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REVIEW: Tangerine: The Food Bar

The Round-up:

  • Food - 3.5 out of 5
  • Service - 3.5 out of 5
  • Decor - 4 out of 5
  • Overall - 11 out of 15
2234 14th AvenueRegina, SK 306-522-3500__________________________________________________________
To review a new restaurant as soon as the doors open would be unfair. It takes time for a restaurant to get its wings. Any visit during the first few weeks is more than likely to encounter a few speed bumps.
Tangerine, the newest restaurant on the downtown block, opened its doors more than five weeks ago. That means it's time for a review.

Let's start with the good: Tangerine is a tastefully decorated bistro that has added a healthy dose of personality to the strip of shops on 14th Avenue between Lorne and Cornwall streets. The restaurant seems to be doing a very good business over the lunch hour. Ladies who lunch, business folks, and university kids are all common sights.
Service is very fast - as it should be at a bistro that depends on the lunch hour to survive. My meals have arrived within minutes of ordering during both of my lunchtime visits. Considering that ordering is done cafeteria-style, that is up at the counter, there is no reason for service to be slow.
The menu, written in chalk on a large wall next to the deli case, has a good mixture of proteins, grains and greens, and it changes often. Tangerine also brews coffee and serves up homemade biscuits and sweets. All of this lends an urbane feel to the place - Tangerine would fit right in to New York's Lower East Side or Vancouver's West End. But it's all ours and we should be proud to have it.
As for the not-so-good: Tangerine needs to work on portions and prices. The other day I ordered the $11 Greens and Proteins: a six- or seven-ounce piece of salmon atop a bed of greens with a light dressing. The dish's modest size left me feeling hungry, and that I'd paid too much. Consider that Siam Thai restaurant downtown offers an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $9; or that La Bodega serves a mean sandwich with fries for about $12.
As for the salad, I have a strong suspicion that the lettuce mixture I ate was store-bought. This is a bit of a shame in the middle of summer when fresh local produce is everywhere.
Finally, Tangerine could play more heavily on the "food bar" theme that it uses as part of its name. At the moment, the restaurant is open until 7 p.m. on weeknights. But give the place a liquor licence, dim the lights, put on some groovy music, and you could have a very cool evening hangout. Of course, this may come as Tangerine matures. Owner/chef Aimee Schulhauser is wise to take a "walk before you run" approach to the place.
The verdict: give Tangerine a try for your next business lunch, or if you happen to be hanging around downtown on a gorgeous summer day.

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