Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having an exquisite dining experience at the Peasant Cookery, a delectable French restaurant located in The Exchange District.
I'll start by saying that I am indeed a huge culinary enthusiast. I jump at any opportunity to try out different foods from every corner of the world. Being a vegetarian, it makes these experiences even more interesting. Some people believe that this attribute would be prohibiting, but on the contrary! I believe that vegetarianism often gives me no other option but to try different, unique things that I wouldn't normally consider otherwise.
Entering the Peasant Cookery, I honestly had no idea what to expect. I heard good word about it from various sources (mostly word-of-mouth), but this was my first glimpse of what the restaurant served, how they physically appeared and what their general mood was like. My only other run with a similar restaurant in the city was at Resto Gare in St. Boniface. Impressed with their authenticity and personable staff, the bar of what I would consider French cuisine was set fairly high.
There was a distinctive mood set by the restaurant, probably associated with the clientele that they served. There was a romantic and simplistic ambiance in the open dining area, adorned with short candles in the middle of every table, white tablecloths and wooden furniture at the booths, tables and bars. The customers were generally groups of white-collared corporate folk, not to exclude the occasional duo/trio of dressed-down visitors and couples. The layout of the restaurant was very open, with tall windows shining light upon the innards of the restaurant and offering a beautiful view of Old Market Square. The furniture was very appropriate, although dated, but I believe that it contributed to the rustic French appeal that they were aiming for.
Now, to talk about the most obvious motive of our visit: the food.
Oftentimes, when heading to both midscale and upscale restaurants, the quality of their bread baskets simply doesn't shock and amaze. I don't make too harsh of a judgement based solely on this portion of the meal, because it's unexpected for places to serve something outstanding before the appetizers and the main course. The Peasant Cookery, however, surprised and delighted me with warm, gooey and fresh slices of bread, straight out of the oven. I also noticed that everything that this restaurant concocts is made in-house, include their bread, right down to their mayonnaise. I appreciate this fine detailing and the quality of their food truly reflects upon that.
We started off our meals with a very decadent French onion soup. This appetizer was outrageously delicious, and I am not embellishing this fact. The soup contained a flavourful broth, soaked croutons, caramelized onions and was served with a slice of melted Swiss cheese floating atop its surface. The consistency of the cheese, the potency of the flavour and the scent (oh, the scent!) was just mouthwatering. I don't think that I've ever tasted anything like it.
Our appetizers were only the introduction of what I would consider the start of a beautiful, long-lasting relationship between the Peasant Cookery and I. Once the main dishes were served, I then realized that we made the right choice in visiting this little District gem. I chose the aged cheddar gnocchi, something that I would like to dub little cheese balls from heaven. These soft and spongey balls were served on a dish accompanied by sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, piquilla peppers and caramelized red onions. The onions were cooked to perfection, and the flavours of both the cheese and the spinach were not too overpowering, nor were they bland, by any means. Every element of this dish simply blended together harmonious. Although the servings weren't overwhelming in size, I felt more than satisfied by the last mouthful.
Needless to say, we filled out the post-meal survey with enthusiastic feedback and compliments to the chef in regards to delicious servings. I walked away from the Peasant Cookery feeling enchanted and I anticipate that we will be returning there sometime in the near future thanks to a successful first experience there.
The Peasant Cookery is only one of many scrumptious little finds in The District. I can't wait to visit more places and tell you all about them. In the meantime, please vicariously enjoy this French dining experience. The final verdict: an infinite YUM!