Since 1868 on each July 1, Canadians have celebrated the country’s national holiday. It’s a day for sharing stories and commemorating history. And in this culinary centric society, Canada Day also revolves around breaking bread and imbibing together in the country’s many restaurants. Eating in Canada is to experience a sturdy cooking foundation upon which chefs build their menus, around strong ideas and spirited twists, relying on structure over trendy tangents. The result is a consistent blending of serious and whimsical cuisine that draws diners back. Brimming with fresh produce, succulent regional meats and honest flavors that complement the rich landscape, here are 10 restaurants for Canada Day 2018 celebrations.
River Café, Calgary
In the heart of picturesque Prince’s Island Park, Calgary’s River Café is like an edible postcard. Located in the middle of the Bow River renowned by anglers for fly fishing, enjoying a meal on Canada Day at River Café makes the world go away. In this scenic fishing hub accessible by bridge, chefs plate ethereal, romantic dishes so pretty they seem almost a shame to eat. Notable appetizers include gems like the cabbage soup with purple choucroute, red lentil hummus, and smoked Pacific sablefish with sea buckthorn. Wood-grilled Humboldt squid with kimchi, sea asparagus, and pork cracklings is an example of how River Café cuisine is both playful and unpretentious. Earthy entrees like the pine mushroom roasted eggplant, rainbow trout prepared with house-cured Berkshire bacon, and Hakurei turnip find favor with locals. On the hearty side, try the dry-aged Berkshire pork chop with roasted radish tart and black garlic butter, or the Heart Rock Ranch duck with pinto bean stew. Don’t miss a few pats of River Café’s house-churned butter spread over Highwood Crossing rye sourdough bread with Vancouver Island Fleur de Sel. Make a reservation at River Café.
Liquidity Bistro, Okanagan Falls
The Canada Day long weekend is a great excuse to jaunt over to Okanagan Falls for a meal at Liquidity Bistro, part of the Liquidity Wines family, of which all wines are estate-grown and hand-harvested. The bistro is a classic example of Pacific Northwest flavors and the culinary side of Canadian wine country. Light bites range from carrot jerky to warm and cold salads and quail, while large plates include sturgeon and game hen. Driven by seasonal menus, expect to find items from the chef’s on-site garden. Spending Canada Day here is a must for art lovers since the winery’s gallery boasts a discerning collection chosen by the owner – the current “Photo Ark” exhibition from National Geographic is on display until September. Make a reservation at Liquidity Bistro.
The Victor, Vancouver
At this Vancouver steakhouse where brunch and dinner are tied for most popular, highlights from The Victor revolve around plays on classic dishes. The frittata is prepared with lobster while the French toast gets a helping of foie gras – also available in classic Quebec-style, here paired with mission figs, candied walnuts, and brioche. Guests can choose from Oscar Eggs Benedict and steak and eggs, or go for the Wagyu breakfast burger. Entertaining buoyant Canada Day partiers, The Victor has a live DJ in residence for its brunch hours and, for extra fun, is located on the Parq Vancouver’s sixth-floor rooftop. Make a reservation at The Victor.
Calcutta Cricket Club, Calgary
Canada has a thriving Indian restaurant scene and in Calgary, Calcutta Cricket Club has become a hot ticket. On the spicy side, diners can choose from the Hakka classic-inspired sweet and salty chili chicken while vegetarians root for the ghee-laced, South India-spiced gunpowder vegetables. Seven dreamy curry dishes and three trophy dishes round out the traditional entrees. Aside from the Sunday night signature kati rolls – flaky paratha-wrapped, tandoor-grilled meats or paneer – which Canada Day goers are wise to try, it’s a popular haunt for aesthetic reasons. The décor (which recently won best-designed restaurant of the year) looks like a living painting, with all the vibrancy associated with colors of India. For Canada Day they’ve got the right idea. Besides the far far puffed crisps appetizer the menu states, “to encourage drinking.” Make a reservation at Calcutta Cricket Club.
