Feast Café Bistro bills itself as a restaurant featuring modern dishes rooted in First Nation foods. So it’s no surprise to find bannock and bison, Saskatoon and squash making regular appearances on the menu. And that’s fantastic. While the ingredients are important, it’s what Feast does with them that makes this cosy diner so appealing. Everything is made from scratch. It’s home cooking at its finest—served in a restaurant.
The location at 587 Ellice Avenue—directly across from the West End Cultural Centre—attracts an eclectic mix of folks—students from the University of Winnipeg, neighbourhood regulars and people coming to the ‘hood for a show (Feast is open from 9 am to 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s open 9 am to 4 pm Monday to Thursday).
The space features a handful of tables in the window nooks bordering Ellice Avenue along with a bank of tables along the Sherbrook Street. A collection of photographs on the walls echoes the First Nations theme. And the restaurant always smells like great coffee and freshly-baked pie.
What You Should Order
You’ll have to make a least two trips to Feast—one for breakfast and one for lunch or dinner. To miss out of either menu would be sad. The standout on the breakfast menu is Eggs Banny. It’s two poached eggs with your choice of meat (their smoked bacon is delicious!), on little toasted bannock buns, all smothered in lemon-chive hollandaise sauce. You may have it with homemade hashbrowns (little chunks of seasoned red potatoes) or a potato squash cake. And if you’re popping in for a quick takeaway brekkie, opt for one of the muffins and a Saskatoon smoothie, make with the iconic Manitoba berries.
The lunch and dinner menu showcases bannock pizzas, sandwiches and burgers including the flavourful butternut squash za that features toasted pine nuts, green onions and a chipotle sour cream drizzle. For heartier appetites, the homestyle bison chili always chases away the chills (you’ll find the chili on several menu items) and the bison ribs with berry barbecue sauce are a steal at only $13.95.
If you’re in the mood for fish, you can’t go wrong with the pickerel sliders featuring baked lemon pepper pickerel, dill chive mayo, crisp shredded lettuce, tomato and dill pickle. They’re adorable and delicious at the same time.
But what keeps my coming back are the Indian Tacos. Each comes piled high on fry bread—that’s bannock that has been deep fried and not baked, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the only way to do it. The PowWow starts with that popular bison chili and gets topped with Bothwell cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, corn salsa and chipotle lime sour cream. The Gatherer features the vegetarian chili plus all the toppings. And The Sundance includes slow roasted shredded maple chipotle chicken.
Out of Pocket
A big breakfast for two with fancy coffees (yes, cappuccino, espressos and lattes are available) will set you back between $25 and $30. And you probably won’t need lunch that day (portions are generous). Or you can pop in for a cinnamon bun and a coffee for just over $5.
Lunch or dinner for two will lighten your wallet to the tune of about $30. Most menu items hover around $10, a little less for salads and a little more for the bison ribs. There’s also a “Little Tomahawks” menu with mini Indian tacos or a cheese pizza for $5 as well as baked chicken fingers for $6.
What I love
There’s a good vibe in this space. Service is always friendly and attentive and you get the general feeling that no one minds if you gaze out the window for an hour and just let life happen. What keeps my coming back is the Indian Tacos. The other day, I ordered one at 10 am (without so much as a raised eyebrow); it won out over the Eggs Banny but the slightest margin. The combination of the deep fried bannock and smoky flavour of the housemade bison chili is a winner. When it arrives at my table, I always assume I’ll be asking for a take-out box for my leftovers. So far, that hasn’t happened.