Category Archives: Dining Out

I Tried “Beyond Meat” Meals at 5 Popular Canadian Chains. Here’s How They Stacked Up

Walk into any restaurant, fast food joint, or even fine-dining establishment these days, and it’s pretty impressive how seriously chefs are taking the current plant-based eating revolution. Menus now feature locally sourced plates of vegetables and whole grains as mains, rather than afterthoughts on the plate. Dairy-free desserts with nut bases are weirdly a thing, while people are coming up with more ways to use cauliflower than I even knew possible. (Do we really need to add it to smoothies? Can’t we draw the line at buffalo wings and pizza crust?)

It seems like vegans everywhere are finally being given some actual options other than another boring bowl of quinoa, and as someone who has dabbled in the vegan lifestyle but never fully committed, I certainly appreciate the improvements.

This brings me to the latest craze taking over Canadian menus: Beyond Meat. The meat-free product has been touted as the first plant-based burger that looks and cooks like beef, without any GMOs, soy, or gluten. The patty itself is made of pea, mung bean and rice, but it gets its red, beef-like colour from beets. Meanwhile, you can thank the addition of coconut oil and cocoa butter for the white, fat-like marbling throughout.

The product first came to our attention when A&W started carrying it here in Canada, but since then, a variety of grocery stores and other food chains have started selling it across the country. Given how quickly Beyond Meat seems to be exploding here, I decided to venture out and try several iterations of the vegan product in the form of sausages (breakfast sandwiches), ground beef (burrito bowls) and beef patties (burgers). Here’s how they stacked up.

Breakfast Sandwiches: Tim Hortons and A&W

Breakfast is basically the best meal of the day, and I’m a weirdo who will take sausage links over bacon any day of the week. So yes, I’m pretty picky when it comes to any food that pretends to be sausage when it’s clearly not, but I tried to keep an open mind as I went into my self-imposed sausage sampling at these two popular fast-food joints.

Tim Hortons

The coffee shop has really expanded its breakfast slate lately, and that includes three ways to consume vegetarian meals: the Beyond Sausage Egg & Cheese, the Beyond Sausage Farmer’s Wrap, and the Beyond Sausage Lettuce Tomato (the only vegan option). I went for the Egg & Cheese, which clocks in at 430 calories and boasts 24 grams of protein.

Appearance: If someone had thoughtfully handed me a breakfast sandwich (with my signature giant coffee) and not alerted me to the fact that the sausage was Beyond Meat, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference just by looking at it. But once I opened up the sandwich and saw the actual patty, I found it slightly more processed looking and dryer than your traditional glistening sausage patty.

Taste: Tim Hortons knows how to kick things up a notch, that’s for sure. My coffee came in handy to wash down the patty’s spice, which might have blended into the overall sandwich better with a runnier egg or some ketchup. Instead, my mouth felt dry and like I had eaten a pre-heated or microwaved product. As for the “meat” itself? The consistency was slightly chewier and less greasy than real sausage, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the other fake meats I’ve chewed on over the years. This didn’t fall apart, it wasn’t pasty, and as far as healthy substitutes go, I only slightly missed the real thing.

A&W

This national joint was the first in Canada to offer Beyond Meat, which means it’s had lots of time to perfect its sandwiches. At breakfast you can order a Beyond Meat Sausage & Egger or a vegan version without egg that comes with lettuce and tomato. In both cases, it’s up to you whether you want it on an English muffin or a traditional bun. I decided to go with the regular old Sausage & Egger— which has 28 grams of protein and 540 calories — in order to keep my comparison as fair as possible.

Appearance: Even though I knew what I had ordered, I couldn’t get over how much the patty looked like actual sausage. It was darker in colour than the Tim Hortons’ version and looked freshly cooked, as did the egg that accompanied it.

Taste: This “sausage” was nowhere near as spicy, but it somehow offered that greasy mouth feel that you get when you eat a sausage patty. Of course that could be a result of the sausage being cooked on an actual grill alongside the egg (which was still slightly runny), and the fact that the English muffin had been buttered. Either way, I felt completely satisfied and like I was eating a real egg and sausage sandwich, one that kept me notably full for hours afterwards.

The Winner: A&W

 

Burrito Bowls: Mucho Burrito and Quesada

Mexican food makes me happy. I craved it every single day when I was pregnant with my first babe, and I was elbows-deep making up vegan Mexican freezer meals when I was pregnant with my second. (No joke, we’re still working our way through those casseroles.) I find it’s one of the most versatile things to make vegetarian or vegan thanks to all of the beans and rice, so I didn’t necessarily know that I needed a Beyond Meat option. Then again, some people really love ground beef in their tacos and burritos, so I figured what the heck.

Quesada

The chain has been offering Beyond Meat across Canada since late February, using the company’s Feisty Crumbles in its tacos, burritos, quesadillas and bowls for a feel-good meat alternative. The premise of the restaurant is really a build-it-yourself, so I went for a regular-sized Beyond Meat Burrito Bowl with cheese, refried beans, brown rice, and a variety of other toppings that clocked in at 345 calories and 28 grams of protein.

Appearance: The chunks of “beef” sat alongside the rest of the ingredients behind the sneeze guard, but they looked beef-like enough. In my bowl, they peered through the toppings like small chunks of actual chuck, which was good enough for me to almost forget that I wasn’t about to dive into the real thing.

Taste: Maybe the chunks had been sitting out too long, or perhaps they were simply undercooked, but I suspect they weren’t supposed to be rock hard. A few times, as I was wading my way through my dish, I’d bite down and practically chip a tooth on what felt like a cold, hard pebble, which isn’t how I’d order any beef — meat-free or otherwise. As for the rest of the crumbles? They were cold and chewy, and I would have absolutely enjoyed the bowl more without them.

Mucho Burrito

If you’ve ever eaten at this popular joint, you know the restaurant name is not an exaggeration — the portion sizes here are no joke. That extends to the newly launched Beyond Meat products, which stuff generous portions of crumbles into bowls, burritos, tacos and more. While you can pretty much customize any order with Beyond Meat, I decided to try their signature Beyond Meat Power Protein Bowl, which clocked in at over 1300 calories by the time they added the sauces, crispy jalapeños, quinoa, rice, and other adornments that came with it. Sadly, it’s basically impossible to calculate how much actual protein was in the bowl thanks to the website’s convoluted nutritional data.

Appearance: I have a hearty appetite and can eat 300-pound men under the table on my most ravenous of days, but even I knew looking at this bowl that I wouldn’t be able to dig through more than half of it. The thing was loaded with so many toppings and a good hit of green sauce that it was impossible to even see the Beyond Meat, but I also like sauce, so I’m not complaining. I did catch a glimpse of the product in question behind that trusty old sneeze guard, and it came out of its hiding space on that assembly line piping hot and looking like regular old ground chuck.

Taste: One of my favourite things about burrito bowls is that every bite can be different. This bowl was no exception thanks to the endless grains and veggies within. It was actually a little difficult to find the crumbles, but they were there in their chewy chunks of glory. While they were hot and filling, they didn’t add much flavour-wise either, and I would have mucho preferred if they just weren’t there at all. I suspect that Beyond Meat has some work to do with its crumbles in general, but for now there was more than enough protein in the other ingredients to keep me full and satisfied well into the dinner hours — despite only eating half my order.

The Winner: Mucho Burrito

 

Burgers: The Works and A&W

Ah, the veggie burger. It’s a sore spot with vegetarians and vegans alike, because these patties are practically impossible to perfectly execute. Some have too many fillers while others fall apart, some taste mushy while others are too chewy, and overall it’s hard to find a true vegan option that isn’t just some form of mashed up, processed bean. Or another portobello mushroom masquerading as meat (don’t even get me started).

The Works

If you’re looking for an elevated, gourmet burger that rivals Mark McEwan’s signature chuck, this place comes close with its crazy concoctions and imaginative titles like Gettin’ Piggy With It or Son of a Beech. So while I could have ordered a Beyond Meat Burger with basically any toppings, in my heart I knew I had to pick between the Beyond a Hipster’s Wildest Dreams and Beyond Sexy, since they were featured so prominently on the signature burger menu. In the end, I went with the sexier option — complete with pineapple, banana peppers and arugula. I paired mine with fries, which according to the nutritional menu, cost me anywhere from 310-1370 calories.

Appearance: The burger came slathered in toppings and glistening sauce, but that was 100 per cent on point for me. When you’re forking over nearly $20 for a burger, your mindset is basically go big or go home, right? Anyhow, upon further inspection, the patty itself was pretty impressive. It was a nice, dark hue, and there were even grill marks on it — the sign of any real barbecued piece of “meat.”

Taste: You know how a really good homemade burger is solid when you chomp down on it, but then it falls apart slightly in your mouth as the juices spread out? I was missing that experience in eating this patty, but that didn’t make the flavour any less enjoyable. In fact, despite the burger having a bit of a denser texture, it didn’t have that fake-meat aftertaste that so many other vegan burgers can’t escape. Add in that aforementioned plethora of toppings to bolster the overall flavour, and it was hard to remember I wasn’t eating the real thing.

A&W

Yes, I had already visited A&W for their Beyond Sausage sandwich, but I feel like when you’re known as the company that popularized Beyond Meat in the first place, you need to also evaluate the original burger that put this whole craze in motion. For that reason, I headed to another A&W location to sample the Beyond Burger for one final, 500-calorie (and 22 grams of protein) meal.

Appearance: There’s no doubt this is a hearty burger, from the sesame seed bun and the giant tomato to the abundance of lettuce, tomato, mayo and cheese (which I asked for when it was offered). As for the Beyond Meat patty itself? It wasn’t as brown or golden as I’d expected, but it was still appetizing enough.

Taste: I usually go for cheese on veggie burgers because I find them dry, but this burger did not need it. The patty itself was firm but juicy, without that chewy, fake-meat texture. A few bites in and I actually deconstructed the burger to see if I had been given a meat patty by mistake (nope). The abundance of sauce rendered the burger a bit messy by the time I got down to the last quarter, but even though I wasn’t that hungry, I still ended up eating every single bite. And needing extra napkins, but that’s beside the point.

The Winner: A&W

 

So, what’s my main takeaway with the Beyond Meat revolution? While the product itself has a ton of potential (I’m just waiting for street meat vendors to start offering the sausages, or pasta places to give those crumbles a whirl), how it’s cooked and what it’s paired with are pretty important factors. Still, it’s nice to finally have these (mostly delicious) options entering the Canadian market, and that goes for vegans, vegetarians, or the regular old meat-eaters out there who are just trying to incorporate more plant-based eating into their best lives.

