Bistro One: Fine Dining in Thunder Bay

Since 1994, Bistro One has always been the restaurant of choice to impress a date. In its new location since 2002, Bistro One is still considered one of the best restaurants in Thunder Bay for an elegant dining experience and making “the list of top 200 Restaurants in Canada since 1997,” and has a triple CAA diamond rating.


Great food, wonderful atmosphere, local art, private dining room, and excellent service are about all you could ask for. However, they have gone a few steps further to be impressive. Two of the dishes I photographed, presented to a distinguished elderly couple were specially designed for them. The couple are regulars who visit Bistro One once a month to order their favourite specialty plates not found on the menu. They raved about their food, happy to have their creations photographed.


This attention to detail also applies to being very flexible with the menu for vegetarians, vegans, people with allergies, lactose intolerance, etc. They keep lots of substitutions on hand. Chef and owner, Jean Robillard, a kinesiology graduate of Lakehead University has as his motto: “practiced informality.” So although you can certainly have high expectations, feel free to be loose with inquiries into options and questions regarding the menu. You will get honest opinions and worthwhile recommendations. The staff is like family, most working at Bistro One for upwards of ten years.


The menu might change on a daily basis as the chefs offer up wonderful alternatives. Locally grown foods are used as much as possible. You can see the entire menu here: I only have to mention a couple dishes to get your mouth watering. Cognac Flamed Breast of Duck, sounds good. As does Rosemary Roasted Rack of New Zealand Spring Lamb with Gorgonzola Butter. With numerous side dishes, entrees and salads, you will have a meal that will become a long living memory.


Deserts too are a favourite here. You can’t beat this description – Chef Maria Costanzo’s “signature warm chocolate gateau with a raspberry coulis and Espresso Ice Cream is renowned, along with her deep fried banana, chocolate and hazelnut spring rolls with a five spice ice cream.”


Don’t be fooled by the exterior or location of Bistro One. The area may be one of little strip malls, industrial sheds, car part repair services near the train tracks, but the advantage is one of central location. And one of surprise when seated in such a wonderful atmosphere. With over a hundred varieties of wine to choose from location is hardly a concern.

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 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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