Landing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was a complete surprise to me but what you one do but make the best of it and enjoy the opportunity to eat at different places? :)
I’m a bit loathed to dine in my own hotel but it’s so convenient and we needed some real sustenance for the day ahead. We decided to forgo the breakfast buffet that kept the place really hopping and I got a breakfast croissant while my colleague got the breakfast parfait. While my meal wasn’t much to look at, her breakfast banana split was nicely laid out in a shallow dish and cottage cheese (there was a choice) stood in for the yogurt or ice cream of a parfait. My croissant could have been toasted but it was not bad a sandwich and I enjoyed my bowl of fruit far more than some pan fries.
Although we were surviving on breakfasts from the Saskatoon Square Tim Hortons (which has a crazy-looking line up at peak hours), we were back at Windows on the last day because my colleague had accumulated a couple of vouchers from the hotel. While it took a long time to get to order last time, this time it took a long time to get our food, about half an hour. Since it looked so nice, I got the breakfast banana split my colleague got the last time but with the option of frozen yogurt. What a weird way to start the morning with something so cold! Hence it was a really nice and light breakfast, a nice turn after the last few days.
The restaurant gets its name from being lined with windows and a view of the trees lining the (North) Saskatchewan River. Here and there I could get a glimpse of water.
“Everyone who works there is a grandmother,” someone said. It’s not exactly true but I can see why people rave about the home-style sandwiches. I had the World’s Best Egg Salad which was not bad but it was the bread that sealed the deal. Thick cut, seems to me to be homemade bread that turns the lowly sandwich into a tower. And it was a nice, bright and cozy space.
When a colleague (also from out-of-town like me) made the reservation, someone from in-town overheard and remarked how it was a good choice. It meant dining twice in one day at my own hotel but a steakhouse that is highly regarded in this city is an exception.
At a steakhouse… I ordered fish. Partly, I had an inkling that the next night would potentially be a meat fest. Partly, from browsing a couple of menus and then a quick search, steel head trout from Diefenbaker Lake in Saskatchewan is local fare and I took the opportunity to try it. At first I declined any appetizer but four people ordered the Caesar Salad for Two. When our server, Anthony, rolled a wood trolley over with a gigantic wood salad bowl and we realized that it was an entirely house-made Caesar then I asked to have some too. It was so garlicky and had a slightly spicy kick and it was a reminder of a Caesar salad after countless bottle dressing ones.
The steel head trout was so smooth and tasty and so richly stuffed with king crab. The sauce was green curry which was really nice. “Would you order it again?” a colleague asked. Yes, I would.
Then, because I wasn’t going to be the only one, I ordered the semifreddo (semi-free-doh) dessert because it sounded the most unique. In actual fact it was just okay. A bland and light “ice cream” is how I describe “iced custard”. I ate most of it anyhow.
Bus Stop Refreshments
One of the tourist spots/traps in Saskatoon and people are genuinely excited about it is Bus Stop Refreshments. The “food truck” is housed in a retired red authentic British double-decker tour bus and serves a limited menu of hot dogs (“franks”), popcorn (??), hot chocolate, coffee, soda, frozen yogurt and ice cream.
On the one sunny day of my (first) trip, I walked over to the majestic Delta that has architecture in the style of old Canadian railway hotels and just across the street is the Bus Stop. I had the logistical challenge of being limited to one receipt so I did not order frozen yogurt that would melt as I enjoyed my hot dog. There is nothing wholly special about the hot dog except the toppings offered were a bit different. For the regular price of the ‘dog you can get four toppings and I went with mayo, salsa, hot banana peppers and pickles. Weird but I like them all and I enjoyed them all. I also order a “Britalian” soda that is just an Italian soda, in grape flavour. I think having raspberry-blackcurrent tea at work all day is influencing me to choose a purple drink!
Going to a Canadian bar in what strikes me as a very Canadian city seemed a bit odd. We were seated at a long bar table that was just the perfect table to feel relaxed and casual. Drinks were enjoyed by most and the Caesar menu overwhelmed me since I discovered it as she was taking orders. Did I want an innovative one with Guinness? I went instead for a spicy West Coast Caesar which, come to think of it, wasn’t very strong.
