Duck Duck Goose is a small, fairly new tapas bar just off Broadway in Saskatoon. I’d seen the restaurant and been interested in it for a while as it’s right around the corner from Amigo’s, but never had the opportunity to dine there because trips to Saskatoon are usually a blur of cheap beer and punk rock. This past week, however, I finally got the chance to stop in for dinner before the Neil Young concert at Credit Union Centre. It did not disappoint…
Duck Duck Goose is the kind of quaint little spot I love, with only a handful of seats and a modestly-sized but adventurous menu, which is printed on individual cards and bound in a rustic paper folder. Given the style of small-plates cuisine, the wine list is surprisingly small but the choices that are there are decent, including this bottle of Penascal Tempranillo that our whet our appetites.
In true tapas style, the portions are very small and are meant to be shared, unlike many bastardized North American restaurants which often just equate “tapas” with “appetizers” and basically just offer expensive “fancy” pub menus. The food at Duck Duck Goose comes out slowly and deliberately, one plate at a time, allowing you to savour and focus on the specific flavours of each unique dish.
The first to arrive at our table was the ricotta gnocchi with sage butter. This was a beautiful way to start the meal, as the gnocchi were so soft that they melted on your tongue, waking the tastebuds up in a really creamy, comfortable way.
Next came lamb and pork meatballs, that were very tasty though admittedly the most pedestrian dish of the evening. What really elevated the dish however was the fantastic olive oil that accompanied; as someone who was recently given a handcrafted bottle from a family vineyard in Greece, I can tell you this oil was the real deal.
This may look like soup, but was actually the scallop ceviche, swimming in a lemon harissa sauce. The bites of sashimi-grade scallop were delicious, and the whole table was mopping up the brine with their bread. It could have used some tortilla or pico de gallo to flesh out the portion a bit, but regardless the flavours were right on point.
The charcuterie platter was a nice mix of homemade and imported deli meats, including a house-cured duck prosciutto, which was the obvious standout. Again, a hint of mustard or some pickled onions would have rounded out the plate, but it’s tough to argue with a selection of meats this tasty.
My personal favourite was the grilled halloumi cheese with dressed greens. Ashley used to bring a grilling cheese back to Saskatchewan from Quebec that was very similar to this, and it’s one of my all-time favourite flavour experiences. The first time she ever fried some up for me, standing in her parents’ kitchen in north-end Regina, I swear my knees buckled and my eyes rolled into the back of my head. I didn’t have quite the same experience with this halloumi, but it was very decadent and satisfying nonetheless.
And for anyone still hungry after all those small plates and tiny bites, there’s a duck poutine to stick to your ribs. The crispy confit is a very necessary add-on, and everything from the truffle fries to the grilled mushrooms to the duck gravy absolutely took this Canadian classic to the moon. I grew up in Ottawa and have had plenty of Quebecois poutine - I dare to say that this one is pretty well as good as they get.