Amidst the challenges faced by the struggling hospitality industry, the significance of Air Canada enRoute’s annual compilation of Canada’s Best New Restaurants becomes even more pronounced. A recent report by Restaurants Canada indicates that over half of the country’s restaurants are either operating at a loss or merely breaking even.
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The featured restaurants on the list, which debuted between late spring 2022 and May 31, undertook a formidable task, particularly given the current circumstances. According to feedback from a single anonymous reviewer, these establishments successfully left an indelible mark.
Securing the coveted title of Canada’s Best New Restaurant is Toronto’s Michelin-starred Kappo Sato, led by chef-owner Takeshi Sato. The prestigious rankings also include Whistler’s Wild Blue steakhouse and Victoria’s Marilena Cafe and Raw Bar in the second and third positions, respectively.
Chef Takeshi Sato, with a culinary background starting at Tokyo’s Michelin-starred Ukai, arrived in Toronto in 2011 as the Japanese Consulate General chef. His journey continued with Zen Japanese Restaurant in Markham, and in 2022, he opened Kappo Sato. Apart from his culinary expertise, Sato is a tea ceremony master, flower arranger, certified sommelier, and sake master.
At Kappo Sato, patrons have the unique experience of sitting at a counter overlooking the open kitchen, where Chef Sato and his team craft a $360 kappo omakase tasting menu, featuring predominantly Japanese-imported ingredients.
The representation on the list is evenly distributed among British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, with each province boasting three restaurants. Notably, Winnipeg’s Petit Socco claims the fifth spot.
The top ten list strikingly balances major cities and smaller communities, featuring establishments like Rizzo’s House of Parm in Fort Erie, Ontario, hometown to Matty Matheson. Other notable inclusions are Espace Old Mill in Quebec’s Eastern Townships and Darlings in Ontario’s Prince Edward County.
Renowned food critic and author Amy Rosen meticulously visited over 30 restaurants to compile the top ten. With 22 years of history, Air Canada asserts that this ranking is the longest-running in the country.
Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2023:
- Kappo Sato — Toronto
- Wild Blue — Whistler, B.C.
- Marilena Café and Raw Bar — Victoria
- Rizzo’s House of Parm — Fort Erie, Ont.
- Petit Socco — Winnipeg
- Bonheur d’Occasion — Montreal
- Folke — Vancouver
- Le Molière par Mousso — Montreal
- Espace Old Mill — Stanbridge East, Que.
- Darlings — Bloomfield, Ont.
What is considered the iconic Canadian dish?
Poutine is often hailed as the iconic Canadian dish, featuring crispy fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in rich gravy. It’s a savory and indulgent treat enjoyed across the country.
Are there regional specialties in Canadian cuisine?
Absolutely! Each region in Canada has its own culinary specialties. For example, in Quebec, you’ll find dishes like tourtière, a savory meat pie, while in the Maritimes, fresh seafood like lobster and Digby scallops is a highlight.
What is the significance of maple syrup in Canadian cuisine?
Maple syrup holds a special place in Canadian cuisine. It’s not only a sweet topping for pancakes but also a key ingredient in various dishes. Butter tarts with maple syrup are a classic Canadian dessert.
Which cities are known for their diverse food scenes?
Cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal are renowned for their diverse and vibrant food scenes. These urban hubs boast a plethora of international cuisines, reflecting Canada’s multicultural identity.
Is there a traditional Indigenous cuisine in Canada?
Yes, Indigenous cuisine is gaining recognition in Canada. Traditional foods like bannock, smoked salmon, and game meats are being celebrated, with some restaurants incorporating Indigenous culinary traditions into their menus
What is a Nanaimo bar, and why is it famous?
A Nanaimo bar is a no-bake dessert named after the city of Nanaimo in British Columbia. It consists of three layers – a crumbly base, a custard-flavored middle layer, and a glossy chocolate topping. It’s a beloved treat and often seen as a symbol of Canadian baking.
Are there food festivals celebrating Canadian cuisine?
Yes, Canada hosts various food festivals throughout the year. The Poutine Festival in Quebec, the Calgary Stampede for western cuisine, and the PEI Shellfish Festival are just a few examples where you can experience the diverse flavors of Canadian food.
What is the role of seafood in Canadian cuisine?
Seafood plays a significant role, especially in coastal regions. Atlantic and Pacific salmon, Digby scallops, and Newfoundland cod are among the seafood treasures that contribute to Canada’s rich culinary tapestry.
Can you recommend some must-try Canadian dishes for a visitor?
Certainly! Apart from poutine and Nanaimo bars, try butter tarts, tourtière, Jigg’s dinner (a traditional Newfoundland meal), and, of course, indulge in the diverse international cuisines available in major cities across Canada.