First photo courtesy of Getty Images; remaining photos courtesy of Amber Dowling

mallard-cottage-fish-and-chips

10 Great Canadian Restaurants Where You Can Dine for a Good Cause

This fall, indulge in some exquisite Canadian eats while supporting a worthy cause! If you’ve been dying to try Antonio Park’s paella, Nicole Gomes’ fried chicken or Chuck Hughes’ lobster poutine, this is your excuse. Not only can you savour a delicious, memorable meal, you’ll feed your soul by helping those in need.

On October 17, 2018, more than 75 restaurants in 19 Canadian cities are taking part in Restaurants for Change. An initiative of Community Food Centres Canada, a national non-profit organization, this annual event benefits healthy food programs in low-income communities across the country.

Visit the Restaurant for Change website to find a restaurant near you, and make those reservations for October 17th. Bring your appetite to one of these 10 tantalizing dining establishments, or one of the 75+ eateries participating from coast-to-coast.

 

Lavanderia (Montreal, QC)

This Westmount eatery from Chopped Canada judge Antonio Park taps into the South American flavours of his childhood. Serving elevated Argentinean cuisine, diners can feast on ceviche, grilled meats and even paella.

 

Chew (Winnipeg, MB)

Located in River Heights, Chew offers an intimate dining space where you can savour rustic fare such as crispy duck breast, potato gnocchi and bison. Chef Tyrone Welchinski recently took the reins in the kitchen, creating sumptuous shareable plates that showcase local farmers and producers.

Cluck N Cleaver (Calgary, AB)

Top Chef Canada: All-Stars winner Nicole Gomes and her sister, Francine, are chicken connoisseurs. Whether you prefer your poultry southern fried or rotisserie grilled, this Calgary hotspot’s sandwiches, poutines and meals are sure to satisfy.

Richmond Station (Toronto, ON)

A vibrant downtown Toronto restaurant from Top Chef Canada’s Season 2 champ, Carl Heinrich, Richmond Station focuses on serving up the finest seasonal offerings. Whether you opt for shareable dishes like beef tartare and rabbit & pork pate en croute, or go straight for mains like roasted black cod or Berkshire Pork, it will be a memorable meal.

Mallard Cottage (St. John’s, NL)

Not only will you enjoy a scrumptious meal inspired by the flavours of Newfoundland and Ireland, you’ll be dining in a Canadian National Historic Site located in picturesque Quidi Vidi Village. Chef Todd Perrin, a Top Chef Canada: All-Stars alumnus, celebrates the province’s wild game, seafood and produce in beautifully crafted dishes that feature cod cheeks, lobster, foraged mushrooms and more.

 

Burdock & Co. (Vancouver, BC)

The Canadian Pacific Northwest’s bounty is the star at this Mount Pleasant eatery. Chef Andrea Carlson carefully selects her ingredients from locally-sourced growers, foragers and farmers and prepares them in a way that allows them to shine. Heritage wheat spaghetti with a hearty pork ragu, buttermilk fried chicken, and house-milled sourdough bread are some of the culinary delights that await diners.

Garde Manger (Montreal, QC)

Located in Old Montreal near the Old Port, Executive chef Chuck Hughes (of Chuck and Danny’s Road Trip ) serves up indulgent eats like lobster poutine, razor clams, porchetta and more. The menu changes daily, so there’s always something new and exciting to try.

The Canteen on Portland (Dartmouth, NS)

Just steps from the Alderney Ferry Terminal in downtown Dartmouth, this warm, welcoming restaurant boasts a menu with dishes influenced by traditional Nova Scotian cuisine with some classic French and Italian flourishes. Owner and chef Renée Lavallée will treat you to unpretentious fare like herb-crusted haddock, seared scallops and beef brisket prepared with her secret ingredient — love.

Ruby Watchco (Toronto, ON)

This Leslieville restaurant from Chefs Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk has been offering prix-fixe dinners made with seasonal Canadian ingredients since opening in 2010. With a menu that changes each day, you could be surprised with seared rainbow trout, grilled flank steak or BBQ chicken, along with inspired salads, artisanal cheeses and decadent desserts.

RGE RD (Edmonton, AB)

Canadian farm-to-table cuisine is an art at this Edmonton hotspot that places an emphasis on Western Canadian providers and flavours. Chef Blair Lebsack dishes up fresh local fare including Alberta beef, bison and pork with unique twists that will please adventurous diners.

Canadian Restaurant Locations from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Guy Fieri’s road tripping adventures on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives have taken him all across the United States and beyond. More recent seasons included stops in Cuba, Spain and Mexico, but before he ventured to those countries, he headed north of the border to Canada.

Guy has sampled some of the most eclectic cuisine that reflects our country’s diversity, from Chinese hand-pulled noodles to Jewish deli-smoked meats. Here are the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Canadian locations that you can visit in Toronto and Vancouver.

Jethro’s Fine Grub (Vancouver, BC)

In Season 12, Guy was treated to homemade pulled pork with slaw at Jethro’s Fine Grub. When you’re in Vancouver,  stop by for breakfast and try the Gold Rush; pancakes stuffed with bananas, pecans and streusel.

The Rosedale Diner (Toronto, ON)

Season 17 brought Guy to Toronto with a visit to the Rosedale Diner for Asian pork ribs. Brunch is a popular time to visit this diner for a classic Eggs Benny or scrumptious chicken and waffles.

No waffling about today’s brunch choice.

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The Tomahawk (Vancouver, BC)

Season 13 included a visit to Vancouver’s Tomahawk for some roast beef, a French dip, and a steak and mushroom pie. This legendary diner is also known for its Skookum Chief Burger, made with an organic beef patty, Yukon-style bacon, a free-run egg, aged Cheddar and a sliced hot dog.

Have you ever tried our Skookum Burger? #Tomahawk BBQ #Burgers #North Vancouver

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The Stockyards (Toronto, ON)

The Stockyards was one of Guy’s Toronto stops in Season 17. They were excited to show off their burgers, fried chicken and mouth-watering BLT, but their BBQ smoked ribs are one of the main reasons that locals flock to this smokehouse and larder.

Falconetti’s (Vancouver, BC)

While in Vancouver during Season 13, Guy sampled the handmade Thai chicken sausage at Falconetti’s. This east side bar and grill is known for its delicious eats and live music to entertain you throughout the week.

The Ace (Toronto, ON)

A Season 16 episode, ‘Layers of Flavor’ included a visit to The Ace in Toronto. Guy tried their pork belly, the mac and cheese burger, and a Christmas burger, but their Clubhouse is where it’s at when lunchtime rolls around.

Meat and Bread (Vancouver, BC)

In Season 13’s “Old Faves, New Craves,” Guy paid a call to Vancouver’s Meat and Bread. The porchetta sandwich was on the menu, followed up by a decadent maple bacon ice cream sandwich.

The Lakeview (Toronto, ON)

During Guy’s Season 16 trip to Toronto, stuffed French toast, a cornflake chicken club and a pie milkshake were ready to be devoured at The Lakeview. This restored diner serves up diner classics, including a banana split perfect for sharing.

Peaceful Restaurant (Vancouver, BC)

Family kitchens were the focus of the Season 13 episode that brought Guy to Peaceful Restaurant in Vancouver. Some of their recipes have been passed down from generations, including their fresh hand-pulled noodles and beef rolls.

#dandannoodles #foodie #fodgasam #chinesefood #spicy #delicious???? #sichuan #nomnom

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The Red Wagon Cafe (Vancouver, BC)

Guy dug into some pulled pork pancakes with a side of Jack Daniels syrup at Vancouver’s Red Wagon Cafe in Season 13. The savoury shredded pork is featured in other dishes on the menu, including their ooey, gooey mac and cheese.

Caplansky’s (Toronto, ON)

Authentic Jewish deli fare was the star of Season 16’s ‘Real Deal Roots’ that brought Guy to Caplansky’s Deli. Their College Street location has closed, but you can still sample smoked meat sandwiches, knish and brisket at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

The Reubenesque @ #caplanskys #reuben #deli #meaty ????: @hmdfood666

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Save-On-Meats (Vancouver, ON)

Vancouver’s butcher shop, turned bakery and diner, Save-On-Meats, welcomed Guy in Season 13. Their menu includes classics like turkey pot pie and decadent burgers, but selections like this Ranchero Shrimp Benny really shine.

Ranchero shrimp benny for the win!

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sea-urchin-per-seny

Top 10 Michelin-Star Restaurants in the World

Holding three Michelin stars is a rare honour few restaurants have achieved, and these Michelin-starred restaurants rank among the world’s finest culinary destinations thanks to innovation, creativity and some of the best food you’ll ever taste. According to Elite Traveler magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 best restaurants, these are 2018’s top 10 Michelin star restaurants.

Globo de helio comestible #postre #edibleballoon #floatingdesert #chefgrantachatz

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1. Alinea: Chicago, Illinois

Founded by chef Grant Achatz in 2005, Alinea quickly rocketed to the top of Chicago’s food scene due to Achatz’s unique food preparation and deconstruction of iconic dishes, renowned for his brave and unconventional approach to fine dining. Alinea remains on the cutting edge of the molecular gastronomy movement, with the intention of both shocking and delighting guests with dishes such as an edible balloon made from a dehydrated apple filled with helium, or a truffle-topped ravioli filled with truffle broth that explodes with flavour in one’s mouth.

2. Azurmendi: Larrabetzu, Spain

Located in Larrabetzu, Spain, Azurmendi follows the vision of Basque chef Eneko Atxa follows the offers diners a unique experience that begins at the restaurant’s rooftop vegetable garden, where they get a gander at some of the fresh produce they’ll be enjoying for their meal. Diners are then brought through the kitchen to an indoor greenhouse, where some “snacks” such as the restaurant’s popular “edible cotton” are served. In the dining room, guests enjoy such exquisite dishes as truffled egg, which is cooked “inside out” with part of the yolk removed and substituted with truffle consommé. In addition to having attained three Michelin stars, Azurmendi is also environmentally friendly, recycling its waste, harvesting rain and using geothermal energy to cool the building.

3. Eleven Madison Park: New York City

The menu of this world-class Manhattan restaurant is distinctly American, as seen through the creative filter of chef Daniel Humm. The restaurant is renowned for its multi-course tasting menu, which changes based on the availability of fresh, seasonal local ingredients and guided by the culinary traditions of New York City and the agricultural offerings of the region. Dining at Eleven Madison Park is an event, and enjoying the full 11-course tasting menu will take upwards of three hours as diners sample such exquisite dishes as Muscovy duck glazed with lavender honey and foie gras terrine served with plums, umeboshi and bitter almonds.

4. Per Se: New York City

Located on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Building in Midtown Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, Per Se features the cuisine of Chef Thomas Keller (the only American chef to be awarded three simultaneous Michelin stars, via his other restaurants, The French Laundry and Bouchon). With special tasting menus available daily — no single ingredient is repeated during the meal — the Michelin Guide describes Per Se’s cuisine as being “at one timeless and of the moment, raising the bar with meals that express artistry, seasonality and sourcing that can seem hyperbolic — they know which Vermont cow gave the milk for your butter.”

