The restaurant of 2014 lures Jean-Philippe Tastet to Mile-Ex this past week. The critic first ate at Manitoba a little under a year ago under a cloud of skepticism generated by much media hype over the funky, hip spot from Elisabeth Cardin, Simon Cantin and chef Chris Parasiuk. Reluctant to play the role of "pisse-vinaigre" after a fine but unspectacular lunch, Tastet chose to bide his time before a return taste.
The verdict (behind the paywall on Le Devoir but posted gratis on Tastet.ca) is appreciably better this go-around. The critc takes inventory of some hipster minutiae and is complimentary about most of Parasiuk's plates: "(...) de bons commentaires sur ce boudin noir au poivre des dunes, chips d'échalotes et airelles : moelleux, parfumé, d'une texture parfaite et mis en valeur par le poivre léger et la sonnette gustative des airelles."
Plates like a Takwanaw bison steak and spaghetti squash with smoked shallots and cedar butter go over very well with the critic. Still, a quibble Tastet has with Manitoba is the kitchen's moderately haphazard style—"le visuel légèrement brouillon de la plupart des assiettes." Regardless, Cardin and Cantin know how to work a room and while the restaurant may not operate at a Bocuse d'or level or merit a place "dans la liste San Pellegrino," the overall experience is sufficiently enjoyable to warrant a return trip—"je reviendrai avec plaisir."