Driving for Dessert: Grain & Pulse Bakery Cafe in Imperial
Grain & Pulse Bakery Cafe is right in the heart of Imperial, located in a charming old house-turned-bakery. It’s a comfortable, relaxed spot, and also the town’s mainstay, known for deliciously crafted desserts, lunch fare and handmade pizza, all with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients.
Tracy Kelly-Wilcox opened Grain & Pulse in 2017 and says the focus of the cafe is on two things: a weekly menu influenced by local Saskatchewan ingredients, and European-style pastries that are handmade daily. Kelly-Wilcox is a Red Seal Pastry Chef, so the pastries are a real labour of love, especially the danishes.
“When I opened, I knew I wanted to include the pastries and desserts that I absolutely adore,” Kelly-Wilcox said. “The danishes are all made by hand and baked fresh daily.”
Popular favourites include the lemon danish and chocolate danish, but Kelly-Wilcox also bakes the desserts with seasonal fruit – think pastry cream, jam and fresh fruit, all finished with a glaze. The danishes are so popular that Kelly-Wilcox notes customers often call ahead to reserve a few (if you’re driving in from out of town, make sure you do so!). In addition to pastries, other sweet treats like cinnamon buns, pies, and beautifully decorated cakes and cheesecakes regularly grace the front display case.
Originally from Regina, Kelly-Wilcox brings over 30 years of expertise to the business and spent years working and training in restaurants across Canada. Notably, she worked in management for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, which took her to various hotels, including the King Pacific Lodge, a fly-in eco-lodge near Princess Royal Island in British Columbia.
“At King Pacific, we were harvesting our own ingredients, like seafood and seaweed. It really allowed me to focus on regional and seasonal cuisine, and then to present it in an excellent way,” she said. “It all just reinforced my passion for local, seasonal, fresh food.”
When she moved to Imperial in 2010, she brought that passion for seasonal cooking with her. True to its name, at Grain & Pulse, there’s usually a weekly Pulse Plate and a Grain Bowl, both of which highlight locally sourced Saskatchewan ingredients. Grain & Pulse is also unique because the menu offers many plant-based options, specifically with pulses like chickpeas and lentils. “It’s vegetarian food in the middle of Saskatchewan!”
If you’re visiting in warm weather, there’s a delightful patio, perfect for enjoying coffee and danishes. And if you’re there in winter, the fireplace inside provides a cosy backdrop. Either way, Kelly-Wilcox notes Grain & Pulse is meant to be a community spot, welcoming regulars and travellers alike.
Make it a day trip
Turn dessert at Grain & Pulse into a day trip and explore what the Imperial and Davidson areas have to offer.
What to see/do
In Imperial, check out the Market Square, a year-round indoor market that offers handcrafted and locally sourced goods like pottery, home decor and garden produce, when in season. Then take a short drive just 30 minutes from Imperial to Davidson, where you will find Kinder Surprises Antiques, Saskatchewan’s largest rural antique shop. Kinder Surprises has an incredible selection of antique and vintage items, all housed in cool old buildings like a barn and former schoolhouse. Davidson is also home to the world’s largest coffee pot — it’s 24 feet tall and a perfect photo op.
For something seasonal, on the road between Imperial and Davidson is the new Fieldstone Farm (about 20 km east of Davidson). Fieldstone Farm opened in the summer of 2021 and offers a seasonal u-pick for apples and flowers — daffodils, tulips, dahlias and more! Weather permitting, the business is open from spring until fall, so be sure to check its hours before visiting.
Photo by Mela Photography
Grain & Pulse Bakery Cafe is located at 207 Royal Street in Imperial, SK. Find more information and hours on Facebook. Grain & Pulse and one of its recipes will also be featured in Naomi Hansen’s forthcoming book, Only in Saskatchewan: Recipes & Stories from the Province’s Best-loved Eateries. Visit www.naomihansen.ca for more information.
Author: Naomi Hansen
Naomi Hansen is a writer and editor based in Saskatoon, SK. She is the author of the forthcoming book Only in Saskatchewan: Recipes & Stories from the Province’s Best-loved Eateries, which will be published by TouchWood Editions in April 2022. Find her on Instagram @onlyinsaskatchewan, Twitter @naomihansen_ or at www.naomihansen.ca.