Min mun är belägrad ????#osteriafrancescana

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5. Osteria Francescana: Modena, Italy

The restaurant of chef Massimo Bottura (who topped the bestseller lists with his book Never Trust a Skinny Chef) in Modena, Italy celebrates the bounty of Emilia-Romagna, his home province in the northern part of the country. Yet Bottura’s take on Italian cuisine is hardly traditional, exploring the ingredients and traditions of the region by giving them a contemporary twist. Along with such classic Italian fare as tagliatelle and risotto cooked with veal jus, Bottura also presents such off-the-wall dishes as rabbit macaroons and his Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano, in which iconic cheese is served in five wildly differing textures, depending on their age, ranging from a crispy galette to a frothy Parmesan foam.

6. Robuchon au Dôme: Macau

One of many restaurants from celebrated chef Joel Robuchon, this gastronomic restaurant in Macao (formerly known as Robuchon a Galera) sits high atop the 48-storey Grand Lisboa hotel. Featuring the culinary creations of executive chef Julien Tongurian, Robuchon au Dôme has been described as arguably Macao’s best restaurant, and one of the top restaurants in all of Asia, offering French cuisine with a refined sensibility. The restaurant’s “Prestige Menu” features such offerings as imperial caviar and king crab refreshed with crustacean jelly, and a crispy waffle scampi seasoned with espelette pepper.

Potato beeswax 3.0

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7. The Restaurant at Meadowood: Napa Valley, California

A farm-to-table ethos permeates the dishes of this Napa Valley staple, with the Michelin guide gushing over the cuisine of Chef Christopher Kostow, describing food “that is elevated to an art form” and food that “never ceases to better itself through innovation and purity.” There’s a meticulous attention to detail is evident in everything served, and a seasonal approach to ingredients that means the menu changes constantly to make the most of fresh, local ingredients. “We are relentless in trying to make the food better, more delicious, more relevant, more singular, more personal,” the restaurant declares on its website. “We are smart enough to know that this is a forever task, yet impetuous enough to try to still do it all today.”

8. Le Bernardin: New York City

Regarded as one of New York City’s finest restaurants, Le Bernardin was founded in Paris in 1972 by siblings Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze, and initially only served fish. The restaurant later moved to New York, where it quickly became the toast of the NYC culinary scene. When Gilbert Le Coze passed away in 1994, the late chef’s disciple and friend Chef Eric Ripert took over, and continues to be guided by the philosophy that “the fish is the star of the plate.”

9. Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville: Crissier, Switzerland

Located in Crissier, Switzerland (a suburb of Lausanne), the Michelin Guide offers high praise for Chef Franck Giovannini, who “creates majestic dishes with a careful eye on maintaining traditions, which are then presented with impeccable service.” The food is exquisite, with a focus on balanced flavours and simplicity while utilizing lavish ingredients and flawless preparation. The menu changes constantly, with recent offerings including white asparagus from the Valais, seasoned with caviar, and medallions of Dublin Bay prawns served with guacamole.

10. The Fat Duck: Berkshire, United Kingdom

Opened in 1995 by chef Heston Blumenthal inside a renovated 16th-century cottage, The Fat Duck had attained three Michelin stars by 2004 and an international reputation for being on the cutting edge of such culinary trends as food pairing, multi-sensory cooking and flavour encapsulation. Famed for its eclectic 14-course tasting menu, The Fat Duck reflects Blumenthal’s sense of whimsy, evident in such dishes as the Alice in Wonderland-inspired mock turtle soup, which includes an edible faux watch made from freeze-dried beef stock coated in gold leaf that is dropped into a teacup into which hot beef stock “tea” is poured to dissolve the watch.
Along with inventive techniques, Blumenthal also adds a heavy dose of psychology to his dishes, using the power of perception to “trick” diners into experiencing certain taste sensations. “For example, eat sardine on toast sorbet for the first time, confusion will reign as the brain will be trying to tell the palate to expect a dessert and you will, therefore, be tasting more sweetness than actually exists.” This is reflected in a famed dish he calls “Sounds of the Sea,” in which the food is topped with a seafood foam and served on a “beach” made from tapioca, breadcrumbs and eel. What’s more, diners are presented with an iPod so they can listen to the sound of ocean waves while eating it. You’ll also want to leave room to try the Fat Duck signature dish, Blumenthal’s bacon-and-egg ice cream.

How does a restaurant even earn a Michelin star? Learn what it takes to earn 1, 2 or 3 Michelin stars.

Doubles

5 Must-Try Snacks at the Toronto Caribbean Carnival

Caribana weekend is around the corner! As we get ready to come together in Toronto to jump and wave at one of the largest street festivals in North America, it’s only right we fuel ourselves with flavour-packed Caribbean foods! We’ve rounded up some of the best Caribbean street foods and treats that make for the perfect Caribana snack.

Doubles

Doubles
Doubles are a delicious, filling snack that are oozing with curried chickpea goodness! This snack is a common street food in Trinidad and Tobago but luckily for us, it is readily available in Toronto. It consists of channa (curried chickpeas) surrounded by two round pieces of bara (fried dough). It’s then wrapped up tightly in wax paper and ready to enjoy. It’s often topped with a tangy cucumber chutney and tamarind sauce. The tart sauce, spicy chutney and hot channa blend perfectly together to create a unique burst of flavor with every bite. If you like your snacks with an extra kick then be sure to add a touch of Caribbean hot sauce on top. Grab doubles while you watch the Grande Parade from one of the many vendors nearby. Just be sure to save your dance moves for after you eat because this tasty snack can get messy!

Jamaican Patty

Jamaican Patties
Jamaican patties are flaky, golden pockets that make a perfect snack on the go. It’s no surprise that these hand-held snacks are available at almost every corner store and major subway stop in the city. Patties can be filled with anything from spicy beef to jerk chicken or curried vegetables. If you want an exceptionally flaky patty then head on over to Randy’s Take Out on Eglinton Avenue West. If you’ve graduated from the spicy beef patty and want to try something new, seek out ComeNyam’s unique patties. Their patties are filled with everything from oxtail to pumpkin. You can find their patties at specialty food stores throughout the city.

Fishcakes and Bakes

Fish Cakes and Bakes
You can never go wrong with saltfish fritters. They are easy to carry on the road at Caribana and extra filling too. Although there are many variations of fried dough packed with flavor and saltfish across the islands, I suggest the Bajan fish cakes and bakes. Bakes are a sweet fried dough that go perfectly with any treat. Street Shak Caribbean Kitchen offers their own spin on these Bajan snacks that are sure to please.

Corn Soup

Corn Soup
You may be wondering why soup made the list. It isn’t what you typically think of as a snack, but this hearty Caribbean soup can be found across the city outside of the major Caribana parties. Served extra hot and filled with ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potato, onion, scallion, coconut milk and thyme, you’ll find several vendors at the parade with a big pot of this delicious dish. You can also grab the corn soup late night outside of the many fetes. After a fun filled day of carnival parade and parties, a nice big bowl of corn soup will help you re-charge.

Restaurants for Change

Restaurants Where You Can Dine for a Good Cause

Rejoice, Canada! For once, stuffing yourself with finger-licking Canadian fare can benefit more than just your belly.

On October 19th, 2016, more than 68 restaurants in 16 Canadian cities are taking part in Restaurants for Change, an annual fundraising event to support healthy food programs across Canada. Each participating restaurant will donate proceeds from dinner service to Community Food Centres Canada and other organizations that bring people together to grow, cook, share and advocate for healthy food for all.

“We continue to support Restaurants for Change each year, because the answer is simple to us: every Canadian should have the right to healthy food,” says Chef Lora Kirk from Ruby Watchco. “We need to remind ourselves that people power matters. When it comes to food, we are all responsible for how we set the table.”

Participating in the event is easy, as long as you bring your appetite. Visit the Restaurants for Change website to find a restaurant in your ‘hood, and then make a dinner reservation for October 19th.  Dine at one of these 10 tasty restaurants, or make a reservation at one of the 68 fantastic eateries participating from coast-to-coast.

RGE RD bison

Rge Rd (Edmonton, AB)

Brace yourself for an “untamed” feast at Edmonton’s Rge Rd, an urban eatery where the farm dictates the menu. Owner and chef Blair Lebsack uses premium ingredients grown in Alberta’s bountiful backyard, such as Alberta field strawberries or market-fresh greens, as well as prairie-raised livestock. Expect to indulge in hearty and homegrown dishes inspired by Alberta’s terroir, such as pasture-raised beef or Grilled Bison with White Currant BBQ Sauce.

Ruby Watchco (Toronto, ON)

It’s a nightly four-course feast at Chef Lynn Crawford’s Ruby Watcho in Leslieville, featuring hearty, home-cooked delicacies. The menu is ever-evolving and announced daily, but expect dishes like smoked ribs and sausages, home-smoked rainbow trout, or moist carrot cake made from an old family recipe.

Le Bremner (Montreal, QC)

When he’s not starring in Chuck’s Day Off or judging Chopped Canada, Chef Chuck Hughes is making seafood for the soul at Le Bremner in Old Montreal. Descend speakeasy-style into a sunken basement, and enjoy eclectic dishes such as crab kimchi on chewy rice cakes or the southern-inspired garlic shrimp with cornbread, served with an étouffée sauce and a spicy cognac butter.

Mallard Cottage (St. John’s, NFD)

Savour gourmet comfort cuisine and a gorgeous setting at Mallard Cottage, an award-wining restaurant near St. John’s Quidi Vidi Harbour. Inside, former Top Chef Canada competitor Chef Todd Perrin presents a terroir-driven menu of freshly foraged fare, wild game, and classic Newfoundland seafood (imagine halibut, cod, turbot, lobster).

Drake Devonshire (Wellington, Ontario)

This high-end boutique hotel and restaurant in Prince Edward County is trending for its cutting-edge architecture and incredible “lake to table” comfort cuisine. Sink your teeth into the fresh Ontario walleye, served with wild rice and quinoa, or the legendary “Devonshire Burger” — a thick patty made from local beef and stacked with Black River cheddar, crispy bacon and Russian dressing.

Charcut Roast House

Charcut Roast House (Calgary, AB)

Bring a bib and a hefty appetite to sup at Charcut Roast House, famed for their mouth-watering meat-centric menu. Top Chef Canada finalist, Connie DeSousa, and her co-chef John Jackson serve everything from house-made sausage to rotisserie chicken to pig’s head mortadella, but all are sourced from local farmers using a farm-to-plate philosophy. On the way out, make sure to grab a warm “so perfect” cookie (or two!) from their neighbour, Sidewalk Citizen Bakery.

