Máquè in the Prairies

By October 23, 2017 , , , , ,

Should you ever find yourselves in the Manitoban Prairies feeling a bit peckish, Máquè and Clementine are places you should definitely not miss.

Máquè is the brainchild of Scott Bagshaw, who happens to own Deseo and Enotech, two of my favorite restaurants in the city. I had actually been pronouncing it Mack in my head, even though I was under the impression that it was French and knew that the French do not pronounce Máquè, Mack.

In a delightful twist of events, it turns out that the root word isn't French, but Mandarin (麻雀), meaning sparrow.

So I would have been wrong either way.

Absent are the large signs which signal the presence of a restaurant, but instead you'll find demure establishment located on an unassuming corner, where you'll find simple decor and an open and inviting kitchen which just begs you to come take a peek.

The menu is printed out on a crisp sheet of white paper, which indicates that it changes often to match the moving seasons. There are a few staples which stay constant, but the rest of the selection keeps things new and interesting.

All the dishes are made 'family style', which just means you get to try a bit of everything. 

The server rattled off a list of his favorite items and left us to our own devices.

When he came back, he dropped off this plate which looked absolutely divine. One of their specials of the night, a tuna tartare - on the house.

Basically begging to be dug in, we quickly pointed to things on the menu so we could get our order in and begin eating.

"we would like this, this this and this"

The tuna tartare with orange zest, crunchy potato, black truffle, fish sauce, chili, shallot, and egg yolk [19] is served with this light rice paper which was deep fried to perfection.

As I contemplated whether or not I should just grab the entire plate and run to the corner so that I could have it all to myself, our first official dish of the night arrived.

This dish was one of the first things our server had recommended, a cucumber, mint, kale, watercress, jicama, hazelnut, pistachio, spicy pea, and daikon salad with a light thai dressing [16]. This is bunny food on a whole new level. 

Despite there being so many ingredients, you could taste the amount of care put into each component. Everything was individually pickled or prepared so that whether it was flavor or texture, there was something new with each bite.

But first, you gotta mix it all up!

You'll quickly notice the attention to detail here, firstly in the food and then in the service. The dishes are all intricately prepared and carefully placed, and each plate is timed to be brought out just as you are finished the one preceding it. A more subtle attention to detail is in the sequence in which they are brought out. Each dish that comes next is heavier than the last so that your tastebuds gradually escalate from flavors which are first delicate then intense.

These prawn toasts that arrived next are a testament to both these things.

White prawns, toasted brioche, crustacean remoulade, and water chestnut topped with radish and caviar [14]

It's the sandwich your mom used to pack in your lunch box elevated to a new level.

Perhaps one of the best dishes of the night was this roast sable fish with oyster mushroom, port and soy gastric, burdock chawanmushi, and chicarron [22]

So good that it made me forget to ask the server what on earth 'soy gastric' was.

Even though the portion was generous, I was sad when the server took the plate away.

Thankfully, two new ones arrived just in time

Roast brussel sprouts, truffled sausage, nuoc cham, perigueux, and crisp garlic [16]

and a mound of aromatic roast beets, szechuan pickled beets, pineapple, crisp grains, ginger, black sesame butter, and herbs [16]

These were good, but not sablefish level good.

By now, we had worked through 6 plates and felt more satisfied than when we started. Not quite remembering how many more dishes we had left, every new one that arrived just made it feel like a never ending dinner celebration.

Always down for those.

Even though I tend to go for vegetable and fruit heavy options on the daily, I'm more of a rice and noodle kinda girl.

So when the carbs finally arrived, I was all for it.

With roots in Hong Kong, I have some expectations when it comes to fried rice and lo mien, which I usually prefer at cheap no-nonsense places.

Their fried rice here is made with asian greens, shaoxing dressing, soft egg, sesame and undefined smorgasbord of herbs [16].

This was followed by their prawn lo mien with crab and chili sauce, peanut and bamboo ash, and scallion [20]

I'll be honest, grandma's is better and as much as I admire places that attempt to replicate the staples of a Cantonese kitchen, it's just hard. These cheap and easy comfort foods aren't meant to be fancy.

Not saying that it wasn't good, it just wasn't fried rice or lo mien.

 I also don't quite know what bamboo ash is.

Thankfully, the last dish that arrived redeemed any disappointment I had in the last two. 

A wild mushroom, white truffle & white miso, egg noodle, cured egg, with shaved black truffle and chestnut [20]. 

This was sable fish level good. Maybe even better. 

Ending the meal off with a chocolate tart was the perfect finish to a delightful meal.

Máquè really hits the spot in many places, and it seems like you can't go wrong with anything that has truffle or sablefish in it. The service is superb, the experience is unique, and the food - absolutely divine

Find an excuse to go, or go just because.



For more reviews and information on Máquè, please visit the following link
Maque Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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