Adventures in close-to-campus wining and dining

Although I now share a cozy apartment just off Corydon with two roommates, I have spent the majority of my three years in Winnipeg living in Fort Richmond. Conveniently close to the university — yes. Exciting and bursting with things to do . . . not so much.

I’m not saying I hated living there. It is one of the safer parts of the city and I never felt scared or threatened walking home alone, late at night — unlike walking around certain parts of downtown. Living within walking distance to campus also made my life a lot easier during those exam crunch times, when I could simply walk there if I needed to study or forgot a book, rather than fight through traffic.

But there is a huge drawback to living close to campus — it is far from everything else, as students who have chosen to live close to the university or in residence can surely relate. It takes at least 20 minutes to get to downtown, which if you choose to take a cab is at least $20, a fee that can really add up weekend after weekend.

Although I am no longer stranded on campus, I predict that I will get sick of Wise Guys and Degrees at some point during the school year — like I have for the past two years of my time at the U of M — so I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands and find some alternatives.

On a rainy Saturday night, I dragged my friend Jessica along with me to check out a few lounges not far from the Fort Garry campus. We started with The Orbit Room, a small quiet lounge attached to the Italian restaurant Nicolinos. It had a patio that I probably would have enjoyed if not for the stormy weather and a very cute waiter who promptly handed us menus and brought our sangria.

Save a few older couples, we were pretty much the only people in the bar — which is what we found at the next two places we went to as well. Maybe it was just early, but I got the feeling it would be way easier for my friend and I to get a table at a lounge in Fort Richmond or University Heights on a Saturday night than at one of our usual haunts. We probably wouldn’t have to fend off gross horny drunks who think looking in their general direction is a sign that you obviously want to fuck them. Sorry guys, but nothing ruins my night faster than being obnoxiously hit on by someone who’s breath smells like chewing tobacco and bourbon.

Our next stop was the Romani’s lounge. The place is not much bigger than my living room — and about as ugly as Wise Guys on campus — but they have the best pizza in the city and boast about having over 105 kinds of imported beer. It was almost too small for me because, although there were only three other groups there besides us, it seemed busy. I’d definitely come back for the food, but when I already have a dirty sports bar a stones throw from my office I’ll probably go there first. But that’s just me. If you like dirty sports bars, it also has two big screen TVs and would probably be a perfect place to go have a beer and watch “the big game,” if you live close by.

Our tour ended at the Four Points Hotel lounge — formerly know as The Lid. Sitting in a dimly lit corner of a bar that was decked out with white leather plush chairs and dark maple wooden tables, it was definitely the classiest place we went to that night.

The lounge was maybe a little too upscale for a “few-beers-after-class” hangout but would definitely impress any date any night. Make sure to grab a napkin too, each having a clever design that looks like a notepad.

At this point in the article I feel it’s necessary to note that there are also at least half a dozen solid and licenced Chinese and Japanese restaurants around this area. Some of my personal favorites include Southland, Hsieh, and Mo Mo but there are certainly plenty of others for you to try that rival anything you will find downtown.

It may not have been the wild and crazy night of debauchery I’d hoped for, but it most certainly gave me some alternatives for the upcoming year. I encourage all of you reading this to now go forth and explore what the south end of the city has to offer and to never again get stuck eating the Komplet pita for your fourth lunch in a row.