Chives Canadian Bistro (Halifax, NS)

Looking for Halifax’s catch of the day? It’s always fresh at Chives Bistro, where Chef Craig Flinn uses the best of Nova Scotian bounty in his kitchen. The seasonal menu showcases whatever is local and fresh from the market, such as grilled Digby scallops, Cape Breton snow crab, or heritage pork, and naturally, there’s plenty o’ East Coast lobster.

Farmer’s Apprentice (Vancouver, BC)

Vancouver’s Farmer’s Apprentice may be small, but its organic, seasonal menu is mighty. Chef David Gunawan fuses exquisite Asian flavours with local ingredients sourced from nearby markets, artisan producers, and whatever the ocean yields. Given that it’s on the wild West Coast, seafood and vegetables dominate this kitchen, with toothsome dishes like BC spring salmon and ramps or an elderflower yogurt sorbet.

The Berlin (Kitchener, ON)

K-town just got cooler with the unveiling of The Berlin, a new farm-to-fork eatery that’s already wining rave reviews and award nominations before turning one year old. When he’s not guest-judging on Top Chef Canada, Chef Jonathan Gushue cooks up modern European dishes in the kitchen — often using a massive wood-fired grill — and even butchers and cures his own meats in the cellar. The menu constantly changes, built around whatever local ingredients are available, but expect divine dishes like hardwood-grilled beef rump, local trout, or tender, wood-smoked quail.

Enoteca (Winnipeg, MB)

Winnipeggers vie for a table at Enoteca, a tiny 30-seater bistro set inside a strip mall and that’s considered one of the best restaurants in Canada. In the kitchen, Chef Scott Bagshaw experiments with international flavours, creating playful, shareable plates such as short ribs bathed in a wine sauce or ricotta dumplings with shrimp, caramelized miso and bacon bits. Bon appétit!

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Noah Cappe’s Tips for a Romantic (and Delicious) Date Night

We can’t all be suave superstars when it comes to planning a romantic night out. Luckily, there’s a guru for that: Noah Cappe, host of The Bachelorette Canada. From choosing the right lighting to romance-inducing menus, Noah shares his expert tips on how to plan a special evening that will capture your bae’s heart.

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Dress to Impress

While we all love to rock sweatpants at home, this is not the time to dress down. Showing up scruffy for a date is a one-way ticket to the friend zone.

“Dust off your fancy outfit and put it on,” says Noah. “Is there anything more beautiful than looking across the table at your partner, and they look beautiful and you feel connected? That’s a moment.”

Getting a little gussied up sends a message that you care about your date. But opt for an outfit that best suits the activity; a suit for a picnic in the park is a date night fail.

Be Choosy About the Dinner Venue

Pick a place with an intimate atmosphere. It may require a bit of leg work, but finding the right restaurant can help avoid date night awkwardness.

“There’s such a movement to pump cool music loud and everyone is yelling over each other,” says Noah. “That’s obviously the opposite of a romantic evening. The focus of a romantic night is about conversation and finding the beauty in the quiet moments. It won’t happen in a place that has a local DJ.”

Phone ahead and ask questions: Does that five-star bistro transform into a noisy nightclub after 8 p.m.? What are their peak hours? Is there a seating section that’s more secluded? Know before you go! Not sure where to start? Try these 10 Romantic Restaurants from Coast to Coast.

Get an ‘A’ for Effort

Nothing stirs romance like showing your date how much you care. Whether you’re dining in or out, pull out all the stops to create a special evening.

“It comes down to effort and thought,” says Noah. “Put time into planning something, even if it’s just putting a folding table in the backyard with some patio lights.”

It doesn’t have to be an over-the-top event: cooking your partner’s favourite dish or a surprise picnic on the beach can be just as meaningful as reservations at a ritzy restaurant.

“It’s never about the four walls — you can create a romantic dinner everywhere,” says Noah.

Lighten up (the Room)

Speaking of ambiance, Noah says lighting is key to setting the scene. No matter where you go, dining by candlelight creates a cozy vibe that’s sure to get sparks flying. “Candles mean romance!” says Noah. “It’s seems cliché, but there’s something so traditional and wonderful about candle lights.”

Mind the Menu

For date nights, what’s on your plate is just as important as where the table is set.

“It comes down to the menu,” Noah says. “I don’t care how many candles you light. If your partner is across from you, shoving a cheeseburger in their mouth, you’re going to struggle to find a romantic connection.”

With menu influencing mood, Noah shares a few guidelines for adding a side of romance to your entrée:

Go local: A menu that showcases local specialties is sure to delight your date, as well as feed the conversation. “In Vancouver, seafood is probably the best call,” he says. “Or if you’re having a romantic dinner in Alberta, a beautiful steakhouse. Work with the environment you’re in!” If you’re hosting a home-cooked meal, incorporate local or seasonal ingredients into the recipes. On the East Coast, impress your date by making Chef Michael Smith’s Lobster a la Rachel, a steaming bowl of pasta smothered in creamy tomato sauce and chunks of lobster meat.

Know thy date: Is your date gluten-free or allergic to seafood? Ask your partner so you can accommodate their dietary preferences. “From a menu standpoint, what’s most important is to know your partner,” says Noah. “My wife is a vegetarian, so taking her to a steakhouse where she can only order two sides isn’t very romantic.” You can even make one of these delicious gluten-free dinners or vegan dishes.

Feature sensual foods: Get the mojo flowing with the magic of food science! Research shows that what we taste can affect how we feel, and certain foods may especially spark l’amour. In particular, eating dark chocolate has been shown to trigger a spike in dopamine, which induces feelings of pleasure. “Chocolate will always be the most romantic, go-to option,” says Noah. “Plus, there’s eight million ways to do chocolate!”

Share a decadent chocolate fondue with cherries, sliced bananas, and strawberries (also believed to be romance-provoking fruits), or a plate of freshly shucked oysters, a notorious aphrodisiac. If you’re playing chef for the evening, get fancy and try marinating oysters four ways with this recipe from Lynn Crawford.

The Bachelorette Canada premieres Tuesday, September 13th at 9 pm E/P on W Network.

12 Great Greasy Spoons to Try Across Canada

Some places may not love the term “greasy spoon,” but to me, using that expression isn’t always a bad thing. As much as we all love our plates of confit this, and sous-vide that, at the end of the day, sometimes you just want a greasy burger or a simple sandwich loaded with deli cuts and a proportionate amount of mustard.

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Blackfoot Truckstop Diner/Facebook

That, my friends, is where these satisfying and delicious greasy spoons come in.

Blackfoot Truckstop Diner (Calgary, AB)

Normally I wouldn’t put a restaurant on a list after it was mentioned only a couple of weeks ago, but for Calgary, Blackfoot fits the bill too perfectly for being both a great late-night food spot (open 24 hours), as well as a top notch greasy spoon.

Try the grilled hamburger steak drowned in gravy, with a healthy portion of poutine on the side — you will love (and hate) yourself for it.

broadway-cafe
Broadway Cafe/Facebook

Broadway Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

Anywhere that proudly proclaims they serve Campbells’ soup has clearly read the definition of greasy spoon in the dictionary. Keep things classic at this Saskatoon institution with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for dipping. Don’t forget the milkshakes either — I mean, how else could you wash all of that cheesy goodness down? And, with most menu prices not exceeding the $10 mark, your wallet will feel just as content as you do after sitting down for a diner-style meal here.

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Spoons Diner/Facebook

The Commodore (Edmonton, AB)

In business for 73 years and counting, this casual downtown eatery on Jasper Avenue just might be the longest-running restaurant in the city’s history. Commodore is still owned by the original family that opened its doors back in 1942, passed down through the generations. Talk about a family business!

The food may be simple and the interior no-frills, but you’ll definitely soak up a little bit of Edmonton history anytime you visit this joint.

Cosmos Snack Bar (Montreal, QC)

French toast, crispy bacon, tall breakfast sandwiches with a sunny side egg, sliced in half and dripping down your hands as you pick it up… There’s not much to complain about at one of Montreal’s go-to greasy spoons. For a city that embraces foie gras so much, I’m almost a little surprised you can’t find it served diner-style here.

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Dangerous Dan’s Diner/Facebook

Dangerous Dan’s Diner (Toronto, ON)

If a gigantic burger topped with cheddar, bacon and a fried egg sounds good to you, then Dangerous Dan’s demands your presence. The Queen Street East diner is definitely a hot spot for many Torontonians, and Dan’s delicious deep-fried perogies alone are a good enough reason to check it out.

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Galaxie Diner/Facebook

Galaxie Diner (Calgary, AB)

Calgarians looking for a hangover cure are always willing to brave long line-ups (and cold weather, come November) to get a seat inside this little restaurant that dishes out eggs by the hundreds and hashbrowns by the ton (my estimation), every day of the week. The “Calgary Sandwich” is Galaxie’s popular spin on a Denver and is loaded with everything from eggs, sausage and bacon, to peppers, onions, mushrooms and possibly a kitchen sink too!

Park Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

What’s a guy gotta do to find some decent shock food in Saskatoon? Well, he has to go to Park Cafe. If you’re unsure what shock food is, just picture some of the more crazy items that Guy Fieri consumes on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and that pretty much sums it up. The “Death by Cheese Sandwich” is not for the faint of heart and is as greasy as it gets. Basically, it’s a nice, thick grilled cheese sandwich that’s battered, breaded and deep-fried. Everything in moderation, my friends.

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Save On Meats/Facebook

Save On Meats (Vancouver, BC)

Lumping Save On Meats into a line-up of greasy spoons may not be the most accurate thing to do. Sure, they cook up simple, comforting dishes like patty melts and Salisbury steaks, but beneath their simple offerings, this restaurant is so much more. The diner is community focused through-and-through, offering a token program where people (you and me) can purchase meals for $2.25 and hand them out to less fortunate individuals that you might encounter in an area of town that is slowly being restored.

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Spoons Diner/Facebook

Spoons Diner (Victoria, BC)

Whether you’re craving an early morning bite, quick lunch or simple dinner, Spoons is here for you. Pancakes, eggs Benny, clubhouse sandwiches… Whatever diner dish you’re craving, you’ll probably find it on the menu.

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The Templeton/Facebook

The Templeton (Vancouver, BC)

Located on Granville Street in the heart of Vancouver, this old diner is charmingly worn and slightly rough-around-the-edges, not unlike the street you find it on. If reasonably priced BLT sandwiches or mini Kellogg’s cereal box breakfasts are your jam, this is the place for you.

The Westcliffe (Halifax, NS)

When Halifax-based food writer Kathy Jollimore told me you can get a cheeseburger and fries for under $5 at this east coast eatery, I almost didn’t believe her. Turns out, almost everything on the menu is $5 or less. Since we’re all the way out on the east coast, you can also find fried clams and fish and chips for one heck of a deal too.

