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5 Restaurants for Wine Lovers

Courtesy of Fusion Grill

Courtesy of Fusion Grill

Calling all oenophiles: these restaurants are must-visits for wine lovers of all stripes.

At DeLuca’s Cooking School, sip specially paired wines provided by attached DeLuca Fine Wines while chef Anna Paganelli demonstrates how to prepare elaborate Italian dishes. Call for class schedule and to register. 950 Portage Ave, 204‑774‑7617, delucas.ca

529 Wellington, Winnipeg’s most lofty steakhouse, maintains its elevated reputation with an award winning wine list so thick it could have been written by Proust. More than 800 selections pair with anything from porterhouse to prawns. 529 Wellington Cres, 204‑487‑8325, 529wellington.ca

Mona Lisa Restaurant is a top pick for comforting red sauce Italian fare in a sleek yet casual atmosphere. The adjacent cantina is perfect for variety-loving imbibers, with 20 featured wines offered by the glass. 1697 Corydon Ave, 204‑488‑3684, monalisarestaurant.ca

Fusion Grill stokes Canadian pride with its sophisticated use of regional ingredients, and local love doesn’t stop there. Owner Scot McTaggart (pictured) built an extensive wine list that is exclusively Canadian, and sure to win over even old-world enthusiasts to the Canuck terroir. 550 Academy Rd, 204‑489‑6963, fusiongrill.mb.ca

Forget hot cocoa—cap off a day of outdoor activities with a glass of vino at The Common at The Forks. Pours by the glass or in tasting flights are perfect to sip while relaxing in the food hall or even browsing the market’s upper level shops. The Forks Market, 204‑942‑6216, theforks.com

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Dine Like a Star During TIFF



Grab a drink or dinner at the chic Drake One Fifty during the festival and keep your eyes peeled for famous faces.

In addition to being home to TIFF headquarters and theatres such as the Princess of Wales and Royal Alexandra, the Entertainment District is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to restaurants. Enjoy the California-style vibes and say hello to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man at Montecito, a joint venture between Ghostbusters filmmaker Ivan Reitman and chef Jonathan Waxman. The internationally-inspired menus at Hush and Luma win over moviegoers, with such offerings as maple glazed salmon and grilled quail respectively. Hearty Italian fare can be found at Buca, which serves house-made pastas among other favourites. The upscale Nota Bene is a downtown favourite for chef David’s lee’s impeccable menu, as well as the extensive gin list.

Catching a flick at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre? Both JaBistro  and Richmond Station are within walking distance. Feast on beautifully-plated fresh sashimi and sushi at the former, while the latter is co-owned by Top Chef Canada winner Carl Heinrich with a seasonally-changing menu. The Chase has seafood-themed offerings like Arctic char, octopus and king crab, while further afoot, the Drake One Fifty is an ultra hip spot in the Financial District serving the likes of squid ink pasta and suckling pig porchetta.

—Karen Stevens

Stop and Stay in Fernie

Aug. 26, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Tackle the whitewater or throw out a fishing line. With the Elk River flowing through its district, Fernie is the perfect spot for a vacation on the water. And now you can stay even closer.

RV camping Fernie (more…)

Get Your (Prix) Fixe of Toronto Dining with Summerlicious


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Kasa Moto’s Summerlicious menu items include Lobster Miso Soup, Shichimi Arctic Char and Strawberry Shortcake, among others.

TO JULY 24 Summerlicious returns for the 13th year, enabling patrons an opportunity to dine at some of the city’s premier establishments. The city-wide celebration encompasses more than 200 restaurants, with each creating three-course prix fixe menus for lunch ($18 to $28) and dinner ($28 to $48). Returning favourites include Canoe, The Carbon Bar, and Chase Fish & Oyster Bar, while Ufficio, Kasa Moto, and Beaumont Kitchen are new to the program. Spots fill up fast at some of the most popular restaurants, so make sure to make reservations ahead of time.—Karen Stevens

Hot Dining: Cute Creperie

Owners Phil Salazar and Candy Lam. Photo by Ian McCausland

Owners Phil Salazar and Candy Lam. Photo by Ian McCausland

Entrepreneur Candy Lam first encountered Japanese-style crepes while making buying trips to Asia for her clothing store. With the help of her husband, Phil Salazar, Lam re-imagined the crispy, cone-shaped versions of the beloved French pancake for Winnipeg. With unique sweet and savoury fillings and names like “Pump Up the Yam” and “It’s-A-Smore”, Kawaii Crepe shows how fun and food go hand in hand. 201-99 Osborne St, 204‑415‑2833; Unit D-1220 St Mary’s Rd, 204‑691‑3700

