Stepping into Peasant Cookery’s dining room was like going back to a twentieth-century French farmhouse. Quart-sized home-canned jars of pickled vegetables lined the window sills, added to the farmhouse feel. A wine barrel transformed into a table held their signature wheat bundle, while a vintage four-panel etched-glass screen divided the host stand from the rest of the restaurant. Every detail indicated French country.
Location: Peasant Cookery located at 283 Bannatyne Avenue on the corner of King Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Exchange District.
Menu: The food based on French-inspired home cooking with a twist, features scratch-made dishes, including the house-made charcuterie. The sauces and stocks are all house-made. The menu highlighted French onion soup, Parisian-style gnocchi, and tourtière. Peasant cooking focuses on accessible, inexpensive ingredients prepared and seasoned to create tasty dishes associated with a culture.
Thoughts: The wooden tabletops set with red placemats and table clothes were off-set with white napkins. Even with the stemware, the atmosphere had a casual farmhouse feel.
Although chef and part owner, Tristan Foucault is trained in French cooking, the food he serves is from a broader spectrum. Some choices include Manitoba favorites like bison meatloaf and pickerel.
Some of my favorite dishes included:
- The charcuterie platter, which is an alternating selection of in-house dry-cured meats, made with herb-fed Manitoba premium pork, served with pickled vegetables made in-house with the chef’s pickling spices and crostini. Depending on the day, you might find chicken liver mousse flavored with cognac, sherry, and thyme or a grainy Dijon mustard. Add cheese to the platter for an additional charge.
- The butternut squash soup made with coconut milk. It was a dairy-free version, with curry lightly flavoring the soup. While typically garnished with crunchy granola, when I expressed a concern about nuts in the granola, the server suggested substituting a combination of toasted seeds, including sesame and sunflower seeds, and puffed wild rice. The beet salad is where they use this garnish; however, they substituted this for the granola. Both options provided the necessary textural contrast. It was a perfect way to accommodate those with nut allergies without eliminating the texture.
- The tourtière was a mixture of browned pork, sautéed onions, and button mushrooms, seasoned with pate spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This combination stuffed into a pie crust made with a flaky dough baked until golden brown — the dish with served with a choice of gravy or ketchup. A choice of salad or fries was the accompaniment. I chose the green salad, and it didn’t disappoint. The mixture started with a bed of butter lettuce. Crisp red radishes provided a peppery accent throughout, then everything combined with a sherry vinaigrette.
- The deconstructed chevre cheesecake. The dessert contained three separate components served on a long rectangular white plate. At one end was a dish of house-made sour cherry sorbet. The tartness provided a nice foil to the ramekin of creamy chevre cheesecake filling found at the other end of the plate. Two shortbread pig-shaped cookies replaced the typical cheesecake crust in this deconstructed dessert. The cutout cookies provided a sense of whimsey, while the bright red cherry sorbet gave the plate a pop of color.
- The server presented a basket of warm house-made focaccia with a side swirl of whipped, salted butter. It left me requesting a second bread basket.
Price Range: Exchange rates vary. These prices are in Canadian dollars with the exchange rate of $1.25 CD to $1 USD. Firsts range from $11 for butternut squash soup or poutine to $19 for a charcuterie platter or mussels and fries. Seconds range from $18 for the aged cheddar gnocchi to $29 for the bison meatloaf or the HyLife Herb-Fed Manitoba Premium Pork. Desserts range from $4 for the sorbet to $9 for bread pudding or chevre cheesecake. Dinner for two runs approximately $100 including tax and gratuity.