Osteria Savio Volpe, Vancouver
Besides having one of the foxiest websites in Canada, you’re among friends at Osteria Savio Volpe. The restaurant staff lives up to its welcoming message “for friends, family, and strangers,” especially on Canada Day. British Columbia sourced ingredients come from local farmers and producers, helping Osteria Savio Volpe become what locals have come to identify as distinctive Vancouver Italian. To celebrate the nation’s 150th, diners can book a farm-to-table Italian feast with handmade pastas and woodfire grill specialties. This is just one of those places that creates a gastronomic frenzy because every morsel seems essential – something as simple as marinated olives becomes a must-taste with wild fennel seeds, fir tips, and lemon or bagna cauda with its hot anchovy and garlic bath. Among freshly made pastas, try the linguine puttanesca or rigatoni prepared with beef braciola, pork riblet, meatball, and Sunday sauce, just in time for this Canada Day. Make a reservation at Osteria Savio Volpe.
Sleeping Buffalo Restaurant and Lounge, Banff
Picture a perfect patio scene against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, glass of sparkling wine in hand. Now imagine a charcuterie platter of air-dried elk, prosciutto, smoked duck breast, and wild boar pâté on the table and you’ve got an ideal Canada Day celebration. Famous as much for its happy hour as its casual dinners, Sleeping Buffalo Restaurant and Lounge specializes in Alberta craft beers and is one of the few places to get outstanding elk carpaccio. For the table, a helping of crab and corn fritters is always a hit. Make a reservation at Sleeping Buffalo.
Canteen has launched a new summer menu just in time for Canada Day including a new smoothies menu for health-conscious diners. The revamping includes what the chef calls a veggie-forward menu paired with classic comfort food. Diners trying to balance good eating practices should pay particular attention to the “Eat to Live, Live to Eat” section which highlights that foray. Two examples include the battle of the beet burger versus beef burger and steak salad versus steak frites. Specifically, for Canada Day, among other items, Canteen is serving blueberry pancakes, a peameal and egg sandwich, a maple, rye and ginger whiskey cocktail, and a raspberry sparkler with Chambord. Make a reservation at Canteen.
Alpine Social, Lake Louise
Mountaineering around the Canadians Rockies requires a lot of calories, something the folks at Alpine Social celebrate from their stunning 5,200-foot perch at the Fairmont Chateau in Lake Louise. Fortunately, hungry hikers, skiers, and eaters can order the butcher Feuz’s cuts of lamb sirloin, pork, and local beef and protein accompaniments in the way of pork belly, chicken, shrimp, duck confit – carbs included as each is served atop ancient Canadian grains. Adjacent to Victoria Glacier with views of the legendary lake inside Alberta’s Banff National Park, Alpine Social is always a place to see and be seen, but on Canada Day this casual gastropub becomes a bonafide attraction, with nearly 50 Bourbons and Canadian whiskeys under one roof and unlimited people watching. Make a reservation at Alpine Social.
Honey Salt, Vancouver
Canada Day 2018 falls on a Sunday – the perfect day to raise a glass to Canadian history over a scrumptious brunch. Vancouver’s Honey Salt proudly serves housemade Quebecois tourtière with pork and beef, alongside a build-your-own Caesar cocktail station. This is where westerners score a few hearty slices of peameal bacon, a Canadian delicacy, and Honey Salt’s breakfast galette. It’s also one of a few places that also offers an exceptional afternoon tea – replete with crepes, salted honey pie, tea sandwiches, and fresh pastries with clotted cream. Make a reservation at Honey Salt.
Brasserie T!, Montreal
Winner of an OpenTable Diner’s Choice award last year, this streetside Quartier des spectales hangout is swamped during the Montreal Jazz Festival, but Brasserie T also lends itself to long lunches and dinners, glass of wine in hand and a bottle chilling on the table. Known for sharing items like beef and salmon tartares, Brasserie T! balances between classic French – think pan-seared foie gras – and savory comfort dishes like goat cheese and potato gratin. No fewer than four charcuteries grace this menu, notably the chicken liver mousse, duck rillettes, and saucisson while the shrimp guedille ( similar to a lobster roll) continuously earns rave reviews. Make a reservation at Brasserie T!.
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Photo credits: Bill Milne (Honey Salt); Lisa Enman (River Cafe); Richard Kelly (Sleeping Buffalo).