The Frenchway is the way to go

Local café and bakery offers up an authentic taste of France

Staff at The Frenchway Cafe & Bakery display some of their irresistible homemade pastries. Amy Middleton

Frenchway Café & Catering
612 Academy Rd.

The Frenchway Café and Bakery, a quaint little spot on Academy Road, offers one of the most pleasurable culinary experiences in Winnipeg. Owner and chef Olivier Fortat from France has managed to bring an authentic taste of his homeland to the Winnipeg food scene.

Although one can count the number of mismatched tables on one hand, the café’s quaint, eclectic feel is integral to its charm. A French-themed mural graces the far wall adding a little “je ne sais quoi” to the atmosphere.

The sweet treats, all of which are baked on-site, are to die for. Ranging in price from $2.25 to $4.75, the display case features a variety of stunning French pastries including éclairs, mille feuille, apple strudel, butter tarts and berry puffs.

For a truly traditional French treat, the Paris-Brest, a thick layer of silky almond butter cream sandwiched between two rings of almond-crusted choux pastry is a nice, not-too-sweet finish to a meal. Traditional Canadian desserts like fudgy, peanut butter brownies are in abundance as well.

The café also boasts a seemingly endless selection of homemade breads, ranging from traditional crusty French baguettes to giant rounds of sunflower-flax bread. The server-recommended multigrain loaf is dense and moist with a thick, chewy crust. At $5.95, this hearty bread would surely lend itself to at least a dozen sandwiches.

The must-try croissants are available in plain, multigrain, chocolate and almond. The delicate crunch of the toasted, sliced almonds atop the flakey, buttery pastry is the perfect pairing.

As if the sweet treats and breads weren’t enough, the Frenchway has a savoury side that should not be ignored.

Although the menu is brief, each dish sounds so incredible that it proves difficult to decide.

Breakfast includes the classics, but is spiced up with strawberry and chocolate crepes and eggs Benedict with asparagus and ham. The tantalizing aroma of the French toast, which comes with a heap of fresh strawberries and a sprinkling of cinnamon, will definitely cause extreme food envy for everyone in the vicinity.

The lunch menu includes a variety of sandwiches, a handful of distinctive salads and two or three homemade soups that change daily.

The most unique sandwich of the bunch is both visually stunning and orgasmically tasty. Two slices of baguette come topped with roasted turkey and smothered generously with creamy, gooey brie cheese. A sprinkling of fresh cranberries adds a burst of brightness while tender asparagus spears lend just the right amount of crunch. The sandwich is accompanied by crispy roasted potatoes that give way to a tender inside.

The salads certainly aren’t your ordinary mound of greens. The artichoke salad features marinated artichoke hearts, sliced chorizo sausage, hunks of salty feta, diced cucumbers and green onions atop a bed of organic greens. Dressed in a mild vinaigrette, this filling dish offers a pleasing variety of flavours and textures.

Aside from the impossibly delicious food, what puts this place over the top is the enthusiasm of the staff. Both knowledgeable and extremely courteous, they will kindly answer any questions and give recommendations, making the experience all the more memorable.

Published in Volume 64, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 18, 2010)

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