Mr. Harper's Travel Guide
Spanning six time zones and bordering three oceans, Canada has just 35 million citizens. As a result, the second-largest nation in the world is full of wide open spaces and exhilarating natural scenery. The rustic lodges of British Columbia and Alberta rival the best that ...
Spanning six time zones and bordering three oceans, Canada has just 35 million citizens. As a result, the second-largest nation in the world is full of wide open spaces and exhilarating natural scenery. The rustic lodges of British Columbia and Alberta rival the best that Montana and Wyoming can offer. Above the Maine border lie the dramatic, wind-lashed landscapes of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. And farther north is the Arctic, a breathtaking region best explored via a guided cruise. In contrast, the great cities of the east, Toronto and Montréal, offer European elegance enlivened by dozens of vibrant ethnic enclaves.
WHEN TO VISIT
Americans will need no introduction to Canada’s harsh winters and temperate summers. However, it is worth remembering that the climate of coastal British Columbia can be extremely pleasant, and the mountains of Vancouver Island create a rain shadow that shelters a stretch of the mainland, as well as the city of Vancouver itself.
Recommended Luxury Hotels in Canada
Best Restaurants in Canada
Chef Normand Laprise is widely recognized as having raised the level of cooking in Montréal. He will modestly credit the purveyors of the wonderful ingredients that inspire his menu, but his culinary skill is apparent. Look for appetizers such as princess scallops with rhubarb water, strawberries and sweet cicely (a chervil-like herb); or lobster with white and green asparagus, oyster mushrooms, green garlic oil and lobster bisque. Main courses might include suckling pig loin with oyster mushrooms, cherry bomb pepper, fennel, bell pepper purée, thyme and lemon sauce. Closed Sunday and Monday.900 place Jean-Paul-Riopelle Montréal US$75. Tasting menu, US$100 http://www.restaurant-toque.com/
Chef/owner Keith Froggett makes a big effort to source locally. Look for starters such as Gaspé shrimp salad with chopped Nova Scotia lobster, smoked paprika mayonnaise, lovage, cress and fingerling crisps. Main courses might include rack of lamb with crispy mustard crust, Swiss chard, pickled curry cherry tomatoes, carrot purée, spicy eggplant relish and toasted-walnut bread crumbs; and West Coast halibut with green and white asparagus, leeks, spinach-and-potato leek purée, and morel-white wine sauce and mushroom reduction. Closed Sunday.1 Benvenuto Place Toronto US$75 http://www.scaramoucherestaurant.com/
Tucked in the lovely Yorkville neighborhood, this is a small, charming and stylish spot. The menu features appetizers such as seared foie gras on maple-glazed apples with a currant purée, while a main course could be aged prime strip loin with charred onion with bone marrow and thyme. Opus boasts one of the finest wine lists in Canada, with a cellar of 52,000 bottles and 2,500 wines.37 Prince Arthur Avenue Toronto US$85 http://www.opusrestaurant.com/opus.taf
Set in a small Victorian townhouse downtown, this lovely duplex restaurant with a dramatic spiral staircase is home to some of the most inventive cooking in Montréal. Chef Jérôme Ferrer roams the markets for the finest ingredients and builds his menus on that foundation. You might, for example, find starters such as lemony calamari tagliatelle with a poached quail egg, squid ink and garlic-butter croutons. Main courses could be Cornish hen cooked in its own clay vessel with buttered potatoes, salsify, mushrooms and a smoked herb gravy. Service is impeccable, and the extensive wine list has more than two dozen by-the-glass selections.1227 Rue de la Montagne Montréal Six-course menu, US$70; tasting menu, US$90 http://www.europea.ca/
This charming restaurant comprises a warren of cozy rooms with clusters of small tables. The menu concentrates on the fresh produce of the region and abounds with appealing choices. Starters could include kid ravioli with feta, artichokes and golden raisins; or suckling pig risotto with shaved foie gras. Main courses might be lamb two ways with zucchini, cumin and romesco sauce; or duck breast with cauliflower, fava beans and wildflower honey. Closed Sunday and Monday.423 rue Saint-Claude Montréal US$65 http://www.leclubchasseetpeche.com/
Chef David Hawksworth’s showcase moves from strength to strength. Four interconnected but distinct rooms help to create a visually compelling and sophisticated interior. The seasonal menu could include appetizers such as hamachi tartare with coconut, radish, puffed rice and a chile-lime vinaigrette. Main courses might be charred pork loin with a pork shoulder croquette, grits, turnips, lovage and salsa verde; or wild salmon with lobster agnolotti, artichoke and tomato fondue.Rosewood Hotel Georgia 801 West Georgia Street Vancouver US$75. Seasonal tasting menu, US$85 http://www.hawksworthrestaurant.com/
