On the 20th anniversary of the two companies’ collaboration on the annual pre-eminent list of top restaurants across the country, OpenTable and Air Canada have named Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2021.
A press release says year’s list showcases culinary talent as inclusive and diverse as the Canadian community. It adds that Canada’s culinary talent has preserved a healthy and thriving restaurant scene across the country throughout the pandemic through incredible commitment and quality.
The 2021 Canada’s Best New Restaurants list features the best in fine dining, bar dining, takeout, farm-to-table, and other categories, while also highlighting producers of the year and innovators in the Canadian culinary landscape.
Here are Air Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2021:
- Best Fine Dining: Pompette (Toronto, ON): The modernist French Bistro offers updated classics, striking new flavour combos, modernist cocktails and a 300-plus label wine list that sparkles with Old World and New World gems. Service is always on point, and the vibe ever-relaxed.
- Best Bar Dining: JinBar (Calgary, AB): Chef Jinhee Lee, already an exemplar in contemporary Asian fusion cooking, mixes the lively cocktail-leaning embodiment of her effervescent personality with her love of bold Korean flavours – Korean pizza, anyone?
- Best Farm-to-Table: Bika Farm and Cuisine (Saint-Blaise-sur-Richelieu, QC): Ingredients travel only a few metres to diners’ plates at this farm table 45 kilometres southwest of Montreal. Chef Fisun Ercan’s suppers span a dozen dishes over four servings, all made from produce at peak freshness and inspired by Ercan’s youth on the Turkish Aegean coast.
- Best Tapas North of 60: BonTon & Company (Dawson City, Yukon): Diners at Shelby Jordan and Dennis Dunn’s Yukon restaurant just 240 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle are treated to international cuisine inspired by surrounding farms and producers. BonTon & Company is part of a Dawson City movement to re-establish local food chains and reverse decades of reliance on goods trucked in from away.
- Best Trailblazer, Tropikàl Restobar (Montreal, QC): The St-Henri restaurant has a carnival-like energy that resonates in chef Jae-Anthony Dougan’s cooking. It’s a celebration of Caribbean, Afro-Latin and West African history and cuisine, all backed up by a rum-fuelled cocktail bar.
- Best Hotel Restaurant: Terre (St. John’s, NL): At Terre, which overlooks St. John’s Harbour from inside the ALT Hotel, chef Matthew Swift has orchestrated a symphony of in-season Newfoundland produce, sourced directly from the fishers, farmer and hunters who work on the rugged island.
- Best Takeout: Sunny’s Chinese (Toronto, ON): From its beginnings as an exclusive experience obtained via a mailing list, to the brick-and-mortar incarnation opening 2022, Sunny’s Chinese sums up the entire pandemic restaurant experience in one brown bag filled with meticulously rendered regional Chinese delicacies.
- Producer of the Year: Tim Ball, subsea forager (Garnish and St. John’s, NF): Part-time bayman and full-time subsea forager, Tim Ball is changing the sustainability and stewardship of Newfoundland and Labrador fishing by hand-harvesting scallops and sea urchins that are enjoyed on plates from St. John’s to Japan.
- Grower of the Year: Les Jardins Lakou (Dunham, QC): Jean-Philippe Vézina grows vegetables typically used in Afro-Caribbean cuisine, inspired by a 2017 trip to the land of his birth, Haiti. Since his start in 2020, Vézina has doubled the number of subscribers to his weekly vegetable baskets filled with jicama, sweet potato, giraumon (turban squash), amaranth, okra, collard greens and African spinach.
OpenTable will be showcasing bookable bespoke Chef’s Menus at a selection of the restaurants featured on the 2021 Canada’s Best New Restaurants list.
“Canada’s Best New Restaurants represent the vibrant culinary landscape of this country. We know how much people have missed restaurants over the past 18 months and as part of our partnership with Air Canada we are bringing a selection of unique bespoke Chef’s Menu experiences to diners at some of the most renowned and innovative restaurants in Canada,” said Matt Davis, District Director of OpenTable Canada. “We are helping diners create meaningful moments around the table, whilst also enjoying best-in-class hospitality.”
The list of Canada’s Best New Restaurants is created with the help of industry experts from across the country. This expert food panel is inclusive, reflecting the diversity and geography of the Canadian food scene. In celebration of the program’s 20th anniversary and reflecting upon the industry-wide impact of the past two years, the panel embraced an unranked, category-based list this year, focused on resilience, entrepreneurial spirit, and culinary excellence.
View the full list of this year’s honourees.