Thursday, 31 January 2013

Beaux Daddy's CAnaJUN Grillhouse - Thunder Bay

After reading the foodie section on Thunder Bay chefs in the February 2013 issue of the Walleye, it opened up our eyes to the possibilities. 0.o

So that night, we drove down an empty stretch of Highway 61, to find a bright gigantic sign with the words:
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Beaux Daddy's CAnaJUN Grillhouse

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It was huge...and a little isolated from the rest of the city

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Cajun spiced chicken oscar
The chicken was tender, juicy and perfectly grilled topped with a yummy hollandaise sauce mixed with crawtails. It looked pretty empty on the plate because I didn't order sides (which cost an additional $3 each or 3 for $5). I thought the asparagus might be okay as a side, but it was wilty, soggy and so overcooked that it barely had flavour. 

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Sticky Date Praline Cake
I was a huge fan of the candied pralines: they're so good! The date cake was moist and delicious with the sticky part being the sticky toffee sauce and paired with the vanilla ice cream  - it was amazing all together.
I would definitely recommend this dessert at Beaux Daddy's

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Bourbon Pecan Pie
After the sticky date praline cake, this pecan pie was a flop. There's usually a layer of filling in the pies, but this one was just pure chopped pecans all the way to the pie crust (which was soggy and not very good).

Overall: The menu is interesting with an Acadian and Southern spin on traditional items. However, the food was okay, but the service was awfully slow and not very attentive.

BeauxDaddys Grillhouse on Urbanspoon

Fox on the Run - Thunder Bay

Right next to Pita Pit is a local warm & cozy sandwich place, Fox on the Run:
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The menu is mostly sandwiches, wraps and salads with some daily specials, but I couldn't resist getting the city's namesake sandwich:
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Thunder Bay Stacker $7.85
It's made with roast beef, turkey, ham, lettuce, tomato, onions and Swiss cheese with the stacker sauce all on a 12 grain loaf bun. 
The sauce was really good! They also toast the sandwiches which warms it up and melts the cheese. 
The ingredients were all fresh too - they probably make the sandwiches daily and put them behind the front glass counter. 

Overall: Nice sandwiches, fast and friendly service at the take-out counter. 

Robin's Donuts - Thunder Bay

Before coming to Thunder Bay, the only Canadian quick service coffee and donuts store I knew of was Tim Hortons (because it's EVERYWHERE in Canada). 
Since seeing multiple Robin's in Thunder Bay, I decided to stop by and try their breakfast. 
I learned afterwards that Robin's Donuts actually had it's roots in Thunder Bay. It started here in 1975 and expanded across Canada (I think it's fascinating that the HQ is in Toronto because we don't have any Robin's Donuts in the city). 
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Coffee and an egg, cheese and sausage "brekwich"
I watched him put the brekwich into the microwave...and was a little disturbed. 
I kind of hoped it would be like Tim Horton's or McDonalds where they assemble the sandwich piece by piece with the egg layer, cheese and sausage...but it wasn't the case. 

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Croissant on top and on the bottom
At least the cheese was melted in the microwave.
It was okay...perhaps a little bland. 
The brekwich has 510 calories which is less than the Tim Horton's breakfast sandwich at 530 calories and much less than a McDonald's sausage n' egg biscuit sandwich at 590 calories.

Website: http://www.robinsdonuts.com/

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Prospector Steak House - Thunder Bay

We've passed by the Prospector Steak House a few times, and we finally decided to try it out.

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The menu seems to be on the expensive side; when we got there, we were told that when you order an entrees (including the prime ribs and steaks), you also have unlimited access to the:
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Salad Bar
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soup table and all-you-can-eat Hot Buns.
WOW!

Round 1:
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Seafood Chowder and one of the famous Hot Buns with whipped garlic butter
Wow! They weren't kidding with the Hot Buns - they were AMAZING! Fluffy, buttery and delicious buns and when you slather on the whipped garlic butter with parsley - it's heavenly. I totally understand why they're so popular. It's like once you start, you can't stop because they're soo good...and the next thing you know, you're stuffed and you have to take your entree home with you.
The seafood chowder was okay; it was a thick soup with fake crab, mussels, potato, green beans and carrots.

