Borscht & Crackles at The Don, Downtown Winnipeg

I married a lifelong Winnipeg Blue Bomber fan. And now, after 29 agonizing years, his team has FINALLY won the Grey Cup. So this past Saturday we went to see it!

Grey Cup! Grey Cup! Grey Cup! WOOOOOOOO!

We figured we’d get a bite to eat AFTER seeing the coveted trophy. And while the hour-and-a-half wait in line was definitely worth it for us, we were famished by the time we walked out of the Convention Centre in downtown Winnipeg. I suggested to Andrew that this might be the day we finally eat at The Don, which was nearby. Every time we drive down Broadway, I notice The Don Restaurant, nestled at the bottom of an apartment building, kinda at the corner of Broadway and Donald (well, there’s that parking lot that’s actually at the corner, but you know what I mean). At last the day had come. I led Andrew to The Don with great urgency.

“Let’s go get some food!”

So why The Don? Well, when Don and Marlene Hoeppner (of d’8 Schtove fame) had told us about The Dawning, they’d mentioned that they’d also owned Don Deli. In fact, they’re the ones who started it all. While they no longer own The Don, the Mennonite influence on the menu has remained. Look! “Crack & Hash” and “Glums Kuak”! Farmer sausage!

We turned the page, and there was Vereniki! Served with “house-made cream gravy” — aka: schmauntfatt!

I gazed longingly at the mention of “crispy crackling”. I followed my heart and ordered the crack & hash. (I followed my heart, and then clogged it, I guess. Ha.)

While we waited for our food, we gazed at the stunning prints of paintings that grace the restaurant’s walls.

There was something familiar about them. We leaned in closer — there it was, Don’s signature!

Yep, after ceasing his restauranteur days, he leaned into his artistic abilities, and today he creates these gorgeous paintings. The art that you’ll see at The Don are prints. Beautiful!

Then, the moment of truth: our food arrived. Andrew ordered a side of borscht, which he said was legit. The vereniki were from the Country Perogy Shop out of Kleefeld, and obviously delicious. I do think Andrew needs to be further educated in the ways of schmauntfatt though, because he says it tastes the same everywhere he goes. I looked at him in horror. (And now I must write an upcoming post/rant about this ridiculous claim.)

Here’s my dish of Crack & Hash. Yes, I ordered my eggs scrambled because I’m a farmers’ daughter and therefore like to dump liberal amounts of ketchup on scrambled eggs. (And I drink my coffee black; no cream, no sugar. Isn’t that a farmer thing too? Maybe it somehow helps to stay awake when you’re really tired, if you don’t dilute it with cream and sugar?)

I’ve never seen crackles presented like this before. It is not beautiful.

Crackles aren’t pretty at the best of times, but for a second there, I thought I’d been given chilli by accident. I reluctantly lifted my fork to give it a shot anyway, and realized the entire mass of crackles had been fried up nice and crispy. SO CRISPY! My fork even made a faint “ting” sound against the crackles. Yep, fried up good and proper. In fact, these were the crispiest crackles I’d ever had, and I LOVED THEM. Andrew took a fork-full off my plate and went back for more. So, SO good.

That is not mustard; it’s hot sauce. I did not use it.

Another note, they offer fresh-squeezed orange juice! It was authentically fresh-squeezed, tasted like the very most freshest of oranges. Also, they were setting up the Christmas tree while we were there. A lovely touch!

Now that we’ve finally been to The Don Restaurant, we can’t wait to go back!