Get Your Goat
THE GRAZING GOAT
210 20th St. W
I don’t think of myself as much of a design-oriented person, but I’ve worked with enough designers to appreciate a great space when I walk into one — and Grazing Goat is exactly that. Lots of open space, lots of beautiful fixtures, interesting art on the walls and good music on the sound system.
I’m beginning to believe in the importance of open space, even sparseness, in creating a sense of comfort. These are the types of places I like to spend time in.
I also prefer to graze my way through a meal, and Grazing Goat isn’t just a clever name, it’s a philosophy — you can choose from several snacks, a long list of appetizers, and a just a few main dishes. Cross-cultural comfort food seems to be the order of the day, and that’s my kind of cooking.
We came out for dinner on a Friday night, and were delighted to nibble our way around the menu while sampling some interesting cocktails. I opted for a Black Buffalo (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Galliano, lime juice, blackberries and basil) while my husband went for the Maple Bourbon Smash. I was worried mine would be sweeter than I’d like, but I was pleasantly surprised; it was actually less sweet than the maple bourbon smash, and I loved it.
We started out with some bar snacks, such as smoked paprika almonds (I love any place that makes liberal use of smoked paprika), pickled quail eggs (the perfect solution to pickled eggs — make them smaller, so you can just pop one in your mouth!) and the best warm, Moroccan spiced olives I’d ever tasted. When our server set them on the table, he said, “Best olives in Saskatoon.” I think that range extends beyond the city’s limits.
We added a couple of tempting appetizers, including the charcuterie plate and scallops. There was a nice blend of sweet, salty, creamy and spicy on the charcuterie platter, with some crackers and bread available to top with cheese and dip or shlop in the drippings on the other plates. The scallops were cooked just right — not overdone, just warm in the middle and with a nice caramelized crust on top. Sumac is a relatively new flavour for many Saskatonians, but it adds both colour (bright red) and the perfect citrusy note to everything it touches.
The main dish menu offers a daily pasta and a daily pork rib dish, as well as jerk lamb tacos, steak frites and miso ginger trout. I’m guessing the chef likes that breakdown as much as I do: there’s enough daily variety that you’ll never get bored, the cooks can use what they have and there’s something for everyone. Smart!
We decided we’d probably overdone it on appies, so we opted to share one order of ribs, which were finished with a pomegranate glaze and beautiful fresh vegetables. It was a lovely plate, and quite generous, with four meaty ribs to share.
We sipped some Red Rooster merlot along with our dinner. The wines are all thoughtfully chosen and reasonably priced ($10/glass and $35/bottle). It’s nice to find enjoyable wines at a restaurant that won’t break the bank.
Even though we were dangerously close to over-full already, we couldn’t resist dessert. I tried the crème brûlée, and my husband decided on the lemon curd tart. The crème brûlée was lovely, the right amount of cool creaminess, silky texture and crunchy caramel. The lemon tart looked fantastic in a light and crisp phyllo crust, and while my husband found the sweet/tart balance to be a little too swayed to the sweet side, that’s really just a matter of preference.
I stopped in another day for lunch, and had the best sandwich experience I’ve had in a very long time. This was a chicken schnitzel sandwich on a baguette, with smoked paprika, lemon and arugula. I’m not a huge schnitzel fan — it’s just flat, fried chicken breast, after all — but the smoked paprika won me over, so I went for it.
Good call, self — because that sandwich rocked my world. Its simplicity won me over: a beautiful fresh baguette with a soft crust that was easy to bite into, while the schnitzel was just thin enough to be mostly crunch, but the chicken came out piping hot, and stayed that way until the end of the sandwich (which wasn’t long). Every bit was a beautiful contrast of hot, crunchy chicken and soft, yielding baguette.
The balance of flavours was as perfect as the texture. A simple lemon and smoked paprika oil added tang and smoky depth, while the arugula added peppery freshness. I may never look at a schnitzel sandwich the same way again (and I’ll probably be disappointed by any other schnitzel I ever try again). There was tomato, basil and orange soup as well, which was delicious in its own right, but I had tastebuds only for that sandwich.
Since my appetite had been whetted by that fantastic sandwich, I decided to order dessert. The crème brûlée that day was cardamom flavoured, which almost swayed me, but I decided to go for the cassata cake. It had pistachio ice cream, which sounded intriguing.
That dessert was on par with my sandwich. It was the perfect combination of haute cuisine and memories of my childhood: layers of angel food cake, strawberry and pistachio ice cream, frozen and then cut into little fingers, served alongside ginger whipped cream and sprinkled with pistachios. Textures were again beautifully contrasted, between the tender angel food and cold ice cream. I got every single drop of dessert off that plate, short of picking it up and licking it. (Yup: I used all my willpower and resisted.)
I wish I had more free time to hang out at The Grazing Goat. It’s a beautiful, comfortable space that offers reasonably priced comfort food and wine, and creative cocktails. I would love it to be my neighbourhood hang-out, if I lived in that neighbourhood (yet another reason to live in Riversdale). Go there: try the specials, or leave it up to the Grazing Goat staff or chefs to choose your food. They won’t lead you astray.