Jamaican restaurants spice up the scene

Take your taste buds on a trip to Jamaica, without leaving Thunder Bay

When auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and visual delights combine, a restaurant can quickly become an instant transportation device. Here in Thunder Bay, we have two that will beam you to Jamaica: the Island Spice Jerk House and Ted’s Kitchen.

Only three blocks apart on the Algoma South strip, the Jerk House is at 71 Algoma St. South and Ted’s at the corner of Algoma and John St. Both offer authentic Jamaican food with good-sized portions at reasonable prices with genuine island smiles, banter, and fun at no extra charge. 

The Island Spice Jerk House, open for lunch and early dinner, is run by friends, Leanne Siddo and Shane Burton who started the business together. Shane is a DJ who brings authentic Jamaican music to T-Bay and now food as well. It was Leanne’s Jamaican husband who launched the idea of traditional Jamaican food that found a home here. Getting the call to join their venture, Douglas Chin, also of Jamaican descent, left Geraldton to be the eager and marvellous cook.  

The menu is kept simple while offering delightfully rare and authentic dishessuch as Curry Chicken, Oxtail, Stew Chicken, Plantain, Jerk Chicken and Pork, Jamaican Beef Patty, Stew Chicken, and a variety of Roti Wraps. The rice with a bit of the gravy is to die for, and the meats cooked to perfection. Healthy and hearty, these meals satisfy. If you’re unfamiliar with a roti wrap, it is unleavened flatbread rolled around a combination of curried meats and vegetables. The goat and oxtail are locally farmed; a little more expensive as a result, but worth it. On Fridays you can get Red Snapper, jerk, steamed or stewed. Beverages are mostly of Jamaican variety: Ting, Busta, Peardrax, Tiger Splash, and more. 

 “I’m proud to be able to have this and make people feel like they’re on vacation,” smiles Leanne.

Down the street, the wonderfully exuberant Ted of Ted’s Kitchen responds with his signature thick Jamaican accent. Ted is as delightful as the food, one of the reasons his regulars have followed him to his current spacious location. “They come for the good stuff!” laughs Ted. He extols the virtue of his corner spot, allowing tourists to easily locate him. Signage with Palm fronds indicate a real contrast during our winter season. 

Ted is a one-man team in a rush during lunch hours. You can see his pots in the kitchen bursting the rim with prepared rice, while the aroma of spice fills the air. 

Ted’s menu consists of: Jerk Chicken, Jerk Pork, Curry Chicken, Honey Garlic Ribs, Brown Stew Chicken, Steamed Cabbage, with extras including a Caesar Salad on which you can add Spicy Chicken. There are soups, patties, Tubs of Meat, and the Homemade Hot Sauce. The patties are a mix of minced beef, green pepper, green onion, and homemade spice. You can wash it down with some Jamaican Ginger Beer, a beer in name only. 

“I got a good variety,” says Ted. “The Thunder Bay people, they love my food. They love the culture. They give me the thumbs up and it’s all about customer service.” 

Ted’s is open six days a week, Monday to Saturday, 11:30 am to 8 pm most days. 

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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