Saskatoon Round 2: Bottega Trattoria

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Last weekend Saskatoon really won me over with its sunny open skies and green parks and their zoo that had two cougars in the same cage (that’s nuts right?). It helped that this time I stayed in Leah’s nice apartment in University Heights (and not the hotel that we stayed last month when we dropped her off, which was apparently the ‘hood of Saskatoon and a place my mother reacted to like one might react to having lice poured on their head. Combine that with daytime highs of 10 degrees in August and we didn’t get the nicest first impression of Leah’s new hometown. And my parents and I bond over nothing if not our shared obsession with Leah’s happiness, safety, and well-being. Often to the detriment of all three.)

Anyway on Friday night we went to Leah’s Coating Ceremony. It was at a nice hotel by the river and there was a big banquet for all the new vets and their guests to eat before they (the vets) got led out of the room and then led back in again by a guy playing bagpipes and then handed their stethoscopes and embroidered white lab coats (not by the bag piper… by some other people). Leah actually put so much food on her plate that by the time we got to the carving station she had no more space and I had to ask the chef for two pieces of roast beef and then wait for her to eat her way through a couple inches of real estate so I could put her share on her plate. It was a fun evening. Another vet student at our table, this real Saskatchewan cowgirl, kept asking me why I wasn’t eating any of the fancy cupcakes and making fun of me for taking fruit for dessert. Those crazy BC girls and their fad diets!

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On Saturday we ventured downtown, where you would think many businesses should be open and busy, but we couldn’t find a place to eat lunch. If there is a street where all the good restaurants are, we couldn’t find it. The places we did duck in to, just to scan the menu for gluten-freeness, were completely empty. Turns out this is pretty off-putting when deciding whether or not to eat somewhere. We left a place that boasted a 100% gluten-free menu for this very reason (and also for the reason that they had chili in a bread bowl on the menu, which obviously intrigues me. Turns out the “bread bowl” component of this particular dish isn’t gluten-free at all, it’s just regular old wheat bread carved into the shape of a bowl! A funny trick. So really it was like a 98% gluten-free menu, as Leah pointed out. We read on to find their page of sandwiches, which listed a gluten-free bun as a potential option, which suggests not only that there are other options at the 100% gluten-free restaurant but that gluten-free is not the default option, which is what you might assume in a place that says it’s 100% gluten-free. It was more like 72% gluten-free. The hostess did not understand why we were asking her about so many obvious things.)

Sadly this was not the most disconcerting restaurant experience we were going to have that day. We eventually chose to sit down at a place called Bottega Trattoria, which was basically empty but looked nice-ish and new-ish, and not cave-ish. We were sold when the waitress confirmed that they “offered gluten-free options” (not giving away the farm with a “100%” guarantee. Get it? Giving away the farm? We’re in Saskatchewan!), and that they had gf pasta and pizza. So we sat down at one of the very crowded tall wooden tables, and our super beautiful waitress gave us menus (“Ugh she’s so pretty…I want to punch her in the face”-Leah).

We both ordered pasta and hoped for the best. The urban spoon reviews were pretty terrible, only scored 56%, but most of the complaints were about the service, and we really weren’t in the mood to keep searching for what was sure to be a similarly average meal a few blocks away (feeling quite cynical at this point).
While we sat there drinking our waters the owner came over and opened up the big glass garage door beside us, letting in not only the sunshine, but three drunk guys wearing what can only be described as shorteralls, into the restaurant.

Why they were wearing identical hick-costumes, and why they were blind drunk at one in the afternoon, we still don’t know. But we certainly had time to find out, because once they procured the necessary beverages to keep the party going, they swarmed our table and wouldn’t leave.
So just to review: inside the restaurant you have one manager, one server, two paying customers, and three drunk guys in shorteralls. What happened next is as follows:

Guy 1: Hey ladies, what’s up, are you from here? (or something like that) (looks down at empty chair) Can I sit here?
Me: Vancouver, and no!
Guy1: (looks hurt) Hey don’t judge me, gargle blah blah blah, something indignant.
Guy 2: Sorry about him, he’s got no social skills. I used to be a runway model!
Guy 3: And now he’s the king of the rigs! He makes a lot of money, you know.
Guy2: So do you guys want a casual night out, or like a party night? Because I would suggest _____bar for dancing and ______lounge for just like, hanging out. Which one do you want to go to?
Guy1: Are you a redhead?
Guy2: How old do you think I am?
Guy3: Can I sit here?
Leah: I don’t want to eat lunch with you guys…
Guy 2: Let me guess, you’re a teacher.

And so on.
It wasn’t as if anybody was going to mistake them for our friends who just ran into us and were saying hi. We were two normal people, in normal clothes, waiting for our food. They were three hammered guys in shorteralls, standing way too close to our faces. The service staff, which made up the only other bodies in the building, watched this happen and didn’t do a thing about it. When one of them asked again to sit down with us and we again said no thank you, they sat down at the table that was right beside ours. At this point we had been waiting for our food for 40 minutes and there were NO OTHER CUSTOMERS in the restaurant. Leah proposed we exit out of the front window, just like our visitors entered. But we were too tired to find somewhere else to eat. When our food came and we were ready to just be alone and eat our pasta and get out, guy 3 said, a la Kanye to Taylor Swift, “ok I’m gonna let you enjoy your meals, but I need to ask you one question… I have a food truck called “Disco Dogs” and it’s like, doing, really good. Do you think I’d make it in Vancouver?”
Like how would I know? So we didn’t go out for a casual or dancing night, we stayed home so we wouldn’t have to try to find food again.

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Wanna go for a picnic? Alpaca lunch! (My favourite joke)(At the zoo with the two cougars)

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