When Jill Barber and her band go on tour they always eat well. Here, from coast to coast, are her favourite stops
1. Raymonds, St. John’s
When my band and I had a day off in St. John’s, a few locals tipped us to Raymonds. Expecting something down-home and quaint, we were pleasantly surprised by the upscale dining experience, as colourful, spirited and full of character as the Rock itself. Must-try: Pan-seared cod, mussel and white bean cassoulet ($39). 95 Water St.; 709-579-5800; raymondsrestaurant.com
3. Pintxo, Montreal
When it comes to my band, the stakes are high (and often come with frites) when dining out in Montreal. To celebrate a birthday on the road, we decided to try the much-buzzed-about Pintxo. Our expectations were exceeded by this small-plate affair, as we surrendered ourselves to a three-course palate-pleasing chef’s tasting menu. Must-try: Menu dégustation. 256 Roy St. E.; pintxo.ca; 514-844-0222.
4. Pan Chancho, Kingston
I spent four years in Kingston attending Queen’s University. To get by, I washed dishes at the small artisan bakery Pan Chancho. That little bakery has since expanded into a full operation with delicious café-style dining. Must-try: Moroccan chick pea salad (by weight); lemon currant roll ($2.95). 44 Princess St.; 613-544-7790; panchancho.com.
5. Gilead Café and Bistro, Toronto
Jamie Kennedy’s name is synonymous with local, sustainable dining, and like a hardy Prince Edward County grape, his reputation has survived the harsher seasons and persisted. The result is a changing menu of gastronomic chalkboard comfort food tucked away in Toronto’s Corktown. Must-try: Steamed greens with JK chili sauce ($7). 4 Gilead Pl.; 647-288-0680; jamiekennedy.ca.
6. Fusion Grill, Winnipeg
The city embodies a certain nostalgia, from old-fashioned cocktails at the Fort Garry Hotel to the Mad Men-style of Rae and Jerry’s Steakhouse. But the Fusion Grill takes culinary cues from the influx of cultures that make the city what it is today. Must-try: Cornmeal crusted Lake Winnipeg pickerel with a saffron apple cider vinaigrette ($33). 550 Academy Rd.; 204-489-6963; fusiongrill.mb.ca.
8. Devour, Victoria
My favourite restaurant in Canada is Devour. The daily changing menu, inspired by Vancouver Island’s fish and game, is creatively and lovingly prepared in a small kitchen. Every dish is a delight. Must-try: The seafood pot-au-feu (local sockeye salmon, ling cod and Quadra Island mussels in white wine broth), $14. 762 Broughton St.; 250-590-3231; devour.ca.
9. Bao Bei, Vancouver
Following an inspired introduction to the menu, we asked our server to order for us. Steaming dumplings, spicy squid and various “plats Chinois” were presented in turn, and were lucky to hit the table before they were feasted upon by our happy horde. Must-try: Steamed prawn and chive dumplings ($7.50). 163 Keefer St.; 604-688-0876; bao-bei.ca.
10. Sobo, Tofino, B.C.
Sobo is a shining example of a restaurant that thinks globally and sources locally. Fresh and wild is best, and the dishes speak for themselves. Needless to say, we were back the next day for breakfast. Must-try: Tofu pockets with sushi rice, avocado, sunflower sprouts, wasabi mayo, sesame seeds and organic shiitake mushrooms ($4.50 each). 311 Neill St.; 250- 725-2341; sobo.ca.