LITTLE CURRENT—Manitoulin’s newest takeout stand, The Port in Little Current, is officially open for business and offering a refreshing take on traditional street eats, including lighter options that won’t compromise when it comes to satisfying Haweater hunger.
Proprietors Jared Nardi and Stephanie Flanagan decided to open The Port, combining their love of cooking and entrepreneurial spirit.
“We both love eating,” Mr. Nardi told The Expositor when asked about the idea to open Little Current’s newest eatery, “and I have experience cooking on food trucks and helping a friend in the culinary arts prep meals.”
“I’ve always liked cooking,” added Ms. Flanagan, “and in a way, I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant.”
The couple shared that opening a business together has been a long-time dream and they were inspired to open a takeout stand after a trip across Canada.
“When we were travelling last year we found this amazing food truck, Tacofino, in Tofino, BC,” shared Mr. Nardi. “They had these great tacos and it really planted the seed of opening our own.”
“When we saw the takeout stand was for sale (formerly Griffin’s) we kind of joked about how great it would be to buy it and open an eatery,” said Ms. Flanagan. “But then we stopped and said, ‘seriously, why don’t we?’”
A busy winter later, filled with cultivating and testing the perfect menu on friends and family, the pair officially opened The Port’s sliding window this past May long weekend.
“We wanted to offer traditional menu items like fish and chips, but put our own spin on it, while also offering something a little different,” said Ms. Flanagan. “Our focus for the menu was to offer a few things done really well, using fresh, local ingredients. I think people are really going to enjoy it.”
The Port’s fish and chips feature fresh cut fries topped with the eatery’s signature thyme sea salt (like most menu items, made fresh in house) that have an almost addictive quality and area whitefish (Purvis and other local suppliers) lightly battered and served with a dill tartar sauce.
“The fries are my favourite,” Ms. Flanagan said. “We grind fresh thyme and sea salt together and it really gives our crispy, fresh cut fries an amazing taste.”
If you love your fries smothered in cheese and gravy, The Port has you covered too!
“We have fresh, never frozen cheese curds and an amazing gravy (its beefy flavor is swoon worthy but surprisingly vegetarian).
Also on the menu are a selection of six inch soft shell tacos.
“We have four types,” explained Mr. Nardi. “Two meat and two vegetarian options. The meat tacos are fish or spicy and sweet ground beef, both topped with our avocado lime sauce. The vegetable tacos are crispy cauliflower or falafel, both topped with a handmade chipotle sauce.”
The falafels (deep fried chickpea patties) were perfected by Ms. Flanagan after experimenting with over seven recipes until she threw in the towel and created her own. They are available as a meal themselves and served with coleslaw and dipping sauce.
The pair are also offering deep fried favourites—mozza sticks, dill pickle spears and onion rings, as well as gourmet parmesan crusted three cheese grilled cheese.
Rounding out the menu are the Greenacolata (banana, mango, pineapple, spinach and coconut milk) and Peanut Butter and Jelly (peanut butter, banana, strawberry, raspberry and honey) smoothies and a salad of the day featuring the house honey dijon dressing.
For your sweet tooth, The Port doesn’t disappoint either. Their signature donut holes are made fresh every morning (first come, first serve) and topped with a Manitoulin maple glaze or icing sugar.
If all that doesn’t sound amazing enough, many of the menu items are available gluten free.
“We wanted to provide options for people who are gluten free,” said Ms. Flanagan. “All the tacos are available in corn tortillas and we also offer gluten free breading for the fish, as well as gluten free donuts. The menu features vegan and vegetarian options. As a vegan I know it can be challenging when eating out, so I wanted to make sure that we had options like our two veggie tacos, falafels and our smoothies.”
The food alone is enough to earn The Port a golden reputation, but the pair have also gone above and beyond to make sure their customers’ total experience is top notch.
“We’ve done a lot of eating out,” said Ms. Flanagan. “So we have seen what works and doesn’t as customers and we tried to address those in our own business.”
These customer focused elements include offering debit, cash or credit payment options, reasonable prices that include taxes, healthy portions, friendly staff and the ability for customers to call in orders (705-368-7188).
“We love interacting with people and are excited to be joining the phenomenal business community in Little Current,” concluded Mr. Nardi.
The Port is located at 60 Meredith Street West, just before the swing bridge, across from the Beer Store and is open daily, Monday to Sunday, 11 am to 9 pm. For more information, check out The Port on Facebook.