Saddle Mountain Restaurant isn’t your typical roadside diner.
Located at 965 S on the Yellowhead Highway in Blue River, one might expect a greasy spoon at such a location, but food and beverage manager, Erick Poulton, said the restaurant is anything but.
“Our menu is not necessarily the kind of menu you’d find off the highway; we try to limit as many deep-fried items as possible,” said Poulton.
“Our main focus has been to source sustainably local food and we contract all of our local suppliers, including local wineries and breweries, so all of the food we get is bought locally to support our farmers, growers, and producers.”
Another point Saddle Mountain Restaurant emphasizes to set it apart from typical roadside diners is its attention to the dietary needs of its customers, with roughly 80 per cent of its lengthy menu capable of being switched to vegan or gluten-free options.
Poulton noted all a customer has to do is ask and the chefs will happily make the necessary changes to nearly any given menu item.
“That’s something that’s pretty special as it’s kind of hard to find that on the side of the highway,” Poulton said.
“People come in and realize we can have a full vegan or gluten-friendly menu, so we pride ourselves on that as well—taking care of people’s needs and doing it in a way they would normally find in a city, but they can also find it in Blue River.”
Some of Saddle Mountain’s menu highlights include Mike’s Schnitzel, a house breaded pork cutlet served with pan-fried spaetzle, seasonal vegetables, braised red cabbage and sauteed white wine mushrooms, which is a personal favourite of the dish’s namesake and restaurant owner, Mike Wiegele.
Fans of pasta will also be happy at the large list of selections offered at the location. Poulton notes one of the featured dishes from this part of the menu is a salmon linguini, which has become a popular favourite among customers, put together with wild sockeye salmon, spinach, basil, red onion, portabella mushrooms, artichoke hearts and orecchiette.
The restaurant’s salads have also taken off better than expected, said Poulton, particularly its signature, the Saddle Mountain Salad that he said he personally eats almost every day.
“It’s light, it’s fresh, it fills the void; then if you put grilled salmon, steak or chicken on top, you have yourself a meal.”
The location also has a separate breakfast menu, available from 6:30 to 10 a.m., with an assortment of eggs benny, traditional favourites and healthy options like avocado and eggs on toast.
Saddle Mountain Restaurant also boasts a number of house-baked pies, which on any given day has four to six in rotation, ranging from blueberry, apple, strawberry rhubarb, field berry, Boisson berry, peach, and cherry pies.
“The sky is the limit here and we’re open to creativity and new ideas; we’re trying to give Blue River something you couldn’t normally get on a daily basis,” said Poulton.
“Altogether we run a really down to earth operation. The only complaint we really have is either our season isn’t long enough, or that the restaurant isn’t big enough, because when we’re full, we’re full—I guess that’s a good problem to have.”