Monday, June 18, 2012

Our Own Brand of "Happy Meal"

Being "foodies", my husband and I have found the roots of our main complaint about prairie living: the absence of good restaurants, particularly in more rural areas and the distances we have to drive to find grocery stores that carry the products we need to create our own favourite meals at home.

However, we found a delightful restaurant in Moose Jaw last weekend.  We have been craving a nice restaurant meal since our anniversary in March and our subsequent birthdays in the following months.  Had a lovely Greek meal in Calgary at a favourite place about a month ago but that has been the extent of our forays into the wonderful world of excellent restaurant meals in quite awhile.

The search for a restaurant in Moose Jaw didn't begin on a positive note.  There is a new restaurant there that we were excited to see.  It was surrounded by vehicles so we expected a bit of a wait to be seated.  We went prancing in the door, quite proud of ourselves to have been aware enough of our surroundings to realize dear old Moose Jaw has a new place to dine.

Our prancing stopped rather immediately inside that door as we peered around and saw no one available to seat us, nor was anyone seated at any of the tables other than one long table right beside the entrance. All the folk seated there were wearing identical black shirts and white pants.  Oh, there was some kind of convention in town so the staff was tres busy with them.  We would wait until a staff appeared to take us to one of the many empty tables.  The smells coming from the kitchen had us drooling with anticipation.  Suddenly several men came out of the kitchen bearing platters of delicious looking food.  They of course took it straight over to the one table filled with guests.  Instead of putting the platters down though, they began showing the food off to the seated patrons and giving detailed explanations of what was on the platters, how the food was prepared........and........how it was to be served to customers.  None of these servers were looking our way at all.  Waaaaaaiiiiit a minute:  the seated people in the matching shirts all had the name of the restaurant embroidered on those shirts. One of them caught my eye and whispered loudly at me that they were not open yet for business.  Of course...we had just crashed a staff training session for a restaurant still closed to the public.  To satisfy occupational health and safety the front door had to be kept unlocked in case of a fire or other disaster.  hahahahaha Only to us would this happen.......we slunk back out the door in shame...no more proud prancing for us......


So where to go?  It was still early so we decided to risk getting into the one place in town that requires reservations in order to guarantee a table.  As it turned out we were able to secure the last unreserved table in the place.  A great feast awaited us at Kergano's.  No doubt there is a website for this restaurant, so if you are in Moose Jaw or visiting the area, check it out online and see if you too feel it is worth a visit.

It has a tiny seating capacity, maybe it holds 30 people at best.  The food is freshly prepared each day and many of the ingredients are locally grown, organic, and so fresh.  The waiters know everything from the origin of each ingredient, to how it is prepared, to what beverage best matches your meal.  These people are actually properly trained to meet their customers' demands and answer their questions. These people know how to serve the public and how to work.  Just watching them was a treat in itself. Just for a couple of hours, (there is no rush put on the patrons here. The meals are a bit expensive perhaps in some peoples' opinions, but you are purchasing the ambience and the relaxed atmosphere as well as the wonderful food.), we could pretend we were far far away from daily life.

The menu is small. The specials change according to what is available that day.  When we were there one of the specials was pickerel from a nearby lake.  Dell opted for the spicy lamb stew special when he found out from the waiter that the lamb was purchased from friends just outside the city.  I chose an 8 oz. sirloin steak, medium rare, with prawns.  Dell's lamb was tender enough to slice with his fork and my steak was nearly that tender as well.  The prawns were perfect, still slightly crunchy rather than chewy from overcooking as is typical.  Along with our meat we received a nice amount of oven roasted vegetables:  zucchini strips, carrots and even beets. If you have never had oven roasted beets you are missing a great treat. I do not like beets in any form. I LOVED these beets!  We also received a little patty of browned mashed potatoes with a dill/mayo droozle on top.  It was just enough of a droozle to catch a mild dill flavour but it was not a huge glop of bottled dressing plopped on the top of the potatoes.  It was visually attractive and a nice bonus added to a standard mashed potato. A thin line of hot sauce circled the outside edge of each plate for those of us who like just a tad of extra spiciness dipped onto our meat, but could be treated as a plating decoration for those who don't.  Our meal price also included a huge bowl for each of us of caesar salad.  The salad was fresh and crispy. If you have eaten at many prairie rural restaurants you will realize why such a thing that would obviously served fresh in the city is worth noting out here.  We have suffered through 7 or 8 years now of salads with brown edged lettuce as rural SK is last on the produce truck run from any direction.  Mixed into our lettuce were large thin slices of romano cheese, a touch of feta, a light dressing that was so delicious and again not glopped in from a bottle of pre-made. But the best part of the salad was the wicked amount of fresh garlic.  It was wonderful to savor the warmth in our mouths.  YUMMY!  

For appetizer we ordered perogies and discovered these to be deep fried to a dark brown puffiness. Were they as healthy as the salad and the entrees?  Nope! But dipped in a dill/yogourt mix they were fantastic to the taste.

Even Dell's beer, created and bottled in Saskatoon, was delicious.  My only mistake was opting for a glass of red wine from a winery I hadn't heard of before. Alas, wine snob that I have come to be, it didn't live up to its billing. But it was the only dischordant note to an otherwise near perfect meal.

This was the celebratory meal we had been seeking since March.  It was worth every penny for the wonderfully fresh prepared food and relaxed evening out.  We could be tempted to make the 4 hour round trip drive again just for another meal at that restaurant. 

So good to know it is there......and long may it last!     

      


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