Round 2: The healthy round
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I hit the salad bar aka "Thunder Bay's Freshest Salad Bar"
The claim probably works because it's probably Thunder Bay's only salad bar in a restaurant (that I've seen so far). It wasn't very fresh...the ingredients at Pita Pit were probably fresher. I have to admit though: I really liked the Catalina dressing and the croutons (possibly made of the leftover hot buns toasted and buttered with garlic) were yummy. The pasta salad was okay and the egg & potato salad was okay too (not much to write home about).
The beef barley soup was super watery. I wouldn't recommend it - plus you probably should save room for your actual dinner (and maybe dessert?)

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Small portion of prime rib (5 oz.)
Eating this was a feat after the salad bar, soup and hot buns (of which I definitely ate more than 1 and heavily loaded with garlic butter). The meat was cold and very pink.
The carrots were nice; the baked potato was really dry; the Yorkshire pudding was soft and gooey in the middle and nice.

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New York Roast special with mushrooms
I thought 5 oz. was a lot, but the special was 10 oz. of medium rare roast. It wasn't very good, but the garlic mashed potatoes, carrots and mushrooms were all very tasty. 

Overall: The Hot Buns are really good! However, the rest of the food was mediocre. It's pretty good value for a meal considering you get access to unlimited salad, soup and buns - but I'd probably stay away from the beef options here (despite it being called a steakhouse).

Prospector Steak House on Urbanspoon

The Persian Man - Thunder Bay

Interestingly enough, the Thunder Bay tourism site has a section called "Unique to Thunder Bay" and you know it's a big thing when it's not only featured here, but when it has it's own Wikipedia page. "Try the Hoito and a Persian" are usually what I get when I ask for food recommendations or advice. So, I couldn't wait to see what the Persian was all about. 
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The story behind the Persian is that it was named in honour of a U.S. General John Pershing.

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It's basically a cinnamon-bun like roll with a little cinnamon in the middle topped with a sweet and slightly tart pink icing which I think could be a combination of raspberries or strawberries. It's debatable which one it's actually made of. It was nice...and really very filling for breakfast due to the size of it.

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Chocolate Icing Persian
The icing is pretty thick - I liked the chocolate one too! 

Overall: Definitely satisfied the craving for the novelty Persians (but I probably wouldn't be able to eat one everyday or anything). 

Pita Pit - Thunder Bay

Pita Pit is a chain of restaurants that started from Kingston, Ontario and has expanded to include more than 300 stores. (Clear sign that they're doing something right!)
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After weeks of indulgent eating, I was craving something a little less caloric for lunch. 
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Huge, fresh and customizable: first, choose your meat and then take off with your choice of fresh ingredients from alfalfa sprouts to pineapples. You can have it any way you like.
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Chicken breast - lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, onions, cheese and sauce. Yum!

Overall: Definitely one of my favourite pita places (wherever I am) - you can count on them to have a wide variety of fresh ingredients and to cram your pita with as much stuff as it can possibly take.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Blue Door Bistro - Thunder Bay

The Blue Door Bistro took over the location that used to belong to the Good News Cafe and opened it's doors November 2012.
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The colourful blackboard of the daily specials is a welcome sign when you walk into the restaurant. 

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Tomato and Meatballs Linguine
Our friendly waitress mentioned that the sauces were all made in-house. The marinara sauce was lightly more tart and distinctive with the flavour of black olives and there was a lot of tomatoes in the sauce making it chunky. The meatballs were made with a leaner meat and plentiful in the plate (always nice when you order a meatball and pasta dish) and the garlic bread was a delicious multigrain toasted and buttered. It was beautifully presented.  

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Meatball & Olive Panzerotti
The panzerotti was really good! It had a combintation of peppers, green olives, lean meatballs, multi-grain dough and lots of melty cheese! The best part that it wasn't greasy either and it felt like you were making a healthy choice as you were eating it. It was nicely toasted and the marinara sauce complemented it perfectly.

