The Year’s Bests

Design of the Year

Gold SponsorThe World Class Canada logo in black

In a new sustainably designed building, Marilena’s artful dining room takes inspiration from West Coast scenery.

When you really splash out, you get this: a restaurant that’s like a futuristic seafaring dreamscape, all neutrals and blues, and loads of unexpected details.

Jack Evrensel (see our #2 Canada’s Best New Restaurants) owned Toptable Group for 30 years before selling to the Aquilini Investment Group. Marilena is the name of the Aquilini family’s late matriarch, and they’ve done right by her here, in a LEED Platinum building across the street from City Hall.

Core workers pop in for drinks and oysters, as cruise patrons amble up for sushi and seafood towers from the Inner Harbour. They’re quickly met with a calming interior evocative of Vancouver Island’s landscapes, brought to us by Gustavson Wylie Architects and Fleur–de–lis Interior Design.

November 1, 2023
The banquettes and dining tables at Marilena Café & Raw Bar

Settling into a soft, tan banquette, we take in the nature–imbued artwork: Brooklyn–based contemporary artist Fernando Mastrangelo’s salt etchings in smoked mirrors representing the West Coast mountains; French artist Christophe Gaignon’s blue mirror over the sushi bar symbolizing the Pacific. Meanwhile, chef Kristian Eligh looks at home in the glowing open kitchen, where his culinary arts are on full display. “I love feeling the energy of the room and being able to entertain people at the chef’s counter right in front of me,” he says. Design–wise, he’s a big fan of the side–by–side cocktail bar and sushi bar (doing brisk aburi business.) He says being in such close proximity to both is like a delicious gauntlet for guests.

Marilena’s artful dining room

The Year’s Bests