Aug 262015
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Winnipeg restaurant Mon Ami Louis offers French-inspired cuisine
on pedestrian bridge Esplanade Riel

Esplanade Riel, constructed in 2003, is a pedestrian bridge crossing the Red River and connecting Winnipeg, Manitoba’s downtown with the St. Boniface area, known as Winnipeg’s French quarter. I’ve read it is the only bridge in North America with a restaurant. The $1 million cost to bring water, sewer, phone lines, and other fibre optics onto the bridge was the subject of some controversy during construction.

Mon Louis Ami

Restaurant on the bridge

This summer a new restaurant opened in this space. It’s chef, Luc Jean, was born and raised in St. Boniface. The French-themed menu of Mon Ami Louis includes a little of everything, from snacks and appetizers to soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees. It features tarte flambé (a French version of pizza), buckwheat crepes, pomme frites (French fries), and versions of poutine.  There are a selection of desserts for your sweet tooth and beers, wines, and cocktails to quench your thirst. Prices are moderate, running from $12 to $19 for your main selection.

Interior of Mon Ami Louis

Interior of Mon Ami Louis

Buckwheat crepes at Mon Ami Louis

I enjoyed my buckwheat crepes with chicken, asparagus and Brie

Mon Louis Ami is the third restaurant to open in this space. The first was Salisbury House. Sals, as it is commonly known, is a Winnipeg chain known for its hearty breakfasts, burgers called “nips”, and comfort food. The first restaurant opened in 1931. The original owner, Ralph Erwin, sold his interest in the business in 1979 to a group of investors. In 2001, local businessmen bought the chain from the Montreal-based owners. Winnipeg native Burton Cummings, lead singer of the Guess Who, is one of the investors. After seven years on the bridge, the lease for that location was not renewed. Seven other locations remain in Winnipeg.

Chez Sophie was the second restaurant. The owners closed up shop in under a year citing the “extraordinary expense relating to a restaurant on a bridge.” The unique location does not get much business in winter months.

Mon Ami Louis is part of Wow Hospitality Concepts, which owns several Winnipeg restaurants. Mon Ami Louis will be open for brunch, lunch, and dinner through the summer months and available for rentals the rest of the year.

The restaurant had a relaxed, comfortable feel. Service was quick (being early for the dinner crowd, the restaurant was not very busy) and the food was good. But one of the greatest appeals was the location. It was relaxing to look over the river as I ate (even if I had the occasional dizzy spell from watching the moving water). Hopefully, the restaurant has the right plan to make a go of it in this location. I would like to return and sample other items on the menu.

View of St. Boniface from Mon Ami Louis

View of St. Boniface from Mon Ami Louis

Water taxi on the Red River

Watching the water taxi

Esplanade Riel

Note: This post is not sponsored. I paid full price for my meal.

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  29 Responses to “Restaurant On The Bridge”

  1. This looks so fabulous! I don’t think I have seen anything like it! Oh I do hope that they hit the right formula for success…be a shame to waste that location. Nothing like eating with a water view:)

  2. Cool! I think a restaurant on the bridge is a great idea! Great views and it’s a fine excuse to go for a walk – you know there’s food and drink along the way.

  3. Beautiful scenery and it certainly seems like it has all the right ingredients to make it a success. I’d love to try that buckwheat crepe! Anita

  4. I love the idea of a restaurant on a bridge – what great views to have while you’re eating. And I like the look of the food too, especially that buckwheat crepe.

  5. Love your Manitoba food posts. This is the first restaurant on a bridge I’ve heard about. Hope three’s the charm!

    • I guess time will tell how well the restaurant does. The menu is interesting and varied and the prices are reasonable.

  6. Well I would definitely visit the restaurant for a lovely meal with those views, even in wintertime

    • Noel, it appears there aren’t enough people like you willing to go there in winter. I think part of the issue is reduced foot traffic on the bridge and less stop ins.

  7. What a lovely idea! Where do you park your car and how far do you have to walk to get there? I agree with Noel. Given that the answers to my questions are ok, then yes I would go during the winter, too!

    • You can park on a side street on the St. Boniface side of the bridge or in one of the lots at the Forks. In both cases, the walk would be 5 to 10 minutes, depending on exactly where you found a spot.

  8. What a perfect setting for a restaurant! I’d love to try Mon Amis Louis one day. Great post Donna.

  9. What a fascinating venue. The views must be great. Sure hope this latest carnation succeeds where others have failed.

  10. Oops! That should have been “incarnation”…

  11. What an innovative idea! I, too, wondered about parking. It seems like they’ve got a great plan to deal with the slower public season and it would be a lovely venue for a special reception or group at that time. (Plus, you could shuttle your guests!)

  12. What a wonderful spot for a restaurant. Mon Ami Louis looks divine and so too does the view. Yep, I’d like to have a meal here 🙂

  13. I enjoyed reading your description of the restaurant on the bridge, but I can’t help but wonder about the economic viability of the venture. Lacking a large amount of foot traffic and with, I assume, no parking option on the bridge, I would think that the restaurant will need to remain a destination in itself in order to survive. Thanks for a fascinating story!

    • Dennis, as I understand it restaurants can be a tough financial venture in general. The location on the bridge, while attractive and interesting, poses some unique challenges to economic viability. You are right about no parking on the bridge and the restaurant will need to become a destination in itself in order to survive. Not being open during the winter and using the venue for private receptions during that time period may help.

  14. It does seem that the new owners will have to turn the restaurant into a destination unto itself—not somewhere you pop into for dinner. Having said that, it does seem like an interesting venue. I’m not clear on the parking situation at either end of the bridge, but it could be an attractive special event venue if they can figure out a way to get people with mobility problems there. Golf carts for the grandparents of the bride and groom?

    • Suzanne, it actually isn’t very far to walk from the nearest parking lots. Perhaps equivalent to a city block (or block and a half). Golf carts are a nice idea for people with mobility problems. Maybe the’d need skis on them in the winter.

  15. Friends from Australia had a terrible time there. Horrible service and mediocre food. I was embarrassed.

    • Bob, what a shame your Australian friends had such a terrible time. My experience was quite different than theirs.

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