A month of intrepid eating from coast to coast and it’s official: 2011 was a banner year for openings. That there could have been 20 addresses on this list says something about the spirit of the times. High-craft, locally sourced, Canadian-inspired cookery was everywhere – challenging us to reconsider how we think about the nation’s cuisine.
We can finally retire some culinary claptrap, starting with the ubiquitous term “casual fine dining.” As much an oxymoron as “leisure suit,” and about as stylish, it does the country’s restaurant scene a disservice. We’ve learned in recent years that frugality and finesse do go hand in hand. If you’re willing to slum just a little, you can get the most fantastic cooking in low-rent locales where chefs are freer to express their artistry – and, really, have you ever laughed so much with servers? As for the bell tolling for high-end dining, 2011 saw a return to the resplendence of a bygone era. At these winning restaurants, refinement is in the house, along with a new confidence. It seems a golden age is upon us.