Just when you thought flying Air Canada couldn't get any worse, the latest issue of enRoute twists the knife. The same month AC announces you have to pay for meals on all North American routes, the in-flight magazine comes out with its annual Food Issue. Nothing like making hungry travellers read mouth-watering descriptions of Canada’s 10 best new restaurants to turn a crowded plane into an industrial-size tube of air rage. Luckily we managed to get our hands on a copy without needing a boarding pass: a friend visiting from Victoria brought a copy off her flight, and her satchel was so full of tamari almonds and honey-coated soy nuts for the return trip she left the mag behind. (Coast editor Kyle Shaw is an east coast consultant for enRoute, and he wouldn’t hand over his copy.)
You get the idea Montreal is a restaurant hotbed, with four of the 10 best new places, including Garçon! and Le Club Chasse et Pêche. But another resto with a French name has the most local interest: Fleur de Sel, in Lunenburg, made the list at number eight. Writer Chris Johns calls it “an utterly charming and sophisticated restaurant where locally sourced, carefully prepared ingredients meet French technique and Spanish influences.” Johns, whose cross-country tour of great eating spots must be the best assignment in journalism, also writes a companion piece that looks at trends seen in “44 new hot spots coast to coast.” Spring Garden Road’s Onyx earned two mentions. Once under the heading “Multiculturalism at Work,” Onyx and Fuze (Banff), are called “the two restaurants covering the most culinary ground.” The other mention, under the title “Culinary Ugg Boots,” needs to be taken with a grain of Oscar Wilde. (“There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”) Here’s what Johns has to say:
Some trends shouldn’t catch on. Like those awful flavoured spirits (mandarin, currant, vanilla) found on cocktail menus, the alcoholic equivalent of flavoured instant coffee. Trying to “think outside the box,” some restaurants — Onyx Cocktails & Fine Dining (Halifax), Lee (Toronto), Version Laurent Godbout (Montreal) — put their cutlery in the centre of the place setting, where it gets in the way of dishes and menus. And those stemless Riedel wineglasses, which look great at the start of the meal but are a fingerprinted mess by the end of the night.
Send a mess of clippings to Anablog c/o The Coast 5435 Portland Place, Halifax, B3K 6R7.