Driving for Dinner: Harvest Eatery and The Blind Boar in Shaunavon

Photo by Bubbalili Creative

Nestled in the southwest corner of the province in the town of Shaunavon sits Harvest Eatery and the Blind Boar, an award-winning restaurant that attracts guests year round from all over. With a focus on cooking with regional and seasonal ingredients from local suppliers, Harvest Eatery is the ideal place to enjoy a slow, relaxed dinner, alongside Saskatchewan-made spirits and craft beer.

Owned by chef Garrett “Rusty” and Kristy Thienes, the restaurant opened in 2013. Rusty says he wanted to offer a true farm-to-table experience, which inspired Harvest Eatery’s concept and menu.

“Before we opened, I’d been stewing on the idea for a while. The big thing for me was that at restaurants in many large urban settings, they are preaching farm-to-table, but the farms are an hour outside the city,” he said. “Here, we’re literally 10 km from where the meat is raised, or we’re just 10 metres to the butcher across the street. So, the big lure for me was that at that time, nobody was doing [this].”

Photo by Chris Attrell

Rusty’s approach has certainly paid off, and the restaurant has received much recognition over the years. Its first year open, Harvest Eatery won the Rookie of the Year Award at the Saskatchewan Tourism Awards of Excellence, followed by a nomination for the Service Excellence Award in 2014. Both Kristy and Rusty are also past CBC Future 40 recipients.

Photo by Bubbalili Creative

The bulk of the menu is built around reimagined comfort food classics, but with a local twist. Bison, Lake Diefenbaker steelhead trout and Saskatchewan Speckle Park beef all make regular appearances on the menu, and then there’s incredibly creative Saskatchewan-inspired dishes like pasta with wild boar ragu, or smoked duck breast served with creamed lentils and a saskatoon berry relish. For Rusty, being creative with ingredients found in the province is an important part of providing a memorable dining experience.

Photo by Cellar Door Photography

“Our goal is not reinventing the wheel, just reimagining the wheel. That’s how I approach food,” he said. “When you eat my food, even if it’s fancy, it’s still a hug. And that’s how I want you to feel. I’ve always said it’s never about the first bite, it's always about the last bite. Oftentimes, it’s the last bite that leaves you with the longest impact. When you leave, that’s all you’re thinking about.”

Photo by Cellar Door Photography

In addition to dinner, Harvest Eatery launched a new catering menu in 2021, which includes options for both buffets and plated meals. The new catering menu also includes cooking classes, offered via Zoom, for either one course or a full meal. It’s a great way to bring a little bit of the Harvest Eatery magic into your own home. “Even though we want people to drive to us, now we are able to drive to them too,” Kristy said.

Make it a day trip or a weekend

Turn a meal at Harvest Eatery into a day trip or a weekend and explore what the Shaunavon area has to offer.

Where to stay

The Canalta Hotel in Shaunavon has standard rooms and rooms with kitchenettes, which are a great option for families. There’s also the Bear’s Den Lodge, which offers single, double or kitchenette rooms, complete with cosy log furniture.

What to see/do

Photo by Tegan Jay Photography

For your daily coffee fix, stop by Meeting Grounds Coffee House, which is just down the street from Harvest Eatery. Its beans come from Phil + Sebastian Coffee Roasters in Calgary, plus there is a small lunch menu with options that are from Harvest Eatery. Next, head to The Ole Blacksmith Shop, where you’ll find tons of antique and collectible items. The outside of the shop even looks like an old-fashioned western store, so you can’t miss it! If you are looking to do a little retail shopping, visit Studio South West Salon & Shop, which is both a hair and beauty salon and a charming boutique for men’s and women’s clothing and footwear.

Photo by The Ole Blacksmith Shop

Bonus points

Just a 25-minute drive from Shaunavon is the T.rex Discovery Centre in Eastend, which is home to the world’s largest Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever discovered, known as Scotty. Open seasonally, there’s also a prehistoric mammal gallery, theatre, fossil lab and plenty of activities to enjoy.

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Harvest Eatery is located at 492 Centre Street in Shaunavon, SK. For more information and hours, visit its website. Due to COVID-19, reservations are required for in-person dining. Harvest Eatery and two of its recipes will also be featured in Naomi Hansen’s forthcoming book, Only in Saskatchewan: Recipes & Stories from the Province’s Best-loved Eateries. Visit www.naomihansen.ca for more information.

Author: Naomi Hansen

Naomi Hansen is a writer and editor based in Saskatoon, SK. She is the author of the forthcoming book Only in Saskatchewan: Recipes & Stories from the Province’s Best-loved Eateries, which will be published by TouchWood Editions in April 2022. Find her on Instagram @onlyinsaskatchewan, Twitter @naomihansen_ or at www.naomihansen.ca