Global Eats


Fried chicken at Omaw

Bar Fancy

Omaw riffs on Southern American cooking like no other restaurant in the city. Inspired by Carolina cooking, chef Matt Blondin slings plates of aged wagyu with beef fat vinaigrette, baguettes topped with pickled mussels and creamed corn, and recently he’s been winning crowds with heaping plates of his signature buttermilk fried chicken.

88 Ossington Ave., Toronto. 416-477-5450; omaw.ca


Pastries at Lucullus Bakers & Roasters

Lucullus’ third outpost brings 26 years of European pastries and Chinese breads in a posh boutique setting in Markham. The selection varies daily but you can expect an assortment of stuffed croissants along with steamed baskets of dumplings, and of course the iconic bo lo bao (pineapple buns).

31 Elm St., 416-792-1886; 7750 Kennedy Rd., 905-513-1188; lucullusbakery.com


Octopus at Bar Isabel

Bar Isobel Nicole Kim2

Photo by Nicole Kim.

Chef Grant van Gameren was cooking up whole octopus at his Spanish restaurant Bar Isabel long before cephalapod reached mainstream fame. It’s a dish he can’t remove from the menu, grilled tentacles swimming in a tomato sauce with chunks of chorizo and Israeli couscous. Once you’re done mopping up the bowl, finish with some basque cake.

797 College St., 416-532-2222; barisabel.com


Rabbit Stifado at Mamakas Taverna

Classic Greek cooking with a facelift is what Chris Kalisperas does best at Ossington hotspot Mamakas. One of the most popular dishes on the menu is the rabbit stifado. Kalisperas braises whole legs of rabbit in red wine, mirepoix, bay leaf, cinnamon and peppercorns for a few hours. It’s finished off in a pan with roast cippollini onions and parsley and served with a purée of local sunchokes.

80 Ossington Ave., 416-519-5996; mamakas.ca


Thali at Indian Street Food Company

A visit to Hemant Bhagwani’s midtown restaurant is a must if you want a true representation of street food prevalent in India’s many railways stations and roadside stalls. The rotating daily thali is a sublime experience, a mound of rice and freshly baked naan is served with a half a dozen dips and curries that take you on a flavour-packed trip of salty, tangy and spicy.


Thalis at Indian Street Food Company include a variety of flavourful curries and dips .

1701 Bayview Ave., 416-322-3270; indianstreetfoodco.com


BBQ-Glazed beef tongue at Diwan


The gorgeous dining room of Diwan at the Aga Khan Museum.

At the Aga Khan Museum, where chef Mark McEwan has recently taken over the food and beverage services, tuck into a vibrant Middle Eastern-themed menu while enjoying sprawling views of the Aga Khan Park. The top sandwich on the menu sees cooked beef slathered in a barbecue reduction and served with an East African salsa and pepper aioli on sourdough.

Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., 416-646-4670; agakhanmuseum.org


Curry udon with shrimp tempura at Menami

This new Sanuki udon house is putting out some of the best Japanese noodle bowls in the city. Kagawa-style artisanal “big fat noodles” is what MeNami specializes in, hand cut with a soft, al dente bite, tossed in a variety of broths (there are 15 versions in total). The signature bowl is the curry udon, noodles drowning in a rich clear broth, topped with vegetable and shrimp tempura.

MeNami Japanese Udon House and Sake Bar, 5469 Yonge St., 416-229-6191; menami.ca


Torta Cubana at Torteria San Cosme

Ever since restaurateur Arturo Anhalt laid eyes on a former cafe space in Kensington Market, the owner of Milagro restaurant wanted to open a traditional Mexican torteria. Nearly everything on the menu is sourced from the market, tucked generously into soft breads called pan teleras. The crowd favourite is the Cubana: thick slices of smoked ham and chunks of adobo pork are bathed in gouda and coated to the rim with a chipotle sauce.

181 Baldwin St., 416-599-2855; sancosme.ca


Quail and Foie Gras at Scaramouche


Sacramouche specializes in upscale French dining.

