Eating Out In Tisdale

FTLComm - Tisdale
September 25, 1999

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a snack, this is your guide to what is available in Tisdale. There is no question that what you will read here is anything but one individual's opinion and experience in finding something to eat, but even that one opinion will give you some idea of what is available and how the various places rate when measured against one another.

When I asked several people where would they go if they were taking their wife or girl friend out to eat? Several responded with a comment that went like this, "Well turn right at the seven eleven had head West out of town." For most of us that is not a great alternative and we need to know what is available and what place will suit our personal needs, tastes and perhaps even more importantly, our budget. If you are looking for a the best dinner in the area many people agree the Heritage Inn in Melfort is hard to beat and the best lunch is at the Evergreen Centre in Nipawin.

These two out of town locations stand out for several reasons. Melfort's Heritage Inn has a dining room with the decor and table setting that would easily compete with similar priced eating establishments in Regina and Saskatoon. The menu has a good selection and the specials are excellent servings that match the service. The lunch buffet at the Evergreen Centre is consistent day after day with healthy nutritional and good flavoured food. The quantity is outstanding and the atmosphere matches the food. When it comes to price, the Heritage Inn's cost is appropriate for what you get and the Evergreen Centre's lunch is a bargain.

I mention this so that you will understand the context in which we consider Tisdale's restaurants. Tisdale's places are up against some stiff opposition and perhaps that is why many people do not compare local eating establishments with those out of town.

At the top of this page is a look at the inside of My Way restaurant located in the Tisdale Mall. In all categories this is the best place to eat in Tisdale. The interesting decor as seen above and below right, it has atmosphere and the food is of a good quality with plenty of variety on the menu. Besides its pleasant and varied atmosphere, it is not for the Cancer Crowd. At My Way you can enjoy your meal without the blight of acrid cigarette smoke. Though a notch or two below the Heritage Inn and with a reasonably priced menu Ensign is selecting My Way as Tisdale's number one choice.
As with all things it is important to categorise eating establishments so that the classes or levels of product and service which often are matched with price compete with one another. My Way is at the top of the Tisdale scale of things and then we have a number of "diner" class restaurants. This are lower priced and lack atmosphere and are not licensed establishments. We have two of the highway kind of restaurants that specialist in short order meals, then the fast food outlets and the department store cafe style eating place. As well as these we have convenience food outlets that dabble in snacks and lunches and both of these do a surprising business at meal times.


As mentioned May Way has been singled out in this class but it has an excellent competitor in Venice House which is the same class of licensed restaurant and accorded to personal taste it has loyal patrons who like the menu and selection preferring it to all others. Both My Way and Venice House have their own style of pizza and both serve a nice Sunday Brunch.



In this class of eating establishment Tisdale has two businesses sitting side by side on main street. These are two very diverse businesses and can not really be compared one with the other.

Don's Restaurant serves a daily lunch buffet for a very reasonable price. The selection is just fine and the stir fry dishes are outstanding. Don also puts on a great dinner menu with multi dish or combination plate Cantonese Chinese food.

Wolfr (below left) opened on September 16 and is Tisdale's newest restaurant. It is proving to be very popular with the business lunch group. The noon special Friday was a pricey $7.50 pork cutlet meal or a $4.50 sandwich and soup. My soup was delicious with huge chunks of beef and the sandwich was fine. It took twenty minutes for a second cup of coffee but it is a pleasant atmosphere.

Both Don and Wolfr restaurants are Cancer crowd pleasers, which means "nonsmokers can bloody well suffer." I can guarantee you good food at either location but because of the contaminated atmosphere which is simply unacceptable in this era, I would not recommend either place.


Highway Style Restaurants

Truckers refer to short order cafes of this type as "choke and puke" places but it is an unfair classification. Tisdale has one of these on each end of town. Nibblers is located in the ESSO station on highway #3 while "R Place" is on highway #35 as it enters town from the North.

Both of these places have similar menus and have lots of customers for both lunch and supper every day of the week. It is fair to criticise both places for the amount of fat in their offering, but that can be directed at every food location in town. The heavy use of deep frying and liberal use of cooking oil make these unsafe for most people, once an a while is okay, but short order cooking is generally bad for you.

R Place has a novel and pleasant decor with a meal card that gives you a bargain every so often. The specials are excellent and the food flavours and quality are great. For a low priced quick service meal, I recommend R. Place, coffee is self serve and it has a great nonsmoking section.

Nibblers is compressed inside and its low ceiling make it a little claustrophobic I classify Nibblers as a "No Go" location no matter what the food quality the place is definitely Cancer Crowd City. The normal level of smoke in the place is serious so much so, I can't image going in under any circumstances other then wearing a Scott Air pack that is used by firemen to enter burning buildings.


Fast Food

Tisdale has four fast food outlets and I can cheerfully recommend all of them to you. With fast food its a matter of choice in what you want to eat and these outlets cover the bases.

Hannigan's have two products that are not only unequalled in Tisdale, they are provincial standards.

The Big Beef hamburger on the right above is $3.65 including tax and is one of the best hamburgers I have ever eaten and every one is consistently the same, with a great sauce and super flavour. (Just as good as a White Spot hamburger for those of you who have been to Vancouver)

The ice cream cone is a mere $.50, that's right only two quarts will get you a low sugar fine textured ice cream cone including tax. Best in Canada.

