Vancouverites planning on a little weekend dinner at Vij's may want to strap on a pair of comfortable shoes and clear their schedules after 3 p.m.
The Indian eatery has just been awarded the number one spot in a new survey of Canada's top restaurants, meaning the previous 90-minute wait for a table at the South Granville hotspot will likely seem a distant fantasy come Saturday night.
Travel website vacay.ca revealed its inaugural Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list on Thursday, combining votes from food writers, industry experts, chefs and foodies around the country. Each judge was asked to nominate 10 restaurants they'd dined at in the past 30 months and criteria included rating restaurants on budget, regions, range of cuisine and overall dining experience.
Vij's famous wine-marinated lamb popsicles took the cake. "I have literally re-routed my flights to have enough layover time in Vancouver so I could make the pilgrimage," wrote food journalist Steve Dolinsky of the restaurant.
The 18-year-old establishment has overcome its rocky start to spawn a wildly popular line of take-home curries and cookbooks, the latest of which tied for a silver medal at last year's Canadian Culinary Book Awards.
But back 1994, husband and wife duo Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala were nearly forced to shut down after two months with an empty dining room — and that was after their first landlord threatened to sell the building, complaining about the smell coming from the kitchen. And based on reviews, it appears that the couple has remained humble and gracious hosts in spite of their success. Dolinsky notes that Vij personally comes outside to serve snacks to hungry patrons waiting in line.
East of British Columbia, Chef Marc Lepine's Ottawa-based Atelier received the public-voted People's Choice Award, a nice addition to his recent win at the Canadian Culinary Championships.
Atelier also came in fifth on the overall list. Rounding out the top five are Langdon Hall in Cambridge, Ont., Joe Beef in Montreal and The Black Hoof in Toronto. St. John's, Nfld. pub the Duke of Duckworth was a surprise entry in the No. 10 spot. Click here for a full look at the list — although it's recommended to have a little something to eat first, as excessive salivation may ensue.