Canadians' appetite for naming their favourite restaurant is proving to be insatiable.
With six weeks left in public voting for the 2013 Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada, two of the nation's most acclaimed establishments are in a tight battle for the People's Choice award -- which is determined by votes from Canadians. Two other highly regarded restaurants follow closely, while several more are only a viral campaign away from surging ahead.
Three different restaurants have held the lead in the past week, with Langdon Hall taking over first place on Tuesday afternoon, sliding past Atelier after a torrent of votes were cast in its favour.
Voter Barb Tarr called Langdon Hall the "most delicious restaurant I've dined at in ages. So innovative!" Toronto's Angus Anderson wrote, "What can I say? The best service and food in a WONDERFUL setting -- it never disappoints."
Last year, Ottawa's Atelier won the inaugural People's Choice award as Vacay.ca became the first publication to ever produce a list of the nation's top places to dine out. With a focus on microgastronomy, Atelier placed fifth overall in the 2012 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada ranking and would not have finished in the top 15 were it not for support from its passionate patrons. Langdon Hall, which is also home to one of the country's top-rated boutique hotels, finished second overall behind Vij's, with the majority of its points coming from judges' ballots.
To take part in the voting, email your restaurant choice to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public votes are added to the votes made by the 33-member Vacay.ca Voting Academy, which includes esteemed chefs and food industry professionals, as well as food and travel writers, and food aficionados. The judges, who include chefs Jeremy Charles of Raymonds in St. John's and Terry Pichor of Sonora Resort in British Columbia, are spread throughout the country and they each have 100 points to distribute between 5-10 restaurants. Judges can give a restaurant a maximum of 20 points, while the public votes are each worth one point. The votes from the public and the judges combine to create the 2013 Top 50 Restaurants in Canada. However, public support solely decides the People's Choice winner.
So far, the public has not showed any hesitation over voting for Langdon Hall despite the recent headlines concerning chef Jonathan Gushue, who had gone missing in early January. Instead, the support for the restaurant and its elite kitchen, headed by chef de cuisine Dave Sider in Gushue's absence, has been passionate. The establishment in Cambridge, Ontario, which has made it onto the World's 100 Best Restaurants List, holds a slim four-point advantage.
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After Langdon Hall and Atelier, Memories in Regina, Saskatchewan is ranked third while Fredericton, New Brunswick's The Blue Door -- which briefly took over No. 1 spot last Friday -- is in fourth place. Montreal favourite Joe Beef and Calgary's Muse Restaurant were tied for fifth as of Tuesday afternoon.
Some voters are also entering the Vacay.ca Foodie of the Year Contest by offering reviews of their favourite restaurants, as well as following Vacay.ca on Twitter and Facebook. In voting for Joe Beef, Jo-Ann Samo wrote, "I must admit the Joe Beef experience is unlike any other that you will encounter. It is a cavalcade of outstanding dishes, each a conquest of amazingly glorious, gluttonous and eccentric recipes. Servers were knowledgeable, friendly and welcoming. It's a celebration that needs to be on everyone's 2013 bucket list." (Read more of this Foodie of the Year Entrant.)
This year, the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada will be announced on April 25, with public voting wrapping up on April 15. Judges' votes are submitted on March 30.
"The voting has been mind-boggling," says Janine MacLean, Chair of the Vacay.ca Top Restaurants in Canada. "Canadians love dining out and, more than that, what our voters are showing is that patrons in this country have an appreciation for restaurants and chefs who celebrate regional cuisine. It's why people travel -- to experience local flavours that are hard to find anywhere else. We're very happy that our voters are connecting with the spirit of our list -- which is to showcase the truly best in Canadian fine dining."
Voting for Vacay.ca People's Choice Award for Canada's Favourite Restaurants
(Standings as of March 6, 2013; voting ends at midnight on April 15, 2013; email email@example.com to participate):
1. Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ontario
2. Atelier, Ottawa, Ontario
3. Memories, Regina, Saskatchewan
4. The Blue Door, Fredericton, New Brunswick
5. (tie) Joe Beef, Montreal, Quebec and Muse Restaurant, Calgary, Alberta
More than 100 restaurants have received votes already.
Click here to learn about the judges for the 2013 Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada.