As part of our preparations for our permanent move to our Toronto home we’ve decided to embark on a whirlwind tour of as many of our favourite Saskatoon dining spots as time (and budget - lol) allows this month.
We were so fortunate that our first stop included dinner with our dear friends Dawn and Terry Wreford. Our friend John Costanzi and his team at Shift certainly made a lovely summer evening on their beautiful patio memorable. The river view is magnificent and the people watching is so fun!.
The four of us started with three appetizers. We had the Crispy Mediterranean Ribs and Charred Calamari, while Dawn and Terry shared a very (and we mean very) generous Beef Tartare.
The Crispy Mediterranean Ribs were tasty - as promised. Cooked to a crispy but juicy perfection they arrived dusted with chili, fried herbs, and parmesan. We’ve so often been disappointed when ordering ribs as an appy (full disclosure: we make killer baby backs at home on the regular) so we were a bit uncertain ordering this, but John assured us that this was a great choice and he wasn’t wrong. These ribs were bite after bite yummy.
That said, the Charred Calamari was the star of our appy choices. Cooked to perfection with vine-ripened tomatoes, capers and brown butter this gem was served with a side of delicious, toasted focaccia perfect for mopping up all of the delicious sauce. We love a good grilled calamari; our Toronto condo is in the heart of Little Portugal - where grilled calamari is as much a religion as it is dinner - so we know good grilled calamari when we have it — and Shift’s is superb.
While we had only a small sample of Dawn and Terry’s Beef Tartare we can vouch for its deliciousness. The generous serving of rich, delicious beef is mixed with capers, gherkins and Dijon mustard and served with bannock crisps. Both the Polish and Scottish halves of our food heritage were left smiling - and wanting more - after our sample.
Each couple ordered the same two mains: Brick-pressed Cornish Hen and Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder. John had given us fair warning that portions were generous, but we don’t think any of us were prepared for the amount of food that was to come.
And not just any food; really, really delicious food. The Cornish Hens were served with a warm potato & green bean salad, caramelized onions and an absolutely off-the-hook delicious chicken jus. We always admire restaurants that can nail a rich, delicious jus. Producing it is a time consuming, labour intensive art that we’ve tried for years to nail, and while we’re close to getting it “right” we’ve got a lot to learn before we produce anything like what we were served at Shift. With the exception of an au jus we were served at the superlative @stlawrencerestaurant in Vancouver this was possibly the best we’ve had in Canada - full stop. If you get a chance and it’s still on the menu this is a “must-have” dish.
The Pork Shoulder cooked in a house made BBQ sauce and served with an exceptionally good macaroni & cheese casserole and green beans. Full disclosure: we ordered this dish with some trepidation because in general we find that many restaurants are challenged to prepare consistently good pork dishes, and Mac&Cheese is, well, Mac&Cheese - no matter how you try to dress it up. But John’s recommendation of the dish prompted us to take the plunge and we were very pleased with the result. The pork was cooked to perfection, and the five cheeses in the casserole ensured that the “Cheese” was the star of the dish, not the “Mac” - works for us.
Layer on superb cocktails, delicious wine pairings, a warm summer evening and spectacular views and you have the recipe for a perfect start to our Farewell Tour.
Location: 102 Spadina Cres. Saskatoon
Profiles: Google: https://goo.gl/maps/s8g12VhmQoXQvpvk8