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Blueberry strudel
The chef made a batch of blueberry studel in the morning and I couldn't resist grabbing a piece!
It wasn't as crumbly on the top as I would have liked and the cake bottom was a little harder than it appeared, but the blueberry filling was really nice. 

Overall: A nice place to grab lunch and the breakfast specials looked pretty tempting as well. They actually had old blue doors in the decor which added a nice touch.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Pho Vietnam

We came to check out Pho Vietnam on a recommendation. The plaza is still relatively empty despite being open for one or two years and at the end of the plaza is Pho Vietnam (which opened March 29, 2012) serving Vietnamese cuisine.
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The Interior is really nice.

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Rice vermicelli with grilled chicken and spring roll $8.50
The fish sauce was okay, but not quite tangy enough. I liked that they pickled the carrots and radishes and the chicken was nicely grilled and flavoured, but this was an okay nuong dish. It's more expensive than Pho Con Bo (and not as good)

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Steamed rice with beancurd and shrimp paste and grilled pork $8.50
I really liked this dish! The grilled pork chop was thin and tender with a lot of flavour and it was perfectly complemented with the cơm tấm rice (broken rice). I also liked the shrimp paste wrapped in beancurd- it was an interesting experience eating it. The dish has a variety of flavours from the marinated pork to the sweet & tangy pickled vegetables and the crispy shrimp paste and it was held together by the warm steamed broken rice. Yum!

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Rare flank, tendon, tripe pho - large size $8.50
It was a big bowl mostly filled with a chicken broth and flank meat, then not a lot of noodles and a few pieces of tendon and tripe.
We were pretty disappointed to say the least. This pho definitely wasn't filling and not particularly tasty. Then when we asked for another bowl of just noodles, we were charged $7.99 for a large bowl - ouch.

Overall: The restaurant was okay - but I'd probably recommend Pho Con Bo for Vietnamese food (it's a 25 minute drive away according to Google Maps)

Friday, 25 January 2013

Lucien

The first of my Winterlicious reservations this year ($35 for dinner): 
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I really like the Wellington & Front Street area with Berczy Park and the Flatiron building because it's so close to the Financial District and the area has such great character with the St. Lawrence market and these cute boutique-y restaurants. 
(*Items I would recommend and/or order again)

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*Albacore Tuna Crudo with rye crisp, smoked quail egg with Russian dressing
This was really nicely done. The tuna crudo is almost like tuna sashimi but lightly seared and crusted on the outside. It was meaty and delicious with the Russian dressing and chopped pickles on the side. I wasn't too sure where the smoked quail egg went...but it was still a fantastic appetizer.

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*Perth County Pork slow cooked with sauerkraut, navy beans and steamed prune cake
Since eating the Perth pork chop at the Drake Hotel, I have been obsessed with Perth pork and I was super excited to see it on the menu at Lucien. The pork definitely did not disappoint me here. It was tender and succulent and oh so good! The portion was not as small as it looked in the picture, rather it was pretty filling and the navy beans, sauerkraut and steamed prunes were a nice complement to the pork.

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Duck Breast a L'Orange with wild rice and braised rutabaga
I'm not as big a fan of duck a l'orange, but the duck was done nicely (I wasn't a big fan of the orange sauce though). 

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Banana Chocolate Parfait with peanut cookie
The parfait was really interesting; the pastry chef managed to make a smoky chocolate sauce which was really good! However, the ice cream, banana and peanut butter cookie combination didn't really wow me. 
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Pot de Creme with cumin essence with honey and carrot gelee
Apparently a pot de creme is similar to a crème brûlée, but a little looser and it was topped with a cumin, honey and carrot gelee. The waiter did give us a warning: if you don't like cumin, you probably will not enjoy this dessert because it is heavily scented with cumin. We weren't that experienced with the flavour of cumin, so we decided to give it a shot. After eating it, I don't think I'd recommend it unless you really like cumin and jello. It's definitely a warming spice and has a fragrant flavour, but it's quite distinctive and if you're not used to strong and hot scents - then it's probably not for you.

