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REVIEW: Willow on Wascana

The Round-up:

  • Food - 4 out of 5
  • Service - 3 out of 5
  • Decor - 4 out of 5
  • Total - 11 out of 15
$25-40 for supper, per person. Open seven days per week for supper, lunch served Tuesdays through Saturdays.

3000 Wascana Drive, Regina, SK.

January has been full of calm nights and above-average temperatures. 2010, I like you already.

It makes a person want to get out a bit more often. So, The Mom and I decided to take our appetites to The Willow on Wascana the other day.
OK, it wasn't just the warm weather that lured us to the shores of Wascana Lake. It was the $20 off lunch or dinner promo that The Willow ran for just two days this month.
The Willow opened in August 2004 and has carved out a niche for itself ever since. It's almost definitely the only menu in town that sources all of its meat, fish and poultry from Saskatchewan sources.
It wasn't too busy for a Wednesday night so we chose a corner table in the warm and cozy dining room. As far as atmosphere goes, The Willow has it made. In winter, the wood ceiling and earthy tones make you forget the sub-zero chill outside. On the other hand, summer is all about the great outdoors as you dine on The Willow's gigantic patio overlooking Wascana Lake.
Now what about the food? It's safe to say that The Willow doesn't shy away from taking risks. The new winter menu features Free-Range Elk Tartare, Coffee-Infused Short Ribs, and a Wild Boar Ragout.
The Mom was feeling adventurous so she went with the wild boar.
Boar sounded a little too Lord of the Flies for me, on the other hand, and I can rarely say no to a good homemade sausage. So, I chose the Chorizo Chicken Roulade.
Our plates arrived in no time and I was in love with the chicken dish at first sight. The juicy morsels of chicken wrapped around a chicken chorizo sausage disappeared from my plate quickly, as did the southwest-style corn salsa served on the side.
Now you're probably wondering what on earth wild boar tastes like? So were we. Our waiter told us it was like pork with a bit more fat. He didn't lie about that last part, for sure.
The tender slab of boar was served on top of homemade pappardelle noodles with a tiny Saskatchewan-grown tomato on top. The noodles were great. The boar was... well, it was kind of like eating sushi for the first time. You're a little bit curious and a little bit scared, especially when a few bites of the meat were more fat than flesh.
As for the service, it was good but not great. Our friendly waiter took the time to joke with us a little, but had trouble recommending dishes and explaining some of the ingredients. For a fine-dining restaurant that charges top dollar that just doesn't cut it. Servers should know each menu item inside and out.
That being said, The Willow scores big points for showing Regina that the food we grow and harvest right in our own backyards is as good or better than anything we truck in from a thousand miles away.

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