It is not a secret that I have a bias to the many great foods I enjoyed over the years I lived in Montreal.
Aside from traditional French Canadian foods, there are cuisines from all over the world in Montreal.
My first week there, some friends took me to AMIRS which serves Lebanese Mediterranean dishes and I quickly became addicted to the shish taouk wrapped in a pita.
I had a weekly visit to AMIR (see www.restoamir.com )How to explain the joy I felt when I first saw Kabab Village.
Although AMIRS was awesome, the leboniese food at The Kabab Village is superb and the Shish Taouk with pita was one item I missed greatly and it took oh so little time to blurt out that that is what I would have.
An amazing sight to see as chicken seasoned with a blend of spices slowly cooks on a vertical rotisserie. Then with lighting fast swings of a blade from a master chef the chicken is shaved to fall lightly onto a plate, with side orders too many to mention.
However, I do wish to address the service. Superb!
By far it was some of the most courteous and considerate service I have had. They truly cater your meal with pita and a dipping sauce lightly sprinkled with paprika and extra virgin olive oil.
The host and waitress are happy to meet each customer and assure that everything is to their liking. And to this I must give them a bunch of stars for the service alone.
My parents had never had food from this region before, so I brought them with me the second time I went. Transfixed on my meal I all but ignored what they ordered… well, for the purpose of this article I’ll call Mom right now and ask her what she had and what my dad had as well…..
Here is some good music while I find out.
“Thanks Mom. Love ya. Tell Dad I’ll call him tomorrow”
Anyways.. They had the same as me. I should have remembered that. I was too hungry, too excited.
So where is this magical place?
Well anyone who has lived in Thunder Bay for a long time remembers the Robins Donuts on Syndicate across from the old IBM building near where the Inntowner used to be by the Victoriaville parkade.
The location closed and went through a few transformations, until finally it became the Lebanese delight that it now is.
It was renamed Kabab Village and for food of this flare and other middle eastern and mediterranean cruises this place is excellent and the service, smile and politeness makes me want to travel to their home country, as they set an example of the service I wish other places would aspire towards, professionally, and many people personally.
Great place. 215 Syndicate Ave South for those who don’t know where the Inntowner used to be.
I asked them a few questions while I payed the bill and gladly tipped more than 20%.
Q: What foods and from what regions do you serve?
A: lebanese mediterranean
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Major renovations and opening another location
Q: Is there take out and delivery
Q: What item is most ordered.
A: The salads and the fish fatouch shawarma
Q: Tell me about your customers, what have they said.
A: Very positive. Just try food
And I am glad they have a website. www.kababvillage.com Click Here and go to their website now and check out what they offer.
Please understand that I am not literate in many (if not all) of these dishes, and I have never traveled to that part of the world. So please excuse much of my ignorance in spelling, or in my descriptions. I just know the food is wonderful and service is great.
And I also want to make sure that you are aware of the Kabab Village and that you take some time to visit and enjoy.
I hope they are here to stay for a long long time.
I will be a regular, and and in my opinion, they are far better than AMIRS in Montreal.
If you have been to AMIRS then you will known the magnitude of this compliment.
* * *
UPDATE:Porto Divino is closed and reopened as DeLuca’s
I have not had a chance to dine there under the new name DeLuca’s Family Restaurant.
If anyone has had a chance to dine there, please feel free to review your experience in the comments section.
They appear to still serve Italian cuisine but have added “Family Restaurant” to their signage.
Below is my original review of Porto Divino.
Originally Posted July 7th, 2005
We sat out on the back patio, and as I drank a bottle of wine, waiting for our Pasta to arrive, we listened to the strangely tranquil sounds of the trains and rail cars adjusting themselves. I guess in the right atmosphere, anything can be pleasing.
For appetizers, we had a Caesar Salad and the Eggplant Fritters. Both were excellent.
I did not leave a drop of sauce to my Lasagna, and cleaned the plate with bread, almost sad to see it all finished. My partner in crime had the spaghetti and meatballs, and only left some on her plate to take home because she absolutely loves cold spaghetti for breakfast.
