Friday, 29 November 2013

Thunder Bay - Classic vs. Classy

Rachel discovers the Highs and Lows of Thunder Bay Cuisine, Accommodations, and Night Life

So you fly over Lake Superior in December and land in Thunder Bay - a city sprawled out over a stupendous amount of space, with seemingly nothing but the rail line connecting both ends.

We decide to stay at the Prince Arthur Waterfront Hotel, which is known in these parts as a "classic" Thunder Bay landmark. While it may be classic, it is in desperate need of a make over to bring it from The Shining-esque to shiny.

So where does one eat? All Google searches point to the "classic" steakhouse option: The Prospector. Interesting prospect, indeed, I say to myself. I am not, however, a steak house guru. As you can tell from my posts, I am an Asian fusion and small plate fanatic. But I decide to take a chance on beef. From the outside, the place looks promising, but I feel like this could-be-great steakhouse has met a similar fate as the Prince Arthur. The menus are probably from the 80s, and boast nothing of real interest, except a 12 dollar Caesar salad and 45 dollar crab legs - read: over priced, under enthused.

Salad bar included with your steak? Oh! ... oh. All I have to say is: Catalina dressing??

But there's a silver lining! We found ourselves 500 meters from both the above-mentioned "classics" after dinner for drinks at a delightful little place called Bight. Not only does it look out on the harbour, but more precisely onto the public skating rink that, if it were in Ottawa, would be packed with people. This place is clean, open, and super down to earth. The owner is an accidental wine guru who realized she had a really good sniffer at her first wine tasting, and who has translated this relaxed love of food and wine into a dynamic menu of pizzas, pastas, and "classy" touches like homemade flatbread with homemade ricotta instead of butter - what!?

The wine list is short, but sweet and offers something for everyone by the glass, half litre or bottle. It's ideal for special events or a regular ol' Thursday night giggle with the girls. I highly recommend the Cucumber and Basil Smash cocktail. You'll want more than one!

So what did I learn in Thunder Bay? You have to look a little harder for something great in this town - but it has huge potential. In chatting with locals we now have a list of places to try (and try we shall!): Sovereign, Silver Birch, and Cirque du manger (if we're feeling adventurous!)

-Rating: Looking forward to making myself a repeat Bight customer and to discovering other classy TB joints

-Rachel

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