New Faces, New Places: Stoke up the dining fun and family entertainment at the Stoked Centre – Saskatoon Star-Phoenix

“I’m very excited to open. I love that we can appeal to so many, to young and old and everybody in between. Whether it’s the food styling or the entertainment, there’s just a ton of stuff to bring a lot of people in.”
New businesses and non-profit organizations open regularly and move in Saskatoon. Today, the StarPhoenix talks to Chef Anthony McCarthy, president of the Saskatoon Chef’s Association. McCarthy, who operated the kitchen at the Saskatoon Club for the past 14 years, left to start a new restaurant, Stoked Kitchen and Bar, located at the Stoked Centre in Brighton.

The Stoked Centre not only features the award-winning chef McCarthy’s newly-finished 160-seat restaurant, but three separate bars with 32 beers on tap and Canada’s largest 4K TV at 27 feet — plus over 60, 72-inch TVs.

One of the bars will have VIP theatre style La-Z-Boy chairs and tables installed on a mezzanine level overlooking the 4K TV. Adjoining the restaurant is a new 15-lane interactive 10-pin bowling alley with a 90-foot video wall, VIP room and four VIP lanes.

Surrounding the restaurant will be one of the largest arcades in Canada with games worth over $1 million. These are just the new developments at the Stoked Centre which has featured an indoor go-kart track, 200-foot zip line and two-story obstacle course for four years. Wilson’s Greenhouse is also prominent at the centre.

Q: What stands out from your 14 years at the Saskatoon Club?

A: I moved from Toronto for the job at the club. I had a great time, did lots of good things for the club. I created a lot of new things and new events and made a lot of great relationships both with members and suppliers. I changed the menu a lot and changed the culture of what food was at the club. It’s kind of why they hired me. They wanted someone from outside who had a different perspective, somewhat world travelled I guess, and a big culinary background. They wanted a fresh look brought in, which is what I developed over the years and built it to what it was. After 14 years at the club, it was time for a change.

Q: What made you decide to get involved with Stoked Kitchen & Bar?

A: I’ve been involved with opening restaurants before but never from the ground up. Being able to be involved in this kitchen design, and then (the owners) came to me for my knowledge and experience in the business and told me to run with it — it’s your menu, it’s your kitchen. They had some parameters — they wanted high-end casual food, which really fits with what I want to do. So I kind of got free rein of doing that. And, as well, any suggestions I made were well received. I asked that there be a chef’s table room — a nice private dining room that looks onto the kitchen so people can have that very full-on chef’s table experience.

Q: What stands out to you about the Stoked Centre in general?

A: It’s a fairly broad spectrum. It is a lifestyle centre with the restaurant as well. There’s the bowling alley, with 15 lanes of 10-pin bowling — very high-end, Vegas-style. There are lots of simulation screens around, and video games in the mezzanine. People waiting for the restaurant or waiting for bowling can play multiplayer games while they wait.

I’m very excited to open. I love that we can appeal to so many — to young and old and everybody in between. Whether it’s the food styling or the entertainment, there’s just a ton of stuff to bring a lot of people in. We’re seeing multiple generations coming in here — young kids up to grandmas and grandpas — enjoying their time. It’s really cool to have that space that’s really welcomed.

Q: What’s the dining experience like at Stoked Kitchen & Bar?

A: It can really fit for families coming with young kids, up to business clientele. The menu is high-end casual with lots of good salads, pizzas, sandwiches, steaks and local fish. I’m bringing as much local in as I can, in season. Probably 85 to 90 per cent (of the menu) will be fresh made in house. Our focus is on the fresh.

Q: What are you featuring on the menu?

A: A good friend of mine, Jon Fonos, is a fisherman up at Dore Lake. I’ve bought his fish for as long as I can remember. I use his pike for my fish and chips. We do a beautiful beer battered fish and chips with his pike.

You know, people worry about pike and all these bones in it but in 12 years I’ve used his fish I’ve never had a bone in one single filet. He fishes it, he filets it, he delivers it. So, very, very little handling before it gets to the guest. He also does a great job with the pickerel. I get him to leave the skin on and scale it for me. That pickerel fried in the pan with some simple other ingredients topped on there is delicious.

I use Cactus organic beef, a beautiful product from Cactus Leaf. I love using that. That will be our signature burger. And then some will be used for the special chef’s table dinners. Very, very good quality, high-end beef.

Q: Could you tell us about that VIP chef’s table?

A: It’s a nice private dining room for eight people with a wine wall and a glass wall looking onto the kitchen. It’s not anything on the menu, something completely different where it’s kind of my playground. It’s one of the things I like doing. I know Saskatoon Club members in the past appreciated being able to come in and just say, let chef cook for me.

With that chef’s table room I’ll play a lot with different ingredients and depending on the clientele, what they want. They can come and have a 3-course they can have a 13-course, or if they want a full-on wine and dine paring, it doesn’t matter. Whatever their wants and desires are we’ll do that for them. Anyone is able to book that room.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Business Name: Stoked Kitchen & Bar
Owners: Colin Wilson & Steve Wilson
Executive Chef: Anthony McCarthy
Address: 303 Owen Manor (The Stoked Centre)
Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to Midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Phone: 306-955-9593
Check: Facebook, Instagram

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