Upscale French dining doesn’t get any better. Keith Froggett’s longstanding Scaramouche restaurant has set the standard for refined food and service in this city. They continue to entice diners night after night with dishes like the quail and foie gras. It’s a decadent dance of sweet and savoury notes with stuffed quail, double smoked bacon, and sauternes raisins drenched in foie gras jus.

1 Benvenuto Pl., 416-961-8011; scaramoucherestaurant.com


Maha’s Mind Blowing Chicken at Maha’s

A family-run Egyptian restaurant near Little India is redefining what it’s like to brunch in the city. Imported drawings and fixtures dress the tiny dining room with a menu that is all about flavour and getting your hands messy. The quintessential Maha dish is a messy tower of slow marinated chicken dripping in mayo and garlic sauce, covered with onions, tomatoes and parsley.

226 Greenwood Ave., 416-462-2703; mahasbrunch.com

Suresh Doss is a Toronto-based food and drink writer. You can follow him on Twitter @spotlightcity or Instagram @suresh.


Hot Dining: Eat Glocal

Chef Hu Guoguang, owner Tony Chow, and chef Pan Yewen. Photo by Ian McCausland.

Chef Hu Guoguang, owner Tony Chow, and chef Pan Yewen. Photo by Ian McCausland.

Like many first and second generation immigrants, owner Tony Chow of North Garden Restaurant has incorporated Manitoba ingredients into traditional recipes. The result is serendipitous Canadian-Chinese fusion food. During pickerel season, the local lakefish is simmered in a light and fresh watercress soup, stir fried with gaai laan, and bathed in rich chile oil. For North Garden’s customers, each meal is both familiar comfort and culinary adventure, often within a single menu page. 6-33 University Cres, 204‑275‑2591

Editor’s Pick: Top 5 Kid Foods Reimagined

Photo courtesy Marion Street Eatery

Photo courtesy Marion Street Eatery

With gourmet renditions of homey dishes on trend, chefs are getting in touch with their inner child. These childhood favourites are all grown up.


5 Tips for a Great Winter Day in Lake Louise

March 3, 2016
By Afton Aikens & Olivia Grecu

Travel Alberta / Gerard Yunker

Travel Alberta / Gerard Yunker

You don’t have to stay at the Fairmont to play at the Fairmont. Have a great day at the Chateau Lake Louise:

1. Start with the breakfast buffet at Poppy Brasserie, while you admire the morning light on the mountains through big windows.

2. Next, rent skates and glide into the ice castle with Victoria Glacier as your backdrop.


Hot Dining: Go Big or Go Home

Chef Bill Georgakopoulos of Rae & Jerry’s. Photo by Ian McCausland.

At Rae & Jerry’s, the philosophy has always been “more is more.” With 330 seats in the dining room and lounge, the behemoth steakhouse serves up 200-300 pounds of beef daily, all butchered by chef Bill Georgakopoulos. The restaurant has been a perennial pick for stately steak dinners since 1957, famous for its generously loaded sandwiches, prime cuts of cow, and iconic red décor. This bastion of old school eating has proved the value of finding what works and sticking to it. 1405 Portage Ave, 204‑788‑6155, raeandjerrys.com

Chef Talk: Norm Pastorin

Chef Norm Pastorin of The Cornerstone. Photo by Ian McCausland.

Chef Norm Pastorin of The Cornerstone. Photo by Ian McCausland.


At The Cornerstone, a pillar of bustling Osborne Village, the cozy neighbourhood setting acts as backdrop to consistently high calibre cooking. Chef Norm Pastorin is the mastermind at work in the open kitchen, blending flavour profiles and techniques that span the globe to create adventurous yet comforting fare. Drawing on his childhood experiences at pot lucks with his large Filipino family, as well as time spent in France and classical culinary training, chef Norm has found the perfect balance of fusion and familiar. Everyone from Village regulars to after-hours chefs can be found in this dining room, making memories with a glass of wine and a soulful plate of food. 93 Osborne St, thecornerstonewpg.ca

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Editor’s Pick: Top 5 Wild Poutines In Winnipeg

loveys2Photo courtesy Lovey’s BBQ

In a city with as much Francophone influence as Winnipeg, it’s not hard to find that glorious mixture of french fries, gravy, and melty cheese curds. These spots branch out from the classic with irresistable toppings and tasty twists.