A travel journal
to Regina by girlfromals
Quote: Being a small city situated in the heart of Canada's breadbasket, many from outside the province of Saskatchewan assume there are no great dining or shopping opportunities in Regina, the Queen City. How wrong they are!
By venturing off the beaten path you can find a number of great restaurants and shops which will delight the senses. If you head to the Cathedral Village area along 13th Avenue just off Albert Street, you will find a number of independently owned and unique stores offering any number of things.
Great restaurants are a little more difficult to find as it can be hit and miss. My favourites include pasta places, vegetarian restaurants, and coffee houses. My journal attempts to point you in the right direction so you can find these great places without too much difficulty.
Photos to come next week!
If you don't have a car, the bus offers a good alternative. The bus system in Regina is good and runs along all major routes and not too far from some of the out of the way places. For information on finding the best bus route, go to the Regina Transit Website.
Pasta Prima, as its name implies, serves fantastic pasta. It offers, however, a whole lot more and will not break the bank. Pasta Prima was a fresh addition to the Regina dining scene, something appreciated by Regina diners as the restaurant is always busy. The interior seems a little strange, as it is decorated in 1950’s diner style with black and white floor tile, red booths and chairs, and lots of chrome. But the food is completely modern, or maybe I should say old world as everything is home made.
It is a rarity to find a pasta place outside of the large cities that makes its own pasta and fresh sauces on site; Pasta Prima fits the bill. All pasta and sauces are made from ‘scratch’ and it shows in the look, texture, and taste of the dishes. My mom refuses to eat anything which is pre-packaged or processed. Hence, the desire to return to Pasta Prima time and again is high praise. She is a fan of their cream sauces. I am not a fan of such sauces, but they certainly look delicious (high praise from me). When you enter the restaurant, you will be tempted by a large display case of fresh pasta to go. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!
Pasta prima refuses to sit on its laurels – it serves a lot more than pasta. I am particularly fond of the roasted chicken which comes with two side dishes including a salad. I choose the fries every time because they are made from real potatoes – real home fries. The salad comes with your choice of dressings and the house dressing is a very interesting and tasty vinaigrette. The portions are huge making this dish an extremely good value at under $8.
Vegetarians also have a good selection. My sister and her boyfriend find lots of choices. From tasty bruschetta for an appetizer to pastas and eggplant parmesan for entrees, there is something to suit the tastes of every vegetarian. I have never been able to order dessert here as I am far too full, but the home made baklava is tempting.
You do not need reservations at this restaurant – there always seems to be a table open just as you arrive. If you are a group larger than 4, however, I recommend a reservation. This restaurant is kid-friendly. If you have kids, you can sit in the back room where the kids are free to roam. It also cuts down on the noise level for the more ‘adult’ diners out front (and it is also closer to the ever important bathroom). The restaurant is non-smoking so if you smoke, there is a patio out front with a special menu including lunchtime pasta specials starting at $5.95.
The Hostelling International website indicates that its members receive a 10% discount at Pasta Prima. For great food that will fill you up and save you a little money, be sure to check out Pasta Prima.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 20, 2002
4440 Albert Street
Restaurant | "Roca Jack's"
You will find a variety of people in this establishment: business people in for a quick lunch, students, those who are dressed in the latest styles, and those just looking for a good cup of coffee. All are attracted by the friendly staff, comfortable décor, and great coffee. I do not enjoy regular coffee – I find it way too bitter. So, I resort to a specialty coffee of some kind, usually a mochachino. The staff has been trained well – just like those in the big city coffee shops as the coffee tastes just as good. And they offer unrefined sugar as an add-in– a must for people like me.
The décor is relaxing. There are a number of tables on the main and second floors – wood with wood chairs. Even the floor is wood – it looks like it is the original floor in this old building, or if it is not the original it is at the least an old wood floor. It gives you a bit of a rustic feeling, a little like the roastery I visited in New Orleans. It smells like a roastery too, as the scent of coffee wafts through the air. I don't like the taste of coffee but I love the smell - wierd! The walls are decorated with works by local artists. Hence, there is always something new and interesting to look at. If you prefer to enjoy your coffee outside, you can walk across the street to Victoria Park, the home of various music festivals throughout summer. And if you are around on Wednesday or Saturday mornings, you can step outside to the farmer’s market.
