Regina has no shortage of entrepreneurs who want to share their unique culinary creations with residents. In just the last few months, several new restaurants have opened. Here are four that have recently made our city their home.
The Big Easy Kitchen
Pop-up and catering
The Big Easy is a nickname for New Orleans, where Chef Warren Montgomery was born and raised. His goal is to bring authentic New Orleans food to the Queen City. On his menu, you will find items such as Cajun mac and cheese, gumbo and po’boy sandwiches. Montgomery is a self-taught chef: “This is what I ate as a kid. I took my mom’s recipes and made my own fusion.” He initially cooked for friends and then started selling spring rolls and gumbo in stores such as Takeaway Gourmet and Northside Market & More. He eventually operated a restaurant in Sperling Silver Distillery for six months, which he closed at the end of May. Now, he’s focusing on pop-ups and catering. His specialty is crawfish boils. Get ten friends together, and Chef Montgomery will come to your house and cook up a huge pot of crawfish, shrimp, corn, potatoes, mushrooms and more. It’s the closest you’ll get to New Orleans without a plane ticket, and you will have leftovers for days. To find out about The Big Easy Kitchen’s pop-ups and crawfish boils, check out their Facebook page.
1970 Hamilton Street
Rú Soju Bar and Lounge boasts modern Korean and Japanese fare in the heart of Regina. The restaurant gets part of its name – Soju – from a Korean spirit traditionally made from rice, wheat or barley. I was told by a friend, whom I consider to be a gyoza aficionado, that Rú has the best vegetable gyoza in the city. With an endorsement like that, I had to order it. She was right. Rather than being stuffed with shredded veggies, it is filled with smooth vegetable pâté. Rú also serves beautiful salads and poke bowls, as well as fun fusion dishes such as Kimchi Bulgogi Fries (crispy fries topped with bulgogi, sautéed kimchi and avocado with wasabi mayo and Korean BBQ sauce) and sushi rolls like the Beef Teriyaki Roll (beef bulgogi, avocado, and cucumber). Of course, no meal would be complete without dessert. My friend and I couldn’t decide on which delicious cheesecake to order – Salted Caramel or Red Velvet – so we got both. Best decision ever.
1511 11th Avenue
Those of you who frequented Market Under the Stars last summer are likely familiar with the Beaks Chicken food truck. They quickly became known for their chicken and waffles and would regularly sell out before the night was done. That popularity inspired them to open a full restaurant downtown. It ran quietly for four months, attracting customers solely on word of mouth and social media, before hosting its official grand opening at the end of June. And yes, you will find their famous chicken and waffles on the menu. A full order has two waffles and two pieces of chicken, sitting on a bed of bacon jam and smothered in gravy. The chicken is tender and juicy, the bacon jam is savoury, and the creamy gravy ties it all together. Maple syrup and honey are available on the side for those who like to add some sweetness. Our server recommended the jalapeño honey, which I was a bit reluctant to try, as I don’t usually mix savoury and sweet. I’m glad I did, though – it packs a serious punch! Other items include fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, chicken strips, waffles, hand-cut poutine and fries, as well as sides of coleslaw, cornbread and salads. You can also bring a group and eat family-style.
100 – 2201 11th Avenue
The launch of Avenue was highly anticipated by local foodies. Behind the restaurant is Top Chef Canada winner Dale MacKay, chef and co-owner of the Grassroots Restaurant Group, which operates Ayden Kitchen and Bar, Little Grouse on the Prairie, and Sticks and Stones, all in Saskatoon. Nathan Guggenheimer and Christopher Cho, also co-owners of Grassroots are in charge of executing Avenue’s vision. As such, they have relocated to Regina to run the show as executive chef/co-owner and general manager, co-owner. Now, Regina gets its turn to experience creative and modern takes on classic dishes. Start your evening with one of their impressive cocktail concoctions. I tried the Mint Condition, a refreshing twist on a gin and tonic, with a piece of frozen watermelon serving as an ice cube. We moved on to the Diefenbaker Trout Gravlax. Gravlax is a Nordic dish traditionally consisting of raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill. Avenue’s version shows the chef’s Saskatchewan roots by substituting local trout for salmon. The Pork Belly Press was much like sushi, with pork instead of fish, and a nice kick. Perogies were served with mushrooms that had a distinctly smoky flavour, making them unique. The beef Wellington is a standout dish: the pastry melts in your mouth and the meat is perfectly done. We finished with cherry jubilee, served with ice cream to balance the tartness of the fruit.
Regina is fortunate to have such great new options for restaurants. There’s something for every palate and price point. Get adventurous and nosh on some new eats!