Head of Class – Winnipeg Free Press

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This article has been published 06/11/2013 (2837 days ago) the information contained therein may no longer be current.

opinion

It has been almost a year to the day since I had a meal prepared and served by the senior class of Red River College Cooking School. It was in her Prairie Lights dining room on the Notre Dame Avenue campus – a plain beige place with almost nothing of the decor.

Dining at Jane’s, RRC’s new restaurant in the 110-year-old Union Tower, is like dining in another century. The spectacular setting is the complete opposite of Prairie Lights, reflecting the grandeur of Winnipeg architecture of the early 20th century, massive terracotta Corinthian columns, huge windows, and marble floors. The old wrought iron elevator doors serve as partitions and create intimate areas in the huge space. One of the few details of the 21st century is the ultra-modern open kitchen, which reveals the chefs at work.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Gnocchi with basil cream sauce

The current menu will remain in effect until December 12, but it is impossible to star or generalize the food as the crew on duty one night may not be the same crew on other nights. But everyone on my visit was efficient, attentive, and lovably eager. Prices are relatively moderate, with starters $ 7-9, soups and salads $ 6-9, main courses $ 16-23, and desserts $ 7 each. And as the RRC flagship restaurants have always done over the years, this new one is also excellent value for money.

Dinner starts with delicious, homemade focaccia and rolls that are still warm from the oven and served with plain and garlic butter. There are only three starters, but one of them was not only the best dish of the entire meal, but also one of the best of its kind in town – the wonderful, almost weightless gnocchi in a light lemon and basil cream, wonderfully sprinkled with hearty wild mushrooms and toasted Pine nuts.

Crispy pork trunks were good too – just the meat (boneless), shredded, breaded, and fried; a kind of croquette, served with a slightly spicy ravigote sauce, frisée greens and a few fava beans. I also liked the bison carpaccio, topped with tiny quail eggs, but – in my opinion – drizzling it with canola oil (instead of olive oil) went too far. A salad of celery, watercress, radish, and apple in a mustard vinaigrette was a nice alternative starter.

Pumpkin panna cotta

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Pumpkin panna cotta

The only main course I didn’t try was cannelloni with butternut squash and spinach, but I tried the remaining four (there are also the occasional specials). The high-priced rib-eye steak was thin but tender, tasty and cooked just as rarely as requested (though a little poor with the bearnaise sauce), and both the grilled teriyaki-seasoned wild chicken and the fresh, pan-seared Manitoba Trout were good too. The only exception was the fried pork medallions wrapped in bacon, which would have been on par in tenderness and taste if they hadn’t been so heavily salted.

Some of the side dishes were lovely – fingerling potatoes and chopped chard with the steak or the wild rice pilaf and steamed pak choi and baby carrots with the wild hen. Others weren’t – a mushy and rather unpleasant beet risotto with pork (you should better master the risotto before you decide on trendy innovations) and with trout, unsuitable slices of spicy chorizo ​​with potatoes in a Romanesco sauce, which the the delicate aroma of trout.

The four desserts listed (all $ 7) all sounded delicious, and the two we tried were certainly – a chocolate brownie with pumpkin and maple panna cotta and coconut ice cream, and a chocolate and almond cake with chocolate mousse and Cherry sorbet. The remaining two were crème caramel with caramelized pineapple and shortbread, a caramelized white chocolate mousse with passion fruit and raspberry sauces, and a sour cream sorbet.

Jane’s prices for lunch are a little lower than for dinner. Including soups ($ 4.25 to $ 4.50), salads ($ 8.50 to $ 10.50 full, $ 4.25 to $ 5.50 half), and entrees like pikeperch tacos, chicken Cashew nut curry, pan-fried trout or wild hen, and braised beef cheeks with celery and mashed potatoes ($ 10.50 to $ 14.25). For dessert, pineapple rum cake, coconut cream on a biscuit crust, or a trio of Asian crème brulées (US $ 4.25 to US $ 4.75). The wine list is small but well selected and if you haven’t finished your bottle you can take it home with you.

Eating out at Jane’s requires more elaborate preparation than most commercial restaurants. Reservations may be required, with sessions Tuesday through Friday 11:30 am to 12:45 pm for lunch and 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm for dinner. An online calendar lists the dates available (www.janesrestaurant.ca) and reservations are made either by phone (204-632-2594) or email ([email protected]). If you are on the phone, you will likely have to leave your phone number and possibly wait two business days for a call back. In my own experience, email reservations have taken less time.

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Hotel and restaurant management student Hayley McMurray (left) and culinary arts student Jessica Cuthbert

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Hotel and restaurant management student Hayley McMurray (left) and culinary arts student Jessica Cuthbert

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