I don’t work or live downtown so I’ve never had the opportunity to have lunch here. But if the desserts are any indication, lunch would be fantastic! The dessert case is filled with all kinds of tempting creations. For a chocoholic like me, it is extremely difficult to resist. But resist I have!
Roca Jack’s has opened a second location in the Cathedral Village area of Regina, just ½ block west of Albert Street. I have not visited this location but I am told it offers the same range of coffee as the downtown location. So, if you need to take a little break or if you need a coffee fix, make a stop at Roca Jack’s.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 20, 2002
Roca Jack's Coffee House
1939 Scarth Street
Indigo is located in a building which looks like it was a business-turned apartment-turned business. The exterior is deceptive. It looks a bit run down but with fresh white and blue paint. The interior is however a pleasant surprise. Old wood floors, heating grates, and wallpaper create an eclectic atmosphere.
The range of items for sale is also a bit eclectic. There is fine porcelain pottery from Asia. The designs are very elegant. I particularly love the blue and gold pieces ranging from teapots to candle ware. This store also carries the April Cornell line of clothing, hats, and home furnishings. Cornell’s clothing seems a bit too country at first but if you really look at it the clothing is what I would call ‘airy’. The fabrics are very light and the designs are very simple. Small flowers feature prominently on some of the dresses but you can find a lot of single-colour pieces if you do not like the floral look. On the first floor, you can find the small but well stocked jewelry display case. Indigo carries amber, stone, and Middle Eastern-inspired pieces, all of which are reasonably priced. Also located here is an abundance of products from Crabtree & Evelyn.
As you make your way upstairs, you will notice the red wallpaper. I had to touch it to see if it was what I thought it was. Yep – definitely gold wallpaper with red velvet designs – totally funky. Upstairs you will find linens of all sorts including those by April Cornell: curtains, bedding, tablecloths, napkins, pillow covers, etc. My sister hates anything that seems too floral or country, so when she says that she likes the pink floral curtains, they must be nice. And the prices are reasonable (it helps that there was a linen sale!). A number of pieces were embroidered; other pieces were made of shiny silk. The upstairs didn’t seem to be completely put together yet so I expect that they will continue to add to the display area.
If you are looking for a unique gift or that hard to find piece of linen for your home, this is the perfect place to come in Regina. As my sister said, "I can’t believe I’ve never been here before!" I think she’ll be making a return trip in the near future to purchase those pink curtains!
Indigo Personal and Home Accessories Store
2824 13th Avenue
The top two places for photo developing which I recommend are Superstore, and its smaller counterpart Extra Foods, and Walmart. Both of these are chain retailers but they offer good one-hour service at a reasonable price. For American and some European visitors the cost of developing is an even better deal. Superstore and Walmart offer comparable one-hour service: $4.99 Cdn for a 24-exposure roll of 35mm film. For about $2 you can add a second set of photos. You can order either matte or glossy prints. Both stores offer one-hour APS processing as well, but it is more expensive. I have had photos developed at Superstore, Extra Foods, and Walmart in Regina and the quality is the same at all three. The photos are clear, free of white spots (caused by fuzz on the negative), and other problems which turn up in developing. Having worked in a photo lab myself, I always look for these little problems to judge quality.
A couple of differences between the stores may help you decide where to take your film. Superstore is a Canadian owned chain which offers a 2-day service: $2.99Cdn for a 24-exposure roll of 35 mm film. This is an excellent deal if you happen to be in town for 2-3 days. This service is self-serve: you fill out your envelope at the back of the photo department, take the pick-up tab with you, and return on the date specified on the tab to find your photos in the alphabetically ordered bins beside the drop-off counter. You pay at the check-out area in the photo department where you would drop off your film for 1-hour service. Extra Foods offers the same price but with a 7-day service.
Walmart is an American owned chain which offers the option of adding white borders at the time of developing. This adds a professional touch which would look wonderful with special occasion photos. Both Walmart and Superstore offer CD service for those who would like to save their photos to a CD-ROM as well. For 1-hour service, the cost at both locations is about $4.99Cdn. At Superstore, you can add a picture CD for less if you choose the multi-day service. This option is not available at Extra Foods locations.
