A taste for everyone in Riversdale

The changing face of Riversdale isn't just in the looks, but also the sweet aromas wafting from a number of new restaurants in the area.

Andy Yuen, who has opened Odd Couple Restaurant on 20th Street, says the neighbourhood has a number of qualities he was looking for when opening his business.

For one the street is lively with plenty of foot traffic and there seems to be a new business opening every month.

"And we have awesome neighbours," he said, adding a number of friends of his who have also opened businesses in the area.

"It's nice to have friends working nearby."

An engineer by trade, but coming from a family of restaurateurs (his parents owned a restaurant in Warman), Yuen said he's always wanted to run an upscale Asian restaurant.

Odd Couple's interior is based on the Hong Kong movie In The Mood For Love.

The entire front window rolls up to give the restaurant a very open feel. There is draft on tap and cocktails, and there is a certified sommelier that will help pair wines with food.

"The first impression is critical," Yuen said. "I want people to come in and have a good time and hang out."

He has also kept the menu small to make sure all the ingredients are fresh, "and that is what my clientele wants," he said.

"It is food with quality ingredients with a glass of wine or a drink."

Yuen said he's striving for an overall higher level of service than what people are expecting.

"I think the concept is working," he said. "It is satisfying to see people come in for lunch and then see them again at supper."

"It's in my veins."

For Peter Guan, opening up Asian Hut on Avenue C is coming back to his roots.

Guan grew up in Riversdale in the 1990s above his parents restaurant at the same location.

"I remember riding my bike around the neighbourhood," Guan said. "When friends came over we used to hang out here."

Returning to Riversdale just felt right for him.

"I grew up in this industry. It's in my veins. This place is changing and I thought it was time to bring this taste back," he said. "Everybody is lending a hand in the neighbourhood."

The restaurant offers Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine with noodle bowls and noodle soups being their specialties. Guan said besides being mentored by his parents (who owned Yum Yum and Saskatoon Garden restaurants), he has also travelled across North America picking up ideas along the way. "I missed the place," he said. "I get to see a lot of the old faces and lots of new faces as well.

There are a number of other new eateries in the area, and around the city.

Earlier this year Riversdale Delicatessen Market executive chef Darby Kells was ecstatic to open up the authentic Italian deli on the corner of Idylwyld and 20th Street.

"We are the gateway (to Riversdale)," Kells says, adding, "This is going to be Saskatoon's most popular neighbourhood."

If you are looking for a Parisien atmosphere there is Little Bird Patisserie Cafe in the Adilman Building on the corner of Avenue B and 20th Street.

Co-owner Kim Butcher describes it as "Frenchinspired with a twist," serving specialties such as macaroons, a sweet meringue-based confection commonly filled with ganache, butter cream or jam filling sandwiched between two biscuits.

If you are looking for Indian fare there is the recently opened Desi Dhaaba Indian restaurant as well as a number of restaurants catering to all tastes.

"I love restoring the old buildings."

The downtown area also continues to attract new restaurants and coffee shops that have either recently opened such as Cut Steakhouse, Citizen Cafe and Bakery, Good Earth Coffeehouse Bakery, Healthy Bean Cafe or are soon to open like The Cactus Club and Fionn Mac-Cool's to name just a few.

Another downtown spot is The Heights, set to open later this month on Second Avenue.

Kevin Kipot, one of The Heights owners, said they are bringing the second floor space above Bottega Trattori's back to its former glory. "I love restoring old buildings," Kipot said. "All of the beauty is hidden behind the walls."

The building dates back to the 1920s and will reflect that era in a number of ways, including exposing the original brick, coffered ceilings, tables made out of black walnut and chicken wire windows.

There will also have a digitally imposed mural of Second Avenue as it looked in the 1920s on one of the walls and also along the stairwell heading up to the secondfloor bar.

They will offer "simple food with a twist that includes fish tacos (made with pickerel), chicken waffles and sliders.

And they will feature classic drinks like Manhattans, whiskey sours and old fashioneds.

"We want to keep it vintage," Kiopt said, adding they will be wired up for live music and they also have a 21-year-old age minimum.

New restaurants in the city

Downtown

Cut Steakhouse 416 21st St. East

Citizen Cafe and Bakery 16 23rd St. East

Good Earth Coffeehouse Bakery 475 2nd Ave. South Healthy Bean Cafe, 25A 22nd St. East. (inside YMCA)

Riversdale

Odd Couple Restaurant 228 20th St. West Asian Hut (Avenue C) 320 Ave. C South

Riversdale Delicatessen, 20th and Idylwyld

Little Bird Patisserie Cafe. 258 Avenue B South Desi Dhaaba Indian 325 Ave C South

Broadway

Nosh Eatery Tap 820 Broadway Ave.

East Side

The Chopped Leaf 1844 McOrmond Dr.

Pink Cadillacs Malt Shop

Lounge 412 Willowgrove Square

Vietnamese Roll 10 207 Stonebridge Blvd.

Pizzeria Romano 304 Stonebridge Common Ginger House Buffet 122 3126 Clarence Ave. South

West

Lunch Box 3502 11th St. West

Mr. Mo's Restaurant 13 3000 Diefenbaker Dr.

Bistro 172. 1702 Idylwyld Dr. North

Coming soon

Fionn MacCool's 355 2nd Ave. South

Grazing Goat Good Eats 210 20th St. West

Herbal Time Tea House 11 412 Willowgrove Anh-dao Restaurant 15 7 ssiniboine Drive

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria, A Lawson Heights

Cactus Club Cafe 130 dylwyld Dr. South

Mr Mike's Steakhouse Casual (Grovesnor Park Mall)