Things are always on the move at Station Four on the North Shore and it’s chef Shelley Simon’s love of change that keeps thing fresh and exciting.
Shelley entered the restaurant business in the mid 80s, where she studied and apprenticed at Leamington Dock, earning her Red Seal certification as a chef. She then moved on to Caesar’s Windsor where she stayed for the next 15 years, honing her craft.
In 2010 she decided a change was in order, and she took over the Silver Mountain Station, once a major stop along the Port Arthur, Duluth and Western Railway line, sight unseen. It took a lot of work to renovate and rejuvenate the 100-year-old building, but with hard work and tenacity, she created a lovely wayside station for adventurers to stop in and dine. She hosted events such as the Silver Mountain Mud Bangers, sleigh rides, and Murder Mystery parties. Sadly, with the arrival of COVID-19, indoor dining became unavailable and there was little interest in take out meals so far out in the wilderness. As a result of the drop in business, the restaurant has been put on hiatus until a new plan for the property can be formulated.
Shelley’s ever-expanding, go-with-the-flow vision brought her to Marathon in August 2016, where she opened Station Four on the North Shore. It’s open year ‘round, serving up delicious burgers, steaks, salads, pizzas and other delights. There are community favourites, which include the Puckaswka burger, served on a pretzel bun and topped with jalapenos, cheese, bacon, tomatoes, and their made-in-house Pukaskwa sauce. The six-ounce Station burger, served on a pretzel bun and topped with cheese, bacon and freshly made chipotle mayonnaise is also popular. ‘The Marathon’ features two, four-ounce burgers, loaded with mushrooms, onions, bacon, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. All these burgers come with a choice of fries, mashed potatoes, onion rings or soup. Add-ons, such as sweet potato fries, gravy or poutine can be added at an extra charge. Other menu items, such as the ‘Railcar’: a turkey, Applewood smoked bacon and cheese sandwich on freshly baked marble rye bread, a Chicken Parm sandwich, served on a ciabatta bun, fish and chips, salads, and of course, mouth watering steaks, are all prime choices.
Besides the regular fare, Shelley and her staff serve up some eclectic specials. Last week, exotic East Indian menu items such as Chicken Kothu, Beef Biriyani, Chana Masala and Ghee rice, were well received by the community. This week, Station Four’s specials include incredible dishes from the Lebanese culture. Baba ghanoush, Tabbouleh, Kibbeh dishes, Hummus, Falafels and other delightful meals from this Mediterranean cuisine are available for dine-in or take out. (COVID QR code protocols are in effect at this time.)
More specials are planned for the future, including Asian dishes, such as Pad Thai, Sushi and tropical Poké bowls, filled with sushi-grade tuna or salmon, watermelon, strawberries, avocado, pickled ginger, and macadamia nuts – a real summer treat.
All the items, including the amazing specials, are available for take out. Care is taken to treat the food with respect. “I want to be sure that the at-home dishes are of the same, high-quality standards that you’d get inside the restaurant,” says Chef Simon. “Our takeout containers are made from eco-friendly sugarcane containers which prevent food from getting soggy. Any plastic container we may have to use are BottleBox® products, made from recycled plastic bottles. We send it out in paper bags to keep everything crisp and fresh tasting.”
Freshness, home-made and high quality ingredients are very important to Shelley. Much of her food, including the pretzel buns, marble rye and other breads and pastries are available to the public at the adjoining bakery she operates. Stations of Superior Bakeshop features local products, such as Heartbeat hot sauces, Shumka Dust products, Big Lake pasta, North Country smoked meats, Bay meats and Thunder Oak cheese, just to name a few. Acorn and Oak coffee, both beans and brewed, are also available. In the coming months she hopes to transform the bakery into a popup grocery store selling fresh fruit, vegetables and other local produce.
One of Chef Simon’s favourite sayings is this: “The most damaging phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always done it this way’” (Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper). Certainly no one can accuse Shelley of keeping things stagnant. She’s always on the lookout for the next food adventure, and the community of Marathon is reaping the benefit of that sentiment.
Bil-hanā' wa ash-shifā'! (Lebanese: ‘May you have your meal with gladness and health.’)
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