Where should I eat tonight? Again this year, we sent one writer on a marathon eating spree to review more than 30 new restaurants across Canada. Learn How We Do It and check out the 2015 Food Panel.

The Nominees

Adelaide Oyster House | St. John's | learn.goinfinitus.com/oyster-house

Chef Steve Vardy returns from a self-imposed kitchen exile – during which he became a hot yoga instructor – with this unapologetically fun oyster bar on Water Street. You’ll find Pickle Points from PEI and Black Pearls from B.C. on the bicoastal bivalve list, and they go down easy with a housemade sauce of mango and Scotch bonnet peppers (and a glass of Kung Fu Girl riesling from Washington). The soundtrack – Vampire Weekend, Talking Heads, Yeah Yeah Yeahs – is loud, and the cod tacos, scallop ceviche and elk sausage are designed for a crowd. 334 Water St., St. John’s | 709-722-7222  Read More Read Less

Annalena | Vancouver | annalena.ca

Chef Michael Robbins loves Lego – his creations, from a big red heart near the open kitchen to the M and W that label the washrooms, adorn this otherwise minimalist Kitsilano space. His cooking is equally playful and detail-oriented, like a dish of octopus, cooked seven hours sous-vide in garlic butter, with potato, gribiche, tiny dabs of lobster foam and dill. Sommelier and front-of-house manager Jeff Parr pulls wines from some of the province’s lesser-known growing areas, like Sea Star Vineyards on Pender Island. 1809 W. 1st Ave., Vancouver | 778-379-4052  Read More Read Less

Bar Raval | Toronto | thisisbarraval.com

Grant van Gameren’s follow-up to Bar Isabel (Canada’s Best New Restaurant 2013) takes the chef’s love of relaxed Spanish-style eating and drinking and installs it in a stunner of a carved-wood room where patrons stand around flat-topped wine barrels topped with Old World wine, cocktails, sherry, cider and short pours of cold beer. The menu offers such small but powerful bites as chorizo and lomo, house-cured seafood and Basque pintxos – little toothpick-speared stacks of tasty morsels, like blood sausage and fried quail’s egg, stacked atop a slice of baguette. 505 College St., Toronto  Read More Read Less

Bauhaus | Vancouver | bauhaus-restaurant.com

Chef Stefan Hartmann animates the modern cooking of his German homeland in this haute-luxe Gastown space. A plate of pan-seared Arctic char stuns with tiny coloured florets of cauliflower done three ways – roasted, smoked and pickled – while the traditional veal schnitzel lies crisped atop a raft of white asparagus and hollandaise. True to owner and film director Uwe Boll’s personal love of wine, the cellar is stocked with plenty of top-notch riesling and blauburgunder from Germany and Austria. 1 W. Cordova St., Vancouver | 604-947-1147  Read More Read Less

Boralia | Toronto | boraliato.com

Chefs and partners Evelyn Wu and Wayne Morris reinvent recipes from antique cookbooks to give their own forward-looking spin on four centuries of classic Canadian cuisine. Morris recasts a Samuel de Champlain-era dish like pigeon pie: squab, carrots and celery in a perfect butter-browned pastry shell, paired with roasted squab breast. The decor of the Ossington room has its own nods to CanCon, with a full-wall print of a verdant forest scene and a long copper light fixture that evokes the aurora borealis. 59 Ossington Ave., Toronto | 416-351-5900  Read More Read Less

Brux House | Hamilton | bruxhouse.com

Restaurant Brux House

The owners of fine-dining restaurant Quatrefoil (one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2010) teamed with Nickel Brook brewer Mark Horsley to craft a temple to all things beer. A warm staff delivers pours of complex sours, stouts and barrel-aged saisons from the New and Old Worlds, like Hef’s Big Wood from Oast House in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Grand Cru from Rodenbach in Belgium. Chef Fraser Macfarlane’s cuisine elevates European beer-belt dishes like schnitzel with fennel marmalade and waffles with weissbier sorbet. 137 Locke St. S., Hamilton, Ontario | 905-527-2789  Read More Read Less

