Canada’s award-winning inflight magazine, Air Canada enRoute, is pleased to announce the Top 10 list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2016 as well as the winner of the Air Canada enRoute People’s Choice Award on eatandvote.com. Award-winning food writer Andrew Braithwaite returned for a month-long eating marathon from coast to coast in search of the country’s latest and greatest. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Air Canada enRoute Canada’s Best New Restaurants, a program that seeks to promote the nation’s culinary excellence at home and abroad.
This year’s first-place honours went to Tannis Ling and Joël Watanabe of Kissa Tanto, who wowed with their atmospheric Japanese-Italian restaurant in Vancouver’s Chinatown. It’s the second appearance on the list for this team, whose French-Chinese brasserie Bao Bei placed second in 2010. The other winners span the country, from Bay Fortune, PEI, to Victoria, B.C.
“The top restaurants in our 2016 ranking are influenced by community, and they create an experience that diners can really become a part of,” said Jean-François Légaré, editor-in-chief, Air Canada enRoute. “In Montreal, restaurateur Jen Agg teamed up with musicians to build Agrikol, a Haitian restaurant with the vibe straight from Port-au-Prince. With FireWorks, celebrity chef turned innkeeper Michael Smith creates country feasts where you break bread with other guests. And Kraken Cru in Quebec City is an intimate 12-seat space that feels like a friend’s home.”
“Air Canada enRoute Canada’s Best New Restaurants program actively promotes a sense of culinary identity across the country,” noted Andrew Shibata, Managing Director, Brand, Air Canada. “With 2016 marking the program’s 15th anniversary, we are delighted to have shared the evolution of Canadian cuisine with our passengers, and to continue to do so with the winning restaurants for this year.”
Highlights from this year’s roster include chefs chopping their own wood and cooking over live fire at FireWorks, Foxy and Savio Volpe, the return of the tasting menu that sets diners up for a night of surprises at Alo and Le Fantôme, and terroir-driven cocktails that shake things up at Agrikol, Highwayman and Kissa Tanto.
The diverse group of restaurateurs featured in this year’s Top 10 shows a range in talents inside and out of the kitchen. Star Victoria baker Clif Leir takes his ethical, all-organic approach a step further with the French-by-Northwest cuisine of Agrius. The team behind Kraken Cru combine seafood expertise and a sense of a humour at their festive Quebec City raw bar. And designer Craig Stanghetta crafted unforgettable environments with his own retro-Italian dining room at Savio Volpe and 1960’s Tokyo jazz bar-inspired Kissa Tanto.
Here are some highlights from the Top 10 restaurants:
- Kissa Tanto (Vancouver, B.C.): “When the sun sets in Chinatown, Kissa Tanto’s glossy ceiling shimmers like a rain-slicked Vancouver street. Tannis Ling and chefs Joël Watanabe and Alain Chow prove that Italy and Japan are natural bedfellows, from tajarin egg pasta tossed with butter-and-Marsala roasted shiitake and porcini to a tofu-and-mascarpone tiramisu that could bring a ninja’s nonna to tears.”
- Alo (Toronto, ON): “Few restaurants pursue perfection the way Alo does. The service troupe operates like Broadway stagehands, deftly swapping out props before you’ve even anticipated the next act. Patrick Kriss’s dishes require your full attention, like meaty morels with fried shallots and crème fraîche from Normandy.”
- FireWorks (Bay Fortune, PEI): “At the Inn at Bay Fortune, celebrity chef Michael Smith’s “fire brigade” cooks over the brick-lined grill. Dessert is a magic trick: Chefs pluck the flower arrangements from terracotta centrepieces, revealing a celery-carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting and almond brownie dirt.”
- Agrius (Victoria, B.C.): “In this slick downtown dining room from self-taught baker Clif Leir, use selections from the bread basket to scoop up chef Sam Harris’s smoked sablefish brandade, the rich boudin sauce that accompanies the rosé duck breast or the sweet and sour Parry Bay lamb tartare.”
- Foxy (Montreal, QC): “There are no gas or electric burners at this glamourous nighttime spot; Chef Leigh Roper cooks with hardwood that’s been split and stacked in a Griffintown alley. Her flatbreads arrive blistered, her whole deboned sea bass crisped and smoky from a turn over the coals.”
- Agrikol (Montreal, QC): “Can you drink and eat so fantastically in Port-au-Prince at midnight on a Sunday? Montreal has Jen Agg and Roland Jean, of Toronto’s Black Hoof, and Régine Chassagne and Win Butler of Arcade Fire to thank for this. Tabletop ti’ ponch service will make you ravenous for accras and griot.”
