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Canoe

Summer Bucketlist: Top 10 Mountain Musts

By Kaitlyn Forde

Don’t have a bucket list for summer in the Canadian Rockies? Borrow ours!

1: Reach new heights: Ride Banff Gondola, Mount Norquay Chairlift, Lake Louise Gondola and Jasper Skytram for easy access to unbeatable views.

2. Snap a selfie at an iconic lake: Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Bow Lake and Maligne Lake.

Time to update your profile photo with a glacier-blue background. Photo by Travel Alberta

Time to update your profile photo with a glacier-blue background. Photo by Travel Alberta

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Canoe Marks 20 Years with a Coast-to-Coast Tasting Menu

FINE DINING INSTITUTION CANOE OFFERS A SPECIAL 20TH-ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF ITS RENOWNED TASTING MENU

Canoe restaurant toronto tasting menu

Canoe chefs John Horne and Coulson Armstrong (photo: Allison Woo)

SEPTEMBER 21 TO NOVEMBER 20  Few of this city’s restaurants have managed to maintain both their popularity and their high quality for as long as Canoe. The Financial District institution is this season celebrating its 20th year as one of the country’s founding and still foremost innovators of Canadian regional cuisine. Diners can commemorate the occasion by indulging in a special “Canoe Twenty” tasting experience, crafted by John Horne, Coulson Armstrong and Anthony Walsh, the restaurant’s culinary leadership team and three of Toronto’s most respected chefs. Even after two decades, the fine dining room is still earning rapturous reviews from critics and customers alike. No doubt its anniversary offering, celebrating the best and most uniquely Canadian ingredients from coast to coast, will reach for similar gastronomic heights.  —Craig Moy

• Canoe, 66 Wellington St. W., 416-364-0054; canoerestaurant.com
Map and reviews

Water’s Wonders: Canadian Rockies Glaciers, Rivers, Falls and Lakes

Your summer playground

By Afton Aikens

For many visitors—and locals on a staycation—the Canadian Rockies are synonymous with big mountain skiing, hiking to pristine alpine lakes and countless other outdoor pursuits like canoeing and fishing on waterways surrounded by towering peaks.

Photo: Bow Lake, Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Photo: Bow Lake, Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

While we’re far from the coast, much of the lifestyle here revolves around water. We glide on it, we climb its frozen form, and yes, we swim in it (for a short window during summer). We photograph and admire its beauty.

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Hot Dining: Toronto’s Hunger Game

An elk chop

You don’t have to be a hunter to enjoy the savoury taste of game meats. Nowadays, many Ontario farmers raise non-traditional livestock, and Toronto chefs are happy to use the animals in dishes ranging from elk chops to ostrich burgers. The best local game preparations are reliably found at restaurants specializing in upscale “Canadian” cuisine, such as Canoe, which often offers venison of the finest quality, and Lucien, where red deer has lately been served as a tartar. The French have long made use of duck, rabbit and even horse in their classic dishes; find the latter at both Batifole and La Palette. And for something even more exotic, Byzantium is pleased to put kangaroo on your plate.

Hot Dining: Get a Discounted Dinner During Winterlicious

Aria Ristorante

JANUARY 27 TO FEBRUARY 9 This year marks the 10th anniversary of Winterlicious, the annual event that lures gourmands, coupon-clippers and the epicurious out of hibernation. For two weeks, approximately 175 of Toronto’s finest dining destinations serve up their signature cuisine as part of discounted three-course prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner. Local landmark restaurants like Canoe are taking part, as are newcomers like Estiatorio Volos, Scarpetta and Aria. No coupons are required, but reservations are highly recommended. Winterlicious lunches are priced from $15 to $25, and dinners are $25 to $45; click here for a list of this year’s participating restaurants.

Tops in Taste: Toronto’s 2011 Where to Dine Awards

From quick and casual eateries to fine dining experiences inspired by global cuisines, Toronto has many hundreds of excellent restaurants. Only a handful, however,
can be true consensus favourites, and the winners of our annual Where to Dine
readers’ choice awards.

Canoe (photo by Kristina Doyle)

AMBIENCE
The Keg Steakhouse & Bar
Six locations of the popular steakhouse ensure diners can get a grilled-to-perfection sirloin, T-bone or filet mignon practically anywhere in Toronto. The brand’s most notable venue is in a circa-1868 mansion on Jarvis Street—the immaculately adorned interior is a conversation starter. Two other restaurants in the heart of downtown offer a more modern vibe for business lunches and pre-show dinners.
Honorable Mention: Auberge du Pommier

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH
Cora Breakfast & Lunch
Down-home country-kitchen dishes are the draw at this group of restaurants, originally from Quebec. Fresh fruit and eggs in various preparations comprise the majority of the menu, from the “10 Star” omelette—filled with ham, sausage, spinach, tomatoes and much more—to the “1990s Harvest” of cinnamon French toast with an egg, bacon and a mountain of seasonal fruit.
Honorable Mention: Fran’s (more…)

Chef at Home: Ricardo Larrivée

If you like the affable, comforting persona of chef Ricardo Larrivée from his Food Network Canada show Ricardo and Friends, you can now bring him home with you. Sort of. The bilingual Quebec-based host—episodes of his popular series are filmed in the Chambliss home Larrivée shares with his wife and three daughters—has launched a line of cook- and bakeware available at Sears. The complete collection consists of pots, pans, utensils, and even storage containers. A frequent visitor to Toronto, Larrivée shares his thoughts on this city.

What are your favourite places to visit when in Toronto?

I love the antique stores in Yorkville. Also the Royal Ontario Museum, Pusateri’s, Stillwater Spa, and Kensington Market (at Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West) for its food, bars and ambience. (more…)

Hot Dining: Canoe’s as Good as New

photo by Kristina Doyle

There’s never been a better time to renew acquaintances with Canoe. Consistently named one of Toronto’s best fine dining establishments during its 15 years in business, the Oliver & Bonacini flagship welcomed 2011 with a million-dollar facelift and some delectable new dishes. The restaurant’s Canadiana theme is clear as ever—check out the etched caribou images beside the new soapstone bar—while taupe, copper and other earthy tones bring considerable warmth to the open-concept dining room. Executive chef Anthony Walsh has made some upgrades, too, with such seasonal menu additions as Ontario buffalo mozzarella with birch syrup and mountain cranberries ($19), and maple- and miso-glazed B.C. sablefish ($43). One thing, however, remains unchanged: Canoe’s stunning 54th-floor view of the city.

Weekend Roundup, January 28th to 30th

Friday: Witness Christopher Plummer's tour de force in Barrymore

Friday, January 28th
Don’t miss Canadian icon Christopher Plummer in Barrymore, which celebrates its opening weekend at the Elgin Theatre. In this acclaimed one-man play, Plummer embodies the role of John Barrymore, one of the 20th century’s greatest Shakespearean actors.

Winterlicious starts today! Approximately 150 restaurants—including local favourites like Bier Markt, Bangkok Garden and the newly renovated Canoe—are participating in this popular prix-fixe dining event. It’s a great and affordable way to try some of the tasty food Toronto has on offer. (more…)

2010 Dining Guide: Tasty Trademarks

For a most memorable meal, seek out these signature dishes at Toronto’s most acclaimed fine dining establishments.

Lucien's bincho-grilled octopus (photo by Margaret Mulligan)

BINCHO-GRILLED OCTOPUS WITH FINGERLING POTATOES, PIMENTO CAVIAR AND BLACK OLIVE FLAKE Grilled over Japanese bincho charcoal for a light, smoky flavour, the cephalopod at Lucien is rolled and sliced thin, then topped with crisp baby tentacles. House-made chorizo, pimento “caviar” and fingerling potatoes round out the dish.

BLACK COD A favourite of the discerning clientele at Scaramouche, this fish dish is a step beyond the miso-glazed versions found elsewhere. Here, it’s given a crisp, curried crust and accompanied by organic shrimp, preserved lemon, and a tarragon brown butter sauce.

Nota Bene's crisp duck salad (photo by Nikki Leigh McKean)

CRISP DUCK SALAD WITH SUMAC-DUSTED GREEN PAPAYA SLAW AND CASHEWS The inspiring salad at Nota Bene offers perfectly contrasting textures and flavours. It’s citrusy and fresh, crispy and crunchy. Diners will remember this appetizer through the entire meal—and until their next visit.

PRAIRIES VENISON New to the seasonal tasting menu at Canoe, this must-taste main is beautifully presented with mountain cranberries and a handcrafted Soma chocolate walnut, seamlessly melding both savoury and sweet.

Colborne Lane's seared scallop (photo by Will Fournier)

SEARED SCALLOP WITH CLOTTED COCONUT, SWEET CHILI, CITRUS FRUIT AND NITRO CRÈME FRAÎCHE This offering is exemplary of Claudio Aprile’s ever-intriguing menu at Colborne Lane. Small dots of liquid nitrogen–hardened crème fraîche top a perfectly caramelized scallop. A dollop of sweet coconut cream balances the citrus fruit and chili sauce to ensure perfection on the plate.

You Are Here: The PATH

The largest underground retail concourse in the world, Toronto’s PATH system travels beneath the Financial District with numerous entry and exit points. Many have been lured by its warmth in winter, plus shopping and sustenance. But it can be a bit confusing; follow our guide to ensure a smooth trip from one end to the other.

1. CENTRAL HUB One of the bigger, busier sections of PATH’s underground city is First Canadian Place. More than 120 shops, services and restaurants make it a popular destination for business people with a minute to spare. Top shops such as Harry Rosen, Tip Top Tailors and Birks ensure you’re well attired and accessorized, while respected restaurants including Vertical and Reds can satisfy any craving. This marketplace is as distinguished as its namesake skyscraper, which stands as the city’s second tallest building. 100 King St. W., 416-862-8138.

First Canadian Place's gleaming concourse

2. PRIME REAL ESTATE Near Bay and Wellington streets sits the cluster of Mies van der Rohe–designed towers of the Toronto-Dominion Centre. Beneath those buildings, the PATH’s green granite floors match TD Bank’s colour palette, and plush leather benches offer respite from the foot traffic. The retail range here offers Danier Leather and a Laura Secord chocolate boutique. Streetside, you’ll find the Design Exchange and popular restaurant Bymark. High flyers ascend even further—54 storeys, to be exact—to indulge in original Canadian cuisine at Canoe. 66 Wellington St. W., 416-869-1144.

3. ADDED VALUE If you find yourself surrounded by bright, white marble, you’ve arrived at the new Bay Adelaide Centre. This peaceful portion of PATH is home to a small but immaculate food court and some quick-stop shops; to the north it connects with the huge flagship location of The Bay. The futuristic feel of the underground matches the building that rises from it—the glass-walled building is the city’s first and only high-rise office tower to lay claim to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Standard. 333 Bay St., 416-369-2300.

The exquisite vaulted ceiling of Commerce Court's CIBC bank building

4. SQUARE DEAL Commerce Court’s quadrants boast a food court, as well as healthy Four, an upscale restaurant where every dish is under 650 calories. Above ground, check out power-lunch favourite Far Niente plus the historic Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce headquarters—with its stunning Beaux Arts–style atrium—and the surrounding towers designed by I.M. Pei. 25 King St. W., 416-364-2281.

5. SPLENDID SITE Arguably the best-known southerly section of the PATH is Brookfield Place. Just a short walk from Union Station, its subterranean component has a food court and a few modest shops, but you’ll also find the entrance to the Hockey Hall of Fame—a shrine to Canada’s cherished pastime featuring exhibits, artifacts, trophies and more. Or, follow the sunlight up to street level, where soaring white buttresses and an arched glass ceiling create a futuristic cathedral-like effect in the Allen Lambert Galleria. 181 Bay St., 416-777-6480.

Blue-Ribbon Bites: Our 2010 Where to Dine Readers’ Choice Awards

Once again we asked you, Where readers, to tell us about your most memorable meals for our annual Where to Dine Awards. This year, thousands dined, dashed to their computers and dished about these exemplary restaurants in 20 categories.

AMBIENCE — La Maquette
Go for: This French institution’s refined atmosphere: grand fireplaces, a lovely solarium and a patio adjacent to the Toronto Sculpture Garden.
Stay for: The chef’s specialty grilled jumbo quail with blackberry sauce, wild cherries and apricot chutney.
Runners up: The Sultan’s Tent, Southern Accent.

BUSINESS LUNCH — Canoe
Go for: Everything on executive chef Anthony Walsh’s acclaimed menu, which highlights the best of Canada’s culinary bounty.
Stay for: The 54th-floor view that colleagues and clients are unlikely to forget.
Runners up: Jump, Bymark.

BAR/LOUNGE — Dakota Tavern
Go for: The underground watering hole’s eclectic urban-cowboy ambience, fun-loving crowd and nightly rip-snortin’ performances by local and touring bands.
Stay for: An excellent all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch—complete with live bluegrass music.
Runners up: Panorama, The Abbot Pub & Fare.

The Drake Hotel

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH — The Drake Hotel
G0 for: An enormous helping of fluffy buttermilk pancakes with stewed fruit and crème fraiche.
Stay for: The diverse juice and drinks list, with everything from mango iced tea to a piquant tequila and cilantro Caesar.
Runners up: Le Sélect Bistro, Cora Breakfast & Lunch.

CAFÉ — Dark Horse Espresso Bar
G0 for: A steaming mug of French-pressed coffee or a shot of espresso expertly prepared by gregarious baristas at two locations.
Stay for: The relaxed and inclusive vibe—though the communal tables can get crowded with laptop-toting javaheads.
Runners up: B Espresso Bar, Art Square Café.

CHINESE — Lai Wah Heen
Go for: An unparalleled dim sum experience. The variety of nibbles and their artful presentation are worth the price.
Stay for: The array of Cantonese entrees ranging from the expected—Peking duck—to the exotic, like sea cucumber and sliced abalone.
Runners up: Asian Legend, Pearl Harbourfront.