The wait staff was exuberant to have us there, and were very pleasant. The slight sarcasm in their friendly humour, lightened the mood and brought laughter and smiles to our face.
I once heard some bad reviews about this place from a friend and another from a family member, but my experience was great. Additional points to the fact that we arrived 5 minutes before close, and they still served us a full meal, and at no point caused us to rush.
I will go back here again. Excellent food, good wine, fair price, good atmosphere, and friendly staff that go a little extra bit out of the way for you.
* * *
I am biased. I admit it – I love Montréal. I love Montréal and the many foods I indulged in while living there. My M.O. for happiness while living in Montreal, my secret to life while there was “Gluttony and Indulgence in everything I do.” I think that is the best way to truly enjoy Montréal.
While there I stayed at a comfortably plump weight between 210 and 240 lbs. (I dropped to 185 lbs. a couple years after returning to Thunder Bay), and Montréal is often my muse when I seek new places to eat and dine in Thunder Bay.
So on to the review, again of Carrie’s Corner, while in Montréal, my favorite side dish to the authentic Montréal Poutine – VIVE LA POUTINE! – is “un Steamé avex Choux ét Moutarde.”
Elegant in its simplicity, the Steamé is a steamed hotdog with mustard and a hearty topping that is essentially shredded and pickled cabbage – choux [pronounced like shoe].
Choux on a Steamé is kind of like coleslaw, but without sour cream, mayonnaise or any other cream base, or vegetable. Choux is cabbage, but really good cabbage.
I guess if I had to approximate the choux, it would be kinda like sauerkraut but not cooked, leaving the cabbage fresh and crunchy. And for me, that is the secret to the Steamé: the pickled crunchy cabbage/coleslawish type topping – crunchy being the most important characteristic.
Back here in Thunder Bay, I have searched for a Montreal Steamé, and with due respect to the Choux, I cannot say I have ever found it in Thunder Bay, other than getting sauerkraut on a hotdog from a street vendor, which negates the whole crunchy factor.
HOWEVER! Fear not! For I, yes I have found the next best thing, and once again I found it at Carrie’s Corner!
Ok ok.. it is basically sauerkraut on a hotdog, but the preparation at Carrie’s Corner is the secret. And I can honestly say, without hesitation, it is and the closest and best approximation I have found to date, that has satisfied my craving for a Montréal Steamé with Choux – A Carrie’s Corner Hotdog with mustard and fried [it MUST be FRIED] sauerkraut and onions.
Do not forget to tell them to have the sauerkraut FRIED, or you will just miss the whole darn experience and you might as well just go to some street vendor and get cold stale sauerkraut with raw flavourless onion on a smokie,... which in its pwn right can actually be kinda good – good if you get a lot of banana peppers and extra mustard and you have been drinking a plethora of cheap draft beer all night.
So whether you are craving un Steamé avex Choux ét Moutarde à la Montréal or just want something quick and damn good to eat, GO TO CARRIE’S CORNER.
Google Map it here: CLICK
Or go to:
61 Windemere Avenue North
Thunder Bay, ON P7A 6A9, Canada
FOOT NOTE: I am not affiliated with Carries Corner, nor do I receive any endorsements. I just like a lot of things on their menu. I would be totally sold if they used Thunder Oak Cheese Farms Cheese Curds on their Poutine, or at least gave me the option. Until then JFC (Hutches Variety) outshines anywhere in Northern Ontario for real Montreal Style Poutine.
* * *
When I think of all the towns in all the countries, I think of all those little out-of-the-way places that have been famous for generations – like Swartz’s in Montreal.
And for generations, little has changed. Little has changed for one simple reason – they got it right the first time.
Carrie’s Corner is one of those places.
I first found this deepfryer’n’grill a few years back purely by accident – fries and a hotdog all dressed was my order and damn it was great.
I always kept my eyes open for this place, but I did not know it’s name, or the twists and turns throughout Thunder Bay’s north end that I took that late autumn night had left me lost as to its exact location.
