Grilled Corn

The Merchant Kitchen: Ancient Flavours with a Modern Twist

Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge supporter of our downtown Winnipeg. I grew up spending a lot of time downtown–my parents had a business in the Exchange (where my sister and I helped and worked since we were kids), my mother worked at the Bannatyne Campus of the University of Manitoba, and as a teenager downtown was where it was at (Mr. Greenjeans, anyone?).

My love affair with downtown Winnipeg is Twitter-famous, and we often take our family downtown for events like the Santa Claus Parade, Manyfest, food trucks on Broadway, and of course, events at the MTS Centre. When the Alt Hotel was launched, it was exciting to know something new and fresh was coming to downtown Winnipeg. Now with the addition of The Merchant Kitchen within the Alt Hotel, it’s safe to say I’m delighted to welcome Bobby, Eric, and the team to the neighbourhood.

The Merchant Kitchen is a culmination of a years of research and preparation by Pizzeria Gusto‘s Bobby Mottola and his lead chef, Eric Lee. Traveling the world looking for inspired flavours and styles, Mottola and Lee wanted to bring a different kind of concept to Winnipeg. I describe The Merchant Kitchen as Asian-inspired dishes, ancient flavours with a modern twist.

Clockwise from top: (1) Cocktail party at Merchant Kitchen, featuring (L-R) Tokyo Drift, Margarita Picante, and Capel Pisco. (2) Carnitas featuring slow-roasted pork shoulder, pickled red onion, queso fresco, cilantro, tomatilla salsa. (3) Duck rolls with roasted duck, glass noodles, Asian coleslaw, peanuts, coriander, mint, and sesame soy vinaigrette.

If you’re looking to get together with the gang before the game or theatre, you will enjoy how Merchant Kitchen’s family-style serving sizes means no one eats alone, and no one eats just one thing. As manager, Suzy Afiifi explained, “We want the Merchant Kitchen to bring friends and family together, talking, laughing, sharing, and enjoying our food with a great atmosphere and ambiance.” Lovers of Pizzeria Gusto’s menu will be thrilled to know that their signature brussel sprouts make an appearance on The Merchant Kitchen’s menu too. In this version they are kicked up a notch as wok-roasted with garlic and Thai chilies. If you love brussel sprouts, you’ll love these. If you are not convinced, you will be converted. I promise.

Wok-roasted brussel sprouts with garlic and Thai chilies.

From the big plates featuring the Korean-style fried chicken (Manitoba chicken) to their beautiful interpretation of corn on the cob, The Merchant Kitchen is just as focused on making your mouth happy as it is your eyes. Each dish is presented with colourful flair and invites sharing.

Grilled Corn
Grilled corn basted with mayo, sour cream, cotija cheese, chile powder, lime, and cilantro

Finish off your meal with a tequila-sampler or a sweet ending. Tequila sipping is en vogue here and the selection they have will not conjure up memories of some bad night at the bar. These are high-end mezcals to be sipped, savoured, and enjoyed.

tequila samplers
Tequila samplers, from left to right: Casamigo reposado and casamigo blanco.
The Merchant Kitchen
Pound Cake Cinnamon Churros served with warm malted milk.

Reservations here: The Merchant Kitchen on Open Table

Follow them on Twitter here: The Merchant Kitchen on Twitter

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