Buca Yorkville | Toronto | buca.ca/yorkville

Restaurant Buca Yorkville

Chef Rob Gentile grows his Toronto empire of polished Italian restaurants to three, adding a seafood-focused palace of impeccable cooking to his Buca repertoire (Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2010 and 2014). The seafood charcuterie platter features delectable slices of scallop salami, smoked herring and octopus soppressata. Meaty sturgeon is baked in a polenta crust, while squid ink pasta gets studded with cuttlefish and olives. Wines stick Read Less to Italy, mixing Barolo with more offbeat finds like a biodynamic, non-vintage vermentino. 53 Scollard St., Toronto | 416-962-2822  Read More Read Less

Ciel! | Quebec City | cielbistrobar.com

How can you not love a circular rotating restaurant with views of the Plains of Abraham? New owners have remade the old Astrale space on the 28th floor of the old town’s Concorde Hotel. Once every hour and a half, you’ll pass by chef David Forbes in his open kitchen, doing far more than is typically required of a restaurant with a built-in draw, packing lightness and surprises into a broiled lobster dish with soft gnocchi, asparagus and radishes. Watch the sun set over the Old Port, and toast with a glass of Ventoux red wine: to revolutions new and old. 1225, Cours du Général de Montcalm, Québec | 418-640-5802  Read More Read Less

Dailo | Toronto | dailoto.com

The stencil-painted golden pagodas on the walls of this long room on College Street combine with jade-green leather banquettes to create an irreverent ambience of new-school chinoiserie. Chef Nick Liu’s cuisine melds Asian street food with classic French technique; try the fried watermelon with powdered pork and pickled bitter melon. Sommelier Anton Potvin, Liu’s old running mate at the Niagara Street Café, curates a wine list with food-friendly, off-the-radar pours like muscat of Alexandria from the Greek island of Limnos. 503 College St., Toronto | 647-341-8882  Read More Read Less

Dandylion | Toronto | restaurantdandylion.com

Restaurant Dandylion

Chef Jay Carter, a long-time deputy of Toronto superchef Susur Lee, strikes out on his own in this airy Queen West room adorned with mirrors and potted greenery. A concise and ever-changing menu – three starters, three mains, three desserts – demonstrates Carter’s skill in integrating vegetables with proteins, such as a country pork terrine hidden beneath a knot of succulent turnip and radish greens. Wines tend toward the natural and esoteric, the music mines 1980s new wave and the service, like chef Carter’s cooking, is heartfelt and intelligent. 1198 Queen St. W., Toronto | 647-464-9100  Read More Read Less

Drake Devonshire | Wellington | drakedevonshire.ca

The Prince Edward County outpost of Toronto’s art-focused Drake hotel group is anchored by a relaxed waterfront dining room. It pairs county comfort food with the most picturesque of canvases: the view of a roiling creek that feeds into Lake Ontario. Chef Matt DeMille marries three types of beets to Stilton from Sterling, bakes cumin-crusted lamb ribs overnight and slathers roasted cauliflower in a tart sauce gribiche. County wines from Norman Hardie and Hinterlands are joined by cocktails crafted by barmen from the Drake mothership. 24 Wharf St., Wellington, Ontario | 613-399-3338  Read More Read Less

Enoteca | Winnipeg | facebook.com/EnotecaWineRepository

Hats off to the design team that transformed this former Quiznos location in River Heights into a sleek, grown-up room. Well-dressed residents of nearby Tuxedo come here to experience the composed cuisine of chef Scott Bagshaw. A mince of sweet raw scallops sits atop thin-sliced ham and beneath an umbrella of layered pickled kohlrabi, dotted with black garlic purée so tiny it could be caviar. Wines like New Zealand pinot noir and Washington rosé are available in three-, six- and nine-ounce pours. 1670 Corydon Ave., Winnipeg | 204-487-1529  Read More Read Less

