Tomlin Restaurant in the Waterfront District

Bring Your Friends. Go Hungry. Eat Everything.


With a view from the bar of this classy little restaurant, the frenzy in the kitchen made me think Thunder Bay's own competitive TV reality show was in the making. Ten manic cooks were in the throes of producing the same delicate and fantastic mouth-watering creations you might see on Master Chef.

Every week, like a reality show, Tomlin Restaurant changes up their menu, with the cooks challenging themselves for your benefit using primarily locally grown foods, including local pigs – the entire pig, that is.


On the menu the “small plate” meals could be Polenta Fries, Salt Cod Brandade, Patatas Bravaas or Short rib Croquettes. The “large plate” might include Gnocchi Al’Amatriciana, Rabbit Tagliatelle, Rainbow Trout, Scallops and Pork Belly, Duck Breast, or Dry Aged Rib Eye. Your menu will be different from mine, but you won’t be disappointed with the new selection.


Unique to Thunder Bay, Tomlin employs the French sous-vide process where some vegetables and meats are sealed in airtight bags and placed into a water bath where the food is cooked at specific low temperatures for 90 hours and longer to better retain moisture and flavour. Don’t worry! Service speed at Tomlin is normal. The foods cooked sous-vide are done so in advance.

If after a waiter’s rendition of the ingredients of the dishes tantalize you into confusion, a special aspect of the menu is the Charcuterie where you can try a cross sampling of featured items. Prices vary for individuals and groups, from ten dollars up to $45 and $85 dollars per person for the premiere sampling. The overall concept however, is one of sharing with a group.


In Thunder Bay, you won’t meet a more knowledgeable and dedicated staff, which is part of what is creating the buzz of the place; as good as any of the best restaurants you can think of in bigger cities. Anthony Bourdain, who seeks out the unique, would be happy here.

Bourdain would also be happy with another Tomlin draw, the unique focus on locally and Ontario brewed beers and Ontario red wines, which is impressive – far from limited. Drinks featured are Cocktails of about ten varieties, a section humourously called; “Bottles and Cans” is extensive.


Tomlin might appear from its exterior to be small, but in Thunder Bay this is a place of wonderful food, big ideas, and great success.

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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