As a former vegetarian. I can say without a doubt that the hardest thing to give up was bacon. There is something about it… The aroma, the texture, and of course the people that are downright bacon obsessed and often bring it up in otherwise unrelated conversation (I’m talking about YOU Mark Tannahill) . You can buy bacon air fresheners, lip balm, and bacon wrapped everything. We are a bacon obsessed culture. ( And rightfully so, the stuff is awesome!)
Well, if you like bacon, I have amazing news for you, vegetarian or not . . . and that is Sweet Pea’s.
You might have noticed a change on Algoma lately. A house, painted green, and now home to Thunder Bay’s newest vegetarian restaurant. Marija Harp started Sweet Pea’s catering in 2007, after years in the food and hospitality business (including time spent as a bush cook). Since then she has earned a reputation for her delectable culinary creations; it was only a matter of time until a restaurant would follow. This all came to fruition at the beginning of this year when Sweet Pea’s opened its doors. Marija and business partner Jon Mintenko have a vision of what they want their business to be. They are uncompromising in ensuring everything is just right. From the food and décor, to the way that they compost and recycle.
The principles Sweet Pea’s follows in the running of their business and the food that they create are really spectacular. They use as much local food as they can from farms and businesses like Thunder Oak, Belluz, Brule Creek and more. Cultivating relationships with food producers in the area to really utilize the fantastic resources that Thunder Bay has to offer. Marija is very practical and erudite on her stance on buying local. It’s important, but there are just some things that our climate and area simply does not provide, that is simply where we live. There is a balance, and we have to accept that.
Jon is just as devoted to his work as Marija. Creating a dining environment with an ambience and vibe that perfectly complements the amazing creations that Mariah cooks up- Talk about synergy!
Sweet Pea’s is taking on their business in an eco friendly way. They compost, recycle, use bio-degradable containers, and serve only fair trade coffee. Not a bad business to support, eh?
So. Back to that bacon.
Sweet Pea’s has a super top secret veggie bacon recipe. I didn’t get the recipe, but I got the bacon, and that is all that really matters right? I had a Veggie BLT and it was, oh so good- The veggie bacon actually has a similar texture to real bacon. I was actually craving it the next day…Heck, I’m craving it now. On the side a spinach and green apple salad. I also got a bowl of soup. Potato Squash soup, or as I now call it, “Awesome soup.” With squash, potatoes, corn and dill, this soup is intensely fresh tasting and flavourful, with a beautiful golden color. One thing that really struck me was how the vegetables in the soup were prepared. A lot of times veggies just get boiled down to nothing, and they assume you won’t notice because it is just in soup. But you sure as heck notice when you get these bright fresh veggies still retaining their flavour and texture.
I am really looking forward to going back and trying the rest of what they have to offer. It is a great place to stop in for lunch, but I am really looking forward to going back for a night out. (hint, hint)
Sweet Pea’s is an exceptionally sweet addition to the Thunder Bay food scene, and reflections of people’s desire to eat local, fresh and fantastic.
Sweet Pea’s is located at 252 Algoma.
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