TORONTO — A marquee list of Canada's best restaurants has returned after a pandemic-induced hiatus, ushering with it what some hope is a revival for fine dining in this country.
The list of Canada's 100 best restaurants has named Published on Main the No. 1 culinary place to be — the first time a Vancouver restaurant has earned top spot on the list — while Major Tom in Calgary was named the best new eatery.
The rankings were revealed at an event in Toronto on Monday night, less than three weeks after the Michelin Guide announced it was heading north of the 49th parallel for the first time with a guide to Toronto.
"We always look at the Michelin Guide, we always look at the San Pellegrino List," said Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson, executive chef at Published on Main.
"Having our own Top 100 list here in Canada, with restaurants that rival a lot of these international restaurants, people have to pay attention to that."
He said he hopes Canada's presence on those international lists will draw people's attention to the country-specific ones.
"I think we have some of the best products in the world available to us," Stieffenhofer-Brandson said.
Making the list — and especially nabbing the top position — serves as validation for his team's hard work over the past few years, he said.
Published opened in December 2019, just a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants — and just about everything else — to close their doors. Stieffenhofer-Brandson said staff worked hard to get their early momentum back when the restaurant reopened, albeit with restrictions, a few months later.
Published presents itself as a globally inspired restaurant with "Canadian roots." The Japanese milk buns are served with bee pollen, the morel mushrooms with nettle dumplings. Many of its ingredients are sourced locally.
"We wanted the experience to be as normal as possible for our guests, and we wanted to still be able to offer everything we had intended," he said. "So it's really nice to have this recognition now that we're fully open in our full capacity."
This is the seventh edition of the list, which is chosen by 100 industry insiders and published by food writer Jacob Richler.
He said the list is populated by more new restaurants this year, so he's also published a list of Canada's 20 Best New Restaurants.
"That's all very gratifying to see for an industry that we've been told repeatedly is very much on the ropes," Richler said.
Among those new eateries is Major Tom, a Calgary venture from Concorde Entertainment Group that opened last summer.
It was supposed to open its doors a year earlier, but the plans were put on hold due to COVID-19, said Garrett Martin, culinary director at Concorde.
That wasn't necessarily a bad thing, he added.
"I really feel like it came together a lot better than it would have as we had originally planned, because everyone was able to spend a little bit longer just making sure it all came together the way that we saw in our heads," Martin said.
The restaurant, located on the 40th floor of Stephen Avenue Place, puts a fine-dining twist on familiar classics. The decor leans mid-century luxe, and serves to highlight the views of downtown Calgary.
Martin said making the list may push more customers to Major Tom, but above all, he's grateful for the signal it sends to the restaurant's team.
"It's mostly just a massive pat on the back for the staff that have been working tirelessly since long before we opened," Martin said. "It's a really cool thing for us just to get recognized for something like this."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2022.
Top 10 on the list of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants:
1. Published On Main, Vancouver
2. Alo, Toronto
3. St. Lawrence, Vancouver
4. The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette, Jordan Station, Ont.
5. Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ont.
6. Vin Mon Lapin, Montreal
7. Edulis, Toronto
8. Canoe, Toronto
9. Boulevard, Vancouver
10. River Café, Calgary
Top 10 on the list of Canada's 20 Best New Restaurants
1. Major Tom, Calgary
2. Osteria Giulia, Toronto
3. D.O.P., Calgary
4. Taverne Bernhardts, Toronto
5. Pompette, Toronto
6. Mimi Chinese, Toronto
7. Eight, Calgary
8. Pichai, Montreal
9. The Pine, Collingwood, Ont.
10. Nupo, Calgary
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press