FOOD AND DRINK
Five Great Brunch Places in Thunder Bay
Of all the hybrid words out there – labradoodle, bromance, spork – “brunch” is arguably the most appealing, with its connotations of laidback dining and your choice of both breakfast and lunch fare. Here are five Thunder Bay options to investigate.
The owner of Nook Thunder, Cait Jeffs, sent chef Nathan Dubois to the West Coast to learn the ropes from her brother, one of the chef-proprietors of the two popular Nook restaurants in Vancouver’s West End and Kitsilano. The result is not a chain, but an outpost; a warm neighbourhood Italian place in the city’s north end that has a simple menu and lineups out the door ever since it opened in summer 2015. There’s also a good-sized patio, a bit of a rarity in Thunder Bay. Nook recently added a weekend brunch menu that includes a baked egg dish, homemade granola and a caesar cocktail with pickled egg. Or, nosh on pizzas cooked in a stone hearth pizza oven in the open kitchen or opt for the housemade pasta like cavatelli with sheep ricotta. Salute!
271 Bay St., 807-285-7775
For a thoroughly TBay experience – the city is home to the largest Finnish population outside of Finland, after all – combine your brunch with a sauna. Get your cleansing sweat on by renting one of their private saunas (a “conference” sauna room is also available for groups of up to 20). Then, stroll over to the old-school diner to tuck into classic fare like back bacon, eggs and toast ($7.50) or a bacon cheeseburger ($7.50). Finnish options include Finnish pancakes ($7), which are very large, very thin and very delicious, and a salt fish sandwich ($8), a locally cured piece of fish on local rye bread with sliced green onion and cucumber.
379 Oliver Rd., 807-344-6761
The Sweet North Bakery
For some, brunch is all about the carbs, and the micro-bakery Sweet North offers plenty of fresh-baked options, all made in their street-level baking area so you can pause to watch proprietor Erinn DeLorenzi and her bakers in action through the oversized window before heading inside the high-ceilinged heritage building. Pastries like cinnamon rolls, maple syrup whiskey oat scones and sticky buns deliver a decadent sugar rush, or opt for a savoury breakfast pretzel ($6). The soup and sandwich combos are fantastic too – how about a housemade corned beef on rye pretzel bun with a side of coleslaw and a cup of wild rice leek soup? Linger with an espresso, latte or mocha, some of which are infused with locally brewed beer, or a Port Arthur’s Fog chai tea latte.
10 Court St. S., 807-344-3430
With a name like Rooster’s Bistro, an extensive breakfast and brunch menu is pretty much a given (and so is quirky rooster-themed décor). It doesn’t look that big on the outside but actually has a number of rooms inside, so it can efficiently seat the hungry weekend crowds. Check out breakfast options like the stuffed French toast ($12), gluten-free potato pancakes ($8) with sun-dried tomatoes and sour cream, and plenty of variations on eggs. The kitchen roasts beef cuts, hams and turkeys in-house daily, plus grinds fresh chuck for burgers, so take your pick of sandwiches like pulled pork and crispy fried onions on a ciabatta bun ($10) or the Rooster’s Double Stack Poutine Burger ($12) that somehow fits a beef patty, roasted chicken, fries and cheese curds in a bun.
32 St. Paul St., 807-344-7660
The Scandinavian Home Society
Perhaps not as famous as the nearby Hoito restaurant and its equally famous lineups, “The Scan” has been a Thunder Bay landmark since 1926. Originally a social group designed to make new immigrants feel at home with a meeting room, café and Scandinavian library, today the restaurant serves up well-priced all-day breakfast items in a sunny, busy setting. Choose from dishes like The Big Viking (three Finnish pancakes, two eggs, bacon, ham or sausage, toast and home fries, $12.95) or mojakka ($8.50), a kind of Finnish fish soup served with rye bread followed by rice pudding with strawberries.
147 Algoma St. S., 807-345-7442