Homemade eats on Highway 61

Looking for somewhere to eat between Minnesota and Thunder Bay? AJ's has healthy food, and tons of family favourites. Everyone, even the most picky eater, will find something they like here.

One of my friends asked, “Where can we go that’s different, a hidden gem, some place that we haven’t been before?” We had no answer until a couple of us ended up at A.J.’s Trading Post on Highway 61 in Slate River. A.J.’s  has a nook of a restaurant found on the wing of its convenience store. It’s got an old-wood Northern character, serving up food that is as good, if not better, than our better-known crop of comfort food choices. Once you’ve discovered it, you could become a regular.

The sole owner for 18 years, Gerry Muller, ran a hotel kitchen for 10 years as a red seal Chef before buying A.J.’s. This explains the quality of the food and the amazing diversity of the menu, a full seven pages of options. “My personal favourite dish is the Great Canadian Omelette, which is also one my most popular,” says Gerry.

From the Jerk Spice Skillet, the Eggs Florentine Skillet, there are omelettes, the basics, and “stackables,” which are pancakes and French toast. Sandwiches and “Sammies” are huge and can be ordered with a variety of side dishes like battered mushrooms and mozzarella sticks. Wraps offer more options to the mix. Soups are made from scratch. You’ve got 10 types of burgers to chose from, with extras and sides. And at AJ’s is one of the last surviving salad bars where you “Weigh and Pay,” based on market value. The pizza section has to be seen to be believed. Pizzas include Jambalaya, Caribbean, Perogy, Southwest, Cheese Steak, Hawaiian, Mediterranean, and more! 

What is this place? A stranded cruise ship? 

Oh yes, and once a month they have live music.

There are also desserts and ice cream, candies, chocolates and worms! Well, the worms are for bait, which is one of many conveniences offered in the shop section of A.J.’s.

And this leads to yet another feature of A.J.’s, Gerry’s delight in sourcing as many local foods and products as possible, whether maple syrup, coffee, sauces, bread, pies, baked treats, meat, veggies, and even some pottery. They do catering and a Take and Bake service, preparing the topping on the dough for you.

You can also find a comfortable little tourist nook with brochures and maps. Stock up on propane, ice, and Sasi water. You can apply for your fishing license while you’re there.

One happy international customer took one of the gift pens on which was written, “This pen has been stolen from A.J.’s Trading Post.” He mailed the pen from Australia to ask for a refill.

You will love A.J.’s.

About Duncan Weller

A writer and visual artist, Duncan Weller is a Governor General's Award winner who lives in Thunder Bay. You can visit his website at www.duncanweller.com. His latest two books are a novel, Flight of the Silk, and an expanded edition of the award-winning children's picture book, The Boy from the Sun.

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