In small-town Saskatchewan, eclecticism reigns supreme. We were encouraged to visit all kinds of places, like a restaurant in Osler that was started by Mennonites, taken over by a Swiss man, and is now run by a couple from Bangladesh.
You can get still classic perogies and cabbage rolls, but now also with an order of spicy curry and a round of hot milky chai to finish it off.
There’s excellent Mexican food in Vibank, upscale Peruvian at Shield’s Hole in the Wall, and Greek food in a rural 1950’s diner, where we ended up.
The Olive Tree Restaurant occupies the old Blacktop Diner near Waldheim, a place with serious character. It simultaneously advertises fireworks, gas, ice cream, ceramics, and olive oil from Crete, with old vehicles (some looking as though they’re aiming to drive skyward) scattered around.
John Diefenbaker apparently frequented the Blacktop Diner in the 1950’s, and its decorative scheme doesn’t seem to have changed much since. There are bright red bar stools and booths, a picture of Marilyn Monroe on the wall, and Greek classics on the menu.
The restaurant is operated by husband and wife team Georgia Sinaki and Michael Pantermarakis, both of Crete. Michael worked for years as an electrical engineer in Winnipeg and his wife as a chef, and eventually they decided to open their own restaurant. They purchased the diner, and began importing olive oil, spices, and ceramics from Crete to sell alongside their Greek food, vast array of fireworks, and soft serve. See? Eclectic.
We’d been warned by Urbanspoon that the service at the Olive Tree is slow, and we’ll second that. This is not a grab-a-souvlaki-and-get-on the-road kind of place. Rather, you should be ready to settle in for a while (without air conditioning), and expect the service to be friendly and casual, if not terribly efficient. Because of a miscommunication with our order, we ended up with three dips for dinner (a cheese dip, eggplant dip, and tzatsiki). Fortunately, they were excellent!
If you’d like to head to explore small-town dining in Saskatchewan, check out this great CBC article on rural restaurants. Who knows where you’ll end up, and what you’ll find…..