I so love good food, but unfortunately it loves me back and never wants to leave! So it is with jealous happiness that I report I’ve discovered yet another great new restaurant in the Southwest. Made even better by the fact it’s a local boy come back to roost in his home town of Shaunavon, SK. (I say “jealous happiness” because it’s an hour away from my homebase in Swift Current).
The newly-opened passion of husband and wife duo Chef Garrett (“Rusty”) Thienes and his effervescent wife Kristy, while some might never believe that a restaurant of this calibre or ambiance could succeed in a small prairie town, the lunchtime crowds on the ordinary looking Wednesday I visited would say otherwise. And every single one of them left with a big smile on their face, (this despite having to go back to work).
For me part of the pleasure in dining out, is having food I would never normally buy or prepare at home, and the Harvest Eatery definitely delivers. From their blue-cheese infused take on the traditional Grilled Cheese, (which my husband was convinced to let me have a bite of), to other items on the menu that have now hit my ever-growing “to try” list. (Think Confit Tombo tuna, and Saskatoon berry aioli on their Roast Chicken Club). For myself I indulged in both the Harvest burger AND the Pulled-Pork sandwich special as a friend convinced me to go halfers with him, so that we’d both get more than one mouth-watering taste.
Just look at the description of the burger (have a napkin on hand to catch the drool).
“Handmade gourmet patty with our own secret blend, aged cheddar grilled maple bacon, pickled onions, butter lettuce, over-roasted tomato, pickle, roast garlic aioli, ketchup and grainy mustard, all served on a homemade Sesame Butter Bun.”
On top of loving the tastes presented, I also just loved the way it was all presented. Instead of a half-bored, gum chewing teenager telling me the specials with as much enthusiasm as they would approach a root canal, we were treated to Kristy’s delectable sense-pleasing descriptions that included where many of the ingredients were sourced. “Hutterite cabbage,” “fresh local beef from the Ranchhouse,” “spolumbo sausage from Calgary,” etc. etc. – I don’t know why, but knowing that much of my food was sourced locally and that a tremendous amount of effort and care was put into finding the freshest and highest quality ingredients, for whatever reasons, added to my overall experience.
What also added to the overall experience was the atmosphere itself. Part rustic modern, with a slightly industrial look, the walls feature vibrant artworks, while a pair of butcher-blocked styled bars sit front and centre, one a quasi sports-bar, the other giving you an all-access pass to the open-air kitchen. The best seats in the house, I’m told, because not only do you get to see exactly how your food is prepared, and have a bit of a cooking lesson, you’ll also get the occasional taste test.
My favourite feature of the restaurant’s decor though, has to be the incredible drop down copper-tiled ceiling, paired with the rich combination of modern furniture and warm antiques, which create overall a sense of relaxed elegance.
Only open just under a month at the time of this writing, the pair are visibly excited by how well they’ve been received by the community and the Province as a whole, having already been named the #1 Rural Fine Dining experience in a recent Top 10 CBC News Saskatchewan listing. (GoHere to see the others listed).
And once they receive their wrought iron railing and patio umbrellas to add a bit of shade to the large front patio, and put the final finishing touches in place, I see big things in store for this dynamic duo and the fresh and fabulous food they prepare.
How to GoHere: As new as it is, signage had not yet been erected when we went in search of the Harvest Eatery, but put the question to anyone walking down the street, and they’ll happily point you in the right direction of “the old doctor’s office” located directly across from the Ranchhouse Meats in Shaunavon. If you really need one, here’s a map!
Gotta Go?: Yay! Another pretty bathroom. With so many of Southwest Saskatchewan’s enterprises off the beaten track or located in really old buildings, large pretty bathrooms are difficult to find – the Harvest Eatery’s is one! Fresh and clean with a pretty smell, the “paper” towels feel like they should be thrown in the washing machine when you are done, and the piped in music from the main dining room, means that should your favourite song come on, you can excuse yourself from your dinner companions and rock out or karaoke to your hearts content in the bathroom!
Good to Know:
- If the right music comes on, you’ll get treated to dinner AND a show from Chef Rusty who happily sings along as he chops and prepares his tasty dishes. A sure sign of someone doing what it is they love.
- At this point in time, reservations aren’t necessary, but I believe the popularity of this place is only going to grow, so it might be necessary as business builds, seeing as it only has indoor seating for about 30 or so.
- The patio looks like it’s going to be a fabulous addition to the people watching opportunities Shaunavon offers as well as just a fabulous place to hang out.
- There is free wifi available to those like me who carry their laptop and smartphone everywhere. (Though truth be told, I was so busy eating, I didn’t even look at my phone – a first for me!).
- For sports buffs, there is a second bar seating area, that actually houses the bar in the far corner of the restaurant. Here you’ll find a wall-mounted HD TV nestled between creatively displayed bottles of wine that’s tuned to TSN.
- While Rusty is from Shaunavon originally, his wife Kristi is a big city Vancouver girl – and paying homage to both of their roots, they have both beer and wine from both locales, with some fabulous local breweries and distillery’s including Paddock Wood and Lucky Bastards both operating out of Saskatoon. It’s a perfect blend of BC and Saskatchewan, just like the pair themselves.
- The “Fresh Market” aspect of the restaurant isn’t fully operational but you can still order their fresh sesame seed buns, their honey wheat bread and their ancient grain bread for your home usage, as well as their beef and chicken stocks to make your own homemade soup from. Soon there will be many more aspects to their “Market” including their homemade rubs and sauces all made fresh in-house.
- The artwork is a prominent feature in the restaurant, and ultimately the duo hope to be a stopping place for artwork from many local artists, allowing them an opportunity to showcase their work, while giving them an interior refresh every time the paintings change.
- A hidden feature of the restaurant is the wiring they’ve included that will allow for live musicians to perform. With the intent of offering “dinner and a show” far beyond Rusty’s warblings at the Chef Station, guests will be able to pay one price to hear great soulful music, paired with an incredible meal, all for one special price.
- Speaking of pairings, that’s another trick the pair plan to pull out of their sleeves, if the restaurant can ever stop being busy enough to allow. Bringing in beers and wines both local and beyond, beer and wine tastings will soon be offered that will also include food pairings so you know what best to serve them with in your own home.
- For those in the Oil Industry that make a temporary home in Shaunavon, and for those who simply want an elegant meal without the work, they also plan to create fully plated take-out dinners that people can purchase to take home. All the taste – none of the work!
- One final note – be sure to ask Kristy or Rusty, in one of their rare “down” times, about all of the extra little features gleamed they found around the Southwest and re-purposed for the restaurant. From the 100 year old church pew that once resided in the local Catholic Church, to the hammered tin that fronts the bar which was once part of the ceiling of the Cypress Hotel in Maple Creek, to the quirky lighting they found on Etsy from Brooklyn, or even Rusty’s grandmother’s table that’s available for larger groups to be seated at. So many interesting pieces – each with their own story.