ICYMI: Calgary high-end food distributor robbed, Nobu announces opening in Toronto, Fairmont Pacific Rim's buzzworthy new concept and more

Top Canadian food news for March 2017

If you're not on the West Coast, chances are that you are immersed in a mid-March winter wonderland. As annoying as piles of snow can be when the first day of spring is now in sight, look to the bright side: there's no better time to sit at home and get some reading done.

From a 100 per cent vegan butcher shop opening its doors in Victoria to excited foodies, to a horrible robbery of a Calgary high-end food supplier, here are some of the most interesting food news stories that have popped up across the country lately.

Popular Edmonton restaurant, Café Linnea goes tip-free


Edmonton's Café Linnea is the latest in Alberta restaurants to try and figure out what exactly to do with the issue of rising minimum wage and tipping. Come September, service staff at restaurants will be getting paid a minimum of $15 per hour. So, that begs the question: do I still tip 18 per cent, 20 per cent, or more, on my bill?

This CTV news piece explains the restaurant's reasons and goes on to note that a Vancouver cafe tried to up employee wages and do away with tipping as well, as has Calgary's Earls 67 concept, which attempted to build in a 16-per-cent auto-gratuity on every bill. Both have reverted back to the standard means.

It will be interesting to see what other restaurants in the province will do come the fall in regards to tipping procedures.

Calgary gets a Halifax "street food" restaurant


As much as I enjoy quality Halifax donairs, a greasy pizza slice from Pizza Corner and a big basket of deep-fried Brother's pepperoni (I really, really do), I hate to be critical and to be the one to point out that none of this is actually "street food". Nonetheless, Calgary's new restaurant, Blowers & Grafton, is offering a taste of the East Coast in the space that formerly housed Carino, the Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant.

Calgary is ripe with Haligonians and there are only two other East Coast-inspired eateries in the city (The Unicorn's Celtic Cellar and Atlantic Trap and Gill), so expect this little eatery on Edmonton Trail to be quite busy.

Read more about Blowers & Grafton in this piece from Halifax paper, The Chronicle Herald here.

A vegan butcher in Victoria? Sure! Why not?


You know that we happily made the case for vegan pizza last week, so it should come as no surprise that this new vegan "butcher" in Victoria has piqued our attention too. Burger patties, meatballs, house-made veggie ground "beef", pulled pork-style jackfruit, sausages...you name it, this butcher shop has got it. Being a vegan-friendly city through and through, the initial response to The Very Good Butchers has apparently been overwhelming, as huge line-ups of folks can't wait to enjoy all of the non-meaty goodness that's on offer.

Shockingly, this is not Canada's first vegan butcher shop, as Yamchops in Toronto is the proud owner of that title. Word on the street is that Calgary's vegetarian restaurant, The Coup, is preparing to launch a vegan charcuterie program soon as well. Bye Felicia Proscuitto!

You can read more about The Very Good Butchers opening their doors in Victoria in this Times Colonist piece.

Nobu announces plans to expand to Toronto


#2017 #January #omakase #nobutokyo #aritayaki

A post shared by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa (@therealnobu) on


The world famous restaurant chain from chef Nobu Masuhisa and celebrity investor, Robert DeNiro, just announced plans to build a luxury hotel and condominium property along with its namesake high-end Japanese-Peruvian restaurant concept.

As this Toronto Life piece explains, though, Torontonians are going to be waiting awhile for a table, likely at least a handful of years.

Economic slump in Saskatoon slows food scene growth


Elk and pork meatballs

A post shared by Primal Restaurant (@primal_pasta) on


Under a less than favourable economy, the evolution of the city's food scene--which has seen a gain in momentum after 2011--has slowed notably in the past year with only a handful of contemporary culinary establishments opening.

Though this CBC News article does paint the picture that times are quite tough for most eateries in the past 18 months or so (especially downtown and potentially more-so, should something new open and increase competitiion), Saskatoon has had some interesting microbreweries pop up, as well as a boutique microdistillery and a cidery. That's something we can toast to!

Fairmont Pacific Rim announces new restaurant concept


CHAMPAGNE LOUNGE (c) Celebrate harmony with nature. #botanistjournal

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Out with the old and in with the new seems to be Fairmont's mantra as of late when it comes to its Canadian properties. This summer, Victoria's Fairmont Empress unveiled its new swanky cocktail bar and restaurant, Q Bar and Q, respectively, bidding adieu to its famous Bengal Room. Now, Pacific Rim is following suite, transforming Oru Cuisine into Bontanist, a plant-themed concept that will boast a large indoor garden, bar, experimental cocktails, interior design by Ste. Marie Art + Design (Savio Volpe, Bestie) and a Champagne lounge. The latter element speaks to the growing trend of Champagne bars that has started to emerge across the country. Bubbles for all!

You can read more about the highly-anticipated revamp in this Georgia Straight article.

Specialty food supplier in Calgary robbed of products worth $50,000


After last week's massive cheese heist in Ontario, another massive food robbery took place in another part of the country. Earlier this week, The Fine Food Stop, a high-end food supplier that provides items like duck, foie gras and other artisanal meats to restaurants around the city discovered their truck had been broken into and $50,000 of meat stolen. Among the stolen goods are 50 kilograms of foie and 100 kilograms of smoked salmon.

You can get the full details behind this unusual theft in this Global News story.

Other outlets put their best pun forward with article titles like "Hungry bandits rob Calgary warehouse of high-end meats" and "A carnivorous caper: $50K in meat heisted in Calgary's Northeast".

Did we miss anything? Let us know about any other Canadian food story that fascinated you this week by commenting in the space below or filling out our contact us form.