No ifs ands or buts about it, Canada is having a moment. It started with our winning ways at the 2010 Winter Olympics and continued when our economy didn’t tank as badly as the rest of the Western world's. Now, part of the trickle-down effect is our blooming indigenous culinary scene.
Canada is a young country with no true old guard to speak of. For this reason, our chefs tend to be youthful, multi-ethnic, homegrown, experimental, and their food, proudly delicious. Which is why right now is an exciting time to be a Canadian chef, or (better still) a Canadian restaurant-goer.The first Bannock restaurant launched in the flagship Hudson’s Bay store in Toronto this fall, with a focus on traditional Canadian comfort food (everything from bannock pizzas to poutine and chicken pot pie). Then there’s chef Michael Stadtlander’s off-the-grid woodsy dream that is Haisai in Southhampton (the godfather of Canadian cookery, chef Stadtlander has also spearheaded the important cause of stopping a proposed mega quarry.) Vancouver has the Oakwood (try the Nanaimo bar custard for dessert) while other Canadian anthems include Martin Picard’s seasonal Caban au Sucre, as well as his meaty Quebecois comfort food temple, Au Pied de Cochon.
There’s also Edible Canada, which opened on Vancouver’s Granville Market, and Halifax’s Chives Canadian bistro, which just celebrated its happy 10th. These are just a few examples; the good news is that there are many more.
But for money, the restaurant that has it all – great looks, creativity, hot chefs, and overall deliciousness, is chef Aaron Joseph Bear Robe’s aboriginal Keriwa Café. Judging from brunch alone, from the basket of freshly baked goodies and homemade preserves to the brown butter eggs Benny (why have I never had this magical take on hollandaise before?) with its local Red Fife biscuit base, crispy homemade bacon, not to mention the cleverly tasty roasted root veg tossed with salad side, I’ll be shocked if someone can find a better brunch in town.
Or, a more Canadian one.