The Black Bird Brasserie
People have called me an old soul. Other people have called me a waste of time. But let’s stick to the positives, for once.
There’s a list of things I could present you with that makes a person an old soul, beyond the two Paul Newman films they’ve seen. It may vary region to region, but the staples are as follows. I’ll be brief as we have food to discuss:
Old souls are good listeners. They insist on working for everything they own. They are good at drinking alcohol. They never, ever wear sweat pants in public. And they hate people who talk without thinking first.
But above all, an old soul likes simplicity.
Well, surprise, my big, drooling mouth has something to say about simplicity in restaurants. Because it is the reason I am in love and slightly obsessed with my favourite local spot: The Black Bird Brasserie, located on the corner of Marion and Tache in St. Boniface.
Most restaurants serve simplicity that looks and tastes like 50-year-old recipes from the old country and gramma’s homemade bla bla bla. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the way Black Bird does it is different. While gramma says: “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, Black bird says “hold up granny, we’ll take it from here.” What ends up on your plate is a perfect combination of traditional yet modern, foreign yet familiar and simple yet complicated.
But, let me shut up so you can think about your least favourite things about dining out. Go ahead, let’s hear it: overzealous servers, overdone decor, overpriced menu. Right? If you’ve never heard of Black Bird, you’ll keep going back to these places because guess what? They’re tricking you. It’s a mirage. A fake. The dishes you slop up are being sold to you, not presented to you.
The menu at Black Bird is brilliant scripture. And its heavenly light shining down from above, is the Black Bird burger, which in my opinion, is the best in the city. (I am available around the clock for debates and arguments on this, please reach out by email or direct message, thank you.)
This is how the Black Bird burger is described on their menu:
Pressed burger, caramelized onion, cornichon, Swiss cheese, served au jus.
This is how it should be described:
If you’d like to melt yourself into the moist crevices of a culinary masterpiece and eat your way out, ridding yourself of any past traumas or depression, order this.
Like the Golden Boy, honey dill and Higgins & Main, it is the next icon of our fine city. Mark my au jus soaked words. People talk about steaks melting in your mouth all the time, but enjoying the Black Bird burger, bun and all, requires no false set of teeth. Simply wrap your soggy lips around it and be entranced. Wash it down with a blackberry old fashioned from the bar, please.
Again, there is no extra bullshit being served here. Burgers with seventeen things on them, shouldn’t win contests. Like mom said: it’s what’s inside that really counts. When restaurants try too hard, they stick out like tacky sleeve of tattoos hanging out of lifted truck windows. Howdy.
At Black Bird, all you get, every time, is beautifully-crafted, redefined simplicity. This is a place that thinks before it speaks to you. It welcomes you to experience a restaurant the way you want to.
And that’s just perfect for an old soul like me.
White walls, white tables, white tiles, white cups, sour coffee.
Something about those Instagram-able coffee shops that only list four items on their menu rub me the wrong way, or better said, don’t rub me the right way. Take one walk through my life and you’ll know I’m more of a high school hoodie, chipped nail polish, drip coffee sort of specimen. Please don’t pour-over or French Press anything special just for me. Especially if you’re going to charge me 4.50 and throw in an awkward interaction with some guy in a tight plaid shirt.
Nothing hurts more than paying seven bucks for two hours of parking just to be told you can only use the Wi-Fi for one hour. Or better yet, asking Starbucks for two shots of espresso on ice and being handed some sort of hand-shaken, five-shot, sugar bomb.
I just want a polite person with a genuine Hey How’s it going? pouring my coffee from a carafe and a place to do my work. If I’m warming up my car and leaving the comfort of my Shaw 5G internet, it has to be worth it.
The Canteen Coffee Shop at 300 Taché is worth it.
The walls might be white, but not in that annoying aesthetic way that only makes people like me feel cold and out of place. When I walk in, and the guy behind the counter grabs a glass and gestures toward the freezer, furrowing his brow in a way that asks, “Ice Coffee, right?”. I nod, yes. They keep their ice coffee in a pitcher, in the fridge, the way I like to make it at home. I couldn’t tell you where they buy their beans or how they brew it. All I know is the coffee’s not bitter, it costs me less than three bucks, and I get excited for the first sip, every single time.
The café is not that big, but it has two tables large enough to accommodate me, my laptop, and a few moms drinking London Fogs. They catch up on colic and kindergarten while their babies sleep in strollers and the baristas take turns picking out songs to play over the speaker.
During the summer, I work from The Canteen almost every day. Even on Saturdays we end up going for a morning walk under the old trees on Eugenie, talking about our jobs, our moms, and how much we love this iced coffee.
This area of St. Boniface has as a sense of downtown, but more small town downtown. Marion can get busy with traffic and there are people walking in and out of banks, pharmacies, and the post office, but it doesn’t feel grimy or sketchy like cities sometimes can.
It’s places like The Canteen that turn cracked sidewalks and red stop lights into charming neighbourhoods. It’s my favourite place in the local area for not only making me feel at home, but for making me feel proud. Fancy can’t compete with friendly.