Lately, I have had this intense craving for home grown fast food and since my last review of Hutch’s Variety – now known as JFC – I have managed to put on a good ten pounds.
As I mentioned, many of Thunder Bay’s Deep Fried & Grill convenience stores close up around 8pm, and I had missed JFC by just a few minutes.
Determined to get my fix of french fries, I tried one more time to find the deep fryer that had eluded me for years.
I knew that even if I found it, the place would likely be closed, but I had a night to kill and the sun was far from setting.
After about an hour of turning here and turning there, I saw in the distance the vent of a deep fryer sticking outside of a one story building.
As I made my way down the street, I could feel my heart pounding with anticipation. I saw cars and trucks parked along the side of the building, the smell of the deep fryer causing me to salivate the closer I got, the movement of people to and fro, crossing the street and back – all signs that it was still open, and that business was good and good business usually means good food.
Carrie’s Corner has it all – everything a modern convenience store should have and a menu that is too long to mention.
The menu had everything from BLT, Hot Turkey sandwiches, perogies, cabbage rolls, breakfast sandwiches (with egg, bacon and cheese)... everything. And I mean everything for every time of the day, whether you are looking for a hearty breakfast, a light lunch or a heavy dinner. Everything so much so that I could spend the rest of my days in this town and live entirely off the menu at Carrie’s Corner.
The staff – friendly, pleasant and light hearted. When I asked what their signature dish was the guy at the counter said his favorite was the perogies and the bacon cheese burger.
On his advice I took a large fries to go with the bacon cheese burger. I also ordered a medium sized gravy that turned out to be a impressive bucket of peppercorn dark brown gravy thick enough to stick to your ribs for a week. When the fries were done, I finished the gravy with my burger and then licked the container clean with my fingers.
Fracking awesome! And what confounds me more is why people go to McD’s and other such franchises when we can get food like this just around the corner.
You can even call in your order ahead of time for pickup!
I was so pleased with the orgasmic experience of devouring their massive bacon cheese burger (with real bacon and cheese and a patty that is a true quarter pound and more AFTER cooking) that I created a new category for my blog called “Must Eats” which is places that if you do not go to, then you are denying yourself one of life’s great experiences. The Must Eats category is in dedication and to commemorate my experience dining at Carrie’s Corner.
Five Stars ***** and another five stars to boot.
Call (807) 768-1104 to order for pickup or visit Carrie’s Corner at 61 Windermere Ave North on the corner of Carrie Street.
Google Map It Here and bookmark it in your iphone or blackberry
Carrie’s Corner – One of Thunder Bay’s Must Eats!
GO THERE NOW!
-Recommendations from the Guy behind the counter:
Try the coney burger with 2 pieces of cheese and bacon, “it’s unreal”
* * *
Keep driving by Chachi’s Drive in.
The fries were simple crinkle cut that you can buy at any store and make yourself for $2 including the cost of hydro for running the stove.
There is no signature dish except CONEY DOGS AND BURGERS. Which we have way to many of in this town. And the only real place to get a coney dog is McKellar’s Confectionery on Arthur St.
So other than that and a real bad location. I do not see this place lasting long. There is nothing I can say about this place to encourage you to go.
AND WHY ARE THERE SOME MANY CONEY DOGS IN THUNDER BAY?
Try something original.
My guess is that this guy cashed in a pension form the mill for early retirement, followed his dream of running his own diner and will spend his life savings in keeping it afloat.
I pity the guy…
But keep on drivein’ by Chachi’s Drive In.
It is located on Cumberland on the east side of the street. Not too far before it turns into Hodder Ave. I can’t even bring m self to google it.
* * *
I guess the first thing is to make sure you go to the bathroom before you get to Sanford’s On Deck for dinner. The bathroom not only lacks the necessary urinal cakes, but has separate hot/cold taps in the sink -so you either burn our hands or freeze them. I recently refinished my bathroom and a pedestal sinks with a single hot/cold water tap is quite inexpensive.
Take a look at this one at Home Depot for only $34.00.
