Your McMurray Food Scene
The Sawridge Inn & Conference Centre
It is hard to believe that it has been nearly two years since I started writing the restaurant column for Your McMurray Magazine. Through the Fort McMurray Food Fight I have reviewed many of our region’s best (and worst) restaurants. Many of those restaurants are thriving, while even more restaurants are set to open in the next while. During that time, my wife and I welcomed a newborn into our lives which has kept us busy and, to be frank, tired. But ours is a city of change. It is in the spirit of change that we are shifting the format of this column to a single restaurant review.
This issue is all about multiculturalism and people weaving a new fabric in this community and so we returned to where this column began: The Sawridge Inn and Conference Centre. The culinary team at the Sawridge comes from all over Canada and the world. Chef Buchanan leads a grand group of culinary wizards who can prepare –and make delicious- everything from crocodile and kangaroo, to the exotic spices of India. To me, the Sawridge is the United Nations of Cuisine in our region.
To start our meal, my wife and I began with a French dish of charcuterie and cheese. This dish consists of a selection of cured meats and sausages along with some fine cheeses, dried preserves, and crackers. The presentation of the dish was well thought out, and the meats and cheeses were delicious, but we felt the price point was a bit high and may not be for everyone. With that said, the dish brought back memories of a family trip to Europe and picnics in the parks of Paris.
While our meal may have started with French fare, we ordered wine, a Merlot produced by the Nk’Mip Winery. This vintner is owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band in the Okanagan. This wine tasted of cherry with rich tannins and hints of clove and vanilla. The Sawridge is the only restaurant I have seen serve wines from Nk’Mip and we think this vintner is certainly worth exploring.
For the main course I ordered the garlic and rosemary-infused New Zealand Rack of Lamb. I would argue that there is no better lamb than that of New Zealand and the team at the Sawridge does an excellent job. The dish was tender and fragrant served with a delicious demi-glace alongside fresh vegetables and mashed potatoes. This is, perhaps, one of my favourite dishes at the Sawridge and it is certainly worth the trip.
My wife had Chicken and Pork Belly. This dish is not on their regular menu and was a special for the night. Also rich and flavourful, my wife would point out that this is one of the few restaurants where the specials of the evening are almost always impressive.
From France to the Okanagan to New Zealand, for dessert we had to return to the Canadian backyard classic of s’mores, but done Sawridge-style. The Milk Chocolate S’mores were pure magic. Hand-crafted marshmallows adorned a huge chocolate brownie along with a handmade graham-style cracker with caramel sauce and ice cream; the care that made the dish was trumped only by its decadence. This dish also was well worth the trip.
Few restaurants in our region allow diners to take a culinary journey from old-world to new-world and back in a single meal. Chef Buchanan continues to produce inspired menus that are both classic and cutting edge. One of my favourite restaurants in our region, this dinner experience is the reason why.