Paying homage to Canada through its culinary roots is a wonderful way to celebrate our country’s history and traditions. Bannock, Canoe, and Tundra are all well-established restaurants that continue to elevate Canadiana-themed dining in Toronto.
A recent spate of new restos is adding to those patriotic options, exciting diners with their deliciously unique play on Canuck food and settings. Check out a few:
The Place: Inspired by the old recipes and ingredients of Canada’s natives and early settlers, Borealia delivers exquisite, modern interpretations of historic cuisine.
The Setting: Tent-draped front entrance and beamed ceilings are reminiscent of a native longhouse. The prominent northern lights-like fixture, forest-scene mural, and native-influenced textiles combine for a modern yet heritage feel. Whimsical antique china serves artfully plated food. An intimate back nook offers a harvest table for 10. Total capacity is 45 with buy-out available.
Dish It Up: Servers delight in sharing the history behind each dish, but the signature stars are definitely the Pigeon Pie, roast squab and parsnip, and the Braised Whelk, succulently arranged in shell with kombu beurre blanc, seaweed and burdock.
Fast Fact: We could be living in a country called “Borealia” today. Latin for “northern,” it was one of the names proposed for our nation at time of Confederation.
Into The Woods
The Place: It’s a coast-to-coast tasting journey at Woods Restaurant with a distinct nod towards French-Canadian dishes seasonally married with local ingredients.
The Setting: Exposed brick, amber wood furnishings and rustic wooden pillars imbue the restaurant’s bright, airy loft-like main dining room, seating about 30, with a forager’s terroir ambience. Due diligence is paid to the restaurant’s moniker with twig-patterned upholstery, artsy tree murals and accents. An undulating snowdrift-like screen backdrops the bar. Host a meet and dine at the front window’s 10-seat table. Coveted private spots are the table for 16 in the event cellar and a six-seater chef’s table in the kitchen.
Dish It Up: A fave from the East Coast: the Wild Digby Scallops with brown butter cauliflower puree, warm bacon vinaigrette, cauliflower and grapefruit segments.
Fast Fact: The restaurant cultivates its own lettuce, sprouts and herbs in-house with planter box gardens that provide a fresh décor accent.
Canadian-style Supper Club
The Place: Like the Prairies, there’s a lot of space to experience at The Forth, a night-friendly cocktail-swish supper club that embraces the diverse melting pot of cuisines that is Canada.
The Setting: Three stories and 8,000 sq. ft. is no small venture, but there’s an elevator to help the journey. The sleek design of the multilevel atrium’s layout boasts subtle visuals that salute Canadian nature such as warm herringbone wood floors and a towering grove of birch trunks art installation. A compact lobby greets guests on ground level with main dining on the second floor seating up to 180. A third-floor lounge seats 80. Filling the walls are black-and-white projected images of the local community way back when. Semi-private and buy-out options available.
Dish It Up: Fun is the opportunity to dine family-style … how Canadian-friendly! But if ordering a la carte, the Truffled Lobster Fettuccine and the Braised Bison Short Rib are delicious testimonials to Canadian ingredients.
Fast Fact: The Forth is a handle for Danforth, the restaurant’s Greek-town neighbourhood.
Get Your Kitchen Party On!
The Place: Rockin’, raucous fun is served up with a taste of the Maritimes at Rock Lobster’s three locations: Ossington, Queen West and Leslieville
The Setting: Ultra Canadian with original iconic artwork and cheery kitschy accents, each location is unique yet similar in welcoming vibe and casual comfiness. Raw bars are piled high with just-caught treasures flown in daily from the East Coast. Each location is available for private buy out for seated dining or reception-style partying. The resto’s original Ossington site entertains 150. On Queen West, up to 120 can fill the interior or, in summer, chow down on the enclosed 80-seat back patio with retractable roof. The recent Leslieville addition holds 100 with three patio options, the largest holding 150.
Dish It Up: Lobster Rolls and Lobster Poutine are the must-orders. However the menu services carnivores, too, with very Canadian offerings of bison, pork and duck.
Fast Fact: Rock Lobster’s award-winning oversized Caesar comes replete with a half lobster tail garnish sitting pretty next to the celery.
The Place: Canada’s East Coast is very in vogue. Hopgood’s FoodLiner, located in the heart of Roncesvalles’s Polish-centric neighbourhood, takes Maritime cuisine comfy upscale.
The Setting: The long narrow space has a distinct industrial feel accented by metal light fixtures and stools. A generous bar with solid cherry wood topper invites a group dine configuration or a handy food-drinks reception station. Front of house is event convertible to accommodate 50 reception-style. Check out the private back area, the Oyster Shack. The room holds up to 18 at a high-top, communal table opening to an ice trough where guests can feast on their chilled favourites from the sea. Now that’s fun!
Dish It Up: Go for a sea-faring adventure with a custom-designed tasting menus featuring whole roasted lobes of foie gras, lobster boils and bone marrow luges, or try the flavourful simplicity of the Cape Breton Snow Crab Cocktail.
Fast Fact: The restaurant is named after the grocery store chain Chef-owner Geoff Hopgood’s family owned back east.