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Zak’s Diner/Facebook

Zak’s Diner (Ottawa, ON)

Ottawa’s ByWard Market has no shortage of shops, restaurants and bars, but when the sun goes down and the street crowds dwindle, whose neon sign shines brightest? Zak’s. Established the same year as Lindsay Lohan (1986, obviously), this 24-hour diner keeps things nice and greasy around the clock with menu items like chili cheese dogs, deep-fried macaroni and so much more.

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Where to Enjoy Dishes Made by Chopped Canada Judges

Ever wonder what makes Chopped Canada judges such experts on cuisine? Answer: They are all nationally renowned chefs who have spent time running incredibly successful restaurants. When it comes to delicious eats and a well-run kitchen, these spots certainly take the cake. See for yourself and sample the creations of your favourite Chopped Canada judges at these restaurants across the country.

Chopped Canada restaurants
Photo: Park Restaurant

Anne Yarymowich and John Higgins, The Chefs’ House at George Brown Chef School (Toronto, ON)

After working for years, heading up the food and beverage department at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Chef Yarymowich has moved on to the world of education. When she’s not judging and chopping contestants on Chopped Canada, Yarymowich can be found mentoring new generations of young chefs at George Brown alongside fellow judge, John Higgins. The Chefs’ House is the culinary program’s restaurant where the soon-to-be graduates practice their skills in a real-time service setting. With any sort of student-run service, you might expect a few hiccups along the way while dining, but rest assured you’re in good hands with these two Chopped Canada judges involved in the process.

Antonio Park,  Park (Montreal, QC)

With Lavanderia (Park’s newest Latin American concept) nominated as one of ‘Canada’s Best New Restaurant 2015’ in enRoute Magazine and one of the newer judges to the Chopped Canada panel, Antonio Park has had one heck of a year! Another one to mention is Park’s popular spot Jatoba, which offers a mix of Asian and South American cuisine. His first restaurant, Park, remains one of Montreal’s top spots, a Japanese eatery known for its stunning presentation and signature sushi platters. This place is frequented by many celebrities. On any given night you may be dining beside NHL players, or even cross paths with actor Neil Patrick Harris.

Lynn Crawford, Ruby Watchco (Toronto, ON)

One of Canada’s most well-known chefs aims to impress with her popular Toronto restaurant, Ruby Watchco. Chef Lynn and Chef Lora Kirk source local, seasonal ingredients to create a menu that changes daily. Think foraged mushrooms with polenta, butternut squash with bacon sauerkraut and rack of pork with Warner’s Farms spicy plum sauce. The restaurant also offers a four course family-style meal in their private dining room for special events. A slightly cozier setting than the main floor, which also features a chilled out ambiance for an incredible meal you won’t soon forget.

Massimo Capra, Mistura (Toronto, ON)

Lively and Italian through-and-through, it should come as no surprise that Capra’s restaurant  match his personality. His main eatery, Mistura, focuses on well-crafted Italian fare from freshly made pastas to antipasto, such as cured duck prosciutto and mortadella, to crostini topped with mushroom, arugula and gorgonzola. If you ever find yourself at Toronto Pearson airport, you can also head to Boccone Trattoria to have a little taste of Capra’s cooking.

Mark McEwan, Bymark (Toronto, ON)

No doubt one of the country’s most successful chefs, McEwan has built a culinary empire for himself while starring in two major television series, The Heat and Top Chef Canada, with multiple successful restaurant properties and his namesake boutique grocery store chain. Bymark restaurant was one of the first places in Canada to define the “gourmet burger” — 8 ounces of beefy goodness topped with shaved truffle, porcinis and brie — and has been a staple of the higher end dining since it opened its doors. Outside of Toronto’s financial district, you can also dine at one of Chef McEwan’s restaurants, including ONE Restaurant, North 44° and Fabbrica.

Michael Smith,  Fireworks (Bay Fortune, PEI)

Michael Smith’s restaurant has undergone a major renovation within the last year, making dinner here more of an immersed, interactive dining experience than ever. The focal point of the room is the giant 25-foot fireplace-meets cooktop, where the kitchen team prepares their nightly meals as you watch all the action front and centre. Smith is a huge advocate of local food, so expect everything to be seasonal at the Inn at Bay Fortune restaurant, Fireworks. Make sure not to miss oyster hour every night at 6pm, where the culinary team shuck through a pile of their world famous Colville Bay and Fortune Bay oysters.

Roger Mooking, Twist (Toronto, ON)

This bubbly chef has been a longtime staple of Toronto’s food scene with past restaurant endeavours, but has been getting a lot of buzz recently with his eatery, Twist, that you can find inside of Toronto Pearson Airport. His cool concept breaks the mould of the standard, subpar airport restaurant, offering diners a nice selection of craft beer and wine and a long list of comfort food like homemade burgers and pastas with interesting twists (hence the name!). Next time you have a bit of extra time before boarding your flight, pop into Twist to see what a nice, contemporary airport meal can feel like.

Susur Lee, Lee (Toronto, ON)

If you enjoy the breadth and depth found in the many facets of Asian cuisine, book a table at Lee to experience those robust flavours with a master chef’s finesse. Pulling from many overseas regions like Thailand and Japan, Susur Lee crafts a menu full of intriguing and well-crafted dishes like lobster ravioli with yuzu squash purée and housemade XO sauce or crispy tofu with pepper and mushroom compote and a soy chili glaze. The cocktail list is as equally well thought out, so start off dinner with a saketini (or two). Following in fellow judges Capra and Mooking’s footsteps, Lee also embraced the trend of elevated airport dining by opening up Lee Kitchen in Toronto Pearson airport earlier this year. Lee also owns glitzy dim sum restaurant Luckee, and Asian-fusion Bent with his two sons, Kai and Levi Bent-Lee.

8 Sugar Shacks You Need to Visit This Winter

Sorry Western Canada; you might have all the gorgeous mountain ranges and top ski destinations, but Eastern Canada rules the roost when it comes to homegrown maple syrup and sugar shacks.

From Ontario to Nova Scotia, here are eight sugar shacks that are worth putting on those winter boots and stomping through the snow for.

Sugar Moon Farm

Sugar Moon Farm

Cabane PDC (Montreal, QC) 

Arguably the most well-known sugar shack in the country, Martin Picard’s Cabane au Sucre is also one of the hardest spots to get a seat. Just like his Montreal eatery, Au Pied De Cochon, it’s all things rich and indulgent here, so don’t expect to walk out feeling anything but full to the brim.

Crinklaw Maple Products (London, ON) 

Having been in operation for over 180 years, I think it’s safe to say this family-run maple syrup business has truly stood the test of time. Though it doesn’t open until early March and doesn’t offer a dining experience, there’s tons of winter fun to partake in, like sleigh rides and maybe throwing a snowball or two.

Érablière Au Sous-Bois: Brunch

Brunch at Érablière Au Sous-Bois

Érablière Au Sous-Bois (Mont-Saint-Grégoire, QC) 

A bit larger than your regular sugar shack, Érablière not only offers the standard maple producing tours, and food and drink, but also night time dancing. Open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, this spot would make a super fun outing for a group of friends or a couple on a date.

La Tablee des Pionniers (Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré, QC) 

Owned by celebrity Québecois chef Louis-Francois Marcotte, this sugar shack is a must-try for any self-proclaimed lover of the maple delight. With coursed, family-style menus (centred around maple syrup, of course), ranging from $30-$50 per person, you can dive into a myriad of dishes; pulled pork and mushroom in puff pastry, warming split pea soup with savoy cabbage and bacon, and much more. Don’t worry, there’s maple taffy, too.

La Tablee des Pionniers

La Tablee des Pionniers

Sand Road Sugar Camp (Moose Creek, ON) 

You’ll find this popular maple syrup manufacturer just a short drive from Ottawa. Ideal for a family excursion, there’s so much to explore including how maple trees are tapped, strolling around forest trails, or simply enjoying a big brunch buffet.

Sugar Moon Farm

Sugar Moon Farm: Sugar Baby Jarfait

Sugar Moon Farm (Earltown, NS) 

A beautiful drive on winding roads in rural Nova Scotia will bring you to this charming little spot nestled in a forest of maple trees. The menu offers good, honest food with a focus on breakfast. The pancakes and maple baked beans are the perfect sweet-meets-savoury combination, but don’t skip the Sugar Baby Jarfait; layered with maple granola, organic yogurt and Nova Scotia blueberries, this is simplicity at its best!

Sugar Moon Farm

Sugar Moon Farm: Maple Baked Beans

Temple’s Sugar Bush (Lanark, ON) 

Once you’re done exploring the outdoors, take a seat inside Temple’s main building to find that it’s anything but a dusty old shack. Tall vaulted ceilings, a large fireplace and lofted areas make you feel like you’re in more of a mansion than a maple farm. Don’t forget to pick up some maple sugar and their signature maple sticky buns on the way out!

Temple’s Sugar Bush

Temple’s Sugar Bush

Trites Maples (Stilesville, NB) 

Just outside of Moncton, this cozy family-run sugar shack operates during the weekend until 3 p.m. For breakfast, you can enjoy big stacks of buckwheat pancakes, sausages, maple baked beans cooked in a wood-fired oven, and (the most important one of all) all-you-can-eat maple taffy. Meet me there?

8 Vegan Restaurants in Canada You Have to Try

Eating vegan in Canada used to be a bit of a challenge but cruelty-free cuisine has become widespread in recent years and continues to thrive. Here are eight veggie-centric restaurants across Canada that are sure to satisfying any palate.

Boon Burger

Boon Burger

be love (Victoria, BC)

Start off your meal with a spread of house-made nut and seed cheeses and then try some fun takes on classic dishes, like the pastrami-spiced portobello ‘reuben’ sandwich. They also offer a weekend brunch (Victoria is big on brunch!) Vegan or not, the cardamom pear pancakes with maple ginger syrup and vanilla cashew ‘cream cheese’ will give your taste buds a shake.

Boon Burger (Winnipeg, MB and Barrie, ON)

It would be a shame to spend a chunk of time in Winnipeg (where Boon Burger’s original location is) and not pop in for one of their big, juicy vegan burgers. Whether you’re having the jalapeño ‘cheddar’ burger with pickled jalapeños and house burger sauce or the spicy boon buffalo burger, don’t forget to end your meal with their homemade coconut soft serve. Winter be damned!

Boon Burger: Vegan Poutine

Boon Burger: Vegan Poutine

Chau Veggiexpress (Vancouver, BC) 

Fresh and aromatic, the myriad of dishes offered at this vibrant Vietnamese joint are just as much of a treat for your eyes as they are for your mouth. Try their spin on pho (“candlelit lantern”), and since no Vietnamese dinner is complete without spring rolls, order the “non la rolls” filled with kale, shallots and tofu with a lemon vegan ‘fish sauce’.

