Academy Road is an affluent commercial strip dotted with a mix of longstanding businesses, new indie boutiques — and a lot of good food.
We took a tour of the street that runs through the leafy residential streets of North River Heights, continuing our check-in on some of Winnipeg’s culinary neighbourhoods.
STOCKING UP: G.J. Andrews (384 Academy Rd., 204-487-7300, gjandrews.ca) is a relatively small shop, but it packs a ton of good stuff into that square footage, with a good butcher, a helpful cheesemonger, fresh produce, much of it local, and — crucially — lots of wine.
If you’re looking to amp up your home cooking, there are upscale sauces, stocks, spices, condiments and canned goods, along with a rotating selection of in-house prepared food. Curbside pickup is available, as well as personal shopper and delivery services.
POP GOES THE WORLD: The Winnipeg outpost of the Popbar franchise (540 Academy Rd., 431-335-1498, pop-bar.com) offers all sorts of frozen treats, specializing in gelato and sorbetto on sticks, finished off with photogenic dips and toppings.
I tried green tea gelato with white chocolate and crushed pistachios, which was both eminently Instagrammable and tasty, with a nice, soft bite. Cute gelato shakes — foamy rather than thick and not overly sweet — are capped with a mini-cone.
Delivery is available through Skip The Dishes.
RAISE THE BAR: With decor made up of old Manitoba licence plates and odd memorabilia, the Academy location of Leopold’s Tavern (414 Academy Rd., 1-855-522-5367, leopoldstavern.com), like its counterparts in South Osborne and Bridgwater, is a kind of cleaned-up postmodern replica of a dive bar.
Continuing in that mode, Leopold’s provides an upgraded take on pub grub, from a carby breakfast on the sidewalk patio to solid burgers, poutines and snacks for noisy (but still socially distanced) nights.
Pandemic protocols include menus sent to your phone and spread-out tables. Pickup is available, as well as delivery through Leopold’s own service.
I LOVE COFFEE, I LOVE TEA: An Academy Road mainstay, Cornelia Bean (417 Academy Rd., 204-489-5460, corneliabean.com) specializes in small-batch roasted coffee beans and loose leaf tea, from very proper English Breakfast to wild herbal blends. There’s an edited selection of housewares — Chemex coffee carafes, Frieling French presses and Hario teapots — and service is expert and attentive.
A small back bar serves up coffee and a daily iced tea option. And for those of us working from home and needing fuel, Cornelia now offers cold brew coffee and iced tea concentrates in growlers.
The store is currently limiting the number of customers inside. Curbside pickup is available, as well as free citywide delivery for orders over $50.
HOT SPOT: Suo Fen Noodles (427 Academy Rd., 204-477-8888) is a small, modest, authentic Chinese noodle joint tucked behind the Domo gas bar.
Specializing in Hunan-style noodles and dumplings, the resto serves up hotpots and soups with thick silken rice noodles and layered and complex broths. The Gold Medal spicy beef option was a tad salty one night but divinely aromatic, with drifts of chili oil delivering some lip-buzzing heat.
There is no dine-in right now, but you can call for pickup or Suo Fen’s own city-wide delivery service.
Noodles and broth are packed separately to keep things from getting mushy.
The latest updates on the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.
AL FRESCO PIZZA: Specializing in rustic but refined Italian fare, Pizzeria Gusto (404 Academy Rd., 204-944-8786, pizzeriagusto.com) offers good thin-crust pies along with a coveted COVID-era amenity: a green and pleasant patio that runs along a quiet side street. (Reservations are recommended if you want to snag an outdoor spot.)
I tried the Sinatra pizza, with sharp green olives, artichokes, prosciutto and a perfect egg yolk at the centre, just waiting to meld everything together. With current conditions making shared condiments impossible, the dried pepper flakes and Parmesan came in their very own tiny canning jars.
If you can’t score a patio seat, the inside dining room is very good-looking, and pickup and delivery are also available.
Alison Gillmor Writer
Studying at the University of Winnipeg and later Toronto’s York University, Alison Gillmor planned to become an art historian. She ended up catching the journalism bug when she started as visual arts reviewer at the Winnipeg Free Press in 1992.
We’re asking longtime locals, food fanatics and fellow travellers to write in and share their favourite culinary destinations in the city, whether it be a hotbed of world cuisine, a suburban food oasis or a hidden neighbourhood gem.