DRIVE & DINE: Take a culinary tour across Saskatchewan
One of our favourite summer pastimes in Saskatchewan is hitting the highway for a road trip. It’s made all the better when the destination has delicious food.
One of our favourite summer pastimes in Saskatchewan is hitting the highway for a road trip. It’s made all the better when the destination has delicious food. There are hidden gems across the province, just waiting for your discovery, along with spots in the cities worth a visit for the first (or tenth!) time. While there are too many great restaurants to list in this story, here are a few of my top picks sure to delight your tastebuds and your sense of adventure.
Mabel Hill Farm Kitchen & Marketplace
Mabel Hill is one of those places that will make you immediately thankful you made the trip to get there. The restaurant is located on a large property just outside Nipawin and surrounded by acres of vegetable gardens and fruit orchards. Grab a seat on the patio to take in the sunset or stay indoors to watch chef and owner Michael William Brownlee and his team prepare your meal in the open kitchen. The seasonal menu here changes often to reflect Brownlee’s modern farmhouse dining concept which pairs rustic prairie dishes with globally inspired flavours. Leave room in the car to take home some of the local food bounty as Mabel Hill also houses a farmers’ market. Dinner reservations are recommended; look for themed Destination Dinner events in the fall.
POP Wine Bar
POP, aka “Paris of the Prairies”, is Saskatoon’s newest hot spot from restaurateurs Christie Peters and Kyle Michael. POP is a complementary space to the chefs’ award-winning contemporary Italian Primal (another must-visit) which offers a more casual experience while highlighting natural wine and shareable plates. Here you’ll find rare high-quality items such as oysters, caviar and wines unavailable elsewhere in Saskatchewan, along with great happy hour specials. POP’s wine list changes often as many of the bottles are from small producers in limited quantities. The ideal night? Head to POP for appetizers (look for happy hour specials from 3 to 5 p.m.) and wine on the patio before dinner up the block at Primal.
Grain & Pulse Bakery Cafe
Imperial hit the jackpot when chef Tracy Kelly moved to the small town located on Highway 2 to open Grain & Pulse. Before rural Saskatchewan life, Kelly worked across Canada at places like Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island where the menu changes daily.
The café offers casual, counter service with a focus on fresh, quality ingredients. The lunch menu changes seasonally, and the European-style pastries (both savoury and sweet) are all made from scratch — get there early because items often sell out.
Hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 10a.m. – 3:30 p.m.; Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (call ahead to reserve your pizza on these days). Saturday is available for private bookings for up to 15 people (starting at $500 plus tax and gratuity) with customized menus.
Skye Café and Bistro
Skye is home to perhaps the prettiest patio spot in the province. The south-facing terrace bursts with raised vegetable beds, flowers and greenery and overlooks Regina’s Wascana Creek. It all suits the equally beautiful ethos behind Skye’s food. Chefs and owners Milton Rebello and Louise Lu work with local farmers in sourcing the best ingredients possible (try the burger made with bison from Les Kroeger’s Hanley ranch) to craft their exquisite, creative dishes. Creativity is at the forefront here, from Lu’s pottery to Rebello’s hand pies (my favourite is the cherry bourbon). Order a pie in a custom picnic box to create your own lunch in Wascana Park.
Down in Saskatchewan’s southwest corner lies Harvest Eatery where you are guaranteed an excellent meal and an even better time. The rural hospitality on offer from husband-and-wife duo, chef Garret “Rusty” and Kristy Thienes, is unbeatable. It’s a place where you’ll feel comfortable in cowboy boots or a cocktail dress — the choice is yours and there’s always a cause for celebration when the food and drink are this good. If you’re travelling with a crew, call ahead to order a family platter, like the 10-piece fried chicken or the Speckle Park Tomahawk Ribeye, sourced from a local rancher who also owns the butcher shop across the street. Pop into the Blind Boar for a craft cocktail and watch for their Producer’s Series dining events this summer. Reservations are required for dining in.
To plan more summer road trip adventures around local food, pick up a copy of my book,
Jenn Sharp is an author, filmmaker and journalist from Saskatoon. Watch Season 1 and 2 of Flat Out Food, the field-to-plate documentary series she hosts, on Citytv Saskatchewan networks and at citytv.com.
This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division.