Few proteins strike a chord of happiness in the hearts of gourmands like salmon. Canada is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of salmon. In fact, according to the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance, salmon accounts for nearly 60 percent of Canada’s salmon aquaculture. British Columbia takes the cake when it comes to sourcing finfish including Atlantic salmon, Chinook salmon, and Coho salmon, followed by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island for Atlantic salmon hatcheries. To say salmon is a popular fish among Canadians is a third helping understatement. Though salmon is one of Canada’s seasonal specialties during the salmon run, culinarians have mastered the art of serving salmon all year long, especially in the form of smoked, cured, and countless other preparations. Here are nine Canada restaurants for salmon known to hook diners with their takes on this scrumptious fish. Not near any of these eateries? We can help you find the right restaurant for you on OpenTable.com.
The Five Fishermen, Halifax, Nova Scotia
The seafood lovefest at the Five Fishermen restaurant in Downtown Halifax is complimented by aged prime steaks, more than 200 wines curated by the restaurant’s sommelier, and service that puts diners first. Located in a former schoolhouse that dates back to 1817, the Five Fishermen is also known as one of the best places in the region to get outstanding salmon for the signature flavor imparted from the kitchen’s wood-fired grill. They offer several housemade sauce options including chimichurri, Asian barbecue, pineapple salsa, and maple brown butter. Outstanding starters include sweet potato vichyssoise and hickory and lemon tea-smoked shrimp with Romesco sauce and herbed oil, plus vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu options. Make a reservation at The Five Fishermen.
Miku, Vancouver, British Columbia
Miku has won just about every award for dining excellence (OpenTable Diners’ Choice, Most Booked, Best Overall, Best Service, and Scenic View), but local salmon fans know this Vancouver restaurant for its unique take on salmon. Said one diner, “The salmon aburi oshi sushi at Miku might be the most-famous salmon item in Vancouver.” The menu description details layers of sushi rice and raw salmon pressed together into a rectangular shape, after which the chef adds a drizzle of his signature sauce and flame-sears the top with bamboo charcoal. Make a reservation at Miku.
Beach Bay Café and Patio, Vancouver, British Columbia
A beautiful filet of salmon on a plank is always tempting, but at Beach Bay Café in Vancouver, diners come running for sockeye salmon paella bursting with a prism of flavors. This West End Vancouver waterfront patio is one of the city’s most beloved gathering spots for the views of the beach and nearby pier. As part of its coastal-style cuisine, the salmon paella is prepared with saffron-infused basmati rice, chorizo, shellfish, bell peppers, aioli, and broccoli, while the seafood chowder features salmon, cod, and shellfish in a tomato broth. Make a reservation at Beach Bay Café.
Bannock, Toronto, Ontario
Broiled, grilled, or pan-seared, salmon is a versatile fish. But for some salmon aficionados, nothing beats roasted salmon. Bannock is the go-to restaurant for Canadian comfort food, home of cuisine that honors the country’s rich culinary history including its famed tourtière. In keeping with a philosophy that earnest, fine ingredients make perfect dishes (think pierogis, ‘Torontréal’ smoked meat, and roast duck poutine), Bannock keeps its salmon simple to let the natural flavors shine through. It arrives at table garnished with greens, lentils, and eggplant. Make a reservation at Bannock.
Origo Club, Richmond, British Columbia
Though the café at Origo Club is a hotspot for dinner, by day it is best known for chef David Pan’s signature salmon croissant sandwich. In this east-meets-west French restaurant and companion gallery, eating is an art form. Included in the daytime menu are a range of housemade pastries and viennoiserie, which explains why this salmon croissant is a sandwich revelation in a flawless combination of gravlax, capers, and crème fraîche. Diners lounging in Origo’s mod bar don’t miss a chance to pair the salmon croissant with Origo’s pour-over coffee — some even stay over for dinner to enjoy items like salade d’Automne, terrine de foie gras with ruby port gelée, and choux pastry with mushroom duxelle. Make a reservation at Origo Club.
River Café, Calgary, Alberta
River Cafe in Prince’s Island Park is one of Canada’s most beautiful places to dine and the food is equally breathtaking, especially the salmon. This Bow River gem is a scenic fishing hub accessible by bridge, where ethereal seafood dishes are downright romantic. River Café is famed for its house-churned butter spread over Highwood Crossing rye sourdough bread with Vancouver Island fleur de sel, but the seasonal menu is always full of pleasant surprises with items like ash-roasted winter squash soup and juniper-smoked goose breast with polenta, lobster mushrooms, poached pear, and birch syrup. Make a reservation at River Café.
Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House, Vancouver, British Columbia
Named for seaman Joe Fortes who later became a beloved Vancouver bartender and the city’s first official lifeguard, it’s only fitting that the restaurant that bears his name also serves one of this town’s favorite salmon dishes. Chef Wayne Sych gives sockeye salmon a sweet treatment at Joe Fortes Seafood and Chop House, prepared with maple brown butter sauce and served with fresh vegetables and roasted new crop potatoes. Elsewhere on the menu, salmon shows up in the form of an outstanding Wellington with shrimp, mushroom duxelles, golden puff pastry, and a tarragon beurre blanc. Make a reservation at Joe Fortes.
Seasons in the Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
The view from this stunning locale in Queen Elizabeth Park along West 33rd Avenue at Cambie makes it an ideal spot for brunch, especially considering that Seasons chef Joseph Thomas has salmon Benedict on his menu complete with potato latke, capers, avocado, red onion, and Hollandaise sauce. But at dinner time, diners come for the Alderwood grilled salmon, served with wild rice and bok choy. Guests can also add a serving of Lois Lake steelhead salmon to any salad. Make a reservation at Seasons.
Yuwa Japanese Cuisine, Vancouver, British Columbia
What happens when chef Masahiro Omori marinates sockeye salmon in sesame sauce for five hours? Total salmon bliss. At Yuwa Japanese Cuisine, the salmon looks almost too pretty to eat. Omori’s appreciation for fine salmon is a testament to his history and commitment to honoring the fish. His obaasan, or grandmother, Yuwa was the owner and operator of a fish market in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture for nearly four decades. Marinating the salmon in sesame sauce deepens the salmon color and elevates its natural flavor into a mouthwatering bite. In the traditional kaiseki style of multi-course Japanese dinners, there is a lot to celebrate at Yuwa – just be sure to ask co-owner and sake sommelier Lori Kataoka to pick out a bottle of sake to go with the sesame salmon. Make a reservation at Yuwa Japanese Cuisine.
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Photo credits: Pauline Yu (Bannock); Lisa Enman (River Cafe); Glassfoot + Walker (Origo Club).