Best Nightlife Spots in Calgary: Bartender Trevor Smith at Wine-Ohs (Photo: Jason Dziver)
5. Speakeasy With Style
Just off Stephen Avenue Walk, Wine-Ohs Bistro & Cellar is downtown’s newest live-music hotspot. With loads of speakeasy cachet, its upstairs restaurant and lounge is the street-side cover for a basement that features not only cool jazz and warm blues, but bistro fare and an extensive and carefully curated wine menu.
• Wine-Ohs Bistro & Cellar 811 1 St SW, 403-263-1650, wine-ohs.com
• Map and reviews
How does a buttery croissant sound right about now? If your mouth is watering at the thought, then a trip to The French Baker is in order. Along with flaky croissants, this bakery is also popular for its French macarons and pains au chocolate. As if that weren’t enough, nestled in the back of the downtown location is Benny’s Bistro, with an original brunch menu of both sweet and savoury dishes (think French toast with roasted apple compote and salmon gravlax). The bistro is also open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week, and the bakeries are open daily.
ByWard Market, 119 Murrary St., 613-789-7941, and the Glebe, 801 Bank St., 613-236-7579.
Dinner is a fun affair when you head to Black Cat Bistro in Little Italy, starting from the moment you walk in the door. The décor is both chic and cozy, making it the perfect place for a special occasion or dinner with pals. The food is colourful, prettily plated, and pulls from classic French cuisine. And if you love hamburgers, we recommend “Burger Tuesdays,” which sees the creative minds in the kitchen whipping up a different burger every week. Save room for something sweet (the unique “Rocky Road” dessert is a must). 428 Preston St., 613-569-9998.
Contemporary Canadian soul food at Absinthe
What to expect from a restaurant named Absinthe? Well, five varieties of this spirit, of course (“Yes, it’s legal, and yes, it does have the real ingredients,” says general manager Thomas McVeigh). You’ll also find seasonal menus and contemporary Canadian soul food to fill your belly, such as the much-loved steak frites and the “Benevolent Burgers” ($1 from which goes to charity). Round out the experience with an extensive wine list, creative cocktails, and a relaxed ambience that lets you laugh loudly with your friends. 1208 Wellington St. W., 613-761-1138.
From tapas to chic burgers, Winnipeg’s top new restaurants serve the best bites around. Deseo Bistro tops the list. It’s been chosen one of Canada’s Top 10 New Restaurants by the editors of Where Canada. (more…)
Edible Canada photo by KK Law
Head to Granville Island to discover Edible Canada, a sleek bistro, wine bar and retail store that celebrates all things comestible and Canuckish. Nibble on crispy, bronzed, Fraser Valley duck fat fries; slurp richly flavoured West Coast seafood bisque; or savour BC birch syrup and kasu-roasted sablefish, all from a menu that includes plenty of vegetarian and gluten- and dairy-free options. Refreshments range from hard-to-find Okanagan and Vancouver Island wines to “eastern” beers such as Steam Whistle and Propeller, for homesick Torontonians and Haligonians.—Tim Pawsey
EDIBLE CANADA AT THE MARKET Full-service bistro celebrates the best in BC and Canadian cuisine, with fresh ingredients and artful presentation. Take-away window, patio and demo kitchen. Also a retail space with artisanal foods and unique kitchen wares. Sign up for a culinary tour. $$. B/L/D (daily).
1689 Johnston St. 604-682-6675. www.ediblecanada.com
Photo: Communications Nova Scotia
Beloved by the Hali-famous, The Wooden Monkey counts local-girl-made-good Ellen Page among its legions of fans. The Grafton Street bistro gets raves for its unreserved championing of organic, macrobiotic, and locally grown flavours. The Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder is unforgettable; the Sweet Apple Salad is a unique showcase of a provincial specialty.
Cinq O1 (photo by Patrick Nichols)
The fact that Cinq O1 is the brainchild of Toufik Sarwa (owner of Yorkville’s popular Amber) almost guarantees it a spot on this city’s hot list. Recently opened, the restaurant already buzzes with activity well into the night, as scenesters, socialites and assorted VIPs fawn over upscale bistro-style fare—think striploin steak with frites ($36), lavender roasted chicken ($24) and a foie gras hot dog ($22)—and wines chosen by esteemed sommelier Jamie Drummond. Industrial-ornate decor by local design firm Commute Home matches the College Street spot’s eclectic clientele, with wire lampshades, a plaster-moulding accent wall and a full-size cutout of a 1960s Citroën serve as conversation starters.
Loire Casual Gourmet (Photo by Paul Kittmer).
The number of restaurants adhering loosely to the model of simple, affordable fare served in an attractive yet informal setting has grown exponentially in this city. Joining the fray is Loire, a self-described “casual gourmet” spot along increasingly foodie-friendly Harbord Street. With fresh, seasonal dishes that could include seared Ontario rainbow trout ($24), grilled flank steak ($25) and the beef or lamb Loire burger on challah bread ($17), the intimate resto effortlessly straddles the line between relaxed neighbourhood fave and boldface fine-dining destination. No surprise, considering the pedigree of its owners: chef Jean-Charles Dupoire last toiled for the Fairmont Royal York’s Epic, while sommelier Sylvain Brissonnet spent more than a decade at revered Langdon Hall.