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“The dish called "Italian Stallion" hit the evening out of the park for me”

The Willow On Wascana
Ranked #63 of 574 Restaurants in Regina
Price range: $20 - $25
Cuisines: Canadian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Description: The Willow on Wascana has been a part of Regina life since 2004. We pride ourselves on the amazing and quite surprising bounty this great province has to offer. From every grain under the sun to the most flavorful vegetables you have ever tasted. We even have fresh fruit growing in the valley. The willow has worked very hard with countless families and individuals skilled in the art form known as farming. From our major meat supplier, Pine View Farms in Osler supplying us with an array of all farm animals. Our wild boar family Schneider Farm just 15 minutes outside of Regina. Local eggs, local flour and now even a local cheese artist. Our amazing produce from Heliotrope Farm in Craven, you name it chances are they grow it. All these great things we enjoy so much and transform into our own culinary masterpieces, and just picked fresh right out of the backyard. From Farm to Table, let's face it, that's the way it should be. Cheers, Chef Tim Davies
Winnipeg, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
149 reviews
125 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
“The dish called "Italian Stallion" hit the evening out of the park for me”
Reviewed May 29, 2014

We consider Regina and Saskatchewan like a second home. My husband is here frequently on business and I once made the jaunt from Winnipeg on a regular basis for business too. When I was very little, I would come for the summer at my grandparents’ farm in the Assiniboia area and can clearly remember the whistling train cars full of wheat to be sent to places all over the world and distant rolls of thunder from promised rains that never came. Do I bleed green? Well no, I bleed a gorgeous blue BUT we were on our feet cheering for the Riders when they won the Grey Cup last season! While here, we had the opportunity to meet up with old and dear friends. They lived for a short time in Winnipeg, we worked together and our children are all the same ages.

The trees were bursting with lime green leaves and the restaurant was perfectly situated right on the edge of the water.We had a beautiful view across the water to the Saskatchewan Legislature.We were perched on the extensive outdoor patio space that I understand can be reserved for outdoor weddings. They were a couple of mosquitoes that could be detected in the sunlight. On another night this might be considered a nuisance but basking in the setting sun, especially after the harsh winter we have all experienced, it simply meant one thing….summer had arrived on the Canadian prairies!

My husband acting as host, choose a Cabernet Franc for the table. We love Cab Francs as they are lighter than Cabernet Sauvignons. Although I do not recall which winemaker he chose, we are always surprized by the aromas of tabaco, bell pepper and violets of Cab Francs. Our charming server added some European flair. She was from the Czech Republic, where my Daddy was born. She was so patient with us when she kept returning to take our order and we could not stop chatting and looking at pictures of each other’s families and filling in the years since we had all been together. But, to the food….

The food was sensational! “Farm to Table” dining makes so much sense for so many reasons and whenever we travel, we consciously select restaurants that epitomize this style. Our favourite Canadian restaurant is the famous Stone Road Grille in Niagara-on-the Lake and The Willow on Wascana rivals our visit there.

We began with an Amuse Bouche that definitely “amused our mouths” as the moniker promises. It was a trout mousse on focaccia bread crostini with a cilantro leaf and a scattering of sesame seeds. Steelhead Trout is related to the salmon family and is similar to a rainbow trout. The fish are farmed in Lake Diefenbaker in southern Saskatchewan named for a former premier of the province who I happened to meet when I was a teenager (now you know how old I am). The subtle fleshed fish is so succulent that D ordered it for dinner AND we when we went out for lunch the next day, we ordered it again!

We shared Salt Spring Island Mussels that had been poached in a creamy blue cheese broth. They were not quite as stellar as the bowl titled “Cozze Pepate” that I had enjoyed just the day before at Colesseo Ristorante in Winnipeg, but they were meaty and tender.

I was really intrigued by the name of our other shared appetizer: Bagna Cauda where pan-seared pickerel cheeks, Pickerel (Walleye) being both Saskatchewan and Manitoba’s provincial fish. The nuggets of flesh found on the face of the fish (hence: cheeks) were tossed in a spicy anchovy sauce and then perched upon pickled radish and rainbow carrot salad, so that it was a delight to the taste buds and the eyes.The trout which is listed as the “Catch of the Day” on the menu was brushed with a lemon preserve and then placed upon a bed of mixed lentil pilaf.

Chef Tim’s ode to the classic Korean dish Bibimbap was one of the selections that our friends made. The Korean short ribs were accompanied by coconut lime wild rice, a crunchy slaw and crowned with a soft boiled egg. Her spouse (a pork lover like me) chose maple glazed pork tenderloin which was perfectly cooked with just the hint of pink inside to ensure moistness and subtle texture and placed atop grilled vegetable selections including my favourite of Pitty Pat (sometimes called Patty Pan) squash.

