The Canadian province of Saskatchewan has much to offer foodies who enjoy a casual approach to dining and big flavours. As you might expect from one of Canada's western provinces, steaks are popular but there's also plenty more for discerning diners.
Many travellers begin their journeys in Regina, the provincial capital, where the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly building stands in the Wascana Centre park. The Willow on Wascana restaurant (3000 Wascana Drive, tel. +1 306 585 3663) overlooks the park's lake and, on fine days, its outdoor seating is a good spot to pause for a drink or snack.
Tim Davies, the head chef, describes the cuisine served at the Willow on Wascana as "fine-dining with casual, upper-level comfort food." The emphasis is on local ingredients and his menus reflect the season. The land chowder and handmade gnocchi count among Davies' signature dishes. The six course tasting menu, served during evening sittings, is one way of trying a cross-section of his dishes.
Bushwakker (2206 Dewdeny Avenue, tel. +1 306 359 7276) is best known as a brewpub rather than a restaurant but its eclectic offering of freshly made comfort food proves popular with diners. You can choose from dishes including fish and chips, wild boar burger, a pulled pork and apple pizza plus Cajun-style jambalaya. The menu changes on a seasonal basis.
This pub-restaurant opened its doors in January 1991 within a warehouse that was built just prior to the outbreak of World War One. The result is a roomy venue with a laid-back atmosphere. Blues and jazz acts perform here on Mondays while folk musicians take to the stage on Wednesdays.
Bushwakker is within easy walking distance of the Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field, the home of the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Roughriders, and proves especially lively on match days.
In one corner of the building you can see a handful of the stainless steel vessels which Mitch Dalrymple, the head brewer, uses to go about his work. The majority of tanks are located down in the cellar. A selection of the beers brewed on-site are available throughout the year while some of the ales and lagers - including the Premium Pale Ale, Chico IPA and Dalrymple Dunkel - are seasonal.
For a more formal dinner, try to the Courtlandt Dining Room (2125 Victoria Avenue, tel. +1 305 522 7691). The stylish hotel opened in 1927 and the high-ceilinged dining room is a good spot for Sunday brunch. The a la carte menu includes seared scallops, served with crispy bacon, plus a beef tenderloin served with a mini Yorkshire pudding and a rich jus.
Saskatchewan has a reputation for flat prairie landscape but that's only part of the story. The prairie stereotype is largely true in the south but as you head north the countryside becomes densely forested and the land more undulating. Remarkably, the province has almost 100,000 lakes. Coupled with the woodland this makes and the region around La Ronge popular with hunters and fishermen.
At Otter Lake Resort (tel. +1 306 635 2144) you can start the day with a hearty breakfast, featuring crispy bacon, fried potatoes plus pancakes with a big portion of maple syrup. That sets you up for a full day of fishing for northern pike and walleye on a pontoon boat.
You don't need to be an experienced angler to have a good day on Otter Lake. Guides are available and the scenery and serenity is a big part of the experience. Seeing a bald eagle soaring overhead as you cast your line on a sunny day is bettered by few things. One of them may be hauling in a 5lb northern pike.
Anything you catch is served up in a shore lunch or dinner, cooked by your guide using wood from the forest. Sitting on rocks, listening to birdsong and watching the sun catching ripples in the lake is arguably the best way to enjoy fresh fish.
There's a buzz at Ayden Kitchen and Bar in central Saskatoon which Dale MacKay, the winner of the first series of Top Chef Canada opened in November 2013. The silver rib eye steak, served with twice baked potato, is one of the house specials and beautifully textured. Look out for the popcorn prawns, cooked in a light tempura batter with lime and served with a spicy aioli. Nathan Guggenheimer, the executive chef, is a trained butcher and the man behind the charcuterie and sausage platters. The sausages are freshly made and served with seasonal accompaniments.
One of the joys of dining in Saskatchewan is the informality of most restaurants. The food, though, stands up to scrutiny.
Find out more about the province on the Tourism Saskatchewan website.
Learn more about Canada and destinations in the country on the Canadian Tourism Commission's website.
Air Canada flies from London Heathrow to the cities of Saskatoon and Regina via Vancouver.
Where to stay
Saskatoon's Delta Bessborough Hotel opened in 1935 and is one of Canada's grand railway hotels. The hotel has Art Deco influences and places you in the centre of the city.