I spent quite a bit more on m sink, but if someone had to replace a bathroom sink with something from at least the latter part of the 20th century, then IT SHOULD NOT BE THAT HARD TO DO!
The lack of soap added to the rustic experience of washing your hands in the restroom and the ‘Eau de Toilette’ fragrance permeated a good 6 feet from the bathroom door.
So. That being said I will get straight to the review. Trying not to be biased on my previous visits, I took this experience at face value for what it was: the only convenient place open on a Sunday afternoon (which I will get back to later in this post).
Sanford’s On Deck has been a popular place and long time watering hole for students of every flavour, tree planters, road crews, forest firefighters, hard working men and women and then some. It provides pool tables, foosball, darts, a jukebox with a wide variety of tunes (rock to jazz to country to ska to etc.- something for everyone) and is home to many a pool and dart tournament.
They also provide, free of charge, pleasantly salted popcorn to wash down the draft.
On a Friday night it is a great place to swill back a few drinks with some good friends. And for that, it is deserving of a good many stars for it’s ambiance, service and steady flow of attractive young university students and hardened working class civilians, all out for a stiff drink, hard conversation and a good time.
But this was Sunday afternoon and we were here to eat.
I had the pizza.
Pizza pizza pizza. can’t go wrong with pizza.
They do carry the usual pub fare, but the all dressed pizza is affordable ($7.95) and was garnished with fresh chunks, and I mean CHUNKS of real mushrooms, bacon, green peppers, etc, etc..
The crust was thin and the size of the pizza was something that I could eat pretty well in one sitting, maybe taking a piece or two home for the late night munchies. But I could easily eat it all in one beer’s time.
All seemed good – seemed good. If I was drunk, or getting drunk and had a pretty girl on my arm, I would not have paid much attention to the long brown hair in the melted cheese. Had there been more cheese, I would have probably eaten the hair that hung from the large chunk of mushroom and green pepper.
But I was not drunk. And I did notice the hair in my pizza. But heck, I have eaten worse. at least I thought I did until I noticed the hair still had the follicle attached to it.
But let’s not get stuck on the hair.
The crust was thin and dry, and I assume that the oven was too hot, drying the crust before the cheese and toppings could brown.
I assumed at this point that the other regular pub fare on the menu – fish’n’chips, wings, yadda yadda – would be about the same quality but a bit more greasy.
So to sum up the entire experience of dining at Sanford’s On Deck is to take a piss before you go, get drunk before you order your meal and all will be fine until you wake up the next day and find a half eaten hair in your cold pizza.
However, the venture was not a waste. We did not intend to go the Sanford’s On Deck when we set out this fine Sunday afternoon.
Our original destination was a newish place on Cumberland Ave. near Hodder Ave. called Chachi’s Drive In. But as we soon found out (which we should have known already) that Thunder Bay Fast Food rolls up the sidewalks Saturday, leaving everything closed except dark lonely pubs and Moose Halls and Lodges (oh my!).
As we drove around downtown Port Arthur looking for those hidden gems we did spot a few places that we will review soon including a Mexican/Canadian diner (closed on Sunday), a Jamaican/Canadian diner (closed on Sunday) and a place called Ruby Moon (open on Sunday) which looks pretty classy and will try to make it into our fine dining category.
So for all you tourists coming in to Thunder Bay to grab something to eat, remember that many of Thunder Bay’s “Hidden Gems” are closed on Sunday. The ones that are open usually have a bar or are very franchised and almost always employs a ‘regular’ named Moe to sit at the bar and boast his views on the waterfront development.
In the end, it is great to see more ethnic restaurants in Thunder Bay, but sad to learn that eating at Sanford’s On Deck requires a substantial amount of alcohol to numb the mind and kill any bacteria that may be lingering on the hair in your food.
And remember, when eating at Sanford’s – There is a little bit of Sanford in every bite!
On a last note, for those wanting to take home a few beers after hours, just go to the outdoor patio for ‘a smoke’ and hop the fence (with beers in hand) nearest Cumberland St. Or pass them to your partner in crime waiting on the other side.
