From the first drops of water to wet your lips, to the last dribble of succulent butter from your plate, the sinful culinary delights of Bullocks Bistro restaurant awaits your tastebuds in Yellowknife.
Owned by Labradorians Jo-Ann Martin and Mark Elson, the Bullocks Bistro, has become one of the most visited places in Yellowknife and business shows no sign of slowing down. Even in the winter months.
“We serve about 150 people a day,” Martin said. “We’re open 360 days a year so that amounts to roughly 50,000 people annually.”
The pair purchased the restaurant in 2016 from Sam and Renata Bullock, who were the original owners.
“We bought the place in April of 2016,” Martin said. “So we’ve been very busy for the last three and a half years.”
The smell of fabulous food will tickle your senses before you hit the doorstep of the old log cabin which is in the heart of Old Town located at 3534 Weaver Drive which is just parallel to Great Slave Lake.
“We cook about 200 to 250 pounds of fish a day,” Martin said. “And about 200 pounds of potatoes a day on average.”
The secret to making fish taste great Martin says is the butter and they use a lot.
“We use about 10 to 15 blocks of unsalted butter per day,” Martin said.
The old log cabin dates back to the 1930s when Yellowknife experienced the gold rush and is decorated inside by thousands of signatures, currency and plane ticket stubs from customers. The walls are literally plastered and if you can find a space you can add your touch, then you can do so, Martin says. The ceiling fan even has been targeted.
“People like to staple their business cards to the wall,” Martin said. “So they’re a part of what we do here.”
The menu has some tasteful decisions and all fish is wild-caught and precision hand filleted on the premises by Elson. Customers can choose to order Whitefish, Lake Trout, Arctic Char, Great Slave Cod, Pickerel, or Inconnu, all which come from the waters of the Northwest Territories and are caught by local fisher-people.
The fish is literally cooked right before your eyes as the restaurant has an open kitchen and there are options. You can choose deep-fried, pan-fried or grilled. They also have Inuvik Reindeer and Bison on the menu when available.
There have also been some famous visitors. If you can put your fork down for a moment, take some time to view the many pictures stapled to the walls which are also left by customers. Rick Mercer has even visited the restaurant Martin says.
“We’ve had quite a few famous people over the years,” Martin said. “Everybody from the Governor-General to the most famous actresses from the Philippines.”
Martin says there is even a famous actor, who will remain nameless, from Hong Kong who’s actually returning and bringing his whole entire family.
“There are always famous people visiting our restaurant,” Martin said. “We don’t necessarily like to talk about it because it’s what they like.”
Martin says the movie stars want to be relaxed and enjoy the atmosphere.
“You know, we don’t want these customers hounded by people,” Martin said. “The atmosphere of the bistro is what attracts these people.”
The proof is in the pudding for Bullocks Bistro, which is currently ranked #4 out of 46 restaurants on Tripadvisor Canada for Yellowknife and currently has 1,183 reviews which continue to grow every day and Martin has a message for her potential customers of Bullocks Bistro.
“I would say that it’s an experience that everyone should partake in obviously,” Martin said. ” The food is fantastic, it’s fresh and it’s a local product. But the atmosphere of the building and the people in here is a big part of what brings back repeat customers.”
Bullocks Bistro is owned by two Labradorians and is serving a product made right here in the Northwest Territories.
“The proof is in the pan,” Martin said. “Great Slave Lake fish.”