Best Canadian Restaurants for Your Next Business Dinner

Six places to impress a colleague or client from Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2018 writer, Nancy Matsumoto.

Photo: Chris Giannakos

St. Lawrence

Say you’re hosting Québécois guests with a hankering for home-province tastes. Saint-Jérôme-born chef J.C. Poirier – who’s toiled in the kitchen at Toqué! and worked up British Columbia street cred at Ask for Luigi – is your man. His Powell Street hang channels the cozy comfort of grand-mère’s Laurentians cottage, gilding it with bespoke monogrammed plates bearing the fleur-de-lys. Rustic yet soigné classics like Paris–Brest with foie gras mousse and reliably delicious veal sweetbreads that change up with the seasons fit right in here, as does the French wine list. For that last hit of la belle province, save room for the tarte au sucre and the homey riz au lait.
269 Powell St., Vancouver, 604-620-3800,

Donna Mac

Model Milk alum Justin “Tino” Longpre is in the kitchen at this sleek, modern Beltline hot spot. The vintage turntable and floor-to-ceiling windows give the airy room the feel of your friend’s parents’ hip ski chalet, and in fact it’s named for grandma Donna Mac, who must have been a cool cat. The Doctor B cocktail (Alberta rye, honey, apple cider vinegar and a bit of bee pollen) can fix whatever’s ailing the conversation at hand, and the nicely seared bavette calls for the earthy, currant and blueberry notes of a California Ultraviolet cabernet sauvignon.
1002 9th St. SW, Calgary, 403-719-3622,

Photo: Daniel Wood


A winning combo of sophisticated food, rad playlist, unpretentious setting and Ice District location makes this a perfect place for a pre-Oilers-game dinner. Chef-owner Ryan Hotchkiss has bumped gnocchi up to a feather-light must-order by swapping out potatoes for pâte à choux. Wearing a perfect char, grilled strip loin scores points for flawless execution, as does the silky sea bream crudo spiked with bright notes of Thai basil, citrus and chili oil. Classic cocktails (Vieux Carré, Boulevardier), an all-Alberta beer slate and enticing Canadian and French wine list keep the comfort factor high.
10228 104th St. NW, Edmonton, 780-420-0192,

Photo: Reynold Pan


Dine like a king on royal Thai dumplings so artfully sculpted, you’ll think you’re at the AGO instead of on Adelaide. The husband-and-wife team behind local fave Sabai Sabai has gone upscale here with carved wooden shutters and ornate mouldings, while retaining a sense of breezy fun. Garnet- and gold-hued matoom (dried quince) or ka jiab (hibiscus) iced teas are on offer. But there’s heartier fare if your brainstorming session calls for it. Sip a Japanese whisky cocktail laced with Calvados and kumquat liqueur, then opt for the braised beef short ribs cloaked in an addictive tamarind sauce. Who says business and pleasure can’t mix?
326 Adelaide St. W., Toronto, 647-490-5040,

Photo: Dalia Katz


Chef Julian Iliopoulos had to apply for a city permit to operate his Grillworks grill, the Michigan-made Lamborghini of open-fire cooking machines. The wood-fired grill “is like salt” to his Argentine-inspired food, he confesses. Its heat touches almost everything that comes out of the former Cava chef de cuisine’s kitchen: a sizzling, flavour-packed wagyu bavette, and the gem lettuce beside it, anointed by cider vinegar, oil and smoked garlic. The room is a cozy blend of exposed brick, hardwood floors and tufted banquettes. Let the grape-loving servers be your guides to the excellent wine list, stocked with treasures you’re not going to find at the LCBO, like a dry, apricot-notes Tajinaste listán white from the Canary Islands.
74 Ossington Ave., Toronto, 416-546-3022,

Photo: Dominique Lafond


Elena’s designer, Kyle Adams Goforth, was inspired by the restaurant-as-theatre feeling of Tony Soprano’s go-to red-sauce joint, Nuovo Vesuvio. Applying to that ideal the curvaceous lines and popping colours of 1960s and ’70s Italian design, he’s created one of the prettiest and most fun rooms in Montreal. The soulful pizzas and pastas of executive chef Emma Cardarelli (Nora Gray), meanwhile, would make Carmen Soprano weep for joy. Crispy deep-fried rice croquettes and a mushroom, celeriac and Taleggio pizza beguile. Whether the gathering is for business or family (and aren’t they one and the same in the end?), the appealing aperitivo, natural wine and amaro lists are guaranteed to keep the conversation civil and fluid.
5090, rue Notre-Dame O., Montreal, 514-379-4883,