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It's the one you've been waiting for! The 2022 Restaurant of the Year is...(drumroll please)
As Canadians, we’re a self-deprecating bunch. And Vancouverites can be overly humble beyond that. But sometimes it’s important to take a figurative step back, inhale deeply (something we’re pretty good at here) and celebrate the special things we have. And let’s start with this: St. Lawrence is a marvel of a restaurant.
It’s tough to imagine another space that feels as vital and fresh at its half-decade mark. Most places—especially successful ones—quickly fall into a pattern of greatest hits speckled with the odd Instagram-worthy special, but St. Lawrence still seems like it should be in the running for Best New Restaurant.
Partly, it’s their decision to start featuring various regions of France as inspiration for their table d’hôte approach to menu design. So in a year where travel was still limited, a local diner could experience the choucroute of Alsace, the cod dumplings of Lyon or the bouillabaisse of Provence—all executed in a way that is refreshing and distinctive while still honouring the dishes’ geography—without ever having to leave the city limits. And partly it’s because the kitchen (anchored by ever-present chef/owner J-C Poirier and backed by the tightest line in town, including chef de cuisine and pâté en croûte whisperer Colin Johnson and sous chef Jake Isaak) and the front of house (GM Julie Sopuck, somm David Lawson and barkeep Sarah Hawkins) work together like Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey after a summer of furtive dance lessons.
The result is an operation at the top of its game, such that scoring a ticket (that’s what the prepaid reservation has been reimagined as) feels like a small triumph, more akin to seeing your favourite band live than something so pedestrian as “going out for dinner.” And to top off a stellar year, this fall will see the publication of their much-anticipated cookbook, Where the River Narrows, which should encapsulate everything that draws us to St. Lawrence: refinement over fanciness, timelessness over fashion, dedication over striving. St. Lawrence has now won this award more times than it hasn’t, and that’s a testament to what a special operation it is: a place very deserving of celebration.