Saskatchewan·REGINA BITES

Hungry? Bored? Regina's got The Cure

“We’re trying to be the ‘cure’ for whatever our customers need," says the co-owner of Regina's The Cure Kitchen and Bar. “If you’re bored, we have a cure for that. Hungry? Come on in. Looking for something to do on a Friday night? We can help.”

Local foodie eats his way through Regina to share his take on what’s good

Regina Bites: The Cure Kitchen and Bar

2 years ago
Duration 3:36
“We’re trying to be the ‘cure’ for whatever our customers need," says the co-owner of Regina's The Cure Kitchen and Bar.

Stepping into The Cure Kitchen and Bar in downtown Regina, a bench-to-ceiling built-in bookshelf along the back wall catches your eye. Donated by a former University of Regina professor, the books have become a part of the restaurant's identity: homey, bohemian and eclectic.

It's rustic and urban at the same time, with black paint and industrial furnishings juxtaposed with antique furniture, an old piano on stage and a cow skull hung on the wall. Paintings by local artists add pops of colour to exposed brick.

If the décor looks familiar, that's because it is: The Cure is the reincarnation of a previous establishment, the Artful Dodger, which operated seven blocks east on 11th Avenue and closed in 2017. The Cure's four co-owners worked together at the Artful Dodger and were given the opportunity to buy it out. They did, but also decided to relocate to 2323 11th Ave. and rebrand. They opened in 2018. 

"It was a cool process in that we got to start from scratch," says co-owner Morgan Choquer. 

The Cure Kitchen and Bar in Regina is run by four co-owners, including Morgan Choquer, right. Its culinary creations are thanks to head chef Alan Heriberto Lopez Bayliss, left. (Allan Pulga)

She and her partners wanted to bring something they didn't feel existed in Regina: "a space that was kind of like a big city restaurant, where you go see live music or an open mic night or a comedy show; that has great food and supports local artists; that brings in cool DJs on the weekends. We wanted to add something to Regina's nightlife landscape, and we also wanted to better connect with the downtown lunch crowd than we could at our previous location."

The Cure name works on a number of levels. Music is a key element to the restaurant's ethos, and the co-owners are all fans of the British '80s pop band of the same name. There is also the act of curing meats, which head chef Alan Heriberto Lopez Bayliss does himself. 

Lastly, "We're trying to be the 'cure' for whatever our customers need," Choquer said. "If you're bored, we have a cure for that. Hungry? Come on in. Looking for something to do on a Friday night? We can help."

The Cure's owners bought out many assets from the Artful Dodger, which decorate the new restaurant today. A large bookshelf at the back is populated by tomes donated by a University of Regina professor. (Natascia Lypny/CBC)

Handcrafted with love

The food at The Cure is the handiwork of Lopez Bayliss, who says he wants customers to "taste the love" he and his staff put into the cuisine. 

"I want everything to be as fresh as possible: seasonal vegetables and herbs, depending on what we can source at a given time," he said. "The bread we bake ourselves. We braise our own brisket. All of our sauces are made from scratch. We make our own desserts as well."

Cocktails weren't a focus for the owners when they first opened The Cure, but demand propelled them to up their bartending skills and follow the latest trends to offer exciting drinks. (CBC)

Lopez Bayliss hails from the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora, but he learned to cook at a Regina tapas restaurant while studying engineering at the local university. Eventually, his passion for cooking blossomed and he decided to make it his career.

"My family are not restaurateurs or professional cooks. When I told them I wanted to be a chef, they were shocked. 'What? We thought you wanted to be an engineer!' they said," he recalled, laughing.

Unsurprisingly, the Mexican dishes on the menu really shine. The chicken enchiladas are the most popular order.

Head chef Alan Heriberto Lopez Bayliss likes to focus on what's in season and available locally. He sources many products from the nearby farmers' market. (Natascia Lypny/CBC)

The Cure has a set all-day menu, but also a monthly fresh sheet, where Lopez Bayliss can do a bit of experimentation. Right now, for instance, he's "really into French cuisine." 

"I love their focus on sauces," he said, "and the different methods. I'm trying to bring a bit of that type of style to our menu, a little bit at a time."

Adapting to pandemic times

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an enormous challenge for the entire restaurant industry, and The Cure partners had to get creative since reopening after the spring lockdown. They converted a section of the parking lot in the back to an outdoor patio, and even hosted their first socially-distant live music event in July. Since then, they've put on comedy and drag nights as well.

For the enchiladas, Lopez Bayliss roasts the chicken, then simmers it in garlic, onions and tomato sauce to keep it juicy and tender. He rolls the chicken in corn tortillas, covers them in his green tomatillo salsa and mozzarella cheese and bakes it in the oven. Then he tops it with Mexican crema, fresh vegetables, herbs and a slice of lime. (Allan Pulga)

"We didn't realize we had so many regulars until we reopened, because people came back telling us they missed coming here. Some of them come back once a week now and it means a lot to us," said Choquer. 

"We've gotten to know our regulars better and they've been able to give us lots of feedback about dining in a pandemic: what they like and what they don't like and we can adjust as we go."

    Soon, the patio will have to close as the weather gets colder, but Choquer remains optimistic.

    "We can't bring in a big crowd and allow dancing yet, but we're looking forward to being able to do that again, eventually."

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Allan Pulga

    Freelance contributor

    Allan Pulga is Regina-based PR and communications consultant with a healthy appetite – for food and sneakers. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @poonisms.

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