enRoute Food Issue

Photo: Left: Housemade tagliatelle with chanterelles, butter, garlic, parsley and Parmesan. Right Cibo Chef Neil Taylor. (PHOTOS BY RAINA+WILSON)


EnRoute Magazine has just published its annual Food Issue that includes its choice of the top ten new Canadian restaurants. But unless you find yourself traveling Air Canada this month it’s unlikely you’ll see a copy.


So let me summarize.


Each year for the past eight years enRoute has assembled a panel of what they call “Tastemakers” from across the country to advise on which new restaurants deserve their recognition. (Full disclosure I have been one of the BC panelists for a number of years). We pass our recommendations on to the writer (Chris Nuttal-Smith) who then hops a plane and eats at all the restaurants. After completing this whirlwind smorgasbord he picks his top ten winners and writes-up the story. It’s all highly entertaining and subjective. Still when you get to compare and contrast so many similar restaurants in a short period the cream does seem to rise. Top ten BC past winners have included Salt Tasting Room, Nu, Brasserie L’Ecole, Stage, Boneta, Arbutus Grill at Brentwood Bay, SoBo and Chambar among the many. Not too shabby a group?


This year Vancouver restaurant Cibo Trattoria snagged the top spot beating out other Vancouver newcomers such a Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Modern and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Market restaurant. (So much for celebrity chefs). I ate at Cibo back when they first opened and was impressed with the fine cooking of Neil Taylor. Taylor, who had cooked previously at the River Café in London, has a light, deft touch in the kitchen. His gnocchi was textbook pillow talk – all lightness, delicacy and gossamer – and I was hooked.


Across the country Nuttal picked T-dot’s The Black Hoof, a shrine to the new charcuterist for the number two pick and Calgary’s Rush in the bronze position – a no holds barred deluxe throwback to the oil rich days. Who says Canada doesn’t have Vegas style?


Others pegged for in-flight glory include Atelier and Murray Street in Ottawa, an Au Pied de Cochon offspring Cabane à Sucre featuring the illustrious Martin Picard’s re-imagined, full fat frontal take on the maple sugar shacks of rural Quebec. Montreal also pulled through with a winning bistro called La Salle à Manger. Lest gourmands poopoo the bistro as so yesterday, this one’s “market-driven” menu brings in “salty crunchy” sea asparagus with mimolette cheese to dispel their ennui.


But for me one of the highlights of this List is the inclusion of Ship to Shore, a refurbished roadhouse on the shores of Malpeque Bay in P.E.I. No $1M makeover here –  just piles of some of the freshest, non-manipulated seafood around. Thank-goodness.


Editor-In-Chief Ilana Weitzman says in her introduction: “He (Nuttal-Smith) ate a series of shockingly excellent meals in some very empty rooms.”


It’s a testament to the high quality of our restaurants and chefs that they are able to soldier on under economic adversity. “Nobody likes to eat alone” she concludes. Meaning we hope all these wonderful restaurants can survive and once again diners will get out and support them.




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