The year we launched enRoute magazine's Canada’s Best New Restaurants feature, I was nominated for a James Beard Award in the category of best restaurant critique (any time I can mention that award I do), and was up against Alan Richman at GQ, which is where I met him, which made the whole evening worthwhile even though we both lost to some bitch from Bon Appetit.
After two years of eating, my friend Chris Johns took over the reigns, criss-crossing the nation for five or six years, and he did a great job at it. Now comes Sarah Musgrave, and in some small way I’m glad there’s a woman at the table again. You know; a little more salad, a little less pork belly. Plus, she’s an awesome writer, and the author of the bestselling Montreal restaurant guide, Resto A Go-Go.
I was a panelist again, meaning I handed in a mitt-full of restaurant picks that I had eaten at over the course of the year that I considered to be contenders for the top spots. I happened to mention to Sarah, while we dined on a so-so meal at Ame (during her summertime cross-Canada chowdown) that, having visited Haisai, I honestly couldn’t see anyone beating out chef Michael Stadtlander's dreamy new restaurant.
Fast-forward to this week.
Soon after the awards were announced, Sarah came clean: “Okay, Amy, you bit your tongue but I could see it in your eyes, and I do recall you said something like. "I mean, just the decor alone..." Still, you have to experience it to believe it.” I couldn't agree more. She says that Haisai is total woodlands fantasy, and that the food is so real, so grounded in place. “I found it incredibly intimate and masterful - that ham! That ham! – it's like being invited to take part in Stadtlander's creative process.” And that's what makes him Michael Stadtlander.
For the first time, enRoute is trying out a live chat about the Top 10 restaurants on Monday, Nov. 1 at 11 a.m. - fun stuff because the public can pose questions to two lovely ladies: Sarah Musgrave and enRoute’s editor-in-chief, Ilana Weitzman. Click on this link to sign up.