Recently, Aaron and I were asked by CBC Information Radio to visit and rate various patios around Winnipeg (Laurel was invited too, of course, but was out of town). The initial list of “must visit” patios was compiled by InfoRad staff following an appeal for submissions of what Winnipeggers consider to be the best patios in the city. Guidelines for reviewing each patio include its view, likelihood of people-watching, comfort, service, signature food & drink, protection from the elements, and either “party” or “romance” atmosphere. Each aspect of the patio was rated out of a possible 5 drink umbrellas, yet listed below are simply the highlights from each stop. This morning we sat down in the studio with Terry and Marcy to discuss the results of all that sipping, tasting, and reviewing. It was a tough job, of course, but Wo’MHers are always up for a challenge (that involves food and drink)!
5. Saffron’s (Corydon): We went for a weekday lunch and hoped Saffron’s would deliver in all aspects – a great patio with an excellent view of the street, therefore good people-watching. But our experience was that the view was the best thing we could say about it. Our coffee was cold, and the 10″ pizza was grossly overpriced. We really wanted to like it, but would not go back. The highest rating we gave Saffron’s was 4 out of 5 umbrellas for each of the view, people-watching, and comfort. Sadly it failed on all other accounts.
4. Cousin’s (Sherbrooke): We were intrigued by this one, never having heard of it and not knowing what to expect. The patio is on the corner of Sherbrooke and as such there’s lots of foot and vehicle traffic. The patio itself is nothing special and seems to have been added just because there was room to do it, but this was made up for by the knowledgable and friendly waitress who recommended the veggie burger. It didn’t disappoint and we’d definitely go back. Great place for a quick lunch, but nothing in the way of atmosphere. We scored Cousin’s with a full 5 drink umbrellas for their delicious veggie burger and great selection of beer for such a small spot.
3. Bar Italia, a.k.a. “Bar I” (Corydon): We came here on a Sunday evening and quickly realised that this place appeals to certain demographic (which we find ourselves rapidly outgrowing!). The Bar I patio is perfect for people-watching, and seems to be as much about being watched as it is about doing the watching! Our food was okay; our coffee-based drinks were good. Bar I’s large patio can accommodate a lot of diners (a plus) and smokers (a negative). All in all, a good place to come with a pack of friends (to nurse a hangover, maybe?) but not romantic at all, and not the sort of place you’d want to bring your parents. Bar I receives top marks for its party atmosphere and ranks high for service. Definitely a patio you’d hit for drinks after work on a Friday…or a Monday for that matter.
2. Confusion Corner (where else?): We came here for brunch on a Saturday and had the rooftop patio to ourselves. We loved the comfy, cabana feel of it and pretty much had a dedicated waitress. While there was no view to speak of (couldn’t see the namesake confusion corner) and therefore no people-watching, it was sheltered from the elements and had a cozy feel. Our food and drinks were great and we enjoyed our visit. A good place for a date, brunch with the folks, or a large group meal. Great atmosphere. For the service, party atmosphere, and protection from the elements Confusion Corner rates high in our books. This spot, despite a view of the parking lot, also offers comfortable seating and fantastic ambience.
1. Inferno’s Bistro (St. Boniface): We truly saved the best for last. We had a light dinner and drink on a weeknight, and from the moment we came into the patio, knew we had found our winner. The patio is secluded and cozy, and the food and drink were delicious. Service was a bit slow, but it’s not really the kind of place you come to in a hurry anyway. We thought it would be the perfect place to have a long, lazy dinner and drinks – either for a romantic date or as a group of friends. Definitely would be a classy place to bring visiting relatives. Awarding Inferno’s 5 drink umbrellas for their fantastic food and intimate, romantic atmosphere was easy.
Conclusion: It was hard to pick a winner; all these places were vastly different from each other. The appeal of Bar I is the complete opposite of the appeal of Inferno’s, but they both ranked well for us in different regards. Confusion Corner was a positive experience, too. We’d go to Cousin’s again for the food, but not the atmosphere. Saffron’s is out totally for us, which is too bad, because it is a great location and has potential.
Throughout the week, we had a lot of people ask, why didn’t you go to [such and such a place]? We were surprised that no one suggested (to the CBC) the rooftop at Tavern United. Also recommended was Pasquale’s, Pony Corral on Pembina (where the patio is right on the river), and the Red Cactus (on Corydon). These are the places we’re looking forward to checking out later this summer; however, where would you say has the best patio in the city, and why? Keeping in mind aspects such as view, atmosphere, food, drink, and comfort – where else should we visit during the next few months? Have you had a particularly bad or good experience on a Winnipeg patio, or do you lament a Winnipeg patio of the past? We’d love to hear all about it! Ahh, summer…