Report by Vacay.ca Staff
The top 10 entries in the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada 2013 countdown begin with the No. 1 entry from Newfoundland & Labrador and ends with a surprise winner of the best restaurant in Toronto honours. Here are restaurants 6-10 in the country.
6. ACADIA, Toronto, Ontario
Chef: Patrick Kriss
Website: www.acadiarestaurant.com. Cuisine: Southern American
Telephone: 416 792-6002. Twitter: @AcadiaToronto
2012 Rank: 37
Price Range: $20-$24 for main courses.
You Must Order: Smoked Sturgeon – Bread and Butter Pickle, Mustard, Lettuce, Pumpernickel ($25)
Need to Know … from Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Chair Janine MacLean: Chef Patrick Kriss’ innate understanding of flavour, texture and which components work best on a plate is, in my opinion, unrivaled in Toronto. His cuisine has taken Acadia Restaurant from what was merely great place to eat, to a truly phenomenal dining experience. Acadia is a place where other cooks love to eat – food executed so well that it has every right to be pretentious, but, like the chef, it just isn’t.
Judge Renee Suen of Toronto Life: Chef Patrick Kriss seems to have deft the odds and taken an already celebrated restaurant to new levels of deliciousness. Kriss’ training and exposure to international influences play a subtle role in the mix of low country and Acadian flavours found on the menu. There’s a sense of maturity and command of each creative and meticulously balanced dish. The result is polished and confident; and an experience heightened by fantastic cocktails and warm hospitality.
Judge John Placko of Modern Culinary Academy says: A gem in Toronto. I was concerned when Matt Blondin left and Patrick Kriss took over, but the transition was seamless. If anything, I think Patrick has taken it up a notch with his stunning plating but more importantly the flavours of his food and complementary textures. Although they classify themselves as low-country cuisine, the modern techniques, superb flavours and tasteful plating, makes them a leader in Canadian cuisine.
7. MODEL MILK, Calgary, Alberta
Chef: Justin Leboe
Website: www.modelmilk.ca. Cuisine: Canadian
Telephone: 403 265-7343. Twitter: @ModelMilkBistro
2012 Rank: New entry
Price range: $19-$32 for main courses
You Must Order: Brome Lake Duck Confit Duck Leg, Cotechino, Smoked Meat, Truffle ($29).
Need to Know … from Prairies Regional Chair Jody Robbins of Vacay.ca: Where else can you find classic French oeufs en cocotte, low country shrimp and grits, and the city’s best burger (served medium rare, of course), – all on the same menu? In Cowtown, of course! Calgary’s stepped up to the culinary plate in a big way, and its transgression from serving up meat and potatoes to fusion at its finest, is no more noticeable than at this inventive restaurant.
Judge Diana Ng of up! Magazine: There are special occasion restaurants, and then there are outstanding, yet accessible restaurants—Model Milk is the latter. There, in the former dairy renewed with a laid back charm, executive chef Justin Leboe whimsically updates down-home classics like chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits with local and seasonal ingredients.
8. LES 400 COUPS, Montreal, Quebec
Chefs/Owners: Marc-Andre Jette and Patrice Demers
Website: www.les400coups.ca. Cuisine: Contemporary French
Telephone: 514-985-0400. Twitter: @Les400Coupsmtl
2012 Rank: 6
Price Range: $24-$30 for main courses.
You Must Order: Veal Sweetbreads: squash, hedgehog mushrooms, cipollini onions, rye ($30).
Need to Know … from Judge Renee Suen of Toronto Life: Dramatic, handsome and rich with charm, Les 400 Coups strikes a happy balance in between very good to excellent fare and service. Desserts by pastry chef Patrice Demers shines like a beacon against an already stunning and subtle menu by Marc-Andre Jetté.
Judge John Placko of Modern Culinary Academy says: This restaurant rocks. I absolutely love what they’re doing here in terms of creativity. The contrast of ingredients on the plate go from frozen to crunchy to soft and creamy, all in one dish. From starters to main dishes and then desserts, they’re all spectacular and a credit to the sweet and savoury chefs, Jette and Demers. They have all the kitchen gadgets but what’s important is the quality and flavours of their menu.
9. CANOE, Toronto, Ontario
Chef: Anthony Walsh
Website: www.oliverbonacini.com/Canoe.aspx. Cuisine: Canadian
Telephone: 416 364-0054. Twitter: @Oliver_Bonacini
2012 Rank: 8
Price Range: $40-$49 for main courses.
You Must Order: New Brunswick Sturgeon-Braised Spring Creek Beef Cheeks, Savoy Cabbage, truffled potatoes ($42).
Need to Know … from Judge Renee Suen of Toronto Life: While it still caters to the business crowd, Canoe’s stodgy predictable menu has undergone some exciting transformation under the hand of John Horne. The focus is 100% Canadiana, integrating the best of seasonal ingredients with exceptional foraged goods.
10. RAYMONDS, St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador
Chef: Jeremy Charles
Website: www.raymondsrestaurant.com. Cuisine: East Coast, Canadian
Telephone: 709-579-5800. Twitter: @Raymonds_CA
2012 Rank: New entry
Price Range: A seven-course tasting menu runs $125 ($75 with wine pairing) and a five-course menu is $100 ($55 with wine pairing). A la carte entrees range from $40-$45 on the current menu.
You Must Order: Rack of Lamb, roasted rack, local merguez sausage & braise, creamy polenta, roasted red peppers, eggplant purée, grilled zucchini, gremolata, and tomato sauce ($45).
Need to Know … from Vacay.ca Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi: If the spirit of Newfoundland is wild and unwieldy and rambunctious, Raymonds is its grown-up, sophisticated alter ego. George Street is 10 blocks away but its screech-in ceremonies, atmosphere ripe for one-night stands, and heel-pulverizing Irish-tinged rock music is another planet entirely from this immaculate restaurant that Charles and his business partner, Jeremy Bonia, opened three years ago.
Inside the circa 1916 building, light floods through a bank of windows in a way that will remind you of a Napa Valley spa restaurant, if not for the view. The Narrows and the harbour catch your gaze again and you wonder what kind of food Charles can manage to pair with this sight. Turns out, the cuisine is just as spectacular.
Note: Raymonds chef Jeremy Charles was a member of the Vacay.ca Voting Academy, whose rules stipulate that owners/employees can’t vote for restaurants they are affiliated with.
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.