But beware! There are cameras looking over the smoker’s patio, so Sanford may post your photo and ban you next time. Sanford is a good and honest law abiding man and a stickler for rules. All due respect is, and should always be given to him.
But you did not hear ‘the great beer heist’ from me. I would never ever ever do such a thing. ;-P Nor do I assume any liability for spilled beer or names/photos on the “DO NOT SERVE” list.
* * *
Ok. I am a firm believer of second chances. People and places change and time is a thing that passes and with it so do the bad things. As a theory of evolution in the evolution of economics, bad businesses either adapt or die – in time.
Hutch’s Variety, now called JFC, did not entirely change or adapt, but they absolutely did improve. And as second chances go, they hit a home run in the local fast food – or I should now say good food fast – industry.
As I have before, I went out to quell a craving I had. This one was for a simple and fairly staple substance – potatoes.
Potato soup, potato chips, potato mashed, potato home fries, potato french fried, potato, potato, potato, POTATO! I had to have potato.
This could be a result of a current fasting and cleansing I was going through, or the abuse I put my body through prior to my fasting. I could be the need for brain food or just a plain old craving. None the less I had to have potato in some form.
I had been thinking for many days of a soup, but last time I tried to make a soup, I smoked the motor on my Silver Bullet blender (which is not recommended when you decide to puree several large raw potatoes – and much to my wife’s chagrin).
This horrible first attempt in potatosoupdom served as a big ol’stop sign since I still didn’t know how to make a potato soup.
I had also already been eating salt’n vinegar chips and had taken the first couple layers of skin off my tongue.
As I was driving down the road thinking for all the places I could get some potatoes, lo’n behold stood a sign that read: “Home Made French Fries”
Yes, my last experience when JFC was called Hutch’s Variety was less than positive, but along side the french fry sign, was another that caused me to hit my turn signal and cut across four lanes of traffic with oncoming traffic just a few car lengths before a green light’d intersection.“Home Made Corn Dogs”
Home Made Corn Dogs.
I’ll say that again, in case you are still debating on whether or not to go.
Home Made Corn Dogs.
And I will say this now, loud and clear:
JFC is one of The Best Fast Food Places in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.
The Home Made Corn Dogs are spectacular. Yes, spectacular – so much so that it is everyones sole and absolute duty and obligation to the spirit and soul to go, right now, without finishing this post to go and get a home made corn dog from JFC’s. If you hesitate and forget to go, then you will miss out on one of those things that are so great that they can only be found on one place on earth – in this universe. The only place in the space time continuum.
You see, a long long time ago, there was a big explosion, and the universe began to expand throwing all kinds of stuff all over. Atoms joined, suns lite up and burned out and finally a bunch of stuff came together in such an exact manner that the earth and life was created.
Then a little bit later JFC was created with the universe’s best home made corn dogs.
And as for my potato, I got a large bag of french fries with gravy on the side, as well as two hot-dogs tout-garni… – fully loaded.
Long blog short, Hutch’s Variety closed down for a long time, then reopened under new ownership. They cut out the fat and did what they do best – good food fast.
I will be spending the next month frequenting JFC, sampling everything on their menu including the jumbo sized corn dog and their fried chicken.
Hutch’s Variety is back as JFC! If they keep doing what they are doing they are sure to remain one of the best places in Thunder Bay to eat.
Five Stars *****
Located on the corner of Algoma and John St.
Google It and go now!
Great job to the new owners. I tip my hat.
* * *
Chinese foods are the main items on the menu, however, you can order other items common to Thunderbania Cuisine, such as fish and chips.
My partner in crime had the Fish and Chips, prequelled by deep fried wontons and a spring roll.
I went for the consommé soup, spring roll and schezuan mein noodles (spicy).
A pleasant dining experience all around, add to the atmosphere the variety of birds chirping away as we sat on the deck overlooking the marina; the passerbyers walking about, enjoying the cool late spring evening. With Thunderbania to the back of us, and our eyes to the waterfront, we could almost imagine we were somewhere else.