FAMILY DINNER — The Pickle Barrel
Go for: All-day breakfast favourites like Belgian waffles and French toast that are sure to please even the pickiest of young palates.
Stay for: Adult-oriented entrees including stir-fries, sandwiches, seafood and steaks—approximately 300 menu items in all.
Runners up: The Old Spaghetti Factory, Jack Astor’s.

Scaramouche

FINE DINING — Scaramouche
Go for: Such contemporary French-influenced fare as lobster and lamb enhanced by the freshest of seasonal accompaniments.
Stay for: The expansive hilltop view of downtown, and a fabulous slice of coconut cream pie to end the evening.
Runners up: Splendido, Harbour Sixty.

FRENCH — Auberge du Pommier
Go for: The classic combination of milk-poached veal tenderloin and crispy fried sweetbreads. C’est magnifique!
Stay for: A charcuterie platter that adds Canadian touches like spruce tips and apple mustard, plus a to-die-for crème brûlée.
Runners up: Batifole, Loire.

GREEK — Pan on the Danforth
Go for: Large, affordable servings of Hellenic faves like stifatho, a dish of spiced veal cubes traditionally offered at weddings.
Stay for: Seafood staples including a fillet of red snapper in white wine sauce.
Runners up: Christina’s on the Danforth, Penelope.

HOTEL DINING — Epic at the Fairmont Royal York
Go for: Meaty, Canadian-sourced mains—Ontario pork, Alberta lamb and more—seasoned with herbs grown in the hotel’s own rooftop garden.
Stay for: Ocean Wise–certified sustainable fish from both the east and west coasts.
Runners up: Victor at the Hôtel le Germain, Victoria’s Restaurant at Le Méridien King Edward Hotel.

Epic at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel

INDIAN — Little India
Go for: A laid-back lunch with downtown friends. The daily buffet is fresh and very reasonably priced.
Stay for: The rich and savoury butter chicken, plus a wide variety of vegetarian entrees.
Runners up: 259 Host, Babur.

ITALIAN — Zucca Trattoria
Go for: The daily selection of market-fresh whole grilled fish, presented by knowledgeable servers and paired with Italian vino.
Stay for: House-made pastas—try the strozapretti or casunsei ampezzani—that are counted among the city’s best.
Runners up: Mistura, Bellini’s.

JAPANESE — Funé
Go for: Varied pickings at the moat-encircled sushi bar. Grab what you like from the bamboo boats for a quick meal before catching a show in the Theatre District.
Stay for: Charbroiled Atlantic salmon with teriyaki sauce.
Runners up: Ki Modern Japanese & Bar, Nami.

ROMANTIC — 360 the Restaurant at the CN Tower
Go for: The unforgettable revolving vistas afforded at more than 351 metres above Toronto. The city’s expanse twinkles wonderfully when it’s lit up at night.
Stay for: A rack of slow-roasted Canadian AAA prime beef ribs—big enough to share with your date—plus vintages from the world’s highest wine cellar.
Runners up: North 44, Trattoria Sotto Sotto.

Fisherman's Wharf

SEAFOOD — Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco
Go for: The mammoth seafood platter for two, which could include everything from lobster and Alaskan king crab legs to oysters, scallops and shrimp.
Stay for: Cherry wood–planked Tasmanian sea trout and grilled, miso-glazed
black cod are reliable options.
Runners up: Pier 4 Storehouse, Rodney’s Oyster House.

SERVICE — Bâton Rouge Restaurant
Go for: Grilled-to-order steaks and the restaurant’s signature pork back ribs, of course.
Stay for: The Toronto Eaton Centre location’s attentive staff, who ensure your business lunch or pre-theatre meal goes off without a hitch.
Runners up: George, Pangaea.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN — Golden Thai
Go for: Green curry chicken is an ever-popular choice, as is the Thai steak with mushrooms, peppers and lemon-coriander sauce.
Stay for: Pad Thai. This long-standing resto was one of the first to jump-start the city’s Thai food love affair and its staple dish still satisfies.
Runners up: Bangkok Garden, Mengrai Gourmet Thai.

STEAKHOUSE — The Keg
Go for: Dependable cuts of beef—like juicy New York striploin—available at seven Toronto locations, one of which is an impossibly elegant Victorian mansion.
Stay for: Surf-and-turf combo platters including prime rib and lobster tail, and teriyaki sirloin with tiger shrimp.
Runners up: Barberian’s, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

WINE LIST — Reds Bistro & Wine Bar
Go for: A Proustian list of bottled and by-the-glass vintages sourced by sommelier Carol Racicot and matched with bistro-style cuisine.
Stay for: Your choice of more than 30 international cheeses, plus a varied charcuterie.
Runners up: Opus, Via Allegro.