18 B.C. restaurants among country's top 100
Eighteen B.C. eateries have landed on the list of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants and Bars.
Published, St. Lawrence, AnnaLena, Kissa Tanto, Hawksworth, L'Abattoir, Boulevard, Mott 32, Oca Pastificio, Masayoshi, Cioppino's, Tojo, Maenam, Burdoch and Co., and La Quercia made the list of top eateries in Vancouver.
Beyond the city limits, only three restaurants notched a spot on the coveted hot 100 list: Wild Blue and Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, and Pluvio in Ucluelet. The latest edition saw the province's food and beverage scene lose a few footholds on the list. Last year's ranking included 21 B.C. eateries.
Published on Main, the restaurant that took the top spot on last year's list, came it at No. 3 for 2023. It's a ranking that will likely still please executive chef Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson, who says a place on the 100 best list can be a “game changer” for a local establishment.
“It changed things for our restaurant overnight,” Stieffenhofer-Brandson said of the effect topping last year's list had on the Main Street, Michelin-starred restaurant. “We were busy before, but the next day, the amount of traffic crashed our website, and we booked the three months we had open in Tock overnight.
“From that moment to the present, we've been full every night. It gave us the opportunity to give our cooks a four-day work week and a raise, and make a lot of improvements for the team. ...
“I found it immensely validating for myself, and for our whole team, to show that all of our hard work was being noticed.”
Interviewed before the list was published, and therefore before he knew where Published was ranked, Stieffenhofer-Brandson remarked that, despite hoping his team again ranks among the top eateries in Canada for 2023, he doesn't get too bogged down worrying about whether or not they actually do.
“I think worrying too much about ranking can be damaging,” Stieffenhofer-Brandson says. “I think the focus should always be on keeping a busy restaurant and providing excellent food, wine, service and experiences to our guests, but it is undeniable that these lists help fill the restaurant.”
Started in 2015 by founding editor Jacob Richler as a way to provide a reliable list of local restaurants and bars for people to enjoy, Richler says the rankings are chosen based on the feedback from “informed restaurant judges” from across the country. This year's panel included 135 judges, according to Richler.
“They are a combination of chefs, critics, food writers, restaurateurs, informed well-travelled diners and the like,” Richler says. “Each produces a ranked top 10 list of their previous year's best dining experiences. And to address the imbalance of regional population, each is obliged to vote for a certain number of restaurants outside their home region. We assign points to rank, pool them, and skim off the top 100 restaurants.”
The bar list, Richler says, is put together in the same way but on a smaller scale.
Compiling a list of top eateries is about more than just creating a good guide for go-tos, according to Richler. It's about celebrating the wealth of talent within the country's food and beverage fields.
“Our restaurant industry is overflowing with driven, hard-working and talented people, many of whom make a lot of sacrifices to do what they love — and do it extremely well,” Richler says. “Especially nowadays, with so few real critics left, and so much ill-informed vindictive tripe trotted out on social media and online, it's important to provide the restaurant industry with recognition and assessment they find credible and worth working for.
“Especially if, in the process, we can shine a national — and increasingly, international — spotlight on what they do so well. So that's what we strive to do, in addition to steering consumers to the best possible dining choices.”
While Richler is confident the full list will provide many popular options for diners, he's proud to see one of his own favourite eateries come in at No. 1.
“Mon Lapin in Montreal turns out to not just be a personal favourite of mine, but of a whole lot of our judges, too,” Richler says. “And it's our first No. 1 restaurant from Montreal since Toqué! in 2016.
“I wouldn't call that an upset, or shakeup, but it's a fabulous recognition of the fact that a great restaurant can be casual, have a great sense of fun. And that substance trumps pretension.”
For anyone who's upset to find their favourite eatery isn't featured on this list, Richler says there's a way to have their concern considered by the Canada's Best team.
“If you enjoy that place, and have good reasons, you shouldn't need approbation from us or anyone to carry on,” he says. “But if you feel passionately that our judges have mistakenly overlooked the place please send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try to get there to see if that's true.
“Please, though, try some of our recommendations, too.”
Worrying too much about ranking can be damaging ... but it is undeniable that these lists help fill the restaurant.