Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fude

As a teenager in the 1970s I loved the TV show 'Fawlty Towers' - last night (Friday February 1st) whilst dining at Fude I thought I had been transported back into the show!

Fude is situated at 303 99 Osborne Street North, Winnipeg. Fude had won the Gold Plate Award "Best Upscale Casual Dining Restaurant in Canada" from 2007 to 2010, but not for the past two years. It appears to continue to attract an enthusiastic local following.

My beautiful wife (BW) has dined there several times, but it has been nearly two years since I made my one and only visit. The first aspect I noted was Fude has changed its decor since then (in fact some of the work is still ongoing - missing light fixtures and little art work on the walls) to a more darker scheme of reds and browns, which gave the main dining room a warmer, more intimate, feel. Still no tablecloths on the table though, but Fude promotes itself as 'casual dining'; so I guess that means no tablecloths, or table decorations of any description, and napkins so small they did not stretch across my lap!
Here we are in front of the new red wall and fireplace

Whilst waiting for our friends to arrive we were greeted at our table by the owner, Chris Fougere, who was full of nervous bon homie, although dressed somewhat overly casually in jeans with his shirt untucked (readers of my style articles will recall my dislike of that look on any male aged 19 and older!). He explained how everything, including the bread, is cooked fresh and from scratch in the kitchen - he took great pride in this fact.

It was kind of him to greet us - however, towards the end of the meal we also received a visit from Chantelle the General Manager and then, as if two visits from the management were not enough, a return visit from the Chris! We were in fact in the middle of a group conversation when he came to the table. He hovered around us and, when there was no sign of a break in our conversation, he actually interrupted us ("sorry to interrupt you") to ask how the evening was going. Here was my Fawlty Towers moment - so very reminiscent of Basil Fawlty asking "Everything all right Major?". It was hilarious, but somewhat rude. We came for the food, not to be entertained by the owner.

But what about the food? I began with the Soup of Nations - the soup of the day. Red Quinoa and Elk ($4.99). Unfortunately our server, in describing the soup to me, omitted to mention the soup was spicy and had some heat to it. As a result, although very tasty, it took several glasses of water to clear my palate enough for my main course (and it still remained the dominate taste in my mouth all evening).

My main course was Spice Dusted Manitoba Berkshire Pork Tenderloin ($28.99) which was faultless - the pork was juicy and just a little pink in the middle - it melted in my mouth. Superb. The accompaning Rhubarb Chutney, Wild Rice Casserole and Red Cabbage were all cooked to perfection and resulted in a well balanced and proportioned meal.
Image by Fude

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for my BW's Flyin' High Pickerel (encrusted with Manitoba hemp seed nuts drizzled with a citrus chardonnay cream with ginger-lime basmati wild rice) ($29.99). Being gluten intolerant she was delighted that Fude has a dedicated celliac friendly menu (although a very limited selection). On her two previous visits the Pickerel has been wonderful. It promised the same this time, arriving in its parchment wrapping and giving off an excellent aroma. However, she said it was simply okay, and lacked a certain special something - the important wow factor you expect for a $30 entree. It tasted the same as any Pickerel we prepare at home. Disappointing.
Image by Fude

On the subject of gluten-free I find it somewhat strange in a restaurant, which has a celliac friendly menu, they brought us, as a party of four, a large plate of foccacia when one of our party of four could obviously not eat it because of the gluten content. My BW just had to sit and watch us eat, as no substitute gluten free bread was provided. It does not take much effort to cook a gluten free foccacia (I did so myself at home last week).  Disappointing lack of understanding (and effort) on the part of Fude.
My home made gluten-free focaccia - takes less than one hour to make

The foccacia came with a beet infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I found it the other way around - beet infused with olive oil! It was bitter in taste and poorly balanced. That said our friends loved it. On a positive note I asked our server if I could have a traditional bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar in place of the beet infused, she said yes without question, and returned with another plate of the beet infused oil! Quickly realizing her mistake she promptly returned again with olive oil!

Our wine (a half carafe of Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon, 2010, $26.99) was everything you would expect from a cab. Rich, bold and heavy - a good strong cab with a hint of cola to it!

On the issue of service I was a little disappointed. Three visits to our table from the management aside, my friend waited 15 minutes for his Dry Martini. Our server, although delightful, was dressed in a black vest, with a grey cloth headband around her forehead - extreme casual. It looked as though we had interupted her yoga class - indeed when the Martini took so long to arrive I thought she had returned to her class!

When our main courses arrived they were delivered by a different server, who did not know who had ordered what, "Who ordered the Pork?". Really? We were only a table of four and our two friends were sharing tapas - she had a one in three chance of getting it right. I thought servers notated on their order pad who is sitting where to ensure delivery of the food is seamless and efficient.

Finally, we finished our meal with some hot drinks. Our friends ordered the Chai Tea latte and pronounced it the best they have ever tasted. My espresso was of average strength, but smooth - but it came bizarrely with 3 coffee beans on the saucer as decoration - unnecessary for a simple espresso, just a little pretentious, and very irritating. We finally received a small plate with four home made chocolates, milk chocolate infused with mint. A really delightful way to finish my coffee and the meal (the mint finally removed the taste of the soup!).

Our bill before tax and service came to a reasonable $93.55 (although we had to send the bill back to be divided into two for our friends and us). Being just normal people, with a typically limited budget for entertainment, we have to select our evenings out with care and simply expect to receive great service, value for money and $30 ish entrees which exceed the standards we could easily create at home . On balance Fude did not come up to our expectations this time - average service, a lack of attention to detail, my BW's food was uninspiring, and we had to endure Basil Fawlty's performance! I can perhaps now see why the Golden Plate Award has been allusive for two years.........
Fude.....inspired cuisine and wine bar on Urbanspoon

3 comments:

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  3. Hi, there...totally unrelated to Fude...is there any way to get your recipe for the gluten free focaccia? :) Always looking for palatable GF breads, as a newly GF eater.
    Thanks!

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