Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Eating Around Saskatoon: Collective Coffee and Park Cafe

As much as I love to cook, there's no way I want to do it ALL the time.  Lucky for me, Saskatoon is full of really great independent restaurants and coffee shops.  I'm not much of a "chain" girl, unless my sister is coming to town and needs a Red Lobster fix.  Only then will I sit across from her and eat some sort of shrimp fest or whatever they have going on.  I do it in the name of sisterly love!  But she knows I draw the line at KFC.  You'll never see my car idling in a drive-thru for some sort of hideous burger impostor or for mediocre coffee.  That's just not my style.  Being in the food business, I have an affinity for others who followed their passion and wanted to have a life in food too.  Like Dolly Parton said:  "You'll never do a whole lot unless you're brave enough to try."  So when I go out and crave a latte or a burger, I hit up the little independents.  Because they were brave enough to try. 

My two favourite places I'm writing about today are both located in my 'hood, which makes me very happy.  Riversdale is undergoing a revitalization at the moment, with the lovely new farmer's market on 19th Street, and with constant development on the river bank.  More and more young families are moving into the area, and the future is looking bright indeed.  There is a stigma of crime and poverty on 20th Street West, but it's not all bad news. This neighbourhood is full of great Asian restaurants and grocery stores,  thrift shops, a flea market, the wonderful Roxy Theatre, yoga studios and art galleries and my favourite garden/home decor store.  I like to think of the 'hood as having lots of "flavour".  With these two places, I love living here even more.

A recent contender for my favourite place to get my latte fix is Collective Coffee.  Located in the Two-Twenty building of 20th St. West, it's only been open since the middle of February and already it's at the top of my list.  Jackson Wiebe, the owner, has done an excellent job in bringing a much needed coffee shop to the neighbourhood.  I love that it's housed in a shared space for entrepreneurs and artists who believe in the neighbourhood and its revival.  I love that they used some salvaged wood in the interior, with the front counter being made of reclaimed wood from an old vinegar vats.  With lots of great lighting, and the perfect grey on the walls, there is a rustic industrial feel to the place.  Very warm and cozy, with seating against one wall, and a row of stools against  huge windows facing 20th.  There is even a garage door waiting to be rolled up where I'm hoping a small patio will live once warmer days arrive.  I so see myself sitting there, sipping and sunning.  Close to the farmer's market, it makes a great stop before or after getting my loot.

Collective Coffee supports local coffee roasters like Museo and gets their delicious baked goods from Caffe Sola.  Jackson offers coffee from Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters, where the coffee is sourced directly from farms and farmers. The espresso is Black Cat Classic.  Maybe its because I have a soft spot for black cats, but I ADORE Jackson's lattes.  Smooth and well balanced, not too foamy and so pretty, it really is amazing coffee.  Besides the latte, you can get an Americano, Macchiato, Espresso, Cappuccino, French Press and a Daily Coffee choice.  Coffee beans sold as well.  For non coffee drinkers, there is always a great selection of Silk Road Organic Tea.  If you are in Saskatoon, and crave an amazingly authentic coffee experience do yourself a favour and stop by Collective Coffee. 

Collective Coffee
220 20th Street West
Daily 8am-6pm
Weekends 10am-5pm
Cash Only

Whenever my friends want to meet for brunch or a late lunch, I always suggest The Park Cafe.  It's been around for many many years, but the current owners have had it for six.  It's the coolest old school retro diner, with a completely unpretentious feel to it.  There is really great paraphernalia scattered throughout and the photos on the walls are of Saskatoon in its early days  The tables are always packed, and sometimes a line up is out the door.  The food is that good, it's worth the wait.

 Everything is super fresh and made in-house, from the BBQ sauce to the burgers themselves, and you can tell.  I've been going to the Park since I moved here about two and half years ago, and I'm such a creature of habit I've only tried the Eggs Benedict, The Park Burger, the hand cut onion rings and ok, I had some poutine.  I admit it.  When I find a menu item I love, I always go back to it, but I've seen the Reuben and it looks fantastic too. Maybe next time I'll break my habit and order the Monte Christo! There are some vegetarian and gluten free options as well.  Service is a standout at the Park.  Super friendly and attentive, it's some of the best I've had in the city (and I'm kind of picky about service.)

The Eggs Benedict is perfection.  Really.  Luscious Hollandaise sauce, smothers poached eggs and ham, on a crispy English muffin. I've had it too with their in-house smoked salmon, and that was incredible.  With some excellent hash browns, it's my favourite brunch.  Served all day on weekends, and 8-11 weekdays.

Now the Park Burger. It's the best I've had in the city by far.  By now you know I have a thing for bacon.  And this burger has it.  But the burger itself has so much flavour.  Their wonderfully tangy BBQ sauce complements the whole deal and my favourite hand cut onion ring sits right on top.  The big dilemma is whether to pull the ring off and eat it like that, or to leave it in have that crunch in your burger.  I always leave it in.  I don't indulge in much deep fried action but when I do, I get the onion rings at the Park.  Totally worth it.

The Park Cafe
515 20th St. West
open 8-4 daily.


  1. Your hood is so much like my hood- love the flavour!! I am picturing myself at these places when I finally make my long anticipated trip to Saskatoon- great post Renee!

  2. Stacy, you will love these places as much as I do. Can't wait for the day you visit!!!!

  3. oh how a miss Canadian Burgers.... and Eggs Benedict....


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