FOOD AND DRINK
When in Thunder Bay, Stuff Yourself with Pancakes
Four fantastic spots for flapjacks in the Finnish fashion
When in Thunder Bay, do as the Finnish do. Or at least as they do at breakfast.
Past waves of Finnish immigrants to northwestern Ontario left their mark on the local culture. Saunas and nordic skiing are popular here, for example. But you may be more excited for pancakes. A delight for breakfast and dessert alike, you’ll find pancakes flipped, fried and baked in various ways across countless cultures – but in Thunder Bay, it’s the Finnish way that takes the cake. Flat, heavy and relatively chewy compared to standard North American pancakes, they’re a must-try local treat. Here are Billy’s picks for where to find them.
Owned and operated by the Thunder Bay’s Finlandia Association, this restaurant is tucked into the basement of the association’s colourful hall – which might not sound that appealing, but it is. It really is. The restaurant’s best-known dish has even been reverse-engineered and mimicked on foodie websites and cited among many recipes as the definitive Finnish pancake purveyor. The Hoito’s plate-sized cakes draw crowds of tourists and locals alike into the Thunder Bay landmark and chances are they’ll find themselves eating side-by-side at a syrup-laden communal table. If the Sleeping Giant were ever to wake, he’d probably demand Hoito’s pancakes for breakfast.
314 Bay St., 807-345-6323
Double your Finnish fun at this full-service sauna house with a restaurant and café inside. Whether you prefer you pancakes before, after or during a good sweat, Kanga’s offers both under the same roof – literally. The service staff will even provide guests with takeout containers to bring their stacks in while they steam. Who says you can’t have it all? The fact that the price is right and the pancakes fill the whole plate don’t hurt either.
379 Oliver Rd., 807-344-6761
The Scandinavian Home Restaurant
The Scandinavian Home Society was established to welcome and support Scandinavian immigrants to the region of northwestern Ontario – and it still does that – but you don’t have to be Nordic to enjoy an all-day breakfast piled high with pancakes. The menu offers a few platter options; both “the big viking” and “the lumberjack” are stacked with Finnish pancakes. (There are also eggs, bacon and other breakfast staples, but let’s be honest: That’s not what we’re here for.) If the breakfast portions seem excessive, just narrow it down to an order of pancakes and bacon or sausage, or pancakes and eggs, or pancakes with strawberries to sweeten the deal. When you’re looking to satisfy a flapjack craving, everything else is just fluff.
147 S Algoma St., 807-345-7442
The Scandinavian Home Restaurant
Out toward the auditorium and Canada Games Complex, this non-descript – as in beige, very beige – family restaurant serves up all-day breakfast with no shortage of Finnish tradition. Pancakes are both a part and a feature in most of the menu items. The food arrives fast and you’ll hear few complaints coming out of the doors – perhaps best illustrated by the abundance of thumbs-up selfies people have pasted while at Niva’s table. It’s all about friends and family here, you might even get a hug on the way out.
376 Lisgar St., 807-346-2272