Open-fire cooking might conjure up images of summertime camping trips spent heating baked beans and hot dogs over flames, but the primitive cooking method is currently making waves on the fine-dining scene by giving gourmet dishes a deliciously smoky twist. Ready to set your taste buds ablaze? Read on to discover five Canadian restaurants proving that live-fire cooking is (literally) the hottest food trend right now.
The Feast at The Inn at Bay Fortune
Price Edward Island
Run by Food Network star Michael Smith, this riverside property features multiple forms of live-fire cooking when in season, from a smokehouse and open hearth to a wood oven and Spanish-inspired “plancha,” which involves heating a cast-iron plate over an open flame. Start your meal with freshly baked wood-oven bread, followed by locally sourced charcuterie and smoked fish. Tuck into wood-roasted meats, fish and veggies for your main —just be sure to save room for the freshly baked desserts!
Nestled in Montreal’s hot-as-ever Griffintown ‘hood, Foxy imparts every single dish with a touch of open flame, from its “first bites” (picture a winter coleslaw of burnt cauliflower, brussel sprouts, apple and duck confit) to the main dishes, which include roasted coquelet, charcoal-grilled seabass and oven-baked gnocchi. The acclaimed restaurant (voted one of Canada’s top new restaurants by enRoute magazine in 2016) even infuses its sweet offerings with a smoky flavour, letting you cap off an evening of live-fire flavours with the likes of burnt-honey crème brûlée.
Grant van Gameran — the restauranteur behind Toronto hotspots Bar Isabel and Bar Raval — decided to open this Little Italy establishment to offer regional Mexican cuisine cooked in wood-burning ovens and over a 26-foot-long open flame. Here, you can enjoy a variety of roasted meats and even venture outside your culinary comfort zone with a side of salsas and moles made with peculiar-yet-protein-rich ingredients such as maguey worms and chicatana ants.
If you like tasting menus (and have the time), head to this “experiential” Edmonton eatery for a 15-to-20-course meal consisting of regional, seasonal cuisine. In addition to fresh and fermented bites, chef Ben Staley delivers exquisite wood-fire-roasted veggies and proteins, all perfectly plated, of course, in Instagram-worthy style.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Inspired by classic Italian eateries specializing in simple, rustic fare, chef Mark Perrier prepares his seasonal-menu items on an open-fire grill and rotisserie that runs entirely on Okanagan apple wood. Every dish — from grilled meats and fish to such handmade pastas as tortellini stuffed with ricotta and burnt walnut pesto — features a trace of flame or smoke, for a meal that will leave you feeling as warm and fuzzy as a fireside retreat on a frosty night.