5 restaurants where you can get a farm-to-table meal in Sask.
These eateries highlight the province’s best in-season ingredients
It's no surprise that true farm-to-table eateries are rare: You are, after all, combining two high-risk ventures.
While "farm-to-table" has become a bit of a catch-all term, used in all manner of restaurant marketing slogans, what it really means is restaurants owned by farmers that use ingredients solely from said farm.
Saskatchewan, though, is home to several, and they're serving up menus that highlight the province's best in-season ingredients.
When you visit Odla, you'll be invited to take in the farm experience everywhere from the pictures on the wall to the market store, stocked with local producers' goods.
Farmer Arlie LaRoche owns Odla with chef Scott Dicks and sommelier/general manager Lacey Sellinger. LaRoche raises pastured chickens, pigs, sheep and cattle at Farm One Forty, west of Saskatoon – and the meat from those animals is on Odla's menu.
Her animals are on a rotational grazing system, meaning they're frequently moved to new pastures to help regenerate the soil. LaRoche differs from the norm because she finishes her animals on grass at home (instead of on grain at a feedlot). Her chickens and pigs also live outdoors (not as common in the industry). She believes it's better for the animals and the soil.
The goal at Odla is reconnecting diners with Saskatchewan's food system.
"We want to share all the things we've been doing, the beautiful ingredients we get from local farmers and the beautiful meat from Farm One Forty," said Dicks.
The menu is a mix between smaller, tasting plates and larger plates of roasted meats and vegetarian main courses.
Farm One Forty also hosts tours and dinners on-site.
Mabel Hill Farm Kitchen & Marketplace
This upscale farmhouse-style restaurant, which opened earlier this year, is surrounded by a four-acre garden and orchard.
Guests are invited to walk through the gardens, sampling the produce before sitting down for a meal. The chalkboard menu changes with what's in season. (Think roasted beef tenderloin on homemade bread or handcut pasta with wild Saskatchewan mushrooms.)
Chef Michael Brownlee sources from other farmers in the area, along with what he grows on the farm.
"We make a conscious effort to get as quality products as we can. The idea is to offer a sense of place," he said.
Brownlee's formative years were spent helping grow food. His grandparents run Rudy's Fruit and Vegetable Farm near Carrot River, Sask.
He moved away to cook in kitchens across the country, then returned home, purchased the land and developed a business that combined his two passions.
For Brownlee, Mabel Hill and its attached market store are a longtime dream come true.
"This restaurant is about building a community: giving the community something to be proud of and offering something that's completely unique to the area."
There's no doubt about it: we love our burgers in Saskatchewan.
"We are probably most proud that we serve our very own family farm-raised beef and pork. When you bite into the Eddy burger, it doesn't get more local than that," said Kali Eddy, who owns 641 Grill along with her husband, Mathew Eddy. Together with their three children, they raise cattle on a ranch near Craven.
The name came from the 641 grid that used to run in front of the property.
"The valley has so much to offer in terms of local produce and suppliers," she added.
That extensive list is part of their menu, full of elevated comfort food, which ranges from potatoes (for the handcut fries) from Craven's Riverside Gardens, to Leaning Maple Meats in Strasbourg, Sask.
614 Grill even stocks Last Mountain Distillery spirits and Saskatchewan craft beer.
"We thought small towns deserve great food and funky décor," said Kali.
The Hollows and Primal
Chefs Christie Peters and Kyle Michael helped pioneer a revolution in Saskatoon's Riversdale neighbourhood when they opened the Hollows in 2011.
It's a place where contemporary dishes are crafted from local and foraged produce, and meat from holistically-raised animals. Holistic agriculture practices help manage natural resources by recreating the way animals evolved to interact with their environment. It was developed by ecologist, farmer and environmentalist Allan Savory.
At Primal, the focus is on whole animal butchery and handmade pasta made using Saskatchewan-grown ancient grains (try the tagliatelle with locally pastured pork and beef heart bolognese).
They employ Lisa Taylor and her BiodiverCity Farm to grow produce both in the Hollows' basement and in plots around the city for both restaurants.
"She works with me directly," said Peters. "We decide on what seeds to order based on her knowledge and crop rotation."
Taylor, who grows vegetables on city boulevards and neighbours' lots, has a deep passion for feeding people ethically-raised and chemical-free food.
"They know where their food comes from and they know I didn't spray any chemicals on it. A lot of work goes into farming that way. When you can't spray anything to get rid of a pest, there's a lot of problem solving so I really enjoy that aspect, too," said Taylor.
Hollows' staff preserves and cellars produce in the fall months. Anything that can be composted is used in Taylor's gardens.
The Creek in Cathedral Bistro
The Creek in Cathedral has two head chefs who play off of one another's strengths in creating seasonal menus that explore new tastes at every turn.
And the Creek's owner Jasmine Godenir and her parents grow large gardens to fuel their creativity.
Ricardo Rodriguez takes care of the daytime shift, while Martin Snow handles the evening. Their talents shine when they get to work side by side.
"Some of the plates that have come out of this kitchen on nights that we're working together ... I still get that feeling … Oh, that was amazing!" said Snow.
His signature dishes centre on kicked-up comfort food, like truffle mac and cheese or braised lamb shank panzottis.
Rodriguez moved to Saskatchewan from Patagonia in 2001 and his background brings a South American flair to the bistro's menu. He thrives on creating fusion dishes that spotlight Saskatchewan's local food bounty.
"We can bring in everything from around the world but what makes us special is our own Prairie products," he said.