LITTLE CURRENT—Haweater Jason Elliott and his partner Jodie Shmanka have purchased Garry’s Family Restaurant in Little Current and reopened it as Elliott’s Restaurant, featuring a new menu that blends new additions and old favourites.
Mr. Elliott is a ninth generation Haweater who was working at the Musselwhite Mine in Northern Ontario when he met Ms. Shmanka of Thunder Bay, who was completing her chef apprenticeship.
“When I found out my cousin Garry (Elliott) was selling his restaurant the timing just worked and we decided to move to Manitoulin and purchase the restaurant,” said Mr. Elliott. “Jodie is an amazing cook and needed her own restaurant.”
After the purchase of the restaurant it took the pair two months to develop the new menu.
“Whatever she cooked at home, I was like ‘this needs to go on the menu’,” said Mr. Elliott. “It’s all so good, it was hard to narrow it down.”
Ms. Shmanka said the challenge in creating the new menu was trying to incorporate new items, while keeping customer favourites.
“We have kept the all-day breakfast,” reassured Ms. Shmanka. “We have also kept the whitefish dinner, steak diner and fish and chips, but we have modernized the menu—freshened it up. I would describe the menu as contemporary Canadian.”
Some of the new menu items include flatbreads (a thin, crispy-like pizza) that comes in classic pepperoni with mozzarella and a marinara sauce, caprese flatbread with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil pesto and balsamic, barbecue chicken and steak and blue cheese.
“The barbecue chicken flatbread is the best smelling thing in the kitchen,” boasted Ms. Shmanka. “It features grilled chicken, red onion, smoked mozzarella and a homemade barbecue sauce.”
The homemade sauce isn’t something unique to just the barbecue sauce, all sauces are made in house, from scratch, said Ms. Shmanka, from the tomato sauces to salad dressings.
A popular new item since the menu launch last weekend are the hamburgers—beef, chicken and turkey burgers are all made fresh (like everything on the menu) and are now 7oz of meat (up from 5oz).
The burgers also vary from classic beef with the works, to the turkey burger with apple butter, caramelized onions, smoked mozzarella and sriracha mayo.
In honour of Haweater Weekend coming up, Ms. Shmanka has developed a special hamburger for the special next week. The hawburger features hawberry jelly, peanut butter, bacon and jalapeños—inspired by Asian cuisine––which also pairs spicy peanut sauce with meat.
“It is the best thing ever,” praised Mr. Elliott. “At first I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but after trying it—it was great.”
Ms. Shmanka spent three months in Mexico in between culinary school, and her two favourite tacos, a fish and a shrimp, are already becoming customer favourites.
In addition to the menu, Ms. Shmanka will be creating weekly lunch and dinner specials such as this week’s which is a watermelon salad over mixed greens with shrimp for lunch and steak and corn quesadillas with salsa and sour cream for dinner. Elliott’s will also feature one item off the menu each week at a reduced rate as a way to encourage customers to try dishes. This week is the half rack of barbecue ribs with the Cajun chippers, thinly sliced Cajun potato chips served with chipotle cream.
The restaurant duo told The Expositor that new homemade desserts are in the works for the fall as is a take out menu (coming soon), expanded wine list and restaurant renovations next January, with the plan to modernize the décor.
“It is really important to me that every dish that is going out is consistent and something that myself, Jason and the entire staff can be proud of,” said Ms. Shmanka. “We have put a lot into everything and it is so great to see people embracing it. We have had a lot of positive feedback, but all feedback is welcome.”
Elliott’s Restaurant, located at 28 Vankoughnet Street in Little Current, is open seven days a week from 6 am to 9 pm, with possible extended hours coming in August.
Call 705-368-3370 for take out orders or more information. The full menu, weekly specials and photos are available on the Elliott’s Restaurant Facebook page.
Be sure to stop in, sample the new menu and ‘Take a bite of the Island.’