Hannigans is the preferred breakfast spot for many Tisdale folks but for me it is a "NO GO" place because of the Cancer Crowd conditions. Ventilation is poor for the smoke build up in the dining area, but the drive through is always open.

Without a doubt Chicken Delight is the best appointed fast food location, not just in Tisdale, but in Melfort, Nipawin and Tisdale. The eating area is spacious, bright and super clean.

The menu at Chicken Delight is far more then just fried chicken, but includes, superior quality coffee, killer soups, hot chili and a load of deserts.

Chicken Delight's chicken is better, that's right, it is better then KFC and both are much better then the dripping with grease Lee's Chicken in Nipawin. The main thing that you get at this restaurant, is excellent consistent food served quickly and for that you pay just a tad more.

Besides the regular dining area, Chicken Delight has a separate party or meeting room, that can seat a lot of people and shares the same well lit and open atmosphere.

Sonia's Pizza is located down town and if you are on the run and want a piece of pizza for a quick lunch on the go, my recommendation is see Sonia. Her slice of pizza is large and low in fat and the price is right.

Subway is Tisdale's safest place to eat, a subway sandwich is lower in fat and more nutritional then hamburgers, chicken or pizza. Service is slow, because each one is made to order, but the value is a definite advantage.

In Store Cafes

Tisdale has two of these, one in the Beeland Coop and the other in Best Value.

The only place to compare Beeland Coop's cafe is with one in another Coop and compared to the Nipawin Coop cafe Nipawin is better. The Beeland Cafe can only be expected to serve its lunch special for less than twenty minutes each day and then it has sold out. This suggests that there are a lot of people who have lunch at the Coop, but also there seems to be a lack of planning. Contrast this with Nipawin's home cooked approach and open feel to the place and you will see why it is rated higher. Nipawin's seating area often has a line up waiting to sit down and it is rare that they run out of their noon special.

The cafe in Best Value is along the traditions of Kresges and Woolworth's of the 1950s. A short order menu of small portions, served quickly, but with excellent flavours and good variety. A snappy lunch with a non smoking area, that will get you through most of the afternoon.


Convenience Stores

Though not really restaurants, the line is blurred with both of these businesses located at each end of town.

Wicks Gas Bar and Car Wash has been an established Tisdale business for a long time and provides a wide range of services from milk to flowers. This past year it installed a really nice food service counter and from there serves soft ice cream, subs and pizza by the slice. The ice cream is good and the pizza slices small. However this is a good place with friendly service.

The 7-11 at the junction of #3 and #35 is a beehive of activity twenty-four hours a day. The cold sandwiches have now been complimented by hot dogs, hot sandwiches and fried chicken. The cold sandwiches are safe, but the fried chicken and other deep fried stuff is grease to the extreme. However, at meal times there are lots of people make a meal a 7-11.


In A Class of Its Own

The RecPlex food concession needs to be identified as one of Tisdale's eating establishments as it serves up a lot of food every day all year round. Next to Hannigan's Big Beef the standard hamburger at the RecPlex food concession is the best hamburger in Tisdale. Great flavour and a generous serving.

The general fair from the concession is leaning to toward the grease, but is balanced with lots of other kinds of food and during the curling season and with special adult events in progress, the concession stand can turn out soups, chili and full meals that are first rate and often lower priced then the restaurants.

My only complaint is the coffee cups are to small for the price of the coffee.


So What

Well I warned you at the beginning that this was just my opinion but from my reviews you can see that there are two things that bug me. The time has come for people to pay attention to the warning labels on cigarette packages. Smoking is really bad for you and for those of us who do not smoke we should be able to eat without having to risk our lives with second hand smoke. Hannigans and Nibblers are the two worst smoke environments and My Way and R Place the two best. However, Chicken Delight, the Coop and Best Value all have non smoking areas.

My second complaint is with the amount of fat used to prepare food. This might be true of almost all foods in general but now that we know of the dangers, its time we started doing something about them. If we are to do something about obesity we have to increase our fruit and vegetable content in our daily diets. French fries, wedgies and fat dripping hamburgers and chicken are bad for you. The two hamburgers recommended here, Hannigans Big Beef and the Recplex hamburger are lower in fat and for that reason excellent nutritional values.

I would like to see Tisdale eating places nudge their way up the scale a bit and they could all do that by aiming for increased individuality that would add local uniqueness and attract people to them for their specials. In general Tisdale people do not go out to eat a lot, far less then many other communities in which I have lived and that may explain the similar short order cooking menus from restaurant to restaurant. With one of the most outstanding bakeries in the province producing unique and fabulous donuts and various other delights it is interesting that none of Tisdale's restaurants makes use of these products in their outlets. But purchased retail Zoerb's products are half the price of Tim Horton one and twice the quality.

To end this article I want to pass on to a comment I got from one of Wolfr's customers. Shawn Ratushniak explained to me that there is a difference from one hamburger to another. "The Wolfr burger compared to others is different because first you have one, then two or three a day and before you know it you are up to a pac a day."