In her introduction to En Route’s latest ranking of the country’s 10 best new restaurants, Sarah Musgrave declares 2012 “the year of Toronto”—and given the frenetic pace of openings in this city, we’re inclined to agree. Musgrave backs up her bold claim by naming six Toronto restaurants to the list, up from just two last year, reserving the top spot for Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth’s Edulis, which moved into the former Niagara Street Café space this year. Musgrave fell in love with the restaurant’s quaint, comfortable atmosphere and, like our reviewer, felt that Caballo’s rustic yet adventurous cuisine skirted some of the pieties of the farm-to-table trend.
Small Queen West rooms were especially well represented in Musgrave’s list, with Ursa, Black Hoof spawn Grand Electric and Aaron Joseph Bear Robe’s Keriwa Cafe coming in at 3, 7 and 8, respectively (this year’s list felt especially dressed down, eschewing the fine dining restaurants that took the top three spots last year). Keriwa’s inclusion is a bit ill-timed, however, given that Bear Robe recently suspended à la carte service in favour of once- or twice-a-week tasting menus. Hopgood’s Foodliner, another restaurant run by a Hoof alum, made the cut at 6, and, surprisingly, so did Acadia (at 4), whose absence from last year’s list left us scratching our heads (Musgrave explains the list’s logistics in an interview on Swallow). The new crop of notable absentees? Yours Truly, certainly, which earned our top honours last year, and The Grove, which Maclean’s recently (and controversially) named the best new restaurant in Canada last month.