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.

Just Posted

Graduating students at Esquimalt Secondary School will have a rolling grad ceremony this Saturday (June 19). (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt High School’s graduation a driving experience

Second annual car rally and drive-through diploma pickup on tap for Saturday

Wanted man Michael Bruce was arrested Wednesday in Langford. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP find wanted man hiding under mattress

Michael Bruce had multiple warrants out for his arrest in Sooke and the West Shore

Brian Korzenowski rides with Athena, left, and Venus who are safely strapped in and goggled up with the wind in their fur. (Zoe Ducklow - Sooke News Mirror)
Double-dog motorcycle sidecar brings smiles to Sooke Road commuters

Athena and Venus are all teeth and smiles from their Harley-Davidson sidecar

A lift on marine border restrictions by next summer would bring an economic gain to Greater Victoria through the cruise industry. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich calls for opening of marine borders by summer 2022

Council to ask feds to end restrictions in time to allow planning for next cruise ship season

There were 255 babies born in Victoria in May 2021. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pandemic baby boom makes for a busier Vancouver Island Father’s Day

Victoria’s 255 babies born in May up almost 10 per cent over last year

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum speaks at a press conference in August 2019 about provincial government approval of the city’s change to a municipal force, joined by councillors (from left) Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford. Members of the National Police Federation claim there is still no transition plan in place although Surrey RCMP’s contract with the city is due to end March 31.(File photo)
Elections BC approves petition application for referendum on Surrey policing transition

Application was filed under Recall and Initiative Act by the widow of a Surrey murder victim

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko, a Vancouver lawyer, has been suspended from practice for two months after admitting that his firm mismanaged $44,353.19 in client trust funds. (Acumen Law)
High-profile B.C. lawyer suspended over $44K in mismanaged client trust funds

Queen’s counsel Paul Doroshenko admits to failing to supervise his staff and find, report the shortage

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

Kimberly Bussiere and other laid-off employees of Casino Nanaimo have launched a class-action lawsuit against the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
B.C. casino workers laid off during pandemic launch class-action lawsuit

Notice of civil claim filed in Supreme Court of B.C. in Nanaimo against Great Canadian Gaming

Most Read