After months of wanting to visit Little Grouse on the Prairie in Saskatoon – David and I finally made it here, and it did not disappoint!
After the success of Ayden, the team opened this wonderful Italian restaurant just down the street on 3rd Avenue downtown. It’s pretty small (so I recommend reservations), but totally quaint. I loved the all white interior with vintage mirrors and frames, and the tableware is all mismatched vintage plates and glasses as well (some directly from staff and their families). So cool.
The menu is large and a bit daunting if you aren’t used to Italian plates of antipasti, primi, secondi, etc. That’s why we chose the Alla Famiglia option. Basically a tasting menu where you leave it up to the chef to choose your dishes for you. The portions are small, so you get to try a lot of different dishes (a great way to share plates with everyone at your table too). We were in the first seating, so the small for $60 per person was our only option (which was all we needed with 6 dishes and then dessert)! We also chose the wine pairing for an additional $50 per person, which ended up to be five 3 ounce glasses of wine, and a small liqueur to end the meal with dessert.
Our first three dishes were antipasti and were paired with one white wine (Masciarelli, Trebbiano D’Abruzzo) and a red wine (Banfi Toscana). It was fun to try the wines with the dishes, and to watch them come out one by one on the beautiful plates.
We began with the Amalfi Salad – a bright and bitter salad of citrus (including the rinds), fennel, olive oil and sun dried tomato. I loved the bitter taste of the unexpected rinds with the sweeter white wine (this was my favourite salad).
Our second antipasti was a lovely Beef Carpaccio of salt cured tenderloin, pickled and crispy cipploini, pine nuts and roasted raddichio.
We started to get into deeper flavours with the deceptively simple celeriac (turnip-rooted celery) roasted in bone marrow – we really loved the depth of flavour and comfort in these small bites. We loved the sauce so much, we contemplated licking the plate.
Our two primi courses followed and were fantastic Italian pastas. The first was perfection in simplicity – a Ravioli stuffed with ricotta with sage butter. It was at this moment we realized how clean the meal had been so far, and really marvelled at the complexity of flavours. The pairing with an Alpha Zeta Pinot Grigio was fantastic, as the flowery notes really played well with the ravioli.
The second pasta course was a Farfalle covered in a smokey amatriciana red sauce with parmeggiano, cippolini onions and chilli flakes. This was David’s favourite, which our server called the “rolls royce of tomato and bacon pasta.” The pork jowl and Roman sauce were highlighted by the sweet onions, and went well with our jammy and earthy red wine pairing of an Apha Zeta Valpolicella.
Our secondi main dish of the evening was a surprise Branzino fish course of italian sea bass, fried kale, cannelloni beans and sundried tomatoes. This really knocked our socks off. I am usually not a fan of fish skin, but this was seared on one side with incredibly crispy and flavourful skin (almost like a chip). It was nice and light and paired well with a Castellare Chianti.
Our final dish of the evening was also a surprise. A little pot “Budino” of peanut butter and salted caramel, with peanuts and chocolate chips to mix in. If there was a dessert made for me, it is this one! It was paired with an amaretto in beautiful vintage sherry glasses that once belonged to our server’s grandmother. I was totally in love with this entire last course.
David and I can’t say enough about our experience at Little Grouse on the Prairie. Warm and attentive service and exceptional food and wine. Highly recommended and we will definitely be back!