There are two Superstore locations in Regina: at the corner of Pasqua and Rochdale Boulevard and the east side location at the corner of Victoria Ave East and Prince of Wales Drive. Extra Foods are located across the city, but not all locations offer a photo lab. Extra Foods located in the Golden Mile Shopping Centre on Albert Street South offers photo service. For other locations, look in the local phone book. There are 3 Walmart locations in Regina: Victoria Avenue East across from Superstore; Pasqua across from Superstore; and Albert Street South at Gordon Road.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 26, 2002
Photofinishing Deals in Regina
Attraction | "Chapters Bookstore"
Saskatchewan has fantastic nature and scenery. It makes for great pictures if you know what you are doing. If not, pros come to the rescue. Photographers like Courtney Milne, who have "the gift" know exactly how to capture our breathtaking sunsets, intense lightning, birds and animals, and all the scenery which doesn't immediately jump out at you but when they catch it, it is the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. Milne is from Saskatoon and has photographed all over the world but I think his photo books of Saskatchewan are the most impressive. If you don't have the photographic gift, pick up one of Milne's books or any of the other photo books.
Ever wonder where cities and towns get their names? In Saskatchewan, we are lucky to have Bill Barry - he knows almost everything about every town, lake, and river name. He appears on a local phone-in radio show helping callers with questions about place names. And there is a lot to know as many immigrant and First Nations cultures influenced the naming of places in this province. Barry has two books, a general one about all of Saskatchewan and one on Ukranian place names in Saskatchewan.
Gail Bowen is a local writer whose series of mystery books featuring a female ex-cop have been turned into made-for-tv movies. Set in Saskatchewan, this series of books doesn't follow the cookie cutter formula for mysteries - there is a lot more suspense and intrigue in her books.
Many different history books can be purchased at Chapters. There is a series of books on historic buildings in Regina and Moose Jaw. There is also a series of books on stories of the 'old west' and its interesting characters. There are also a number of historical biographies.
If you like trivia, you can pick up any number of books, from general knowledge of Saskatchewan to farm trivia. And for nature lovers, there is a series of books on Saskatchewan hiking trails. We must not forget the kids. Be sure to pick up the award-winning, "If you are not from the Prairies..." with illustrations by a local painter.
There is so much variety, everyone can find something in this section. So, make sure you drop by and take a little piece of Saskathewan home with you!
2625 Gordon Road
Attraction | "Mysteria - Fresh & Earthy, Gift & Design"
Mysteria features natural products made by local artisans. There is a wide variety of homemade soap, candles, and other such luxurious personal treats. Pick up a set of handmade beeswax tapers from their display – a large tree branch! The store also carries home items like candleholders, glassware, pottery, and original artwork. Mysteria carries a line of clean-cut glassware which can also be found at the MacKenzie Art Gallery Gift Shop, but carries some smaller pieces and for less than you would pay at the upscale gallery. Mysteria also handles a large selection of jewelry, both amber and semi-precious stones.
One of the more unique items which the store carries is tile versions of famous paintings. My sister has purchased two, a van Gogh and a Klimt. All of these tiles are a bit larger than an 8x10 picture and feature the same scene or subject as the painting as well as the same colours. The finish, however, is that of a glazed tile. It is a unique way to incorporate the art of some of the masters into your home.
An art gallery is located upstairs. I didn’t mind the brightly coloured paintings but some of the furniture pieces puzzled me, a set of 3 coffee tables for over $500 for example. These coffee tables were made from an old house door, which hadn’t been treated or refurbished at all – still as weathered as the day it was taken off its hinges. The door was cut into three pieces and bordered by what looked like very plain wooden baseboards. And the price!!! Makes me want to trek out to the farm and pick something up to convert in order to help pay for my university tuition bills! Luckily the giftware downstairs is much more reasonably priced!
I finally settled on a set of 4 bamboo/lilac fabric woven placemats. The lilac colour goes perfectly with the paint my friends chose. And for only $16, I just couldn’t resist.
Mysteria is open Monday to Saturday, 12:00pm to 5:30pm. The staff is pleasant and like most Saskatchewan people will engage you in a conversation. I’m sure you will find it difficult to resist picking up something at this great store.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 27, 2002
Mysteria - Fresh & Earthy, Gift & Design
2706 13th Avenue