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Air Canada enRoute Canada's Best New Restaurants 2014 People's Choice Award
Saskatoon
265 3rd Ave. S. | 306-954-2590
aydenkitchenandbar.com

Restaurant that nabbed the most votes on eatandvote.com, where we asked readers to chime in with their top pick.

Thanks to all the Ukrainian grandmothers who populate the Prairies, a trio of fatty, blistered sausages served up on a wooden board reads as straight-up Saskatchewan. But my baba never mixed pork with sun-dried tomato and bacon, served it atop shredded lettuce and called it a BLT. She never dosed a Thai sausage with chili and lemongrass, either, though I’m starting to wish she had. A bulgogi sausage, the most delightfully curious of the three – balanced on a slaw of kimchi and bean sprouts, with that unmistakable marriage of garlic, sesame, soy and honey – is Saskatoon with Seoul.

When Top Chef Canada winner Dale MacKay returned home from Vancouver, he gambled that Saskatoon was ready for something like lime- and lemongrass- and ginger-dusted chicken wings, cornstarch-battered and fried and then seasoned a second time to send those flavours into orbit. One look at the crowded table of 19 car salesmen dunking these wings into jars of fish sauce and vinegar, then methodically piling up the picked-clean bones, clinches it.

MacKay has rustled up a well-travelled posse, and I don’t just mean his son Ayden, local Instagram celebrity and the restaurant’s namesake. Beneath the mounted 17-point buck, Brazilian-born barman Chris Cho crafts such cocktails as the Avenue – Hennessey, Aperol, Antica Formula and bitters. Head chef Jesse Zuber and Nathan Guggenheimer, the co-chef who stuffs those sausages, migrated here too, and last spring the boys lured sommelier Tara Thom away from Vancouver’s Blue Water Cafe to build up the globe-hopping wine list.

MacKay also brings in duck from Quebec and scallops from Maine, and I doubt the halibut was fished from the South Saskatchewan River. But Ayden isn’t about showing off Prairie cooking to the world – it’s about bringing the world home.

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