Canada’s top 10 best new restaurants: enRoute

Chef Nick Nutting of Wolf in the Fog
Chef Nick Nutting of Wolf in the Fog

Air Canada’s popular inflight magazine, enRoute, unveiled on Thursday its 2014 list of Top 10 Best New Restaurants in Canada, as well as the winner of the Air Canada enRoute Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2014 People’s Choice Award. On a month-long culinary journey that took noted food writer Andrew Braithwaite from Tofino, British Columbia to St. John’s, Newfoundland, he discovered a group of chefs, sommeliers and restaurateurs who continued to push this country’s culinary excellence to a new height.

The Top 10 restaurants in order are:

1. Wolf in the Fog (Tofino): “On the extreme west coast of Vancouver Island, where rainforest meets ocean, you stumble up a flight of stairs and into a soaring cedar-clad room above a surf shop where chef Nick Nutting leads a crew trained in the precise details of fine dining.”

Nearby airports: YYJ, YVR

Tofino, British Columbia
150 4th St.

2. The Farmer’s Apprentice (Vancouver):  “Each small plate – more often, a bowl – conjured by owner David Gunawan is a precise jumble of textures and flavours. Digging in is a sort of black magic.”

Nearby airport: YVR

1535 W. 6th Ave.

3. Le Vin Papillon (Montreal): “Long-time Joe Beef guru Vanya Filipovic fills massive chalkboards with organic wines to run with a vegetable-focused cuisine from boyfriend and chef Marc-Olivier Frappier.”

Nearby airport: YUL

2519, rue Notre-Dame O.,

4. RGE RD (Edmonton): “The heart of Blair Lebsack’s kitchen is a wood-burning oven that consumes birch and maple at 700oF, curing honey ham and smoking Salt Spring Island mussels or even dehydrated local milk during the off-hours.”

Nearby airport: YEG

10643 123rd St. N.W.,

5. Mallard Cottage (St. John’s): “Todd Perrin spent two years restoring a heritage property in Quidi Vidi Harbour for this brilliant mash-up of fine dining and comfort cuisine on the outskirts of St. John’s.”

Nearby airport: YYT

St. John’s
8 Barrows Rd.,

6. Bar Buca (Toronto): “Rob Gentile’s restaurant likes to pretend it’s a simple bar for sipping Barolo. You’re here to drink, sure, but you’re also here to eat things like tiny fried smelt dusted with fennel salt.”

Nearby airports: YYZ, YTZ

75 Portland St.,

7. The Chase (Toronto): “Chef Michael Steh doesn’t lean on molecular trickery or audacious ingredients to wow. His food is more direct and more delightful than that, in an atmosphere that makes you want to say yes to things.”

Nearby airports: YYZ, YTZ

10 Temperance St., 647-348-7000

8. Ayden (Saskatoon): “Top Chef Canada winner Dale MacKay gambled that Saskatoon was ready for lime- and lemongrass- and ginger-dusted chicken wings. Ayden isn’t about showing off Prairie cooking to the world – it’s about bringing the world home.”

Nearby airport: YXE

265 3rd Ave. S., 306-954-2590,

9. Légende (Quebec City): “Northern Quebec is the culinary hunting ground that Frédéric Laplante mythologizes at his capital-city bistro. Cornish hen gets a boreal accent from balsam fir fleur de sel.”

Nearby airport: YQB

255, rue Saint-Paul

10. Edna (Halifax):”Jenna Mooers’ North End bistro digs up treasure from the fertile soils of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and hauls it out of the brisk Atlantic waters.”

Nearby airport: YHZ

2053 Gottingen St.,

Chef Nick Nutting, who leads the pack at Wolf in the Fog with his locally sourced and ingredient-driven menu, told on Thursday that the reality of his Tofino-based restaurant winning the top crown has not set in yet. With an über laid-back style, the Victoria native said he loves working in the small coastal town Tofino. He can’t imagine himself working as a top chef in major cities such as New York or Toronto.

We will just have to wait and see then.

The Top 10 restaurants will officially receive their awards during the annual Canada’s Best New Restaurants Gala celebration on November 20 in Toronto.