Anyone who has ever met Brianna Humphrey from Radical Gardens knows how easy she makes it to feel automatically at ease. Maybe it’s her unbridled passion for eating what you grow, maybe it’s her use of the f-bomb in every other sentence and maybe it’s her ability to make a damn good sandwich. Whatever it is, we dig it.
Getting Creative and Staying Local
Here’s what happens when an art student starts a restaurant in Northern Ontario with the aim of serving up local goodness to her community.
Radical Gardens: It’s got something for everyone
Radical Gardens started about five years ago up in Timmins as an organic mushroom farm but quickly grew to be so much more.
Today, they’ve added a specialty cake shop, food truck and an organic orchard growing high bush cranberries and choke cherries to make liquor. On top of that they have a restaurant that, save for a few staples, has a menu that switches every. single. week.
On top of it all, they also won the 2019 Ontario Culinary Tourism Award for leadership. … oh AND they host a Naked Garden Day every May that started as a dare but has really picked up steam.
So you may be surprised that Brianna’s background is actually an art degree and she had absolutely no experience in a restaurant before she started one herself. Top that off with wanting to be Timmins’s only from-scratch restaurant in a part of the province where you only have a three-month growing season and well, you’ve got yourself a ripe old challenge. Luckily, Radical Gardens was built from ripe old challenges.
How Radical Gardens Supports Local
All that begs the question…HOW?! If somebody in the boreal landscape of Timmins can serve local food all year round, surely, we all can.
Well for starters, Brianna and her partner Steve McIntosh looked at what could grow in Timmins. Mushrooms were winners right out of the gate but the high-bush cranberry and choke cherries growing around their creek made them realize they could expand.
Then they looked to their local producers: meat? Done! The menu boasts beef, pork, chicken from local farmers and of course, cheese, and eggs.
Next, they looked at what was already growing. Spending much of their time foraging for ingredients, you’d be dazzled by what Brianna and Steve come up with for their menu on a regular basis.
“There’s so much beautiful food that you can forage and use to create a really interesting menu,” says Brianna. “For example, did you know a pickled spruce tip can be made to taste like an olive?” No, neither did we but you bet we’re going to try it.
Throw all that together and you come up with one really awesome menu that changes all the time.
Think big Cubanos with sous vide local pork shredded down into a giant and beautiful sandwich, inventive ramen varieties, ridiculously giant burgers (with a proprietary grind we might add) and Tom’s Fire Truck, a staple sammy that features jalapeno mayo and roasted local chicken.
Check Them Out
All right, we’ve gushed enough. What are you waiting for? Point those wheels north and check them out! Radical Gardens is open Tuesday to Friday, offers gluten-free and vegan options and frankly, what’s not to love?