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Checking in at Hotel Restaurants

When you consult our 2019 list of Canada’s Best Restaurants you’ll find a hotel restaurant at every echelon.

Top ten? Try Langdon Hall, in Cambridge, Ontario. Top 20: Hawksworth at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, in Vancouver. And on it goes, through Vancouver’s Boulevard and Botanist to Café Boulud at the Four Seasons Toronto, Michael Smith’s Inn at Bay Fortune in P.E.I., and four others.

For my part, if I were a judge for this magazine, I would give special consideration to the food at two hotel restaurants ranked in the seventies. Chef Riccardo Bertolino at Maison Boulud at the Ritz in Montreal has consistently prepared for me the best risotto I’ve enjoyed in this country—and is unusually gifted with fish, besides. And further east, I can happily report that no hotel chef I know of is more in tune with his terroir and its history, or doing a better job at working with both to come up with something contemporary and delicious, as is Jona- than Gushue at Fogo Island Inn (my travel story on that trip will appear in the Spring, 2020 issue).

I also ate well this summer at Terre in the new Alt Hotel in St. John’s, where Joe Beef alumnus Matthew Swift’s simplest renderings of fine local product (chowder, chanterelles with crushed potatoes) were easily among the best dishes I ate on that particular jaunt through town. Several of our judges have recommended that when next in Montreal I should stop in for drinks at the bar at Marcus in the new Four Seasons Montreal, to check the latest stunning space from the eminently talented local restaurant designer Zébulon Perron. So that’s on my list, as is trying out the fare from Carmen Ingham, the new chef at the redesigned Wickaninnish Inn restaurant, The Pointe, in Tofino. When I get to Victoria I’ll be stopping at the Courtney Room in the Magnolia Hotel. And my first stop on my next visit to Calgary will be the restaurant within a restaurant at the new Alt: Darren Maclean’s Eight (and Nupo). Which is all to say that hotel dining—widely considered to be languishing, if not failing, just a decade or two back—is now in very good shape indeed.