Cultivate

The City of Saskatoon, the Farmer’s Market, and Ideas Inc. should be commended for their work on the new market site. The former dumpy industrial area has been transformed into an attractive and active community space. They seem to operate with good intentions, supporting many innovative new ventures. Good on you. 

Cultivate, a “pop up” restaurant, is the latest enterprise to launch in the Farmer’s Market space. Four nights weekly, Chef Moe Mathieu and his team of culinary students set up a temporary kitchen after regular market hours, and put out a selection of bistro-esque dishes showcasing product sourced from the various market vendors. 

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Although the atmosphere is better suited for Saturday afternoon coffees at the Farmer’s Market, they made an effort to transform the space by curtaining off the dining area. Paper makeshift linens and disposable napkins are practical I suppose, but not quite to the standard I would expect for a place as seemingly ambitious as Cultivate. 

 

The restaurant is unlicensed, but offers a variety of non alcoholic bevies. This cucumber mint julep was very fresh tasting. I’m glad I didn’t have to drink it (thanks for being bold, Lindsey). 

 

The service was genuine, enthusiastic and attentive. The meal started with a complimentary appetizer. It was a welcoming gesture, but the frittata felt very much like “student” work. The texture was a tad rubbery. The pickled red onions however were a nice little condiment and very pretty. 

 

 

Mini Grilled Cheeses of the Nation ($10) – buttery and yummy – were served with a gazpacho for dipping. Three little sandwiches did not seem like a good value but there are a number of other appetizing starters including a pea soup I was itching to try. 

  

Quebec Inspired Duck Tourtiere ($26) 

A sweet pastry with flavours reminiscent of Christmas (I think cloves and nutmeg). Very tasty although the carrot and vanilla puree was not to my liking. 

  

Slightly Smoked Prairie Chicken ($24) 

Not to be confused with the game bird of the grouse family, the title here simply refers to a locally produced chicken prepared in a couple ways. The leek-wrapped chicken breast was very moist. It was my first time sampling a “regal chicken galantine” – a homemade sausage of sorts with shredded dark meat wrapped in chicken skin. This was rich and delicious and best consumed in small quantities.  

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The presence of culinary students somehow shifted my expectations as it provides the restaurant a convenient out for mistakes or subpar anything. That said, the menu was creative and the food was well-prepared and nicely seasoned. In a city of lowered expectations, the effort is definitely appreciated! 

Cultivate is a venture with great promise but only here for the summer. They are open for dinner service Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 530-10pm until the end of August. Attire is casual and reservations are recommended (not necessary the day I was there). For reservations call: 881-1933. Check out the website for more information.  

ps. I realize we’ve had a challenging year for growing flowers, but plastic flowers at a farmer’s market? wtf

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