ChuChai (Montreal, QC) 

Many of my friends that have eaten at ChuChai have left with a, ‘I can’t believe there was no meat in those dishes’ reaction. Using products like seitan (a glutenous meat substitute that can be seasoned, shaped and formed in a variety of ways), this Thai restaurant is able to create plates of food similar to many classics. From panang beef to salt and pepper squid, these vegan takes have all of the robust flavours of the original dishes, but none of the meat. Fooling your taste buds has never been so rewarding.

The Coup (Calgary, AB) 

It comes as no surprise that there aren’t many options for vegan dining in the land of beef, but The Coup, 11 years in business and counting, does a stand-up job. Aside from an exquisite interior, the restaurant offers creative food (the menu is about 75 percent vegan) and drink, including refreshing cocktails made from house-made juices and dishes like tandoori cauliflower wings with chimichurri.

The Hogtown Vegan: Philly Cheesesteak

The Hogtown Vegan: Philly Cheesesteak

enVie: A Vegan Kitchen (Halifax, NS) 

This popular vegan eatery on the east coast offers a little bit of everything, from lunch and dinner to weekend brunch. They also have a full-service grab-and-go area where you can buy an array of cold-pressed juices, salads and more. Their poutine with house-made ‘cheese curds’ will make anyone’s tummy happy, whether you’re a carnivore, herbivore or somewhere in between.

The Hogtown Vegan (Toronto, ON) 

While the name and branding (a gigantic pig as the logo) can be a little puzzling, everything you eat at this Toronto hotspot is completely meat-free. That being said, Hogtown is all about taking those classic, greasy-good pub dishes like nachos, wings and mac ‘n’ cheese, and making them deliciously vegan.

The Hogtown Vegan: Unchicken and Waffles

The Hogtown Vegan: Unchicken and Waffles

Kupfert & Kim (Toronto, ON) 

This small chain of fast-casual vegan restaurants is not only meat and dairy-free, but wheat-free too. Don’t worry, that certainly doesn’t mean the food is flavour-free. Swing by for a quick lunch and try one of the rice or quinoa bowls, or the congee made with brown rice, organic bok choy, house-made kimchi and loads of other veggies. There’s kombucha on tap here too!

Kupfert and Kim

Kupfert & Kim

lentil beer

10 New and Unique Canadian Beers to Try

If you consider yourself a beer fan and are looking to treat your taste buds to some creative new brews this is the perfect time to do it. Craft brewers across Canada are experimenting with new ways to make beer with some pretty wild ingredients. While the ingredients may raise eyebrows, the results are delicious. From lentil beer to grapefruit, here are 10  truly unique and some new Canadian beers to sip from coast to coast.

Last Best Brewing

1. Last Best Brewing (Calgary, AB) – Caramel Latte Beer 

Most people have only experienced a nitro-injected beer in the form of a stout (think Guinness), so this ale easily stands out from other microbrews. Since it’s ale infused with beans from a local coffee roaster, the Caramel Latte offers the best of both beer worlds as it’s refreshing and light but less effervescent and smooth on the intake.

Left Field Brewing

By Mark Horsley

2. Left Field Brewery (Toronto, ON) – Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale 

Brown ales are as common as a Canadian penny in 2010 and oatmeal stouts are pretty easy to come by too. But an oatmeal brown ale? That’s not quite as common. This little microbrewery in Toronto brews up a list of beers, including this uniquely titled ale called Eephus, named after a particular style of pitch in baseball.

mill street lemon tea beer

3. Mill Street Brewery (Toronto, ON) – Lemon Tea Beer 

Mill Street has grown exponentially over the years, becoming one of the major players in the Canadian craft beer scene. Large-scale or not, this distinctive beer, infused with Earl Grey and orange pekoe, remains a reliable summer sipper and one of the few brews across Canada that features tea.

4. Muskoka Brewing (Bracebridge, ON) – Winterweiss 

This wintery brown beer is to a summery hefeweizen what the abominable snowman is to the sasquatch. Distant cousins, perhaps, but both are equally bold and delicious. Once you take a swig, you’ll be able to taste cloves, banana and the hint of sweetness that wheat beers are known for.

chucklehead

5. Phillips Brewing (Victoria, BC) – Chucklehead IRA 

This Indian Red Ale gets a 10 out of 10 on visuals alone. The vibrant label forces anyone terrified of clowns to face their fears. Once you get past the label, you’ll find a beautifully-coloured ale that can appeal to “hopheads,” ale and lager fans alike.

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6. Rebellion Brewing (Regina, SK) – Lentil Cream Ale 

It is the International Year of The Pulses after all, so it’s only fitting that right in the heart of lentil country you can find a beer brewed with lentils. Don’t let the name fool you — there’s nothing creamy-tasting about it. Cream ales are typically quite easy-drinking and the use of lentils in the process makes for a lighter colour and more refreshing sip.

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7. Royal City Brewing (Toronto, ON) – Black Bean Brown Ale 

Much like the lentil beer mentioned above, Royal City is using Ontario-grown black beans to create this robust brown ale. So, what does bean beer taste like exactly? Surprisingly good! They also have a pilot system to experiment with more unique flavours, including Banana Bread Stout, Double Smoked Honey and Raspberry Spice.

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8. Steel Toad Brewery (Vancouver, BC) – Saison Sauvignon 

With a slightly higher alcohol percentage (6.5%) and big, bright citrus notes, it’s a little too easy to knock back a few glasses of this tasty beer in one of Vancouver’s newest brewpubs. The best part about this particular brew? Most saisons have a higher price point but at Steel Toad you can get a pint of this wine-infused beer for the same price as you would other creations.

9. Tree Brewing Co. (Kelowna, BC) – Grapefruit Radler 

It’s not too often that you come across a Canadian-made radler, although the type of beer itself is one of the most popular, low-alcohol patio drinks in the country. Tree Brewing Co. concocts a ton of interesting small-batch beers at this “beer institute,” but their delicious radler can be found in liquor stores all over Western Canada.

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10. Wild Rose Brewery (Calgary, AB) – Cowbell Sour 

Ask any Canadian cicerone (a beer sommelier) and they’ll tell you that sours are the hot ticket these days in the beer world. To all novice brewers, sour beer is pretty finicky in its brewing process and can yield an undrinkable product when not done properly. Cowbell boasts the marking of a classic sour being quite tart, but is infused with fresh lime leaves.

10 Best Places for Pie Across Canada

If you’ve been living in Canada long enough, you already know that pies are one of our country’s most beloved and iconic desserts. Whether it’s the seasonal fruit pies or creative twists on classics, here are 10 of the best places to get pie in Canada.

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Rustique Pie Kitchen

Goodies Bake Shop (Winnipeg, MB)

Expect nothing but the classics from this indulgent little spot in Winnipeg. Of course, you can get a lemon meringue pie with the meringue piled high, but anyone who’s a fan of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups will be more than happy with the chocolate peanut butter pie.

Mabel’s Bakery (Toronto, ON)

With a few locations around Toronto, it’s easy to find your way to a Mabel’s to grab a pie on your way home from work. Granted, if you’re too late, they may all be gone — so you might want to stop by on your way to work instead. Heading into the holiday season, a well-made pecan pie is always appreciated after a big dinner and, luckily, they’ve got you covered here.

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Mabel’s Bakery

The Flaky Tart (Toronto, ON)

This classic bakery is a popular spot for a simple, homemade pie like cinnamony sweet apple. With a more simple approach to pies and their fillings, these versions are easy to pick up and pawn off as your own at a dinner party. I’m not saying you should lie to your friends, but if you’re a terrible baker and tasked with making dessert for a potluck, the choice is yours!

Life of Pie (Ottawa, ON)

Arguably the city’s most popular pie shop, this great little spot offers a nice range of pies, with a slew of different weekly flavours. Always expect some fruit varieties (pear ginger crisp was this past Wednesday), quiches and much more. And yes, if you’re wondering, it always smells ridiculously good in here.

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The Pie Hole

Pie Cloud (Calgary, AB)

Not just somehwere to go just for some take-home pie, this newer eatery in the Kensington neighbourhood is all pie, through-and-through — offering it up for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Try a wintery option like the Turkey Dinner, made with a stuffing “crust”, turkey, tender vegetables, mashed potatoes and cranberry relish. You’ll find the usual pie suspects here (apple, pecan, etc.), but try the Marshmallow Mermaid for something more new and fresh: orange and blue curaçao curd in a flaky crust with a marshmallow topping.

The Pie Hole (Vancouver, BC)

There is creativity abound with the in-crusted creations from Pie Hole. Maple French Toast Bacon and Bourbon Pecan Pumpkin are just two of the delicious pie varieties that shoul have your mouth watering in no time. They don’t have a proper bricks and mortar location, but customers are still able to find their goods at shops and cafes around the city, as well as online.

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The Pie Hole

The Pie Lady’s Drive-up Bake Shop (Halifax, NS)

Too quirky not to mention, this mom-and-pop operation is an online-only ordering system, where you select your pies from a drop-down menu. You can then head over to their shop where they hand you freshly baked pies through the car window. How sweet is that?

The Pie Shoppe (Vancouver, BC)

With choices like walnut and bourbon and salted honey, it becomes apparent (after looking through the bake case) that this is not your standard pie shop. Big on seasonality, don’t expect to see the bakers offering you a cherry pie in the middle of winter. Don’t forget to grab a cup of coffee while you’re here, since they roast their own beans in house.

Rustique Pie Kitchen (Montreal, QC)

One of the nicest things about pies is they’re meant for sharing — so if you’re looking for a simple dessert option for dinner, you can’t really go wrong here. Rustique’s pie options change with the season, so right now you can find a freshly baked strawberry rhubarb pie sitting on display screaming, “Take me home with you!” Naturally, you will.

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Rustique Pie Kitchen

Wanda’s Pie in the Sky (Toronto, ON)

Custard-filled, cream-filled, and almost any fresh fruit you can imagine, Wanda’s got it going on at her popular bake shop. The chocolate bottom pecan pie is a fun spin on the classic, with a chocolate shortbread base. You also can’t go wrong with the “Ambrosia,” which is a rich myriad of flavours with peaches, wild blueberries, apples, pecans and raspberries. With Wanda by your side, you can’t lose at dessert this holiday season.

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Wanda’s Pie in the Sky

10 Crowd-Pleasing Cupcake Shops from Coast to Coast

While the macaron craze is beginning to run its course, cupcakes are here to stay. Check out this roundup of sweet shops from coast to coast that are doing this nostalgic treat proud.

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Cake-ology 

Cake-ology (Winnipeg, MB)

Stroll into the Exchange District in downtown Winnipeg and follow the scent of freshly baked goods until your nose leads you to Cake-ology (you can’t miss the big cake jutting out from the building’s exterior either). Of course you’ll find a variety of cakes including “cakettes” (think stickless cake pop) and cookies. Like any good bake shop, they can customize too, so ask ahead and your flavour-combination wish is their command.