Grapes & Soda | Vancouver | grapesandsoda.ca

Next door to his auteur restaurant the Farmer’s Apprentice (one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2014), chef David Gunawan’s wine bar is the spot to explore natural wines – like a funky verdicchio from Italy’s Marche – alongside creative, market-fresh small plates. A syrah-driven Côtes du Rhone is the ultimate match for an exquisite beef tartare, roughly chopped and studded with dried blueberries, cubed peppers and radishes. The soundtrack is equally new-school and thoughtful: Beck, Vampire Weekend and Coconut Records. 1541 W. 6th Ave., Vancouver | 604-336-2456  Read More Read Less

Hanmoto | Toronto | twitter.com/hanmoto_

The traditional izakaya gets a Toronto-in-2015 makeover at this forgivably cramped, Blade Runner-inspired spot. Chef Leemo Han mounds sushi rice and raw salmon atop a wooden plank, lubricates the pile with a creamy avocado sauce and salmon roe and then torches it aburi-style; pinch up a mouthful with a bite-size strip of nori. Old-school hip hop is the soundtrack for knocking back one too many ice-cold pints of super-dry Asahi beer or Asian-inflected cocktails – the Arisaka Sour is green-tea-and-cucumber-infused gin with yuzu and soda. 2 Lakeview Ave., Toronto  Read More Read Less

Jatoba | Montreal | jatobamontreal.com

Chef Olivier Vigneault applies his talents to innovative Asian small plates in this lively downtown boîte on Phillips Square. A cast-iron skillet of seared king oyster mushrooms in a sauce of caramelized miso goes down easy with a carafe of sake, crisp and clean. As day turns to night, the brick-walled interior fills with a young, unbuttoned business clientele. In warm months, the covered back patio is the perfect spot from which to watch the open kitchen over a bowl of unagi-glazed fried eggplant dumplings.  Read More Read Less 1184, Place Phillips, Montréal | 514-871-1184

Lavanderia | Westmount | lavanderiaresto.com

The city’s most in-demand auteur of high-end sushi, Antonio Park, goes back to his South American roots at this airy Westmount room, anchored around a soaring indoor birch tree. Raised by Korean parents in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay – the name refers to the family business, acid-washing jeans – he digs into his memory bank to find precise preparations of sea bass ceviche, spinach empanadas and duck tamales. The parrillada completa is a showstopper: a massive charcoal-grilled rack of beef, sausages, game hen and broccoli. 374, av. Victoria, Montréal | 514-303-4123  Read More Read Less

Little Sister | Toronto | littlesistertoronto.com

Michael van den Winkel, the Dutch-born chef behind nearby Quince Bistro, explores the bold dishes of Indonesia that colonial history made so popular in the Netherlands. From an open kitchen designed to evoke a Balinese street stall comes lime-and-turmeric-spiked satay lilit chicken skewers, smoky nasi goreng (fried rice) and pork belly with tangy pickled bean sprouts. Cocktails stand up to the cuisine’s intense flavours, with such exotic contenders as rum, coconut, watermelon and rhubarb in the Kintamani Punch. 2031 Yonge St., Toronto | 416-488-2031  Read More Read Less

The Merchant Tavern | St. John's | themerchanttavern.ca

On the other end of Water Street from their flagship fine dining palace, Raymonds (Canada’s Best New Restaurant 2011), chef Jeremy Charles and sommelier Jeremy Bonia launched a boisterous and more approachable tavern-style menu that plays to Newfoundland’s culinary strengths. Whelk casino, with chunks of sea snail topped with garlic and bread crumbs and broiled in their shells, are a fun introduction to Charles’ strong suit: pan-roasted Newfoundland cod with baby turnips and apple cider reduction. Brooklyn’s Evil Twin Brewing highlights the beer list. 291 Water St., St. John’s | 709-722-5050  Read More Read Less

The Nash | Calgary | thenashyyc.com

In the restored National Hotel building, chef Michael Noble brings classic French technique to upscale prairie cooking. The pretty room, with moose antlers mounted above the fireplace, buzzes with the chatter of Inglewood diners spooning up a sweet-pea nage poured over octopus terrine and crisped chorizo. Classic by-the-glass pours – that California cab sauv pairs perfectly with the AAA rib-eye – are rounded out by cocktails like the Sundance Saloon: pisco, vermouth, white wine, lemon, prairie-flower cordial and cranberry bitters. 925 11th St. S.E., Calgary | 403-984-3365  Read More Read Less

