North Bay’s newest restaurant, Bay Bistro has officially opened in the Nipissing University Student Union Student Centre on College Drive.
The restaurant piqued the curiosity of students early on.
“We had students in here before we were even open, coming to check the place out and seeing what was going on, wanting to see a copy of the menu, said Chef and General Manager Nicolas Gignac.
“Most of the staff are university students or recent graduates.”
Open for just a short time, the Bistro is already being well received by faculty, staff, and students with its diverse menu featuring vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options.
“We have built a menu revolving around approachable foods as well as affordability with the students in mind. But I’m also a stickler for trying to utilize local products, or at the very least showcasing items you can get,” explained Chef Gignac.
“My primary focus was to have sandwiches and sandwiches done well. And I knew that lunches were going to be the popular stop here and then focus on dinner after the fact. So there’s been a major focus on having a good hamburger as well as resurrecting the Belly Buster from the old Wall days.”
Definitely not a light-weight burger, the Bistro Belly Buster is comprised of 3 x 6-ounce patties, American cheddar, bacon, lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle, and Bistro mayonnaise.
If you prefer chicken to beef, Gignac says the fried chicken sandwich is one of the best-selling items on the menu.
“It is kind of a showpiece here. The chicken is incredibly moist and the bun is actually a vegan bun which surprises everyone. ”
Other crowd-pleasers include the roast chicken club, and meatball sub.
“The Cubano sandwich, a Cuban sandwich is made with caramelized onions, pork belly, shaved ham, mojo marinade, swiss cheese, pickles, and the Cubano secret sauce. So there is a lot going on, but it is delicious.“
The kitchen makes everything in-house whenever possible.
“All the sauces are done here. We’re roasting the pork belly ourselves, even the chicken we’re processing ourselves.”
In addition to the Bistro favourites, the menu includes appetizers, salads, soups, boards, and charcuterie.
Although located on campus, it may surprise some to learn that the restaurant is open to the general public.
“That’s something we’re discovering as we’re going along here, that a lot of people weren’t aware that we are open to the public,” said Gignac.
“There is a children’s menu. I’ve got two little ones of my own, so I try to make sure that grilled cheese and little bistro burgers, mac and cheese, and chicken tenders are all available for the kiddos.”
Specials include an all-day Bay Bistro breakfast, as well as fish and chips which is a Parmesan and herb-crusted pickerel dish served with seasoned fries, coleslaw, and tartar sauce.
The restaurant is also working on expanding its reach into the community.
“What we are trying to do is get on third-party delivery systems to expand our range, but that is still a work in progress.”
The restaurant has even managed to keep busy with catering.
“Which is great. We’ve had large takeout requests for different events. And booking space here.”
There is seating available for 80 but the room can be opened up to accommodate as many as 120.
“We have multiple weddings for next year already booked which is lovely. Lots of conference services here on campus as well, that is something they’re trying to drum up. There is a volleyball tournament that is coming up, some other random events we’re hoping to host as well, and even graduations. “
May is an important month for both the Bistro and the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
“We’re trying to be active in the community. I’m on the Brain Tumor Walk committee locally. So we’re doing a fundraising opportunity for the month of May, where we’re basically going to provide proceeds from the sale of our features going towards the Brain Tumor Foundation.”
The restaurant is currently open Monday to Friday year-round, from 11:30 am to 8:30 pm.
“I would like to introduce some themed dinners and tasting menus to continue to generate traction here. We’re not open Saturday and Sunday at the moment, but there are plans to eventually be open seven days a week. At the very least I would want to support the nightclub once it is open and have brunch on the weekends,” said Gignac.
“Our monthly features will rotate all the time so there will be a feature burger every month and a feature poutine every month, so we’re trying to have fun with that. This month again, the proceeds are going to the Brain Tumor Foundation. “
Reservations can be made through social media at linktr.ee/baybistro.
“Our reservation system is through email only.”
Originally from North Bay, Gignac is a graduate of the Canadore College Culinary Management Program.
He has gone on to compete in numerous culinary competitions and has catered for the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario during her visit to the north in 2018.