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Crave Cookies and Cupcakes

Crave Cookies and Cupcakes (Calgary, Edmonton, AB and Saskatoon, SK)

One of the original upscale cupcake shops in Canada, Crave just turned 10 years old earlier this year and has significantly updated their concept since it first opened. Now, instead of simply rows and rows of cupcakes, you’ll find all sorts of delicious treats like red velvet sugar cookies, amazing cakes (try the ice box cake right now — summer-approved!) and pies.

The Cupcake Conspiracy (Saskatoon, SK)

Saskatoon’s first gourmet cupcake shop keeps things concise but tasty with their offerings here, baking up a short list of sweets that include chocolate banana, vanilla and rum buttercream, vanilla and coconut, and more.

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The Cupcake Lounge 

The Cupcake Lounge (Ottawa, ON)

There’s a lot of eating and drinking to be done in the ByWard Market in the heart of Ottawa. But what about dessert? This sweet little cupcake shop offers the regular suspects, seven days a week as well as daily specials like ginger lemon on Thursdays, butterscotch bourbon on Saturdays and banana peanut butter on Sundays.

The Cupcake Shoppe (Toronto, ON)

This popular sweet spot was arguably the first upscale cupcake shop in the country (opened in 2003) and always aims to impress. As many cupcake options as there are colours in the rainbow, expect a vast selection of flavours from the popular carrot cake, to margarita and many more.

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Jenna Rae Cakes (Winnipeg, MB)

When you’re noted by Martha Stewart as a place that makes beautiful cakes and cupcakes, you know you’re in for a spike in business, which is exactly what happened to Jenna Rae’s shop in Winnipeg. People line up out the door to get their hands on the pretty baked goods inside.

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ManCakes via Inside Vancouver

ManCakes (Vancouver, BC)

This bake shop aims to turn dainty cupcakes into a manly three-bite dessert. Look beyond the “masculine” design of the shop and you’ll find some impressive out-of-the-box flavours including red wine and chocolate, whiskey lime — or perhaps the most intriguing, a buffalo wing-inspired cupcake with blue cheese cheesecake mousse, spicy buttercream and crispy chicken crumble.

Susie’s Shortbreads (Halifax, NS)

The name may be slightly misleading, but Susie dishes out an array of gourmet cupcakes in addition to her famous cookies. Bite into a dulce de leche or cookies and cream cupcake and pair it with a melt-in-your-mouth shortbread for a truly satisfying dessert.

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Thimblecakes (Ottawa, ON)

Don’t let the name fool you, Thimblecakes bakes up anything but tiny, bite-size cakes. Custom cakes and cupcakes can be ordered ahead, but pop in during the week to get a mix of cupcakes with flavours ranging from red velvet and chocolate chip cookie dough to salted caramel tiramisu.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

10 Fast Casual Restaurants You Need to Try in Canada

Describing an establishment as “upscale, fast and casual” doesn’t make the most sense. So, let’s think of this list as fast food joints that go the extra mile in terms of cooking from scratch and making a conscious effort to source quality ingredients. Yes, my friends, the fast casual movement is growing stronger in Canada with each passing week.

Here are 10 great places in Canada that can have you in and out in no time, while getting you still get your money’s worth with a delicious meal.

Ace Burger (Halifax, NS)

Ask anyone on the east coast and they’ll tell you that the fast food giants have certainly got nothing on Halifax’s leading quick service burger spot. Find beauty in their simplicity with Ace’s classic burger and the bacon cheeseburger, or kick convention to the curb and bite into a jerk chicken burger in a cornflake batter with coconut-chili mayo. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

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Banh Mi Boys

Banh Mi Boys (Toronto, ON)

Get your Asian food fix quick, fast and furious-style at this popular sandwich-focused shop with two locations in downtown Toronto. Naturally, there are the standard banh mi fillings like pork and chicken, but go out of the box and be pleasantly surprised with options like lemongrass tofu or an order of kimchi fries.

Go Fish Ocean Emporium (Vancouver, BC)

Head to this food stand to bite into some of the best crispy fish and chips this west coast city has to offer. With sustainability in mind, everything on the menu is fresh and caught with a conscious, which is something we should all appreciate.

Indochine (Halifax, NS)

In a similar vein as Banh Mi Boys and Watercress Express (see below), Indochine harnesses those robust Southeast Asian flavours in a variety of dishes, from noodle bowls and pho to fusion tacos, serving them all up in a quick-service environment. Once your meal is ready to go, head over to the Halifax Public Gardens to soak up the last few days of summer while you enjoy the tasty food.

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Mandy’s via Instagram

Mandy’s (Montreal, QC)

Quebec’s food mecca is well known for its love affair with foie gras, maple syrup and really, anything rich in general, but I think we all know we shouldn’t be eating (generalizing here) poutine, foie gras and smoked meat every day of the week.

Mandy’s is the popular salad bar staple of Montreal, a complete juxtaposition to the formerly mentioned, with a long list of greens-packed, to-go dishes like the Waldorf or smoked meat salad with “slaw” dressing. All right, so maybe the smoked meat is harder to escape than I thought.

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Tacofino via Instagram

Tacofino (Tofino, BC)

There are a few different Tacofino joints in Canada, which you can find in Tofino, Victoria and Vancouver, but nothing beats the one spot that started it all a few years back in one of the most western points of Canada. Technically a food truck, the business is more or less stationary and the menu is pleasantly simple. Freshly caught seafood, chicken or beef, served (mainly) in tacos or burritos.

Tractor Foods (Vancouver, BC)

Skip the subpar salad bar at your local grocer and pay Tractor a visit for all your fresh, vegetable-driven needs. With a long line-up of freshly made salads as colourful as the rainbow, you can have your pick between big bowls of quinoa and roasted mushrooms with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, orzo and feta, and a whole lot more. Fresh produce is arguably the main event here, but carnivores can still be appeased with chicken and steak salads, or sandwich options like roasted pork with apple and fennel slaw.

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Tres Carnales 

Tres Carnales (Edmonton, AB)

One of the original restaurants in Canada to embrace the contemporary taco trend — and also a You Gotta Eat Here! alumnus — Tres Carnales has won numerous accolades, both local and national, when it comes to their taco-making skills. Many people opt to sit down for a quick bite during lunch or dinner, but it’s just as easy to order a well-made Mexican meal to go.

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Took Tuk Thai

Tuk Tuk Thai (Calgary, AB)

Ordering pad Thai at a Thai restaurant is like ordering chicken fried rice when you’re getting Chinese takeout; a staple, but hardly anything ground breaking. Even though this come-and-go eatery on Calgary’s bustling 17th Avenue offers the famous dish, there’s so much more to enjoy on the menu here like the Moo Moo Lemon (barbecued pork shoulder in a chili lime dressing) or fried basa with eggplant. It’s going to be getting cooler soon, so grab a bowl of their beautifully aromatic tom yum soup to go.

One of the many highlights of dining at Tuk Tuk is the actual containers that your food comes in. Remove the sticker on top of the circular take-out box and it unfolds like a flower. Very cool!

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Watercress Express

Watercress Express (Calgary, AB)

Watercressexpress We are blessed to have so many Vietnamese restaurants across our beautiful country. True pho fanatics are always on the lookout for a bowl of noodles and broth, and I’d urge them all to try the sate pho here at Watercress. With a young, formally trained chef running the kitchen, this restaurant serves up everything that is to be expected of a traditional Vietnamese establishment, but with extreme attention to detail. Try a bowl of soup and a side order of the crispy fried wontons and you’ll see what I mean.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

8 Must-Try Poutineries From Coast to Coast

A Canadian classic, poutine is always at the top of our comfort food list. And although there are tons of casual chains offering up plates of cheesy, gravy-soaked fries, here are 8 eateries that add a bit more pizzazz to this iconic dish.

Below Deck Tavern (Calgary, AB) – Good Ol’ Fashioned Poutine
For East Coasters looking for a little taste of home in Western Canada, this is the spot to be. Revel in deliciousness with dishes such as deep-fried pepperoni and cottage pie. But for something a little extra special, opt for Below Deck’s spin on a poutine. They season skinny fries with old bay seasoning and top with the regular curds and gravy. Add on some donair meat while you’re at it.

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Caplansky’s (Toronto, ON) – Smoked Meat Poutine
Food Network Canada personality, Zane Caplansky, has built a big brand for himself in Toronto creating a successful delicatessen-style business. Try his version of the poutine, chock full of quality, kosher smoked meat.

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La Banquise 24th (Montreal, QC) – Hot Dog Poutine
Open 24 hours for all your post-bar, drunken food cravings, this popular spot for poutine in the heart of poutine land — Montreal — serves up more variations on this theme than you can imagine. Naturally, after a hard night out, you’re not always thinking, so skip the brain work and just go for the hot dog option. I mean, who’s counting calories at 3 am?

La Pataterie Hulloise (Gatineau, QC)
Most Ottawans will tell you that if you’re really interested in finding a great poutine, then you need to take a short drive over the river from Ottawa to Gatineau. This no frills spot keeps their offerings simple because sometimes, you just don’t need to mess with a good thing.

Peasant Cookery (Winnipeg, MB)
There’s something nice and homey about this restaurant in the exchange district of downtown Winnipeg. The menu is all about good ol’ home cooked food, but taken up a notch. Crispy fries are topped with curds from a local producer, Bothwell Cheese and a bacon gravy. We’ll order two please.

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The Reef (Vancouver, BC) – Jerk Chicken Poutine
I guarantee that you’ve never had Caribbean jerk in this application before. Sure, the cheese curds and fries are pretty average, but the pulled chicken in this dish is great and the gravy is sweet and spicy with hints of cinnamon. Out of every dish on this list, this bastardization (if you will) of poutine is one of the most interesting.

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Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack (Saskatoon, SK) – Smoked Mozza Poutine
I’m still a little shocked there’s not a poutine-inspired perogy dish in my hometown (maybe there is and I’m just out of the loop) and even more shocked that a good poutine is still hard to come by in Saskatoon, but thankfully this top notch barbecue joint is saving the day. If you’ve never had smoked mozzarella, you haven’t lived. Add this gooey delicacy into a poutine equation and you’ve got something really worth forking into.

Willy’s Fresh Cut (Halifax, NS)
Like I mentioned earlier with Below Deck Tavern, donair meat in a poutine is an East Coast favourite and Willy’s can definitely verify that fact. If donair meat isn’t your cup of tea, try Willy’s stuffing poutine, or one with a big helping of pulled pork on top.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

12 Great BBQ Joints in Canada

There isn’t a time of year where a good plate of barbecue doesn’t feel right. Here are a few spots to hit up across Canada where you can find authentic Southern-style barbecue and some smoky, finger-lickin’ good meals.

