and a sprig of mint add to the plate.
It’s best to make reservations. Paying for entrance to the museum is not required to eat at the bistro. Metered parking is available on Israel Asper Way, or parking is available across the street at the Forks.
Price Range: Exchange rates vary. These prices are in Canadian dollars with the exchange rate of $1.25 CD to $1 US. Snacks range from $7 for flatbread and hummus to $11 for Whitefish fingers. Salads range from $12 for the Caesar salad or vermicelli salad to $13 for the quinoa salad. Sandwiches range from $15 for a black bean and lentil sloppy Joe or a chicken salad wrap. The rest of the sandwiches are $16. The wide variety of sandwich selections include the bistro burger and a California club. Mains range from $16 for butter chickpeas to $21 for Steel-head trout. Desserts are $5 which range from crème brulee to cheesecake. Lunch for two is about $50 including tax and gratuity.