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Chef Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson at Published on Main, in Vancouver, in November, 2020.Jackie Dives/The Globe and Mail

Vancouver’s Published on Main has been named best restaurant in Canada, and Calgary’s Major Tom was given the nod for best new eatery by Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants.

This is the first time a Vancouver restaurant has earned top spot on the annual list, which returns after a one-year pause. The rankings were revealed on Monday night at an event in Toronto and voted on by more than 100 judges across the country.

“We weren’t messing around,” Published executive chef Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson said. “We wanted to be the best restaurant in Canada.”

Toronto’s Alo, which ranked in first place for the previous four years running, Vancouver’s St. Lawrence, Restaurant Pearl Morissette in Jordan Station, Ont., and Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ont., round out the top five.

Nine of the 20 best new restaurants, a new list this year, are from Western Canada, including Calgary’s D.O.P., Eight and Nupo (third, seventh and 10th, respectively). Pluvio in Ucluelet, B.C., was named best new destination restaurant.

On the list of Canada’s 50 Best Bars, released simultaneously, Toronto’s Civil Liberties came out on top, toppling Bar Raval, which had been the winner for the previous three years. Vancouver’s Botanist and Keefer Bar placed second and third. Vancouver’s Laowai and Blnd Tiger, in fourth place, was named best new bar.

Published, which features an extravagant, 20-plus-course tasting menu, rose from 88th place in 2020, a very respectable ranking considering that it had only been open a few weeks when that judging closed.

“Gus Stieffenhofer-Brandson translates a Nordic sensibility to British Columbia cuisine through his abundant use of finely balanced fermentations, aerated hay custards and foraged ingredients, tramping through local forests to collect most of the wildflowers, fir tips and mushrooms himself,” the guide listing reads.

“But he also leans heavily into his Manitoban German heritage with excellent schnitzel, roast pickerel and beefy markkloesschen soup (swapped out for nettle dumplings in game-hen broth come spring). And as thoughtful Vancouver chefs trying to evoke a veritable sense of place do he deftly incorporates dashi tomato sauces, koji beurre blancs and other Asian flavours.”

Jacob Richler, the list’s editor-in-chief and publisher, said that when restaurants express a distinct sense of place through their food, people tend to notice.

He also notes that restaurants in Western Canada might have done well this year because they weren’t closed under public-health restrictions for as long as restaurants in Ontario and Quebec.

Mr. Stieffenhofer-Brandson acknowledges the advantage.

“This list is definitely not based on the most level playing field because we had the opportunity to be operating a lot more than other restaurants and I don’t take that for granted,” he said. “But that doesn’t [mean] we didn’t have a hard time either. We used the time to add a tasting menu, really finesse our food and dig deeper into what we do instead of just coasting on proven ground.”

Or, as noted in the guide: “When others scaled back, Published on Main came out swinging.”

Top 10 on the list of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants:

1. Published On Main, Vancouver

2. Alo, Toronto

3. St. Lawrence, Vancouver

4. The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette, Jordan Station, Ont.

5. Langdon Hall, Cambridge, Ont.

6. Vin Mon Lapin, Montreal

7. Edulis, Toronto

8. Canoe, Toronto

9. Boulevard, Vancouver

10. River Café, Calgary

Source: The Canadian Press

Top 10 on the list of Canada’s 20 Best New Restaurants

1. Major Tom, Calgary

2. Osteria Giulia, Toronto

3. D.O.P., Calgary

4. Taverne Bernhardts, Toronto

5. Pompette, Toronto

6. Mimi Chinese, Toronto

7. Eight, Calgary

8. Pichai, Montreal

9. The Pine, Collingwood, Ont.

10. Nupo, Calgary

Source: The Canadian Press

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