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

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