MONTREAL – Judging from a new top 10 list of recently opened restaurants, travellers in Canada have an exciting array of eateries to tempt their palates.
After sampling some 200 dishes in places that ranged from a star chef’s handcrafted restaurant in rural Ontario to a next-generation Chinese restaurant in Vancouver, Air Canada’s enRoute magazine has come up with a new top 10 list of winning restaurants that opened between summer 2009 and summer 2010.
The mouthwatering winner is Haisai Restaurant and Bakery in Singhampton, Ont.
“Dinner here is a fairy tale, the kind with a very happy ending,” enRoute’s contributing food writer and sampler, Sarah Musgrave, says of Haisai.
The remaining nine restaurants that received honours in enRoute’s ninth annual survey, along with surveyor Musgrave’s comments, are:
2. Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, Vancouver. “… chef Joel Watanabe … home spins ingredients from close by with flavours from far away, irreverently and intelligently reminding us that comfort food doesn’t have to be white-bread.”
3. Cava Spiliadis, Montreal. “…Greece isn’t all shoreline. And if Cava is anomalous in being a Greek steakhouse, it’s also a showcase for the country’s mainland cuisine.”
4. Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, Toronto. “The earnest energy and post-pretentious attitude — down to the name — belies the finely tuned offerings: scratch food so close to the heart, they wouldn’t dream of writing ‘homemade’ on the chalkboard.”
5. Stone Soup Inn, Cowichan Valley, B.C. “The scent of ocean-dashed cedar emanates in little huffs and puffs from a bentwood box … the wooden container cooks the seafood in no time, caressing it with the essence of land and sea. Eaten plain, it’s elemental. With duck-egg mayo, it’s elevated.”
6. Charcut Roast House, Calgary. “In a city of steakhouses, Charcut is a meathouse. Their version of the Cowtown standby, the prime rib special, sees locally sourced, range-fed beef strung up, smoked, spit-roasted and dripping with jus.”
7. Quatrefoil, Dundas, Ont. “… that’s where Quatrefoil’s skill lies: in reconstituting French classics with just enough regional sensibility to repatriate rather than replay them.”
8. EdGe, Sooke, B.C. “EdGe’s rare combination of back-country cool and culinary chops suits Sookies and travelling foodies alike.”
9. Buca, Toronto. “The funghi pie is superlative … Cut the rectangular crust with scissors. Add something green — wild dandelion salad with figs — and something salty — delicate coppa or crispy-chewy fried pigs’ ears. When less is this good, who needs more?”
10. Le Quartier General, Montreal. “Yes, that’s right, the Stanstead rabbit loin is stuffed with rabbit confit and rabbit chorizo — three ways in one. Suckling pig encased in the faintest of phyllo comes on black quinoa, the goth version of the grain. Food here is, above all, pretty.”