Report by Vacay.ca Staff
New restaurants that are only about one year old highlight this section of the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada 2013 countdown. They hail from rural Newfoundland, the trendiest area of Montreal and a traditionally Polish neighbourhood of Toronto. Here are numbers 26-30.
26. BONAVISTA SOCIAL CLUB, Upper Amherst Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador
Chef: Katie Hayes
Website: bonavistasocialclub.com. Cuisine: Salads, Pizzas, Sandwiches
2012 Rank: New entry
Price Range: Less than $20 for menu items.
You Must Order: Any one of the pizzas, topped with ingredients cultivated in the Bonavista Social Club’s garden.
Need to Know … from Judge Stephen Lee: Chef Katie Hayes and her husband, Shane, owners of the Bonavista Social Club in Upper Amherst Cove, have done more than just open a simple restaurant and bakery in a small Newfoundland outport community — they have succeeded in bringing a world-class culinary experience to rural Newfoundland and Labrador.
Hayes has brought simplicity and a rustic finesse to food in a region where “farm to table” cooking has been practiced for centuries out of necessity, but has lacked creativity in finding ways to use the ingredients. The range of the bounty from her family farm in her idyllic home in Bonavista Bay ranges from Newfoundland staples like parsnips, garlic and onions to tomatoes, zucchini, asparagus and even extending into husbandry of lamb, goats and chickens.
Their hand-cut papperdelle with braised lamb ragu, moose burger with in-house Kaisers, roasted garlic aioli and house-made pickles, and hand-made pizzas topped with a variety of local produce and proteins, complement the range of sourdoughs and other artisanal breads made in their Le Panyol wood fire oven. The Bonavista Social Club demonstrates that when food is presented in its simplest form the ingredients shine, attracting the local population as well as drawing visitors to this unique corner of Newfoundland and Labrador.
27. LAWRENCE, Montreal, Quebec
Website: lawrencerestaurant.com. Cuisine: British.
Telephone: 514-503-1070. Twitter: @lawrencefood
2012 Rank: New entry
Price Range: Menu changes daily, with prices in the range of $12-$30.
You Must Order: Lobster Spaghetti ($30).
Need to Know … from Judge Dustin Gilman of Food Guy Montreal: A best restaurant doesn’t only have to serve dinner. Even though Lawrence does serve dinner, it’s their brunch that steals the show. With such classic British dishes as bubble and squeak, and kedgeree, it’s the incredible British-inspired ones that interest me. From devilled kidneys to sausage and egg rolls, and the famous warm scones with clotted cream and house-made jam, Lawrence is one of my favourite places to eat brunch.
28. Q HAUTE CUISINE, Calgary, Alberta (A Public Favourite!)
Chef: Michele Aurigemma
Website: www.qhautecuisine.com. Cuisine: Contemporary Italian and French
Telephone: 403-262-5554. Twitter: @QHauteCuisine
2012 Rank: New entry
Price Range: The seven-course tasting menu runs $128 and is one of five multiple courses available. The others are two courses ($57), three ($73), four ($89) and a 12-item feast ($210).
You Must Order: Vacay.ca public voters raved about the seven-course chef’s menu that showcases Aurigemma’s talents and runs the gamut of sweet and savoury fare.
Need to Know … from Vacay.ca Voters: Q Haute Cuisine is the highest entry in the Vacay.ca rankings to have its votes come entirely from the public. Here are some of the comments received about this Calgary favourite.
Mira Motet: I recently visited QHaute Cuisine in Calgary for lunch with a group of six colleagues. We were able to enjoy splendid haute cuisine in under an hour (during a busy workday) and the service was the best I have seen in Calgary so far. Absolutely impeccable flavours and perfect service. I have been to many other food establishments since moving here last year and QHaute certainly has my vote for the best one in town.
Jason McKay: I eat everywhere in the world and at some of the best places and Q Haute in Calgary comes very close to the amazing places in cities such as London and New York, to San Francisco, to over the ocean in Paris, London, and Australia. The innovation and style of cooking is, bar none, one of the best in Calgary; some may say crazy, I would say unbelievable. Complementing the food is the attention to detail and the level of service at Q.