It was East Coast night but I did not want fish & chips when the fish used was halibut. Nice fish but not my favourite and especially not in a battered and fried. I was pleased that someone ordered the butterfly shrimp special which was crunch battered and served with cocktail sauce. For my main, I ordered the grilled cheese with lobster sandwich with a soup side that was “Buffalo chicken chowder”. I really should have gone for a salad. The sandwich was gooey and crazy rich (and salty) and the Buffalo chicken chowder was more of the same. Kind of felt like I was drinking Buffalo sauce to some extent which was crazy. While I kind of wanted just one of the 10 maple bacon mini donuts on the special menu, so it was a reasonable dinner after all.
Thien Vietnam Restaurant
Let me say I was nervous about bringing up that I was going to this restaurant. My colleagues, being the friendly sort, trusted my recommendation but one of them doesn’t like a wide variety of cuisine and wanted to order a cheese omelette at a Vietnamese/Thai/Chinese place!
Of course, I ordered the special beef noodle soup (pho) while the colleague who wanted an omelette settled on the special that was a saucy chicken stir-fry on rice. Ordering was awkward with the server who seemed to care enough that he might have been the owner. The omelette was not available not just because it was not breakfast but hadn’t been available for a long time, he explained. They should mask that item on the menu, then, to avoid that kind of disappointment. My other colleague ordered a beef and broccoli with extra vegetables.
My soup was ultra flavourful and the beef was really good which balanced the beef balls tasting a tad funny. My colleagues also enjoyed their meals and lunch was pronounced a success.
I got a message from a colleague: “We got reservations at a Greek restaurant tonight,” and without being given a name, I could only Urbanspoon the Greek restaurant category and guess where we might be headed. Might it be The Real Greek Restaurant next door to where we had lunch (Thien Vietnam) and has four freakin’ $$$$ and was just a block from the office. Yes, that is where we went.
To give you an idea, appetizers were reasonably in the $13-16 range. Souvlaki with two skewers were $23. All entrees were mid-$30s. Most of us thumbed our noses at them and ordered a couple of appetizers instead of a single entree. A colleague had been to the restaurant the week before and recommended the baby back ribs that five of the 10 of us then ordered. I was going to order the ribs main but then heard of others getting the appetizer ribs and so I happy switched up!
I ordered the Garides Saganaki and an appetizer portion of Greek Ribs Oregano. Three of us also had the shrimp and cheese appetizer but I got mine first so I was the only one in shock and awe that a flaming cast iron pan was placed in front of me. My horror surrounded not knowing how long to let it burn, wanting to take a photo but would I risk the quality of my food in doing so? I was also slightly worried about all of my hair catching fire in one fell swoop. The baked cheese was really good while it was still hot and I paired it with the fresh pita bread. The ribs came highly recommended by a colleague with Greek heritage (while he did not enjoy the lamb) and the were seasoned very nicely in herbs and lemon.
The service was very good to us and we were good in return. I gather that they brought two rounds of complimentary ouzo but someone may have discreetly ordered it for the whole table. That greased the wheels even further because it’s not like we had difficulty carrying on conversation. When I stepped away for a few minutes, a decision about dessert was made and I could not get the Bougatsa (lemon custard in phyllo). Plates of giant pieces of baklava arrived, each one the size of a slice of cake. I would prefer what might be bastardized baklava with flakier phyllo and less soggy nuts.
Cesar’s Cakes & Cafe
Going to Cesar’s means I went to three neighbouring restaurants on 3rd Avenue South: Thien Vietnam, The Real Greek Restaurant and Cesar’s. On my last day in Saskatoon (for that week), I thought I would pop into the well-rated cafe and get some regular cafe food and be back in the office quickly! As I approached the cafe and looked at their painted windows for the first time, I was delighted to see they offer Filipino food, cheap breakfast and bubble tea! Wow, there’s a larger variety of ethnic food in Saskatoon than I originally thought! So I ordered a chicken adobo combo with fried rice and pansit and waited about ten minutes for my food.
I keep forgetting that adobo is not my very favourite sauce but the chicken was tender and I was just so rushed at work to not just wolf down everything as instead of enjoying adobo with rice or adobo with pansit (rice noodle). I want to visit Cesar’s again but I wonder if I’ll have the time….