Dining out in a new city can be really hit or miss. You rely on online reviews a lot, and those are often based on personal preferences (this blog included!). On our recent visit to Saskatoon, Dave and I landed on TusQ restaurant (202 – 416 21st Street East) for our “fancy” night out – in part because of reviews and also based on its downtown location around the block from our hotel (The James).
When we arrived, the entrance wasn’t easy to distinguish, but staff out front caught us as we were attempting to go up the stairs outside. We instead went downstairs (passing by the lounge) and then upstairs inside to get to the dining room. After that little trek, we looked around and decided the formal atmosphere was exactly what we were expecting (and matched our more formal attire).
We weren’t expecting to see the almost empty restaurant on a Saturday night though. We arrived at 7 p.m. as one of only two tables, which grew to four by the time we left at around 8:30 p.m. It was a very quiet night which accentuated the odd choice of background music – 50’s rock and rockabilly. Very odd and it really didn’t match the set up. On the plus side, the fact that the restaurant was slow meant service was very attentive and our food arrived quickly.
I am happy to say that the food more than made up for the ambience! We started with two outstanding appetizers. My Asiago Tomato Brus’ketta was a heaping plateful and very generous for a starter. It reminded me more of a ceviche, with a very fresh acidic lime flavour with tomatoes and onion. Dave had to help me finish it off.
Dave’s Crispy Curry Wild Game Wontons were a deeper and richer flavour that he absolutely loved. The teriyaki sauce perfectly accompanied the fried wontons. We aren’t sure what the game meat was, but it was absolutely delicious!
Our main plates were just as delicious. My Walnut Dredged Seared Salmon with sweet orange glaze was a savoury and sweet delight, with a surprise flavour of Dijon mustard crust peeking through. My salmon was cooked perfectly, and it all went great with the sides of ginger and red wine mushrooms, carrot and snap peas and dill whipped potato.
Dave (not surprisingly) chose the 8 oz smoked tenderloin with porcini mushroom sauce. He loves smoked meat, and enjoyed the smoke of the tenderloin with the same sides that I had. The portion was very satisfying, but overall, he felt that his choice was a bit on the safe side and wasn’t as dynamic as it could have been.
Overall, we really enjoyed our night out at TusQ, but the menu could be vastly different soon (as our waiter indicated a menu change was on the horizon). Hopefully, that brings in the customers that this restaurant surely needs on a weekend evening.