Carol Petkau: I had the privilege of taking my sister and her husband to Q Haute for dinner. It was to be a special thank you for them. It was a dining experience we have never had the likes of. The evening was so relaxed and international in feel. I was proud to share the experience with them. The sampler meal was an education from the staff. The flavours were a delight and new to my palate. It was delicious and fun.
Micheline Logan: We’ve eaten at Q Haute a number of times over the years for special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries. Each time our experience can only be described as utter perfection. Their gracious service staff, chef creativity and expertise are the pinnacle of what a dining experience should and can be. We have lived nearly 30 years in Calgary, but have traveled widely, and dined at many outstanding restaurants. We’ve observed some of the changes Q Haute has undergone over the years. We’ve enjoyed solo guitarists on occasion which have added to an already lovely ambiance.
29. BROOKLYN WAREHOUSE, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Chef: Dave Smart
Website: brooklynwarehouse.ca. Cuisine: French, Contemporary
Telephone: 902-406-8050. Twitter: @BrooklynHalifax
2012 Rank: New entry
Price Range: Dinner entrees range from $23-$29.
You Must Order: The intriguing appetizer named “Momofuku,” after David Chang’s inventive Korean cuisine. Among the ingredients are bacon dashi, soft poached egg, scallop, soy pork belly, rice noodles and house-made kimchi ($12).
Need to Know: If you’re a meatasaurus, then you will love many of the restaurant’s menu choices. Try the Pan Seared Rib Eye, Roasted Bone Marrow with Shallots, Creamed Potato, Mushroom Ragout ($28) or the Deer Saddle Wellington ($29). Another great choice is the Pork, with Oatmeal Stout Brined Chop, Apple, Walnut & Brown Butter Risotto Seasonal Vegetables, and Vanilla-Port Reduction ($25).
30. HOPGOOD’S FOODLINER, Toronto, Ontario
Chef: Geoff Hopgood
Website: hopgoodsfoodliner.com. Cuisine: East Coast
Telephone: 416-533-2723. Twitter: @chefhopgood
2012 Rank: New entry
Price Range: $10-$28 for entrees, many of them superb.
You Must Order: Noma chef Rene Redzepi called Hopgood’s snow crab ($28) from Cape Breton “one of the best mouthfuls I have eaten in North America.” That should be all the direction you need.
Need to Know … from Top 50 Restaurants Chair Janine MacLean: The menu is small and to the point. It’s also very creative with dishes like house smoked mackerel served on homemade oatcakes (both Nova Scotian staples, but never, in my experience, served together, $10). Our starters include a mixture of simple Nova Scotia nostalgia and beautifully plated haute cuisine. The Halifax Donairs ($14) are the best I’ve tasted outside of Halifax — and are something I’ll be coming back for. Hopgood’s mother’s homemade crab dip recipe ($15) comes served with Triscuits. The dip is creamy, nicely herbed and irresistibly spreadable with lots of fresh crab meat folded in.
Read more about Hopgood’s Foodliner in Vacay.ca and click here to see the video interview with Redzepi
More About the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada 2013
Restaurants 6-10: See the video covering Toronto’s favourite and others
Restaurants 11-15: See the video covering 5 great chefs
Restaurants 16-20: See the video covering the 2013 People’s Choice winner
Restaurants 21-25: See the video featuring Araxi in Whistler, B.C.
Restaurants 26-30: See the video showing Brooklyn Warehouse in Halifax
Restaurants 31-35: See the video featuring Momofuku in Toronto
Restaurants 36-40: See the video and read about the top restaurant in New Brunswick
Restaurants 41-45: See the video for these restaurants
Restaurants 46-50: See the video covering the beginning of the countdown
2012 results, judging and more information: Visit the Top 50 Restaurants webpage for full details
Foodie of the Year Contest: Vacay.ca is giving away a luxury getaway that includes airfare, hotel accommodations and dinner to the Top 50 restaurant of the winners choice. See details here.