International foodies may soon being making the pilgrimage to Canada, where two eateries have made a venerable list of the world's most mouth-watering restaurants. Calgary's Rouge was ranked 60th, while Landgon Hall's dining room in Cambridge, Ont., was 77th on the prestigious S. Pellegrino World's 100 Best Restaurants for 2010. It's the first time since 2003 a Canadian establishment has made the cut. The list was announced Monday night in London.
Rouge 1240 8th Ave. S.E., Calgary 403-531-2767 www.rougecalgary.com
Located in Cross House, a designated heritage site built in 1891 and the former home of A.E. Cross, a rancher turned politician who helped found the Calgary Stampede. Rouge sits on the banks of the Bow River in Calgary's trendy Inglewood district, just east of downtown.
Owners: Paul Rogalski and Olivier Reynaud
Price: Chef's six-course tasting menu, not including drinks, $95 per person
Reservations: Expect to wait two weeks to get a table on a Saturday night.
Signature dish: "The thing we do best, I believe, is our chef's tasting menu," said co-owner Paul Rogalski. "I guess you could call it signature dishes."
World ranking: 60
Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa
1 Langdon Dr., Cambridge, Ont. 519-740-2100 www.langdonhall.ca
Construction of this palatial country estate about an hour west of Toronto was completed in 1902 for Eugene Langdon Wilks, a great-grandson of the wealthy fur trade and real estate Astor family of New York, and his wife, the great-granddaughter of one of the founders of the region. Extensive renovations by the current owners transformed the summer retreat into 52-room hotel, spa and dining hall nestled on 80 hectares of lush greenery and gardens.
Owners: William Bennett and Mary Beaton.
Price: Chef's five-course tasting menu not including drinks is $95 per person.
Reservations: Expect to wait two to three weeks to get a table on a Saturday night.
Signature dish: Seasonal, depending on what ingredients are available. Chef Jonathan Gushue is currently serving glazed garden asparagus with poached duck egg, confit duck gizzard, Monforte Toscano, black olive vinaigrette au jus.
World ranking: 77
S. Pellegrino World's 100 Best Restaurants for 2010:
How selected: The annual list is compiled by the World's 50 Best Restaurants Academy based on input from more than 800 chefs, food critics, restaurateurs and what organizers call "well-travelled gourmands" from 27 regions around the world.
A Canadian restaurant hasn't been on the list since 2003, when Eigensinn Farm near Toronto made the cut for the second consecutive year. In 2002, Toronto's Susur also made the list.
The top 10 for 2010: 1. Noma, Copenhagen 2. El Bulli, Roses, Spain 3. The Fat Duck, Bray, U.K. 4. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain 5. Mugaritz, Errenteria Gipuzkoa, Spain 6. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy 7. Alinea, Chicago 8. Daniel, New York 9. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain 10. Per Se, New York
Impact of being listed: Of culinary kudos, awards and designations, this is a list every restaurateur wants to be on.
Top Canadian chef David Hawksworth, whose restaurant Hawksworth at Vancouver's Hotel Georgia is slated to open in December, said the international accolade is akin to getting an Oscar for those in the top 10 and a nomination for the rest.
"It's great for business," he said, adding that it's tough to put a monetary value on being on the list.
El Bulli, this year's No. 2 after being No. 1 for the previous four consecutive years, is booked a year in advance, Mr. Hawksworth pointed out. And if diners can't get in there, he said, they will go to other restaurants in the area, so the listing can create a spillover effect.
Rouge's Mr. Rogalski said the award has made previously listed restaurants "very, very busy," but he's not sure yet whether it will mean a stampede to his place. He hopes that it helps Calgary's tourism business.
"Maybe it will make Calgary a spot on the destination map, not just Rouge, but we have a lot of great food in this city," he said.
Langdon Hall's Mr. Gushue is flattered and shocked to be included among a list of "culinary icons" in a competition that isn't tainted by "who you know."
"This is truly an unbiased marker of an accomplishment," he said, "...We're in some amazing company."
Culinary chops: Up-and-comer Michael Dekker took over as executive chef at Rouge last year as co-owner Mr. Rogalski took a break from the kitchen to become "chief culinary officer." Born in Southern Ontario, Mr. Dekker got his first taste of restaurant life as a dishwasher in Calgary as a teen and studied at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology. He was a sous chef at the swish Calgary Golf and Country Club and went on to work as a culinary consultant with a Las Vegas-based restaurant development company. In 2008, he finished second at the prestigious international Concours International des Jeunes Commis Rôtisseurs Competition held at le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Executive chef Jonathan Gushue came to the kitchen at Langdon Hall in 2005 with an impressive résumé. The Newfoundland native studied hotel management at Georgian College and plied his skills in Japan, Britain, Vancouver and Toronto, including stints with the Novelli group of restaurants in London and at the famed Truffles Restaurant at the Four Seasons in Toronto, where he was executive chef.
Think local: Both Rouge and Langdon Hall define themselves by locally produced foods - or at least foods that are sourced close by or from the finest purveyors around the country.
Both have their own gardens - a particularly impressive feat in weather finicky Calgary - where fresh produce is harvested daily. Langdon Hall even taps its maple trees to make maple syrup and scours the property for wild garlic, leeks and ginger.
"We let the garden dictate the menu," said Langdon Hall's Mr. Gushue. "... What we're trying to promote here is a sense of place."
It also means the menus are ever-changing as the ingredients define the dishes.
"We're focused on regional and sustainable food options," said Rouge's Mr. Rogalski.