Our waiter cleared space in the middle of the table, then placed a large metal structure with three rods gathered together in the shape of a cone – the widest part of the cone at the base. Dangling from the top of the cone, was a heavy cylinder with thick chunks of elk, deer, and bison mounted on small metal spikes. Once everything was in place, our waiter poured a Jack Daniel’s reduction over the chunks of meat and flames danced around the meat, the juices dripping into a large white dinner plate resting at the base. I had no idea this was awaiting me at Sagamité.
It was at this point that I think I cried a little — with equal parts delight and fear.
As a dedicated carnivore, I am always game for a protein-packed meal – especially when I’ve been living off pasta and salads for a week – so when Sébastien, a Huron-Wendat chief, suggested we have lunch at Sagamité in Wendake, I was more than a little excited.
Opened by Steeve Wadohandik in 1999, Sagamité uses food to introduce its guests to the Huron-Wendat culture. The menu highlights the fundamental elements of first nations cuisine.
Since before the landing of Jaques Cartier in 1534, the Huron-Wendat nation has survived on a diet of wild game (deer, caribou, moose), fish; native plants and herbs and berries; and the Three Sisters: corn, squash and beans (yellow and green long beans).
Legend of the Three Sisters
The legend of the “Three Sisters” originated when a medicine woman could no longer bear the fighting among her three daughters and asked the Creator to make them stop. The Creator turned the three girls into three plants and told them that to grow and thrive, they would be dependent upon each other. From that day on, Native people planted the three plants together to enable the beans to shade the squash and the corn to provide a stalk onto which the beans and squash could climb. [source]
The Sagamité Dining Experience
A short walk from Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations, Sagamité is bathed in warm sunshine during the day and a sophisticated ambience in the evening. Recently renovated, Sagamité has said goodbye to its red walls and heavy wood accents and now features polished wood beams, high ceilings, black and white murals of aboriginal dances (many of which feature Sagamité’s owner, Steeve Wadohandik), grey and cream coloured walls, and a beautiful glass wine case.
A contemporary ambience that now matches their menu. Sagamité serves aboriginal staples like sagamité soup, smoked and fresh fish; wild game such as bison, elk, and deer; as well as dishes with a more gourmet and modern twist. Indulge in delicate tartare, enjoy a salad dressed with a sweet balsamic vinaigrette, grapes and seeds, and topped with flavourful duck confit; embrace your carnivorous side and order Yatista!
A speciality at Sagamité, Yatista (meaning fire) is often called the “Stem”, and represents the importance of fire – an element used by aboriginal ancestors to communicate with the Creator. Fire was an essential piece of Huron-Wendat culture, it was through fire that they would speak with the Creator; around fire they would tell their myths and legends; share meals, and heat their longhouses.
Also referred to as La Potence, the dish features a large metal structure with three rods gathered together in the shape of a cone – the widest part of the cone at the base. Dangling from the top of the cone is a heavy cylinder with thick chunks of wild game mounted on small metal spikes. (We chose a variety of elk, deer, and bison meat.)
La Potence taking up most of the space at our table, we watched in awe, with mouths watering, as our waiter poured a Jack Daniels reduction over the cylinder and flames licked the chunks of meat.
Served with a selection of dipping sauces and aioli (garlic and truffle are divine); as well as carrot, beet, and potatoes; La Potence is a dish that every carnivore should experience at least once.
Thankfully, several of the dishes created at Sagamité are light – a good thing to know if you’re unsure of your ability to eat a lot of meat in one sitting.
Dine at Sagamité
As one of the most popular restaurants in Wendake, reservations are highly recommended; that being said, it is possible at times to simply show up and get a table without a long wait. To make a reservation, visit their website or call.
Some staff speak English.
10, boulevard Bastien