Ever since I moved back to Saskatoon a few years ago, Alexander’s Restaurant has for some reason stayed under my radar. There’s nothing wrong with the place – in fact, while I was in university, it was probably the fanciest restaurant I ever set foot in. Yet after I moved away and moved back, something made me feel that if I was no longer in school, I no longer belonged at Alexander’s.
But obviously, the university is more than just a gathering of students – it’s a many-faceted institution with departments populated by all types of professionals. And now that I work with some of those people, I’ve discovered that Alexander’s has an appeal far beyond university students – indeed, anyone can enjoy their international range of home-cooked flavors.
There are several reasons to visit Alexander’s, from the beer on tap to the tempting homemade deserts. As a student, I would mostly show up at Alexander’s for “a beer” with friends, which would inevitably stretch into many beers over several hours, punctuated by plates of nachos and hamburgers.
There are those people who can’t resist Alexander’s desserts, and the dessert shelf is always a pleasure to behold: pecan pie, deep-dish apple almond pie, lemon Saskatoon cheesecake, Turtle cheesecake and carrot cake were but a few of the options on one of my recent visits.
I’ve also enjoyed several business lunches here of late, and the one key rule is to make reservations – there’s rarely a seat available for unplanned lunch hour visits. Lunch specials often include entree-type meals, along with wraps and sandwiches. I recently enjoyed a tuna wrap, and on another visit, a Cajun chicken breast served with Spanish rice and a salad.
I have to admit that I was pleased to be able to trade half my tune wrap (even though I was enjoying it) for half of my husband’s beef dip at one such lunch – because it was quite possibly the best beef dip I’ve ever tasted. What makes a beef dip great, you ask? Fresh bread, tender roast beef piled high, and au jus from housemade beef stock. And oh, my – does Alexander’s know their way around stock.
In fact, I’d recommend anything on Alexander’s menu in which the stock is an ingredient. The soups are an obvious choice, but my husband has also fallen in love with the dinner entree of meatloaf in onion gravy with garlic mashed potatoes, and I’m willing to bet that the base of that onion gravy is the same brilliant stock.
A colleague of mine has her own favorites. She raves about the chicken focaccia sandwich – chicken basted with a balsamic marinade and piled high with fixings on fresh focaccia – and orders it consistently. The steak sandwich always looks good when other people order it as well.
You’re very likely to find your own favorites when you visit Alexander’s, since the menu seems to offer something for everyone. I don’t often condone the ‘all things to all people’ approach in restaurants, but somehow Alexander’s manages to pull it off, and at reasonable prices.
Choose from standards like steak, chicken, ribs or seafood, or opt for Cajun options, such as blackened fish or Jambalaya; try a Mexican enchilada; go Italian and try some of the classic pasta and pizza dishes; try Thai noodles or a stir fry; or, how about Indian-inspired butter chicken on rice? Lunches run around $10, and none of the entrees are over $20, with most coming in under $15.
Alexander’s pizzas and pastas reflect the mosaic of cultural traditions on offer here as well. There are classic Italian flavors like Margherita pizza or spaghetti and tomato sauce, or you can opt for Asian-inspired garlic chicken or satay chicken pizzas, or blackened chicken fettucini.
On our latest evening visit, we were lucky to get a table without a reservation, and just in time – they were already turning people away at 7:00pm. While my husband found it easy to order – it’s all about the meatloaf for him – it took me a while to decide what country I wanted to visit. I eventually went for a fusion kind of meal, opting for the Asian lettuce wraps as a starter, and the butter chicken for my main course.
The lettuce wraps, while messy, were delicious, with chunks of chicken stir-fried in a tasty sauce with extra-spicy hoisin and crunchy wonton strips on the side. We were a little concerned at the volume of food – even though we shared the appetizer, our hunger was almost sated by the time we finished it.
Our main courses arrived and we tucked in with as much gusto as our remaining appetites could muster. My butter chicken was perfectly tasty – it didn’t compare to the butter chicken you might find at the Taj Mahal, but it was still well worth ordering for someone in the mood for Indian flavors. And hey I got two good sized chicken breast halves on a mound of rice with a side of vegetables for a whopping $13.99, I certainly wasn’t complaining!
As usual, the meatloaf made my husband happy. That really is some good onion gravy, and the garlic mashed potatoes are an excellent choice of side dish for anyone who has a mashed potato fetish (like me).
The size of our entrees did us in, and we ended up packing up half our meals and taking them home. I couldn’t even try the lemon Saskatoon berry cheesecake, which looked fantastic. After a few more greetings to familiar faces that we knew from university, we headed for home.
Whether you’re a beef dip fan, or you prefer other dining options, you and your friends will be able to find something both appealing and affordable on Alexander’s menu. Just make sure you call ahead to guarantee a seat.