My husband lovingly calls me his “Potato-loving Polish Princess” and with consistency my eye went directly to the Gnocchi. It wasn’t the roasted organic mushrooms, chopped herbs and balsamic glaze that had me tempted but the truffle cream sauce. I am a goner for a short list of foods: potatoes, artichokes, eggplant and truffles! Now, I didn’t know this at the time but I was to get a special treat the next day when we tasted a heritage truffle cheese at Crave Kitchen + Bar. What clinched my decision was when I shared my two options with our helpful server and she deduced that I would love the Italian Stallion (tee hee).

This dish hit it out of the ballpark for me: Sicilian (we’ve traveled to Sicily and love the region’s simple food) braised aubergine (eggplant) stew on pan fried cheese and herb polenta with toasted almonds and enormous shards of padano cheese. The stew was dense (in good way) with pungent flavours of the meaty, stewed aubergine, capers and olives. I cut the veggie chunks into smaller pieces so that I could make the ingestion of the dish, take a very long time.

Visited May 2014
Helpful?
Thank Kathryne G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DaveBurkeOwner, Owner at The Willow On Wascana, responded to this review, May 30, 2014
Thanks for the great review!! We try hard every time and good or bad the team really appreciates the feed back!

Cheers
Dave
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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257 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Saskatchewan
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Okay but not great”
Reviewed May 28, 2014

The patio atmosphere is great on a nice day. However the food was just average. Actually a bit disappointing considering the price and hype. I probably wouldn't go back even if it was half the price. The bison steak was bland and it came with cheap boring fries. They charge you a dollar for tap water as well - not that it's gonna break you, but this 'nickel and dime' approach isn't befitting.

  • Visited April 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank harknessk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DaveBurkeOwner, Owner at The Willow On Wascana, responded to this review, May 29, 2014
Thank you for taking the time to let us know about your recent visit! We are only a few days into the summer menu and we clearly have a few tweaks to make to a few items! Our team is going to be able to make positive changes so that others do not end up with the same experience that you received!! Again thank you very much for your feed back! If there is any way we can make it better for you please do not hesitate to call me personally 306 535 5334

With regards to the water charge... we installed a water purification system by the name of http://www.vivreau.com/ in an effort to reduce our environmental impact... we removed our draft beer taps and replaced them with the water service... prior to installing the Vivreau taps we were selling hundreds of bottles of sparkling water and now we bottle direct from our own taps... though we don't like propagating the idea that you must drink bottled water we do feel it is the lesser of two evils... the system is quite expensive to purchase and maintain so the $1 and $3 dollar charges essentially help us to offer this service... we used to sell bottles of sparkling water for $7 per bottle and flat water for $4 ... we feel the water is actually better and a better value now

Hope to see you again but I understand if we don't

All the best
Dave
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Regina, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Regina's Best”
Reviewed May 28, 2014

I often visit this restaurant and, last evening, I did once again. I had game hen with cornbread waffles and a wonderful Pinot Noir. The game hen was succulent, well prepared and beautifully presented. As always the service was impeccable. The menu is quite new. The Willow changes its menu at least once every six months and this is one of their best. I never select my own wine but ask the steward to do it. The Willow is run by people who know their wines and promote Saskatchewan produce… happily, the wine is not Saskatchewan produce! The setting of this restaurant is special… set on the shore of Wascana Lake with splendid view for the Saskatchewan legislature, a monumental historic building. Last evening. we had dinner on the patio and enjoyed the outdoor dining. i think the The Willow on Wascana is Regina's best restaurant.

  • Visited May 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Richard B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DaveBurkeOwner, Owner at The Willow On Wascana, responded to this review, May 29, 2014
Thanks Richard!!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Regina, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
312 reviews
286 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 110 helpful votes
“Lunch disappointment”
Reviewed May 16, 2014 via mobile

Had the beet salad, not cooked beets but beet pickles so very acid, candied desiccated walnuts and arugula and dill with no dressing noticeable

Blackened chicken tacos, not blackened in color or taste, stewed dark meat on pita circles ? With chopped fruit and clilantro.

Meh

Helpful?
Thank Nakodo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DaveBurkeOwner, Owner at The Willow On Wascana, responded to this review, May 29, 2014
Yikes! that does not sound like us at all... We are very proud of both of those dishes... I am very sorry for your experience, it sounds like we absolutely dropped the ball on your visit! I hope our team was able to respond to your complaint and get things fixed up for you.

Thanks so very much for your feed back! I have mentioned it to the team and they are looking at our prep for those dishes to ensure we are putting out the best possible dishes

Feel free to call me directly 306 535 5334... maybe we can get you back in... our treat

Dave
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Regina, Canada
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Perfect Food and Location”
Reviewed May 16, 2014

If you are visiting Regina or live here, you must make the Willow a regular stop. It is wonderful food and the best view in Regina. Lunch or Dinner and now Brunch - it is a must.

  • Visited May 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Bernadette M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DaveBurkeOwner, Owner at The Willow On Wascana, responded to this review, May 29, 2014
Thanks for the very kind words!! I have shared this with the team and I'm pretty sure you made their day!!

Cheers
Dave
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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