Making lists of the 50 best restaurants in Canada is a mug’s game; however much work and good sense goes into such things, they are seldom praised and always attacked—and gleefully.
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With a view to diffusing that latter pleasure, we will come right out and admit that when rated exclusively on traditional merits, scored only on what they put on the plate and how they serve it, the restaurants included here may not be our absolute 50 best. There are good reasons for this. For one thing, focusing on our most technically flawless rooms would produce a dull list of largely fine-dining restaurants, almost all of them well-established rather than new, and located in our three major centres.
Our idea of the best is more interesting than that, and was defined by certain realities.
When a traveller is stranded and hungry in Saskatoon, for example, the best restaurant in the world is not in Paris anymore, but across the street. Within reason, we tried to accommodate that need for geographic inclusiveness.
Canadians in the market for a good meal in one of our major cities have never enjoyed so many varied, quality options in so many categories. So we strove to recognize the best of those different sorts of restaurants at which any given city excels, rather than give multiple options for the same sort of thing.
We aimed for a balance of old and new, cheap and pricey, casual and posh.
The only thing they all have in common is the promise of an all-but-assured good dining experience—described herein as objectively as possible by one of our experienced critics.
The list was compiled and the package overseen by Maclean’s food columnist and critic-at-large Jacob Richler, who was thinner in the spring. He also selected our category winners, based on a calendar year that, due to our fall publishing date, starts and ends at Canada Day.
John Cullen followed, camera in hand, on a two-month photographic odyssey that we think yielded a singular visual feast.
The list of 50 is below, but it’s only the start of what our correspondents discovered as they crossed the country. Richler and Cullen share their finds in a special, perfect-bound issue of Maclean’s that is now available on newsstands across Canada for $12.95.
And the winners are …
Restaurant of the Year: Hawksworth (Vancouver)
Chef of the Year: Normand Laprise (Toqué, Montreal)
New Restaurant of the Year: The Grove (Toronto)
With that, here’s our list of Canada’s 50 Best Restaurants:
Blue Water Café
Charcut Roast House
The River Café
Ox & Angela
Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto
Play Food & Wine
Olive + Gourmando
Les 400 Coups
Le Club Chasse et Pêche
Dominion Square Tavern
Le Clocher Penché
Tide & Boar Gastropub (Moncton)
The Blue Door (Fredericton)
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Lot 30 (Charlottetown)
Fid Resto (Halifax)
The Bicycle Thief (Halifax)
Rum Runner Restaurant (Lunenberg)
Atlantica at the Beach House (Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s)
Raymonds (St. John’s)