The wait staff was well timed (very well timed), polite and friendly. The food was very enjoyable.
For dining and experience, I would suggest this place to anyone on a warm summers evening, after a stroll through the marina, and to go out of your way for.
Located in the Old CN Train Station, Google Map It!
* * *
What the hell is wrong with these people?
Ok. Food aside for a moment, and let’s focus on the dining experience.
1. Unless your wife and daughter are cooking, cleaning, doing the books or something, DO NOT bring them to the restaurant to ‘hang around’. We are trying to eat here and listening your wife grill your daughter for an explanation for the small insignificant bruise on her lip, totally… let me say that again… TOTALLY detaches away from the whole dining experience of your patrons.
2. Do not treat your dining area as your private office. We can clearly hear you talk on the phone to your advertising guy when you are standing right behind us. The dining area is for DINING. The Private Office is for running the business operations, well out of earshot of the customers. No accounting, no business planning, no business calls, no discussions about websites and yellow page ads. None of this should occur where and while I am trying to eat your food.
3. If you are going to rant on your staff, do not do it in earshot. Go more then 10 feet away from our table. I do not want to hear about your cook’s girlfriend and how her visiting disrupts business. You, yelling at your staff, disturbs us customers more. Yell at your staff after hours, or in a meeting, or over coffee down the street. Not while we are trying to eat.
With that said, the entertainment was great, even the drunken girl peering through the windows at our lunch added to the hilarity of the whole event. Worth going just for the show.
The food was status quo for Thunderbania. The Rooster Toes are strips of battered white chicken meat that has been mass-produced, frozen and shipped straight to their deep fryer and into your belly. The dill dip was actually really good. Home made or store bought, it was good none the less.
THE POUTINE! They have got the closest to poutine yet. The fries are great, the gravy is just about right, and they actually use cheese curds. Well not real cheese curds, but mass-produced, single serving packed pasteurized cheese curds. They got the concept right, but the supplier wrong.
For the records, the best choice in Thunderbania for cheese curds is Thunder Oak Cheese Farm Gouda Cheese Curds . These cheese curls have topped anything I have tried in Montreal. And I will say it again.
Thunder Oak Cheese Farm Gouda Cheese Curds beats any cheese curds from Montreal to Winnipeg… maybe even the world…
So back to the review… I also had the Philly Cheese Steak…
...Ahem… excuse me… shaved roast beef, green and red diced peppers, and cheese. This is not a Philly cheese steak by any means, but for what it was, it was ok.
In conclusion, I will go back for the poutine until I find a better place, but will keep coming back for the entertainment.
* * *
If you’re in the Current River part of town, there is a Variety Store by the name of Fred’s Variety. Here you can get your regular convenience store stuff, Potato Chips for only $1.88 per 200 gram bag, and an assortment of 5 cent candies and gummy bear like treats.
You can also get french fries, burgers, pogos, Coney burgers, etc. Ah, the joys of a deep fryer. It is money in your pocket.
Anyways… we had the Poutine, ala Thunderbania and a cheeseburger. Now for those who have eaten real poutine, there seems to be this thing with Thunder Bay where the purveyors of fast foods think it is made with grated mozzarella cheese. This is NOT poutine. It is simple fries with gravy and cheese. As anyone who has every spoken more then grade nine french will tell you, poutine is made with cheese curds that squeak when they are warm. This is essence is the poutine experience, and Thunderbania has not figured that out.
So with fries and grated cheese with gravy in one hand, and cheeseburger in the other, with a can of Pepsi in my pocket, we ate,... and the Pepsi was fantastic; cool, bubbly, caffeinated, full of sugar and other wonderful things.
The rest? Well you let me down Fred. Although the fries had plenty of good intent, the gravy was too ungravyish and the cheese… you could have saved the whole experience if you had curds.
Like most fast food, this is quick and dirty and fills your gap. If you need something deep fried and crunchy and do not have a discriminating palette, then please go to Fred’s Variety and enjoy.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
* * *