North & Navy | Ottawa | northandnavy.com

Restaurant North and Navy

Restaurant North and Navy

The cuisine of Italy’s Veneto region comes through with easy sophistication under the direction of chef Adam Vettorel. Start with cicchetti – two-bite Venetian snacks, like seared sardine or housemade ricotta and strawberries on little rounds of toast – before moving on to tender octopus and potatoes with a glass of nebbiolo from the Langhe. The setting is a centennial home that was formerly occupied by Beckta restaurant; the new design is more of a throwback, with old church pews for seats and paintings of maritime landscapes in antique frames on the walls. 226 Nepean St., Ottawa | 613-232-6289  Read More Read Less

Pigeonhole | Calgary | pigeonholeyyc.ca

Next door to chef Justin Leboe’s Model Milk (one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2012), this spot is named for culinary mashups – European to Asian – that refuse to be pigeonholed. Small dishes on mismatched vintage china are set on green marble tabletops: charred cabbage with jalapeno salad cream and mimolette cheese, or Japanese charcoal-seared veal with sliced mushrooms and umeboshi sour plum purée. The drinks program focuses on wine, with one section named “oxidative and orange” that features fino, oloroso and amontillado sherries. 306 17th Ave. S.W., Calgary | 403-452-4694  Read More Read Less

Pilgrimme | Galiano Island | facebook.com/villagetacosgaliano

In a peaceful forest grove near Montague Harbour, about an hour by ferry from Victoria, Jesse McCleery mans the stove and Leanne Lalonde runs the restaurant’s front-of-house. Together they craft a leisurely meal punctuated by surprising dishes that burst with flavour and texture, like a thin-sliced macerated celery root with chewy sprouted grains and a finely chopped sauce gribiche. The cooking is inspired by the wild West Coast – try ling cod with a forest-green pine-tip emulsion – and the short list of wine and beer sticks exclusively to such B.C. producers as Moon Brewery and Sumac Ridge. 2806 Montague Rd., Galiano Island, B.C. | 250-539-5392  Read More Read Less

Pizzeria Gema | Montreal | pizzeriagema.com

Stefano Faita and chef Michele Forgione expand their Little Italy culinary empire – Impasto, Quincaillerie Dante – by taking over a third corner at the intersection of Dante and Saint-Dominique. Their Montreal-style pizza, with a crust somewhere between thin Neapolitan and heavier California, comes topped with Quebec buffalo mozzarella and such seasonal ingredients as escarole and leeks from the nearby Marché Jean-Talon. Dessert is luxurious frozen custard from Laiterie Chagnon, topped with butterscotch sauce and rainbow vermicelli. 6827, rue Saint-Dominique, Montréal | 514-419-4448  Read More Read Less

Port City Royal | Saint John | portcityroyal.com

Tucked away on a hilly side street in Uptown, this renovated space radiates history, with old plaster and wood slats left intentionally patchy and unfinished over the exposed brick walls. The cooking by chef Jakob Lutes is a fresh take on classic East Coast dishes, from sturgeon mousse topped with a jelly of turnip pickling liquid to pork cretons wrapped in ploye, a buckwheat pancake. Cocktails are well-crafted standards, and the extensive beer list sails through New Brunswick and beyond. 45 Grannan St., Saint John, N.B./ N.-B. | 506-631-3714  Read More Read Less

Le Renard et la Chouette | Quebec City | lerenardetlachouette.com

Restaurant Le Renard et la Chouette

Restaurant Le Renard et la Chouette

A few doors down from Louis Bouchard Trudeau and Thania Goyette’s first restaurant, Le Bouchon du Pied Bleu (one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2014), comes this lively sibling, a scrappy buvette that draws in Saint-Sauveur locals for tumblers of wine and platters of hearty eats. Step up to the counter and order a glass of biodynamic gamay from the Loire and a platter of Gaulois tartiflette, a cheesy mess of potatoes, to dig into with friends. Small plates lend themselves to sharing too: Try brandade de morue, hot smoked duck with radishes and turnip potage with Quebec morels. 125, rue Saint-Vallier O., Québec | 418-914-5845  Read More Read Less

