Skye Cafe & Bistro thinks local and dreams big
If you find yourself on the patio of Regina’s Skye Café & Bistro on a mild autumn afternoon, take a look at the potted plants and vines growing around you. Chances are, some of those greens have ended up on your plate. Spears of flowering oregano, sprigs of mint and clusters of dark purple Indigo Star tomatoes are harvested for busy lunches and busier weekend brunches. When the weather starts to cool, head chef Louise Lu and co-founder Milton Rebello move some of the herbs indoors, where they brighten the interior.
Growing many of their own herbs and vegetables is all part of Lu and Rebello’s passion to bring local, seasonal prairie food to diners’ plates. Ever since Skye Café and Bistro opened its doors in August 2016, the husband-and-wife chef team have challenged themselves to use local meat and produce wherever possible.
Not all of their experiments have paid off.
"We grew brussels sprouts for a while, but gophers ate them all,” Rebello said. “They leave the tomatoes alone, but we couldn’t keep them away from the sprouts. Now we make sure to grow plants that they aren’t interested in.”
Their commitment to locally sourced ingredients has not restricted their range of cuisine. Chef Lu has created a menu of international recipes, from a beef ramen soup with Sichuan flavours to chilaquiles, a classic Mexican breakfast dish. The ravioli, one of their most popular items, is served with a kale cashew sauce and garnished with herbs from the patio.
Located in the Saskatchewan Science Centre, Skye Café & Bistro has proven to be a popular midday dining spot in Regina. A brief run of dinners last winter proved to be successful enough that they are going to expand evening dining options. For Rebello and Lu, their restaurant is a dream that they have laboured to bring to life and a shared passion that may never be exhausted.
"One year in, we’re doing well in terms of our customer base and revenue,” Rebello said. “But food-wise, we’ll never be satisfied. There’s always more to learn.”