When you first walk through the eye-catching blue door of the Rusty Owl Café, you’ll be transported to a dining experience you won’t find anywhere else in Prince Albert.
Your eyes will be drawn to the gently rotating fan, two gold painted standing desk fans assembled Steampunk style into one. As your eyes adjust the warm lighting and deep tones of the dining room they’ll catch on the metal pipes crisscrossing the room, the exposed lightbulbs and the inventive décor on the walls.
The steampunk aesthetic is modelled after the Truth Coffee Café in Cape Town, South Africa, which is considered the finest café in the world.
Rusty Owl owner Philip Fourie, who hails from South Africa, says there was no greater inspiration than the exposed metal piping and avant-garde style of Truth Coffee to achieve their goal of providing something new to P.A.
“It’s fun, it’s cool and it’s exciting,” restaurant manager David Stewart says. “But most of all it’s welcoming. With steampunk there’s something for everyone, from the industrial side with the metal and pipes to the high-fashion Victorian art design.”
You’ll feel right at home as you slide into a chair and set your sights on the mammoth chalkboard menu affixed to the wall where food and drink are equally balanced.
Much like their design, there’s a drink for everyone at the Rusty Owl, whether it’s a latte or traditional Italian soda.
Their home blend has been delicately crafted by Carlo Acero, a passionate and well-respected barista who puts an incredible amount of love in every cup. He trained in the art of coffee in Italy and has created a warm and inviting blend with new textures and flavours for you to discover time after time.
Three types of coffee bean have been separately roasted so he can derive the most flavor from each. Each sip brings subtle tastes of chocolate and nuts whether you drink it as an espresso or a latte.
Acero says it was a welcome challenge to create a blend which stood by itself and also with additives.
“My goal is to change the perception of espresso from something bitter,” he says. “Espresso should be sweet and balanced with a very pleasant aftertaste.”
Their drink menu is supplemented by traditional Italian drinks, which speaks to the heritage of the Rusty Owl menu. They use natural flavours so you can be sure the chocolate you taste in your mocha or the strawberry in your milkshake are authentic.
As you sip your drink your mind will dance to the prospects of the food options which you’ve heard your friends rave about. Should you have a pizza? No no, how about a crepe? Or their ribs?
Head chef Wilbert Bolotano has always been an adventurous man. Before coming to the Rusty Owl he spent a decade honing his skills on a luxury cruise liner and then a five star resort in Jasper. He’s dedicated nearly his whole life to food.
“I never want to stop learning about food,” he says, a passion reflected in the dishes coming out of his kitchen. “Every time I see people happy eating one of my meals it makes me even more enthusiastic about bringing these flavours to P.A.”
For Bolotano his commitment to authenticity means he has a responsibility to craft his culinary creations from scatch. By making everything in their kitchen he can be absolutely certain all the food is up to his high standards.
After a satisfying coffee and a delicious entrée, you might think you don’t have room for dessert, but one look at pastry chef Marilyn Catalan’s creations and you’ll realize you’ve still got some room to eat.
Catalan was specifically sought by head chef Bolotano based on her reputation and makes the most succulent desserts. Like everything in the Rusty Owl, her desserts are authentic and are the perfect way to finish a meal.
Though they offer an international experience, as much of their food is made from locally sourced ingredients. Green Leaf Meats, a Hutterite supplier near Leask, Sask. supplies hormone and antibiotic free, humanely treated meat.
You can also purchase the world-class Oliv brand olive oil and balsamic vinegars, as well as the South African market items they use in their dishes to try your hand at some of their menu items.
Fourie says they’re open about their meals because they want to inspire their customers to try their own hand at a making a new meal.
“The Rusty Owl is about more than the food that hits the table. It’s about the atmosphere, the vibe and the friends.”
They’ve had regular customers since day one, drawn to the restaurant by the intriguing name and promise of dishes like they’ve never had before.
Fourie says by offering such a unique experience, they’re pulling back the curtain on an adventurous and bold new direction for cuisine in Prince Albert.
“We want to represent the best of Prince Albert and show people what is possible. We want to show people what Prince Albert cuisine can be.”
The Rusty Owl has a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu and are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
Visit the Rusty Owl at 21 River St. W. in P.A., call them at (306) 970-8022 or check their website.
What are you waiting for? A whole new world of food is beckoning.
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