In April, Vacay.ca will give away a Grand Prize of dinner for two and round-trip airfare and luxury hotel stay to the winner of the 2013 Foodie of the Year Contest. Eligible entrants vote for their favourite Canadian restaurants and can submit their reviews of their dining experiences, some of which will be published. Join in the debate over the Best Restaurants in Canada by sending in your vote to firstname.lastname@example.org, or providing a review of your own on our Have Your Say page!
Report by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
Doug Jarrett played in 13 seasons in the NHL, skating across North America with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers. He’s dined at fine restaurants across the continent and the one he names as the best in Canada is a 24-year-old establishment in the prairies with a lengthy menu and an even longer list of fans.
Jarrett, who lives near Fort Erie, Ontario, has voted for Memories of Regina, Saskatchewan to earn the People’s Choice award in the 2013 Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide. He remembers being skeptical about finding superior food in the prairies when he first visited the restaurant in the mid-1990s while working in sales for a steel company.
“My boss took me out there and said there’s a nice little restaurant downtown. At that time, I’d eaten in so many great restaurants in so many years, being in Chicago and all, and I thought, ‘Sure, let’s see about that.’ But we got in the place and it turned out to be fabulous. I was very impressed, and we’ve been going ever since,” Jarrett told me on Sunday when we chatted about his selection of Memories in the Vacay.ca poll.
A defenceman who played 775 NHL games from 1964-77, Jarrett says his travels and dining experience give him the confidence to vote for the restaurant that is a local favourite. Whenever he makes his monthly visit to the Saskatchewan capital, the proprietors of Memories even go out of their way to try to replicate a creamed spinach dish he first tried at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto in 1968. “Every time I go, they say, ‘Try this one, Dougie, try this one.’ They want to get the recipe right,” he said of the lengths restaurant owners Nik Selimos and Thomas Siarkos go to please him.
When he cast his vote for Memories, Jarrett wrote, “Being a retired NHLer I have dined in many fine restaurants from coast to coast in Canada and the USA. Memories is one of the best I have had the pleasure to visit and be entertained in.”
Another former professional athlete, Scott Schultz, feels the same affinity for the establishment. “Memories has gotta be one of the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada,” said the defensive tackle who was a CFL all-star and a Grey Cup champion with the 2007 Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Memories Stirs Emotions Among Regina Diners
While the athletes are the most well-known supporters of Memories, their voices are far from the only ones. Although the restaurant stands fifth in the public voting for the Vacay.ca People’s Choice award, it so far has received the most heartfelt praise of any restaurant in the nation. Its voters don’t simply cast a ballot, they tend to give a personal reason as to why they’re doing so.
“I spent six months travelling Europe and still missed the welcoming atmosphere and incredible food of Memories. Going to Memories is like going home. Everyone is happy to see you and the food is just the way you have always liked it,” wrote Fashia Moleski.
Kelly Staudt called Memories his “preferred restaurant to take out-of-town business associates, relatives and guests or just to have a quiet, elegant dinner with my wife.”
Richard Harvey, who makes business trips to Regina, also entered the Vacay.ca Canadian Foodie of the Year Contest when he submitted this praise for Memories along with his vote: “They mix old-world class with modern fine dining. Steak and dessert can be cooked table-side to add to a romantic evening with your spouse or business partners for entertainment. The staff have an amazing way about them that is lost in today’s fine dining. They pull out your chair for you, place the cloth napkin on your lap, and they know fine wines and fine food. They get my vote as No. 1.”
Regina resident Susan Gray said she was excited to brag about Regina’s culinary asset.
“I have lived here all my life, have travelled to a few other places and experienced other fine-dining rooms but to find this calibre of service and cuisine in my hometown is something I get excited to tell people about,” she wrote. “I have used Memories for my most important occasions and they have accommodated each separate outing with experienced ease. If I’m looking for a romantic and intimate setting they have private booths that allow privacy and provide me the perfect setting to be only with my partner. When I needed a private room for a family gathering, not only did they have many rooms to choose from but they also made suggestions and recommendations that assisted me in successfully hosting an evening that will be talked about for years to come. Beyond the great service Memories offers a fantastic menu that has pleased the toughest of skeptics and once made a meal from scratch to accommodate my guests’ dietary restrictions.”
Not surprisingly, the owners have been happy to hear of all of the praise coming their way through the Vacay.ca public vote and are hoping to move even higher in the rankings before the polling ends on April 15.
“It’s fantastic to hear. We’ve been here a long time and we still say we are one of Regina’s best-kept secrets,” Selimos told me.
More About the 2013 Vacay.ca Canadian Foodie of the Year Contest
Vacay.ca’s 2013 Foodie of the Year Contest features a Grand Prize of Dinner for Two at the restaurant of the winner’s choice on the 2013 list, round-trip airfare to that restaurant’s destination city and a luxury hotel stay!
To be eligible for the 2013 Canadian Foodie of the Year Contest, simply follow these steps:
- Vote for your favourite restaurant by emailing email@example.com
- Follow Vacay.ca on Twitter (@VacayCanada)
- Friend Vacay.ca on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Vacay.ca)
- Tell our editors about your great culinary experiences and why you should be Foodie of the Year!
Votes from the public will be added to those of the Vacay.ca academy of judges and will be used to determine the 2013 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada List, which will include a second annual People’s Choice winner (won last year by Ottawa’s Atelier).
Winners will be announced in April 2013, in conjunction with the unveiling of the 2013 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada List. In April 2012, Vacay.ca was the first publication to ever compile a list of Canada’s 50 best restaurants — and it was a huge success thanks to our audience members like those voting for Memories!
More Vacay.ca Foodie of the Year Entries
More About Memories Fine Dining
Location: 1717 Victoria Ave, Regina, Saskatchewan
Hours of Operation: Friday and Saturday, 5 pm-midnight; Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 5-11 pm
Menu Prices: The menu features more than 75 items, with entrees and main courses — many of them of Greek and Middle Eastern origin — ranging from $18-$40,. The Rack of Lamb ($40) has received high praise from voters in the Vacay.ca poll.
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Note: Photo courtesy of Memories Fine Dining