TORONTO — Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality (O&B) has reopened Canoe Restaurant & Bar following an eight-week renovation.
The reopening coincides with the 25th anniversary of the downtown-Toronto restaurant, which first opened in 1995 under the partnership of Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini.
“I never could have imagined the incredible impact Canoe would have, not only here in Toronto, but in Canada and beyond,” says Bonacini. “So many talented, gifted people have come and gone over the years, proving it takes a village to build a great restaurant that will stand the test of time. Canoe holds a special sense of place, purpose, belonging and home in my heart and in the O&B family.”
O&B tasked Solid Design Creative with the interior revamp, which encompasses the bar, dining room and kitchen. Inspired by the varied perspectives of Canada — including the view of Toronto from the restaurant’s perch on the TD Centre’s 54th floor — the design team chose to honour the country’s diverse landscape through vast expanse as well as intricate details.
A ceiling installation of mirrors and fibreglass lenses surrounds the perimeter of the dining room, giving the guest a different perspective of the city below. A woven-felt ceiling installation pays tribute to traditional weaving techniques used for snowshoes and the seats in canoes. The patterns on custom rugs are influenced by aerial photographs of the unique Canadian landscape. Granite is used throughout the space to capture the rugged nature of the Canadian Shield, while the east bar wall showcases The Three Sisters mountain range in Alberta.
From a culinary standpoint, Canoe’s steadfast mission has always been to define regional Canadian cuisine and craft dishes reflective of the country’s diverse landscape, history and culture. The restaurant’s culinary vision is currently driven by O&B corporate executive chef Anthony Walsh, district executive chef John Horne and chef de cuisine Ron McKinlay.
For Walsh — who first started with Canoe in 1995 as a saucier and worked his way up to executive chef — the anniversary and reopening mark a major milestone. “Looking ahead to the next 25 years, I can confidently say Canoe is stronger than ever,” he says. “From our cooks to our servers to our dishwashers, we’re all committed to steering Canoe into an exciting new era and maintaining open water ahead of our competition.”
New dishes on Canoe’s dinner menu include Baffin Island Turbot with wild rice and buckwheat-stuffed leek, pommes écrasées, sauce vin jaune and sea-lettuce emulsion ($46); Tamarack Farms Lamb with Jerusalem artichoke gratin, sunflower purée, wild-licorice jus, samphire and nettle haché ($50); and Ontario Pigeon Pithivier with Québec foie gras, collard greens, James Bay matsutake mushrooms and red-currant jus ($70). An innovative eight-course chef’s tasting menu is also available for $120 per guest, featuring home-grown ingredients such as steelhead trout, bison and Nova Scotia seaweed.
Canoe is also debuting a new bread program featuring Blackbird Baking Co. and O&B Artisan breads. In an effort to reduce waste and help build food security, all gross proceeds will be donated to Community Food Centres of Canada.