The stylish South Granville neighborhood is home to this congenial and sophisticated restaurant. Inventive starters might include lobster gnocchi — butter-poached lobster, potato gnocchi and a thyme emulsion — and crispy duck salad with cucumber, green beans and watercress in a sweet chile vinaigrette. Look for main courses such as Fraser Valley pork served as braised cheeks and crisp belly with Swiss chard and bone broth. The wine list is exceptional, and the knowledgeable staff are happy to make by-the-glass recommendations.2881 Granville Street Vancouver US$75. Eight-course “Sea” tasting menu, US$75; eight-course “Land” tasting menu, US$70; eight-course vegetarian menu, US$60 http://www.westrestaurant.com/
Keep this address firmly in mind because there is no sign — just the name of the restaurant in tiles in the sidewalk. Inside, it’s all bistro charm, with marble-topped tables, a zinc bar and lots of homey French food. You may well find a filling starter such as bone marrow with coarse salt, or a satisfying fish soup. For a main course, you might go for the classic hanger steak with shallot butter and a generous portion of frites, or fresh poached salmon with chervil. L’Express is open late, so you can also drop in for a croque-monsieur and a glass of red wine to end an evening.3927 Rue Saint-Denis Montréal US$50 http://restaurantlexpress.ca/
Canoe boasts a striking view from its 54th-floor location in a Mies van der Rohe skyscraper. Chef John Horne offers starters such as fluke crudo with spiced apple, horseradish cream, sourdough crisps, wild currants and verjus. For main courses, consider Alberta lamb saddle with fiddleheads, sea buckthorn, wild leeks, daisy capers, rosemary beluga lentils and anchovy; or the Kolapore Springs trout with charred rapini, sumac yogurt, dashi foam and ramp and pease pudding agnolotti. The wine list has an extensive selection by the glass and an impressive collection of Canadian wines. Closed Saturday and Sunday.Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower 66 Wellington Street West Toronto US$85. Seven-course tasting menu, US$80 http://oliverbonacini.com/Canoe.aspx
Chef Hidekazu Tojo’s big, open space has a display kitchen and a lively sushi bar. His sushi rolls put Tojo’s on the map and include the “Pacific Northwest Roll,” Dungeness crab, avocado and scallops topped with roe; and the “Great Canadian Roll” with lobster, asparagus and local smoked salmon. Also don’t miss unusual nigiri such as geoduck and isaki (threeline grunt). A main could be a wonderful preparation of halibut cheeks in a garlic-cream teriyaki sauce. Well-chosen sake selection. Closed Sunday.1133 West Broadway Vancouver US$65. Six-course Omakase Menu, US$95 http://www.tojos.com/
Since 1985, when John Bishop opened this charming restaurant, his focus has been on creating a menu that uses the best the area has to offer — a concept that was then way ahead of its time. The offerings change with the market, but look for starters such as pine-cured coho salmon with fennel confit, sorrel and horseradish; and main courses like assiette of Fraser Valley lamb with heirloom carrots and rainbow chard. For dessert, consider the plate of regional cheeses. Closed Monday.2183 West Fourth Avenue Vancouver US$75 http://www.bishopsonline.com/
In this serene space done in earth tones with mirrors and soft lighting, Mark McEwan presents seasonal food that is imaginative and full-flavored. Look for starters such as ahi tuna poke with spiced citrus aioli, waterborne gem lettuce, avocado, plantain chips and ginger soy sauce. Main courses might include five-spice bison tenderloin with crushed peas, Brussels sprouts leaves, roasted ramps and black truffles. Closed Sunday.2537 Yonge Street Toronto US$75 http://north44.mcewangroup.ca/
This welcoming restaurant is located in a converted warehouse in the lively Yaletown neighborhood. Chef Frank Pabst is known for his skill with seafood. A great way to start is to choose from the raw bar or to opt for one of the “first” plates, such as Parmesan-crusted bay scallops with tomato-caper relish, lemon butter and thyme. Entrées might include sablefish in a miso-sake glaze with baby bok choy, edamame, quinoa and shiitake mushrooms; or Arctic char with braised leeks, fennel, wakame seaweed, Dungeness crab, vermouth and trout caviar. The wine list has an impressive selection from British Columbia.1095 Hamilton Street Vancouver US$65 http://www.bluewatercafe.net/