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Brisket Burnt Ends (left) and Pecan Pie (right) from Barque Smokehouse

Barque Smokehouse (Toronto, ON)

There’s a lot to love about Barque — from their lively yet family-friendly atmosphere and wide array of Southern-inspired dishes that aren’t afraid to step outside the box (try the Cuban corn, that’s grilled and finished with feta and lime). The Sunday night dinners offer up an abundance of barbecued goods perfect for sharing with friends. And their brunch? Well, who could say no to Barque’s spin on eggs benny with cornbread, barbecue hollandaise and beef brisket?

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John Catucci Visits Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse on an Episode of You Gotta Eat Here!

Big T’s BBQ and Smokehouse (Calgary, AB)

A Calgary favourite (and You Gotta Eat Here! alum owned), this barbecue spot now has two locations, as well as a stand at the Calgary Farmers’ Market. You can buy all sorts of Big T’s smoked meats like sausages and bacon or, in my opinion, one of the best breakfast sandwiches in the city, topped with brisket, homemade barbecue sauce and all the fixings.

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Burnt End Poutine from Boneheads BBQ

Boneheads BBQ (Halifax, NS)

What do you mean there’s no lobster on the menu? This is Halifax! Some may scream East Coast blasphemy, but I’m sure if we stuffed some pulled chicken or bacon-wrapped jalapeno peppers in their mouths, there wouldn’t be much complaining. Save some room for dessert here, as the lemon lime icebox pie will call out to you like the sirens to Odysseus.

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Pile of Ribs via Bookers Barbecue + Crab Shack

Bookers Barbecue + Crab Shack (Calgary, AB)

Bookers’ fairly extensive menu goes well beyond the sandwich or smoked meat platters, covering everything from appetizers (like deep-fried pickles!) to crab and shrimp boils, and jambalaya. Any Calgarian will tell you that Sunday night is the best day of the week to visit Bookers, where you can opt for either all-you-can-eat crab or ribs.

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Electric Mud via BlogTO

Electric Mud (Toronto, ON)

Sister restaurant to the taco-centric Grand Electric, Mud is all about embracing Southern cuisine and having a little fun with it. Shrimp and grits, pork ribs and smoked sausage links make for a perfectly meaty start here, but don’t forget to order a side of pickled green tomatoes and charred broccoli salad with red eye gravy for something a little less conventional.

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Kitchen Sink Spud from Hogtown Smoke 

Hogtown Smoke (Toronto, ON)

With a bricks and mortar location on Queen Street East, as well as a food truck by the same name roaming the streets, chances are you’ve stumbled by Hogtown more than once this summer. While the food truck can only offer so much on the menu, look to the restaurant to get a more intense barbecue fix with dishes like the Jack Daniels pulled pork grilled cheese, brisket and pulled pork chili and gigantic beef ribs.

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Pig Out Platter from Hogtown Smoke

Le Boucan Smokehouse (Montreal, QC)

If you find yourself in Montreal and craving some smoked meat (not the deli kind that the city is famous for) and whisky, then Le Boucan should be on your dining agenda. Expect to be served fairly traditional barbecue in a hipster-chic environment, with a nice selection of whiskies and bourbons to choose from.

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Lovey’s BBQ via Bake Eat and Grow/Wordpress

Lovey’s BBQ (Winnipeg, MB)

Head to Lovey’s for a casual meal or grab some barbecue to take home for the family. The smoked chicken wings, brisket, pulled pork, farmer’s sausage and “burnt ends” (essentially the really crispy bits found on the edges of a well-smoked brisket), are all available by the pound to go.

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Meat via Eating is the Hard Part

Meat (Edmonton, AB)

Located just off of the busy strip that is Whyte Avenue, this slightly upscale meat-centric restaurant (if the name didn’t tip you off) serves up those big, smoky flavours of the south in a slick-looking room. No matter what you decide to eat, make sure to slather it in their house-made sauces, and wrap your meal up with one of Meat’s popular Bourbon Banana Splits.

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Memphis Blue Barbeque House via Sean’s Adventures in Flavor Town/Wordpress

Memphis Blues Barbeque House (Kelowna, BC)

Okanagan wineries may steal the limelight in this area of the country, but downtown Kelowna has got some gems too. Just a few blocks from the water, you’ll find this busy establishment serving up their take on Southern barbecue with big, messy brisket and pulled pork sandwiches with sides of pit beans. Grab some food to go and enjoy the sunshine on the beach — but remember to bring some napkins with you!

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Re-Up BBQ via Sean’s Adventures in Flavor Town/Wordpress

Re-Up BBQ (New Westminster, BC)

Originally a food cart in downtown Vancouver, Re-up BBQ made quite the name for itself before relocating and upgrading to a food counter/commissary outside of the city centre. Pop by for a big bucket of fried chicken, some Southern sweet tea, house-made cola (say, what?) and much more.

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Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack vua Facebook

Schryer’s Smoked BBQ Shack (Saskatoon, SK)

You’ll have to drive through the North industrial area of the city to enjoy these barbecued goods, but once you arrive, you’ll see it was worth the journey. Find anything to fit your appetite here, from pulled pork to smoked chicken and everything in-between, including their signature Schryer’s Fries that are topped with smoked meat, barbecue sauce and slaw.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

12 Farm-to-Table Restaurants Celebrating Canadian Cuisine

This Canada Day we should be celebrating the restaurants highlighting the fresh and local ingredients surrounding them. A hyper-local menu (very similar to local food and is in many ways the same thing) will taste differently on the west coast of Canada compared to the heart of the prairies, but our vast and diverse landscape is what makes this country so great.

Here are 12 must-try restaurants from coast to coast that do right by the farm-to-table approach and serve some pretty tasty food, too.

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Chives Bistro: Crab Cakes

Chives Canadian Bistro (Halifax, NS)

One of the institutions of the Halifax dining scene, Chives Bistro and owner Craig Flinn have always stayed true to the “work with what’s around you” mentality when it comes to their menu. Naturally, you’ll find some fresh East Coast lobster being offered here, but also a ton of local produce, Nova Scotia cheeses and more.

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Fable Kitchen

Fable Kitchen (Vancouver, BC)

With a name like “Fable” that merges the words “Farm” and “Table” into one, you’d better hope that the restaurant places an emphasis on knowing where their ingredients come from. Top Chef Canada’s Trevor Bird and his kitchen team work with a long list of B.C. producers onshore and offshore, receiving whole halves of beef or lamb and butchering them down in-house. Getting a side of the signature house-made bacon is a must when you’re popping by for brunch on the weekend!

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Farmhouse Tavern

Farmhouse Tavern (Toronto, ON)

When it comes to a meal here, diners looks to a chalkboard with an ever-changing list of options that go along with the season. In terms of libations to enjoy with the hyper-local menu, expect local craft beers and a nice list of VQA wines from the Niagara area.

Fusion Grill (Winnipeg, MB)

Though the name may not really imply it, Fusion Grill’s thought process with food is “local, local, local,” through and through. On the menu you’ll find Manitoba grass-fed beef (a protein that is not overly common in the city), pike, bison and even a variety of cold-pressed canolas used in various dishes that are specific to the Manitoba region.

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Fusion Grill

Langdon Hall (Cambridge, ON)

Hyper local has never looked quite as beautiful as (if you don’t believe me, check out his Instagram right this second: @langdonhallchef) the food coming out of Langdon Hall’s kitchen. If you’re looking to splurge a bit on local, foraged and good quality cuisine, then head to the proper restaurant, but those looking for something a little more casual then Wilks’ Bar on the same property, which has the same mentality but with more approachable fare.

Mallard Cottage (St. John’s NFLD)

Top Chef Canada season one alumnus Todd Perrin embodies Newfoundland cuisine in an old character cottage that (through much blood, sweat and tears) was transformed into a restaurant just outside the heart of St. John’s.
Like Farmhouse Tavern, the menu is ever-changing, but don’t be surprised to see uniquely Newfoundland ingredients like seal or salt beef popping up on the menu. To stay up-to-date with what Perrin is cooking up, check out his Instagram: @mallardcottagechef.

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Mission Hill: Halibut

Mission Hill Winery (Kelowna, BC)

In terms of location, the Okanagan offers one of the best growing seasons in Canada, which also means having access to locally grown produce almost all year round is sort of like a chef’s dream come true. Aside from working closely with a long list of Okanagan producers, the winery restaurant chef Chris Stewart also cares for the large on-site garden that has everything from herbs to peach trees and huckleberries (say, what?). All of these things will end up on the menu at Mission Hill in some shape or form.

It’s also pretty tough to beat the view while dining on the terrace here, especially when the sun begins to set and a light breeze comes up from Lake Okanagan.

Prairie Harvest Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

I’ve mentioned this cozy Saskatchewan restaurant before because of their great weekend brunch, but one of the main reasons why most Saskatoonians (myself included) love Prairie Harvest is because they work closely with the city’s farmers’ markets to use local products like beef, pork, lake fish like trout and more.

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River Cafe: Fiddlehead Soup

RGE RD (Edmonton, AB)

The name of the restaurant itself is an ode to the country roads (range roads) that you can find in the Prairie Provinces; roads that cross over hundreds of kilometres of farmers’ fields. As it implies, RGE is all about using the best ingredients Alberta has to offer on the plate and showing you how tasty the province can be.

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River Cafe: Octopus Salad

River Cafe (Calgary, AB)

One of the first restaurants in Western Canada to embrace a “local” mentality and definitely the first in Calgary, River Cafe has been a staple of the dining scene since the 1990s. Being around for that long, you’d think the restaurant might have a hard time keeping up with what’s new and trendy, but the food remains as contemporary as ever, and the restaurant continues to be rated as one of the best establishments in the city for years.

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Rouge: Tartare 

Rouge (Calgary, AB)

Much like River Cafe, Rouge has long been a leader in the sustainable sourcing food movement in Calgary. A great sourcing ethic paired with one of the largest and most lush backyard gardens in the prairies means you’ve got a culinary experience worth trying. In the summertime, sit on the restaurant’s back patio while you watch Chef Jamie Harling and his kitchen staff pop in and out of the heritage home, picking greens and small vegetables to garnish plates with. Garden-to-table — it really doesn’t get fresher than that.

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The Wolf in the Fog

The Wolf in the Fog (Tofino, BC)

When you’re only a few hundred feet from the Pacific Ocean, it would be a real shame if you didn’t opt for using the beautiful (and sustainable) bounty that’s underneath the waves. The Wolf in the Fog, enRoute’s best new restaurant in Canada for 2014, is big on utilizing local oysters, more meaty underwater delicacies like Humboldt squid, as well as foraged mushrooms from the many forests that surround the beautiful little coastal town that is Tofino.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.