Saskatoon foodies celebrate approval of city street fare plan
If you are from Saskatoon and you like to eat then chances are you’ve been following the city’s food truck debate.
On May 21, 2013, city council unanimously approved of a policy that allows food trucks in Saskatoon.
And it’s about time.
Saskatoon will join cities such as Edmonton in the food truck race – according to an article in the Edmonton Journal there are over 16 trucks currently serving that city.
And among those trucks is Sailin’ On, a vegan fleet on wheels that has taken up residency off Whyte Ave. behind Edmonton’s Wunderbar venue.
While Saskatoon’s council debated and eventually settled on the logistics – a 20-metre buffer zone is required between restaurants and food trucks in the city although business improvement districts can override that policy – Sailin’ On have the luxury of being able to drive right up behind the Wunderbar in the back parking lot and serve patrons immediately out of the back door.
Wunderbar, a venue that is long known to many Saskatoon indie groups, currently does not have a food menu. So pairing craft beer, touring bands and vegan street fare is something of a match made in rock heaven.
Sailin’ On proprietor Garrett Kruger is well-known in the Western Canadian punk and hardcore scene. Having played in various touring bands since the late ‘90s – Kruger drummed in The Wolfnote and is currently with The Famines and The Allovers – the food truck is something of a likeminded business outlet for him and his fellow food trucker Mike Brennan
“There are small pockets of time to address the band stuff, which is unfortunate since it’s a big part of my life,” says Kruger. “But the two are really intertwined in principle. I’ve never worked in a restaurant before, and other than doing a record distro, I’ve never really had a business before. So we had to market the truck the only way we knew how, which was from a band standpoint. So the things we did in a band transposed in a weird way, like we did 1” buttons and the popup show was like our first gig.”
(Raymond Biesinger, a Montreal-based illustrator and Kruger’s band mate in The Famines, pieced together the logo that adorns the side of the truck.)
Over the course of the May long weekend, the Wunderbar hosted The Hot Plains Music Festival, which featured several local and touring bands playing at the venue as well as a barber shop a block away. Which was great for Sailin’ On, as they celebrated their grand opening. A match made in rock heaven…
And in the midst of it all, Kruger got a chance to jump behind his kit as The Allovers headlined the Saturday evening portion of the festival. And they killed it.
Sailin’ On serves up an inclusive niche
And then there is the food.
While Sailin’ On serves up hearty vegan fare – check out their online menu HERE – Kruger insists that developing a niche menu is actually what brings their clientele to them.
“With a food truck you have the luxury of doing something really specific. You are really able to push some of those specific characteristics and highlight that personality you want it to have,” says Kruger.
“We wanted the truck to be inclusive since almost anyone can eat our food. I don’t see it as being exclusive since most people eat vegan meals whether they know it or not.”
Not that anyone is going to walk away from Sailin’ On disappointed.
I’ve never had a “real” Reuben sandwich before, so I have no idea how authentic the Sailin’ On version is. That said, it was by far my favourite dish. The bread was crisp, the sauerkraut was tangy and the seitan was absolutely delectable. If I had to recommend one thing on the menu it would be this sandwich.
The BLT came up as a close second. Imagine salty, smoky flecks of coconut-flavoured vegan bacon amidst crunchy vegetables and you’re almost there. We also tried the chili cheese fries, which were so packed full of toppings that it probably could have been a meal unto itself.
Also good: The Drunken Chicken is the Sailin’ On answer to a Vietnamese Sub. The tofu was perfectly squishy and delicious although I’d be inclined to add a dollop of Sriracha. We also dug the burrito, which was packed full of vegan cheese and beans.
Yeah, that’s right. I ate at Sailin’ On three times in 20 hours.
Hopefully the next time we visit they will have the “Chongo Dog” or the “Brosnake” – a vegan hotdog is probably the best thing to follow a late night drunken rager.
And people are loving it.
“The enthusiasm has been amazing,” says Kruger. “The fact that people have been so receptive has made it really worthwhile.”
So you might want to start planning a roadtrip to Edmonton in the next few coming months, at least until Saskatoon starts developing its own unique culinary street scene.