Cheesy musings, Pairings

Canada’s best restaurants 2014: A quick sniff at cheese offerings

EnRoute revealed its choices for Canada’s top 10 best restaurants of 2014 Thursday. The poetically-named Wolf in the Fog took the top spot, with restaurants dotted across a spread of the provinces (although the territories were absent; Yellowknife’s Trek Restaurant asked politely on Twitter whether the, uh, trek was made up north).

The descriptions of dishes woven throughout the restaurant profiles are as decadent as the flavours surely are. Although I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a single one – far from it – there are certain triggers that heighten my lust for a plate. Seafood (any and all kinds) is top of mind for me, but cheese, unsurprisingly, can and does shape my impression of a dish, even when it’s used in the most minute amount.

(Example: Usually I avoid salads at restaurants as they’re often easily assembled at home if I put in the effort. I ordered a salad at the restaurant I went to for my birthday on a trip to Thunder Bay this year because it had Thunder Oak Gouda in it – nevermind that it was a few cubes. I also had incredible seafood pasta, so not quite a sacrifice on my part.)

After careful menu-creeping, these are the restaurants whose subtle cheese-related offerings cut right through the hazy distinctions in decadence. (I tried to think of a different way to word this to use the phrase “cut the cheese” instead, but couldn’t make it work. Please share if you do.)

A chef after my own heart – look at that spread!  (Farmer's Apprentice/Facebook)

A chef after my own heart – look at that spread!
(Farmer’s Apprentice/Facebook)

Farmer’s Apprentice: Burrata with caramelized onions, flageolet beans and hazelnuts. If I created my own language, burrata would translate to “swoon.”

Le Vin Papillon: Roquefort paired with a rosé called You Are So Bubbly that EnRoute’s writer describes as tasting of “rhubarb and grass and burnt sugar.” Sorry, you lost me after Roquefort. There’s nothing quite like unaccompanied cheese (see ya later, crackers) serenaded by a perfectly-paired sweetness.

Rge Rd: Cheese fondue tart with braised leeks and baby greens (come again? I couldn’t hear you over my own panting). And the one that made me read its paragraph again and again in the profile, an apple galette with aged cheddar sauce. (It’s also accompanied by the cutest phrase ever in EnRoute’s profile, which I will now steal: “An apple pie without the cheese is like a hug without the squeeze.” It even rhymes!)

With any luck, I'll be elbow-deep (okay, not elbow, but wouldn't that be great?) in Italian cheese at these seats soon. (Bar Buca/Facebook)

With any luck, I’ll be elbow-deep (okay, not elbow, but wouldn’t that be great?) in Italian cheese at these seats soon.
(Bar Buca/Facebook)

Bar Buca: Buffalo crème anglaise with blood orange (okay, it’s the topping on a bread pudding, but I stopped reading after buffalo [dairy]). It doesn’t matter that it’s crème anglaise and not mozzarella, my mind goes to a happy place anyway, especially when it’s coupled with blood orange. It’s my cheese blog and I’ll fangirl over buffalo crème if I want to.

Légende: Des mains du fromager – it’s a standard cheese plate, oui, but as per my aforementioned taste for cheese “paired with sweetness,” I am already daydreaming about alternating bites from their cheese board with morsels of their maple syrup tart (which comes with a tiny milkshake, too!).

What did you think of the EnRoute’s rankings? If you had to choose, what would you crown as your favourite place(s) to eat in Canada? 

(Main image credit: Le Vin Papillon/Facebook)

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