Overall: It was a nice Winterlicious meal: food was nice, the service was really good and the restaurant has a lovely and intimate atmosphere. 
Lucien on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Caribou - Thunder Bay

November 7, 2012
A few of my coworkers recommended Caribou Restaurant in Thunder Bay for a good meal:
The menu looked really good! I was pretty impressed with the selection of appetizers and mains - it could rival some of Toronto's top restaurants.

After placing our orders, we were served bread:
Foccacia with garlic hummus
The foccacia was warm and delicious and there was so much of it too! The garlic hummus was heavily garlic and very tasty (as you can tell from the picture - there's quite a bit of oil as well). 

Wild boar ravioli with boar, prosiutto & pecorino filling, brown butter sauce with squash & sage
This portion was half the appetizer...and it was AMAZING! I loved the flavours of the ravioli - the strong peccarino cheese, salty prosiutto and boar in the ravioli pasta along with the delicious and rich sauce. It was plate-cleaning good! So much flavour and a great play on texture with the pasta, cheese and sage. 

Grilled sirloin marinated in sleeping giant stout & basted in stout bbq sauce served with bacon roasted fingerling potatoes & caesar swiss chard 
Sirloin was a great medium rare as it was tender and juicy inside. The potatoes and swiss chard were also really nicely done.

Rabbit pasta - rich rabbit ragu with fresh herbs, pancetta, roasted mushrooms, finished with truffle butter, parmesan cheese & tossed tagliatelle noodles
As you can probably tell, I tried to choose the more uncommon items here like boar and rabbit (since I don't get to try those meats very often). Some of my friends thought I would be eating moose or bear in Thunder Bay (I'm totally willing to try that - but I don't think they serve those meats in regular restaurants even in Thunder Bay). I really liked it in the beginning - there was a lot going on in this pasta from the chunks of rabbit meat (it looked like duck meat but tasted sweet, lean and tougher than it looked) to the pancetta, roasted mushrooms and truffle butter (which added a slightly nutty and heavy flavour to the dish). I probably overkilled the parmesan cheese because by the last few forkfuls of the dish, I found it very salty and too rich. 

Overall: Fantastic! I was really impressed by the quality of food here. Big city quality in a small city up north. Service is efficient and the wine list is pretty good too! A little on the pricier side (nothing as astonishing as some of the higher end restaurants in Toronto), but quite worth it. 

Update: Jan 23, 2012 

We couldn't resist coming back to Caribou for another meal in Thunder Bay. 
Luckily for us, they had a promotion going on - two course meal for $28 (and an option to add dessert for an extra $5). It's pretty similar to Toronto's Winterlicious or Summerlicious (but with a smaller menu).
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A choice between two appetizers and a set main course. 
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Caesar salad - herb flatbread crouton, crisp pancetta, shaved parmesan & signature in house dressing
The salad had a lot of garlicky and delicious dressing which was nice. The pancetta and parmesan added a sharpness to the taste of the salad and I LOVED the flat-bread croutons! They were so good! I could eat an entire plate of the flat-bread  Caribou has some fantastic bread: from the complementary bread to their flat-bread - it's tasty and appetizing.

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Mussels - steamed P.E.I. mussels finished with a tequila avocado lime cream, Thai chili & fresh cilantro
The mussels definitely had a bit of heat from them (either from the thai chilis or tequila) and it made the avocado and lime cream stand out more. They were aromatic and savoury. 

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Pork pasta - local braised pork shoulder with arugula, lemon, parmesan cheese, natural jus tossed with ricce (penne) noodles
The pork shoulder was tender and had a pulled pork texture and it was nice to have it served in a natural jus sauce which was almost like a broth. The pasta was interesting, but I don't think it served as a good complement to the pork. I thought that the entree just didn't stand out as much as the appetizers, instead it felt like it tasted a little blander.

Overall: Still a good meal and it was nice that they had a promotion running (the restaurant is quite pricey otherwise). I'd recommend Caribou for a great meal in Thunder Bay.

Caribou Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon