CALEDONIA – Deepak Antony says he could spend 24 hours, seven days a week cooking. It’s his passion.
Despite it being a warm spring day, Antony stands in front of a big gas stove in an even bigger industrial kitchen on Highway 8 in Caledonia. Antony and Prince Thambi are the new co-owners of the Salt Mango Tree, an Indo Canadian restaurant that opened May 26.
Antony and Thambi had been looking for a space that was already set up as a restaurant. That search eventually led them to Caledonia. Antony says he did some research about the community and he says he has quite a few friends in the area.
His friends told him there’s a lot of traffic and tourists who go through Caledonia in the summer.
Above the restaurant’s name on the outside of the building is the term fusion food.
“It’s a combination of two cuisines,” said Antony, who’s seated at a table in the small restaurant.
The Canadian part of the fusion at Salt Mango Tree includes pizza, burgers, and fish and chips. Then there’s the Indian food, which includes samosas, curry, basmati rice and naan.
Antony describes two fusion dishes – the butter chicken pizza and butter chicken poutine. Instead of there being tomato sauce on the pizza, there’s butter chicken sauce. Similarly, the poutine has butter chicken sauce on it instead of traditional gravy.
“I always wanted to open an Indian restaurant,” Antony said.
But he decided having only Indian food might not be a good idea. That’s how the idea for a combination of food styles evolved.
Antony says he would like people to come into the restaurant. After that, it’s up to him to invite people to try Indian food.
“Spicy food doesn’t always mean the hot spicy; it’s a blend of flavours,” he said.
The day before Salt Mango Tree’s doors opened, Antony and Thambi had a food tasting. About 25 people showed up to try Indian food, and Antony said the feedback was positive.
Antony is originally from Kerala, a state in South India on the Malabar Coast.
Antony ended up in Canada when he went to Toronto to pursue school studies. After finishing school, he got a job in Edmonton. From Alberta, Antony made his way to Nova Scotia. It was in Bridgewater where he and Thambi, who are from the same part of India, met.
Thambi and Antony have spent quite a few years working in the restaurant industry. When it comes to what Antony likes about cooking, he couldn’t pinpoint one thing. He says he likes everything about it.
But cooking isn’t the only thing Antony likes about food. He also likes to eat. He says one of the first things he did when he got to Toronto was try all types of cuisine. On the Indian side of his menu, Antony says his favourite dish is the beef curry.
All the food that comes out of Salt Mango Tree’s kitchen is made in-house, Antony said.
In a couple of weeks, Antony plans to expand the business by doing home deliveries. He also plans to start catering.
Antony says so far, the community’s response to the restaurant has been positive. It’s his hope the business will be open all year, but that will depend on how things go in the winter.
To learn what’s happening at Salt Mango Tree, visit https://www.facebook.com/Salt-Mango-Tree-262932650915329/.
New hours at Salt Mango Tree:
Sundays – 12-8 p.m.
Mondays – 12-8 p.m.
Tuesdays – closed
Wednesdays – closed
Thursdays – 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Fridays – 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturdays – 11 a.m.-9 p.m.