The second annual edition of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants is set to hit magazine stands March 1. We asked Editor in Chief Jacob Richler three questions about the issue. Here’s what he had to say:
What’s interesting about the 2016 issue?
As I see it, the second annual ranking is real validation of our process. You see that first in the core group of great restaurants coast-to-coast that have carried over on the list from last year. But there was a lot of movement within those ranks. And more exciting still, a lot of new restaurants nipping at the heals of more established places – and often pushing them right out of the way in their march up the charts. Which proves that in addition to their preoccupation with quality and consistency our judges have their collective eye sharply focussed on the best of the new, on what’s fresh, exciting – and valid. Our system works.
It’s a great list – a really accurate measure of quality, coast-to-coast, over a year in dining time.
Will there be any surprises for readers?
The single most pleasant surprise of the exercise for me was the Dandylion story. I happen to be a fan of Jason Carter’s very particular, precise but unfussy style of cooking. I like the staff, and the casual mood of the place – and so nip down for dinner there with my wife whenever I can. Which is to say that if I did cast a vote for the Canada’s 100 Best list (I don’t) Dandylion would be somewhere on my ballot. I was pleasantly surprised last year to see them squeak onto our inaugural list at number 100 when they had only been open a month. And then I was really, really surprised and happy for them this year when I saw their new ranking.
Nice work for a 30-seat room without cocktails! Nice job for any place.
What trends did you notice in the second annual edition?
The single most conspicuously successful new trend in the culinary sphere is the rise of the vegetable. Not of preachy, good-for-you vegetarian cuisine – but of imaginative new vegetable cooking from smart chefs who know that vegetables are as well equipped for the spotlight and centre stage as is any piece of meat or fish. You see it across the country – from Pigeon Hole in Calgary, to Vin Papillon and Hotel Herman in Montreal, and at Dandylion – and the new menu at Nota Bene – in Toronto.
It’s good for the waistline, good for the planet – and most important, it agrees with my palate, too.
Canada’s 100 Best 2016 rankings will be released on February 29th at 4pm.