Rostizado | Edmonton | rostizado.com

Restaurant Rostizado

Restaurant Rostizado

The trio behind local taco shop Tres Carnales – Dani Braun, Chris Sills and Edgar Gutierrez – give their Mexican game more gloss in a restored heritage space in the city’s Warehouse District. Beyond smoked salmon and honey-habanero roasted carrots, the menu’s focus is on the rotisserie: Four Whistle Farm chicken and pork is stacked on family-style platters with drippings-soaked potatoes, flour tortillas and such salsas as pumpkin-seed árbol chili. Bonus: tamarind margaritas. 102 - 10359 104th St., Edmonton | 780-761-0911  Read More Read Less

Sai Woo | Vancouver | saiwoo.ca

A restored Chinatown space, where round pendant lights hang like shirt buttons and leafless tree trunks rise from pots, is the slick set for a cuisine by chef Douglas Chang that fuses his Asian, Caribbean and Canadian heritage. A dish of sweetbreads with alder-smoked fingerling potatoes is the ideal match for a sculpted glass bottle of Lucky Buddha beer from China. The jerk chicken platter with “tubers and tings” lays bare chef Chang’s Jamaican influences, as does a molasses bread with marmalade for dessert. Update: Please note that since our writer's visit, the chef and menu have changed. Sai Woo's new chef is Keev Mah. 158 E. Pender St., Vancouver | 604-568-1117  Read More Read Less

Salmigondis | Montreal | salmigondis.ca

In a serene Little Italy room, New Brunswicker Brian Peters makes his mark with creative cooking that plucks and pulls from various culinary traditions. Dishes like Arctic char with jalapeno apple purée and seaside herbs or gnocchi with sauerkraut and hazelnuts reflect the colloquial definition of the word “salmigondis”: a disparate mix. A list of biodynamic wines is served by a staff with intimate oenological knowledge. 6896, rue Saint-Dominique, Montréal | 514-564-3842  Read More Read Less

Soif | Gatineau | soifbaravin.ca

One of the top sommeliers in the world, Véronique Rivest brings her passion for all things wine to this charmer of a cork-walled snack bar across the river (and the provincial border) from Ottawa. Chef Jamie Stunt, a Gold Medal Plates winner, executes small and pretty dishes, like fried smelts or a raw vegetable platter, that pair well with tasting-size pours from playful boutique wineries. The bilingual floor staff are trained sommeliers and thus well equipped to lead your journey through both powerhouse and underappreciated wine regions, from Burgundy to Macedonia. 88, rue Montcalm, Gatineau | 819-600-7643  Read More Read Less

La Table Des Gourmets | Val-David | tabledesgourmets.com

The Rouyé family, who hail from Brittany and were previously behind Montreal’s La Porte, decamped to the Laurentians for a little fresh air and a more laid-back setting to share their take on French nouvelle cuisine. In a converted house, Pascale Rouyé runs an elegant modern dining room and delivers the precise cooking of husband Thierry and son Maxime; think roast monkfish with celeriac purée and grapefruit or lobster with veal and zucchini tagliatelles. The all-French wine list is focused on the Loire Valley, with its natural proximity to Brittany. 2353, rue de l’Église, Val-David | 819-322-2353  Read More Read Less

Wild Mountain Food & Drink | Sooke | wildmountaindinners.com

In a light-filled house near the water, chef Oliver Kienast mines the land and sea of Vancouver Island for clams, spruce needles and halibut. The bones of that fish are used in an exquisite stock that forms the base for a dish of clams and housemade sausage, with grilled bread to sop up every drop. The wine list by Brooke Fader, a former Sooke Harbour House sommelier, is made up exclusively of wines from natural yeasts, with such producers as Synchromesh and Emandare leading the way. 1831 Maple Ave. S., Sooke, B.C. / C.-B. | 250-642-3596  Read More Read Less

