Chances are, you'll be heading out to a restaurant this week.
Despite the cooling weather — including, yes, snowstorms in October — restaurants are Canadians' preferred places to socialize, according to a Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association study. But as winter sets in for real, we imagine it will become a little harder to drag yourself out of the house, so we're relieved EnRoute magazine has given Canadians 10 reasons why they must do so.
Well, Canadians who live in Calgary, Montreal and Toronto, anyway. For the 11th year running, Air Canada's in-flight magazine has put together a list of Canada's top 10 restaurants of the past year in their November issue, and this time, the picks come just from those three cities. While this will inevitably stir up the critics on both the east and west coasts (and runs counter to Maclean's recently published list, which featured eight spots from B.C. and nine from Atlantic Canada), the publication makes no bones about their choices, especially Toronto, which took six of the 10 list spaces.
"With a flurry of lease signings and exhaust-fan installations, the city’s dining scene is on fire,” food writer Sarah Musgrave, who composed the list, writes in the magazine's November issue.
Ranging from Italian to First Nations cuisine to meat by the plateful, the EnRoute list shows off the eclectic offerings put out by Canada's newest restauranteurs — and we can't help but start to salivate a little at the images. Certainly seems like a reason to dig ourselves out of the snowbanks this winter.
SEE: EnRoute's 2012 picks for the top 10 new restaurants in Canada:
Owners: Husband-and-wife team chef/co-owner Michael Caballo (who cooked at Niagara Street Cafe, the restaurant formerly in this space) and co-owner/manager Tobey Nemeth (formerly of Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar)
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: Halibut Roasted in Caul Fat, Baby Fennel, Parsleyed Fresh Beans, Sardine Breadcrumbs
#2: Model Milk
Restaurant: Model Milk
Owners: Co-owned by executive chef Justin Leboe, formerly of Rush and Thomas Keller's French Laundry
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: 30oz Spring Creek Ranch BBQ'd Brisket, with Corn Crepes, Shrimp and Sprout Salad, Cabbage, Grilled Scallions
Owners: Brothers Lucas (co-owner) and Jacob Sharkey Pearce (co-owner/chef)
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: House-cured water buffalo bresaola paired with burrata, with ox-eye daisy pickle and wild greens (as described in The National Post)
Owners: Scott and Lindsay Selland, with new chef Patrick Kriss (formerly of Splendido) at the helm as of May (former chef Matt Blondin left to go to Momofuku Daisho)
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: Prawn-stuffed chicken leg, with fried chicken liver, cippolini, maple syrup and hazelnut
Owners: Chefs and co-owners Martin Juneau (formerly of La Montée and Newton) and Jean-Philippe Breton
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: Boudin noir and foie gras poêlé crémeux carotte épicé (black sausage and pan-fried foie gras with creamy, spicy carrots)
#6: Hopgood's Foodliner
Restaurant: Hopgood's Foodliner
Owners: Geoff Hopgood, former chef at Hoof Café
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: "Cassoulet-like stew of creamy French flageolets thick with meaty sweetbreads and tiny sage-scented sausages, a perfectly flaky Parker roll on the side" (as described in NOW magazine)
#7: Grand Electric
Restaurant: Grand Electric
Owners: Chef Colin Tooke and manager Ian McGrenaghan, both formerly of The Black Hoof
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: The pork belly al pastor taco — or the beef cheek taco
#8: Keriwa Cafe
Restaurant: Keriwa Cafe
Owners: Owner/chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe (formerly of Splendido and Eigensinn Farm)
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: Pemmican, made with "strips of bison soaked in a rich, faintly fruity mahogany sauce ... accompanied by a dab of salad and ... bannock" (as described in The National Post). As of October 7, though, the whole menu will be revamped for tasting-menu only options.
Owners: Chef Giuseppe Di Gennaro (previously chef/owner of Capo)
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: Char-broiled beef sirloin “tagliata” with lemon-arugola & truffle “patatine” (potato fries)
#10: Nora Gray
Restaurant: Nora Gray
Owners: Manager/sommelier Ryan Gray, chef Emma Cardarelli (both previously of Liverpool House and Joe Beef), and designer Lisa McConnell
Menu item that may have gotten them on the list: The Gaspor pork chop. served on a bed of cauliflower couscous (as described in The Montreal Gazette)