Bay Street Bull Magazine: Luxury Business and Lifestyle

Food & Drink

This land of ours: Ontario

Ask yourself, "What is Canadian cuisine?," Susur Lee spoke about harvesting from the land as true food from the Great White North, bit in today's landscape, we are a society of varied backgrounds and perspectives. 

It's a tense time in the world right now, with immigration at the forefront of political dialogue. In this story, we searched across Canada and found the restaurants that are putting their own spins on cultural cuisines from around the world. While many are focusing on division, we think that it's diversity that gives a community its beauty and strength. And what better way to experience than through food.  

In this instalment we look at British Columbia, but you can also check out the Canadian best from Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta.  

What: Patois

Where: Toronto, Ontario

Like its namesake national language of Jamaica, Patois merges great food ideas from various cultures and executes them with respect for the ingredients. A fusion of cultural influences that can be credited to Chef Craig Wong's classic French training and Chinese-Jamaican heritage, here’s where Caribbean meets Asian soul food. And though Patois may be closed temporarily due to renovations in the aftermath of a fire next door, memories of their delightfully transgressive Chinese "Pineapple" Bun Burger and Jerk Chicken Chowmein are sure to hold us over until the doors open again. 

What: Fairouz

Where: Ottawa, Ontario

Need proof that taking culinary risks can pay huge dividends? Just look at Fairouz. This ‘upscale casual’ Middle East inspired restaurant not only highlights the ingredients, tastes, and recipes of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, but does so in a service-focused environment with modern touches. Chef Walid El-Tawal, who was born in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to a British mother and Palestinian father, says his purpose is to reintroduce the home-style Middle Eastern meal for a younger generation. Sure, these are flavours not often encountered in Ottawa. Thankfully the enterprise has been a welcome addition, not just in the nation’s capital but across the country—Air Canada’s enRoute magazine selected Fairouz as one of their vaunted Best New Restaurants in Canada just last year. 

What: Platito Filipino Soul Food

Where: Toronto, Ontario

Dishing out Filipino soul food one plate at a time, Platito is the latest in surge of progressive Pinoy eateries in the city intent on redefining the perception of the oft-misunderstood (and sheltered) cultural cuisine of the Philippines. The idea is to take domestic dishes that have long been hidden away in out of sight mom-and-pop operations around the GTA and transplant them into the limelight of some of Toronto’s most eclectic neighbourhoods. Located in the heart of Baldwin Village, Platito does just that. In fact, look for ube to become Toronto’s next ‘it’ ingredient. The tuberous and eye-catching purple yam pops hard in Platito’s Instagrammable crispy fried chicken and ube waffles dish, as well as their homemade ube ice cream. 

What: Banu

Where: Toronto, Ontario

Although a proud purveyor of Iranian fare, Banu is quick to note that they aren’t out to fulfill your orientalist dreams. So no, you won’t find any rugs hanging on their walls or “genies coming out of lamps”, as playfully clarified on their website. Instead, Banu pays tribute to the cosmopolitan Iran of the 1970s, back when wine, song, dance, and love were not considered activities to be regulated or restricted. It was a period the country was abuzz with culture, cosmopolitanism, the pop-art of Andy Warhol, and vodka. So in addition to 14 different spirits—which are mixed with ingredients such as saffron, cherries, and pomegranates to make cocktails like the safka—you can expect the usual koobideh, chenjeh, and torsh kabobs up for order. A worthy homage indeed. 

What: Soos

Where: Toronto, Ontario

By incorporating the exotic and complex flavours of Malay and Nyonya cuisines into popular staples with a twist, Soos specializes in modern interpretations of Malaysian street food. Considering Toronto’s overwhelming surplus of Thai and Vietnamese fare, a dedicated Malaysian outpost was a welcome necessity to the Southeast Asian fold. Suffice to say, the family-owned-and-operated Soos has been a worthy introduction. And as bold as Soos can often veer in their approach to presenting the flavours of Malaysia for Toronto, they are just as committed to displaying respect for traditional Malay cooking—a crossroads cuisine built on Chinese, Indian, Portuguese, Dutch, Thai, Arab and, of course, Malay influences. 

What: Boralia

Where: Toronto, Ontario

With a menu that draws inspiration from traditional Aboriginal dishes—as well as the recipes of early settlers and immigrants of the 18th and 19th centuries—Boralia celebrates the historic origins of Canadian cuisine. Consider their traditional method of making éclade, which involves burying butter-poached mussels under a giant heap of flaming pine needles. The dish was introduced here by Samuel de Champlain in 1605 and Boralia’s reinterpretation of it is a faithful one. Or there’s the pigeon pie. The recipe dates back to 1611 as an homage to Quebec-style tourtière, which is said to have been made with passenger pigeons in early iterations. Believe it or not, this kind of cuisine works. Every bit of it. And it’s taken Toronto by surprise. Boralia has remained a constant on the city’s best-of lists since opening last year. 

What: Chabrol

Where: Toronto, Ontario

For years, Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood has lacked much of a personality when it comes to great food; ironic, considering that it is one of the most sought-after upscale areas in the country. Finally, it’s starting to show some signs of life as a trickle of quality eateries are beginning to slowly pop up. Chabrol is one of them. Opened late last year by Chef Doug Penfold and his partner, Niall McCotter, the restaurant is a hidden gem and derives its name from a French-term that loosely translates to the act of mixing your wine with the last dregs of soup in your bowl to synergize flavours. As many great French-inspired restaurants come, Chabrol is all charm and brings to the table an offering traditional southern France bistro fixtures, like foie gras, oysters with mignonette and pork liver mousse.