Yasu | Toronto | yasu-sushibar.com

Eleven tall seats frame the white bar where Osaka-born chef Yasuhisa Ouchi and his knife-wielding lieutenants marshal a piece-by-piece parade of precise sushi. You’ll get the daily omakase (chef’s choice) menu, a sequence of 18-odd pieces of pristine fish flown in daily from around the world – sea bass from Greece, firefly squid from Japan, mackerel from Norway – mounded atop vinegar-seasoned rice. The sake pairings – glasses are cradled in a traditional wooden masu box – are a delightful trip through the various styles of Japanese rice wine. 81 Harbord St., Toronto | 416-477-2361  Read More Read Less

Our Food Panel

Each year, some of Canada’s leading food professionals from coast to coast recommend notable restaurant openings for our consideration. Their insider tips help us put together a list of about 30 nominated restaurants that our writer visits anonymously on a cross-country eating marathon.

Cornel Ceapa | Saint John | acadian-sturgeon.com

owner, sustainable aquaculture producer

Rémy Charest | Quebec | winecase.ca

journalist and blogger

CINDA CHAVICH | Victoria | tastereport.com

journalist and blogger

LESLEY CHESTERMAN | Montreal | montrealgazette.com


DAN CLAPSON | Calgary | eatnorth.ca | dansgoodside.com


JENNIFER COCKRALL-KING | Edmonton and Naramata, B.C. | foodgirl.ca

author and journalist

KENT VAN DYK | Ottawa | twitter.com/chefvan_dyk

journalist and chef


professor, George Brown School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts

JOHN GILCHRIST | Calgary | calgaryherald.com


IAN HARRISON | Montreal | montreal.eater.com

Eater editor

GARY HYNES | Victoria | eatmagazine.ca

editor and author

KATHY JOLLIMORE | Halifax | eathalifax.ca


PIERRE JURY | Ottawa | lapresse.ca/le-droit


KATHERINE-LUNE ROLLET | Montreal | katerinerollet.com

journalist and television host

CJ KATZ | Regina | leaderpost.com | cjkatz.com

journalist and cookbook author

BARTLEY KIVES | Winnipeg | bartleykives.com | winnipegfreepress.com

journalist and author

MARIE-CLAUDE LORTIE |Montreal | blogues.lapresse.ca/lortie

journalist and author

BARBARA-JO MCINTOSH | Vancouver | bookstocooks.com

cookbook store owner and cookbook author

ANDREW MORRISON | Vancouver | scoutmagazine.ca

journalist and blogger

AMY ROSEN | Toronto | amyrosen.com

journalist and cookbook author

SHELORA SHELDAN | Victoria | cookingwithabroad.com

writer and editor

BILL SPURR | Halifax | thechronicleherald.ca


MARGARET SWAINE | Toronto | nationalpost.ca | besthealthmag.ca


ANNA WALLNER AND KRISTINA MATISIC | Vancouver | annaandkristina.com

TV personalities

KARL WELLS | St. John’s | thetelegram.com | karlwells.com


enRoute notes with sadness the passing of Ottawa food journalist and longtime panelist, Ron Eade.

How We Do It

Where should I eat tonight? It’s a question we get asked a lot and one we’ve logged a lot of miles to answer since Canada’s Best New Restaurants was launched 14 years ago.

The planning starts in early spring, when the editorial team crunches the insider intel fed to us by our panel of expert regional scouts. We go over all the menus. We confirm opening times. We stalk Twitter accounts. We come up with a fake name for our writer (yes, there was something fishy about “Andrew Fisher” at table three) and make the reservations. We book the flights, and then we send one brave soul on an epic cross-Canada itinerary to sniff out chefs with a vision, quality ingredients, smart service and stunning locations. This means dinner for two every night – and, occasionally, twice in one night – at more than 30 hot spots, from Sooke, British Columbia, to Saint John, New Brunswick.

Restaurants that opened between late spring 2014 and June 2015 were eligible for this year’s survey. Air Canada enRoute visited them all anonymously and paid all the bills. Ultimately, it’s our writer’s most memorable meals from this journey that make the year’s Top 10 list.