By macleans.ca - Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 0 Comments
A selective and sometimes-surprising cross-country guide to where to eat out now
Making lists of the 50 best restaurants in Canada is a mug’s game; however much work and good sense goes into such things, they are seldom praised and always attacked—and gleefully.
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With a view to diffusing that latter pleasure, we will come right out and admit that when rated exclusively on traditional merits, scored only on what they put on the plate and how they serve it, the restaurants included here may not be our absolute 50 best. There are good reasons for this. For one thing, focusing on our most technically flawless rooms would produce a dull list of largely fine-dining restaurants, almost all of them well-established rather than new, and located in our three major centres.
Our idea of the best is more interesting than that, and was defined by certain realities.
When a traveller is stranded and hungry in Saskatoon, for example, the best restaurant in the world is not in Paris anymore, but across the street. Within reason, we tried to accommodate that need for geographic inclusiveness.
Canadians in the market for a good meal in one of our major cities have never enjoyed so many varied, quality options in so many categories. So we strove to recognize the best of those different sorts of restaurants at which any given city excels, rather than give multiple options for the same sort of thing.
We aimed for a balance of old and new, cheap and pricey, casual and posh.
The only thing they all have in common is the promise of an all-but-assured good dining experience—described herein as objectively as possible by one of our experienced critics.
The list was compiled and the package overseen by Maclean’s food columnist and critic-at-large Jacob Richler, who was thinner in the spring. He also selected our category winners, based on a calendar year that, due to our fall publishing date, starts and ends at Canada Day.
John Cullen followed, camera in hand, on a two-month photographic odyssey that we think yielded a singular visual feast.
The list of 50 is below, but it’s only the start of what our correspondents discovered as they crossed the country. Richler and Cullen share their finds in a special, perfect-bound issue of Maclean’s that is now available on newsstands across Canada for $12.95.
And the winners are …
With that, here’s our list of Canada’s 50 Best Restaurants:
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
By Peter C. Newman - Thursday, November 25, 2010 at 2:00 PM - 0 Comments
Peter C. Newman on a restaurateur to the rich who now wants to build schools in Africa
Toronto has more great restaurants than great chefs, but of the many places where the empire city’s first-rank power brokers hang out, none is more socially significant and brazenly chic than Canoe, which occupies most of the TD Bank Tower’s 54th floor. Toronto Life originally dismissed its look as “understated butch elegance,” but decor is not what keeps this particular canoe afloat.
Regulars occasionally glance across Lake Ontario to enjoy a horizon view of Niagara-on-the-Lake, but mainly they come to gaze at one another or, more specifically, at each other’s dining companions, to see what mergers or acquisitions might be coming down the pike. Peter Oliver, who along with his partner, über-chef Michael Bonacini, owns the venue, credits Canoe’s popularity to the creation of a club-like atmosphere. “The new-style executives,” Oliver contends, “want restaurants, like everything else in their world, to be direct extensions of themselves. That means slightly ‘hip’ and fashionable, yet unpretentious and understated.” (That lack of pretension has not been translated into Canoe’s à la carte offerings, which include a starter plate comprised of screech-marinated foie gras, B.C. honey mussels and chilled Yarmouth lobster.)
By Jacob Richler - Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
Vancouver’s Cactus Club Café puts a lot of pressure on more expensive establishments
What I am presently surveying—aside from the most fetching collective of waitresses you can find a Mari usque ad Mare, guaranteed—is a cluster of seven delicate hand-cut butternut squash-stuffed ravioli, pleasantly drenched in beurre blanc, sprinkled with a little truffle oil and garnished with pine nuts and crisp-fried sage. The setting is new, but I have seen, eaten and loved this dish before.
The first time was nearly a decade ago, when a scaled-down portion appeared briefly before me as part of a long, three-figure tasting menu at Rob Feenie’s exquisite Lumière, in Kitsilano, Vancouver. We next met next door a couple of years later at the Lumière Tasting Bar, and our last encounter was in the neighbouring bistro—Feenie’s. A casual place, that, but not quite so much as the venue today: the flagship Bentall Centre location of the Cactus Club Café, where since 2008 Iron Chef Feenie has been employed as executive-chef-with-an-incomprehensible-title (“Food Concept Architect”).