- Kraken Cru (Quebec City, QC): “Twelve is a capacity crowd at this oyster and raw bar named after a mythical sea beast. It’s a seriously good restaurant run by profoundly unserious Québécois. Mackerel is sliced thin and topped with a four-punch combo of radishes, arugula, grainy mustard and freshly grated horseradish.”
- Le Fantôme (Montreal, QC): “A mound of melted candle wax grows craggier with each night’s moody ambience at Kabir Kapoor and chef Jason Morris’s Griffintown room. Lobster is grilled over charcoal, and the dense, charred nuggets of tail meat are paired with a rich sparkling crémant d’Alsace.”
- Highwayman (Halifax, NS): “On Barrington Street, this sophisticated and hospitable Galician-style restobar celebrates Nova Scotia’s own seaside ties with luscious slices of locally caught, salt-cured albacore loin and silver-skinned sardine filets acidulated with good sherry vinegar. The tequila and coffee Jesus Bravo cocktail is a master stroke.”
- Savio Volpe (Vancouver, B.C.): “A trio of restaurant vets – Craig Stanghetta, Paul Grunberg and Mark Perrier – combined their talents to update old-school Italian hospitality for a designer-eyewear crowd. Over cappuccinos and cannoli stuffed with orange-hazelnut cream, you’ll resolve to return to take down an entire bistecca fiorentina.”
Readers can see the full story and details of the winners on-board Air Canada flights in the November issue of Air Canada enRoute, the pull-out Dining Guide in the November issue, the Air Canada enRoute website enroute.aircanada.com, and the Air Canada enRoute Eats App.
Eat & Vote 2016
Eat & Vote (eatandvote.com) continued to drive Canadians to vote for their favourite new restaurants among 35 nominees. This year, the Air Canada enRoute People’s Choice Award Winner, officially presented by lead sponsor American Express, is Backhouse in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON. One lucky voter will receive a trip for two to the nominated restaurant of his or her choice, including hotel, flight and spending money.
Canada’s Best New Restaurants Video Series
For a behind-the-scenes look at this year’s top three restaurants, watch our video series on enroute.aircanada.com/2016top10. Tannis Ling and chef Joël Watanabe of Kissa Tanto discuss the secret hideaway they have created for diners in Vancouver; Chef Patrick Kriss and GM Amanda Bradley demonstrate their attention to every detail at tasting menu-driven Alo; and Michael Smith discusses the foraged Maritimes cuisine that diners will taste at FireWorks. Now also screening on the Food, Documentary and Travel TV channels on the Air Canada enRoute Inflight Entertainment system on most Air Canada flights.
The Top 10 restaurants will officially receive their awards during the annual Canada’s Best New Restaurants Gala celebration on November 10 at Toronto’s Design Exchange. For the fourth year, top chefs from across the country will gather in Toronto and put their skills on display for media, industry professionals and Air Canada guests, with select offerings from their menus.
About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, serving more than 200 airports on six continents. Canada’s flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world, and in 2015 served more than 41 million customers. Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 63 airports in Canada, 56 in the United States and 86 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network, serving 1,330 airports in 192 countries. Air Canada rewards its most loyal customers through its top-tier recognition program, Altitude, which offers frequent flyers a range of priority travel services, lounge access and upgrades to Business Class. This complements their membership in Aeroplan, Canada’s premier loyalty program, which provides numerous ways to earn and redeem Aeroplan Miles with over 150 travel and retail partners.
Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking from independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. According to the 2015 Canadian Business Travel Survey conducted by Ipsos, Air Canada was the preferred airline for more than 80 percent of frequent business travellers in Canada. In 2014, readers of Global Traveler magazine again voted Air Canada “Best Airline in North America,” readers of Business Traveler voted Air Canada “Best North American Airline for International Travel” and “Best North America Airline Inflight Experience,” and readers of Premier Traveler voted Air Canada “Best Flight Attendants in North America.” For more information on Air Canada, visit aircanada.com, follow @AirCanada on Twitter and join Air Canada on Facebook.
About Air Canada enRoute
Air Canada enRoute is Air Canada’s award-winning travel media brand. An inspirational authority for the global traveller, it reaches passengers at every step of their journey through its multimedia portfolio: print publications (including Air Canada enRoute, the iconic magazine with over 1 million readers each month, the Air Canada enRoute Inflight Entertainment Guide and a series of special-interest publications), digital channels (enroute.aircanada.com), a dining app (enRoute Eats) and many prestigious programs and events (Canada’s Best New Restaurants, the Air Canada enRoute Film Festival, the Air Canada enRoute Hotel Design Awards).
Air Canada enRoute is produced by Bookmark, the global content and communications company and one of the leading providers of content solutions in the form of content marketing, experiences and brand alliances.
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