Best New Restaurant 2018: St. Lawrence

With its homestyle Québécois cooking, JC Poirier's St. Lawrence won judges' (and Vancouverites') hearts this year.

With its homestyle Québécois cooking, JC Poirier’s St. Lawrence won judges’ (and Vancouverites’) hearts this year.

Imagine if, in the story of the tortoise and the hare, the bunny just kept running and running until he won the race by a country mile. That would be the 2017 juggernaut that was this year’s Gold winner, St. Lawrence. It was easily the most hyped restaurant opening of the year (historically more of a curse than a blessing in this category), but it was months, if not years, in planning before it opened its doors: menu testing, numerous pop-ups, staff training—repeat. The result is that it had nary a noticeable road bump this year and a reservation book that’s bursting at the seams with diners eager to try chef JC Poirier’s take on the Québécois food of his youth. That being said, Silver winner Botanist is no tortoise. The beautiful room anchoring the Fairmont Pacific Rim managed to pull off the insurmountable task of changing the direction of a purpose-built hotel dining room, with the help of chef Hector Laguna and designer Craig Stanghetta—transforming the former Oru into a room that channels a luxe locavorism. And Bronze goes to the dream team of chef Makoto Ono, pastry chef Amanda Cheng and sommelier Roger Maniwa of Mak N Ming, who opened a tasting-menu-only restaurant in the middle of the most casual street in town and have brought people in to their jewel-box room by preparing some of the most dynamic, adventurous fare in Vancouver.

Restaurant Awards 2018 ▸▸▸