Charred Humboldt Squid is shown in this recent handout photo. A restaurant in tiny Tofino

Charred Humboldt Squid is shown in this recent handout photo. A restaurant in tiny Tofino

Tofino’s Wolf in the Fog best new restaurant

Tofino's Wolf in the Fog best new restaurant; Ayden in Saskatoon people's choice

  • Oct. 23, 2014 7:00 p.m.

By Lois Abraham, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – A restaurant in tiny Tofino, B.C., on the edge of the Pacific Ocean has been named the best new restaurant in Canada in enRoute’s annual top 10 list.

Wolf in the Fog took top honours while Ayden in Saskatoon, opened by “Top Chef Canada” season 1 winner Dale MacKay, was the people’s choice winner in an online poll at eatandvote.com.

Chef Nick Nutting, who leads the pack at Wolf in the Fog with his locally sourced and ingredient-driven menu, said “coming from probably the smallest town of any of the places nominated to be No. 1 is mind-blowing really.”

He was in Toronto after being informed Tuesday that his restaurant, which opened at the end of June, had won.

“We definitely have a bold style when it comes to what we do,” he said by telephone. “We have a lot of beautiful ingredients that we get out there and we just try to bring the flavours through in a way that’s fun and exciting. There’s a lot of people serving a lot of salmon dishes on the West Coast and all the standards, but the stuff we have to work with in Tofino is just that much fresher.

“We get all our fish from a dock that’s one block away from the restaurant. … You can literally see the boats coming in … This time of year we have lots of foragers coming through with wild mushrooms.”

The menu varies at Wolf in the Fog although there are a few constants, says the Victoria-raised Nutting, who apprenticed at Catch Restaurant in Calgary and helmed the Pointe Restaurant at Tofino’s Wickaninnish Inn for five years. The best-selling dish is lightly smoked oysters wrapped in potato and fried till crispy and served with a seasonal garnish. Making the oysters approachable for those who think they don’t like the bivalves has created converts out of many, added Nutting, who has also worked in New York and Montreal.

Nutting hopes the recognition achieved by his restaurant will benefit Tofino too, encouraging travellers who visit Vancouver Island to make the effort to get to the remote place.

“The culinary community has always been good out there. There’s a lot of great restaurants. It’s such an amazing part of Canada and to help make people aware we’re out there and that we’re making this incredible food on the edge of the country is pretty cool.”

A panel of food professionals across the country made recommendations on the most interesting restaurant openings in their area between June 2013 and June 2014 (along with a few from late spring 2013 that missed the cut for last year’s list).

International food and wine writer Andrew Braithwaite chose the 10 finalists from a short list of 30, spending a month crisscrossing the country to dine anonymously at each one.

The remaining top nine restaurants, with Braithwaite’s comments, are:

2. The Farmer’s Apprentice (Vancouver): “Each small plate — more often, a bowl — conjured by owner David Gunawan is a precise jumble of textures and flavours. Digging in is a sort of black magic.”

3. Le Vin Papillon (Montreal): “Long-time Joe Beef guru Vanya Filipovic fills massive chalkboards with organic wines to run with a vegetable-focused cuisine from boyfriend and chef Marc-Olivier Frappier.”

4. RGE RD (Edmonton): “The heart of Blair Lebsack’s kitchen is a wood-burning oven that consumes birch and maple at 700 F, curing honey ham and smoking Salt Spring Island mussels or even dehydrated local milk during the off-hours.”

5. Mallard Cottage (St. John’s, N.L.): “Todd Perrin spent two years restoring a heritage property in Quidi Vidi Harbour for this brilliant mash-up of fine dining and comfort cuisine on the outskirts of St. John’s.”

6. Bar Buca (Toronto): “Rob Gentile’s restaurant likes to pretend it’s a simple bar for sipping Barolo. You’re here to drink, sure, but you’re also here to eat things like tiny fried smelt dusted with fennel salt.”

7. The Chase (Toronto): “Chef Michael Steh doesn’t lean on molecular trickery or audacious ingredients to wow. His food is more direct and more delightful than that, in an atmosphere that makes you want to say yes to things.”

8. Ayden (Saskatoon): “‘Top Chef Canada’ winner Dale MacKay gambled that Saskatoon was ready for lime- and lemongrass- and ginger-dusted chicken wings. Ayden isn’t about showing off Prairie cooking to the world — it’s about bringing the world home.”

9. Legende (Quebec City): “Northern Quebec is the culinary hunting ground that Frederic Laplante mythologizes at his capital-city bistro. Cornish hen gets a boreal accent from balsam fir fleur de sel.”

10. Edna (Halifax): “Jenna Mooers’ North End bistro digs up treasure from the fertile soils of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and hauls it out of the brisk Atlantic waters.”

Winners will be profiled in the November issue of Air Canada’s enRoute magazine and at enroute.aircanada.com.

The top 10 restaurants will receive their awards Nov. 20 in Toronto.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

Most Read