Bearfoot Bistro only Whistler restaurant on Canada's 100 Best Restaurants list 

Upscale eatery ranked 59th on annual list voted on by top chefs, food critics and restaurateurs

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Best (Bear)foot forward The Bearfoot Bistro had its strongest showing yet on the 2019 Canada's 100 Best Restaurants list, coming in at 59th, thanks in large part to the deft hand of renowned Executive Chef Melissa Craig, centre, and her culinary team.
  • Photo submitted
  • Best (Bear)foot forward The Bearfoot Bistro had its strongest showing yet on the 2019 Canada's 100 Best Restaurants list, coming in at 59th, thanks in large part to the deft hand of renowned Executive Chef Melissa Craig, centre, and her culinary team.

The Bearfoot Bistro, one of Whistler's most awarded fine-dining restaurants, has yet another accolade to add to its mantle.

The upscale eatery was named to the 2019 Canada's 100 Best Restaurants list this month, as voted on by close to a hundred esteemed chefs, restaurateurs, food critics and diners from across the country. The only Whistler restaurant to appear, it's the third time Bearfoot has cracked the list, after placing 97th in 2017 and squeaking in at 99th in 2015, the awards' inaugural year. This year was by far the restaurant's best showing, coming in at 59th.

"It's great to be involved with such a great group of restaurants across the board. It's very nice and this is the only one in Whistler," said renowned Executive Chef Melissa Craig, who is no stranger to industry awards of her own, having been crowned as the country's top chef at the 2008 Canadian Culinary Championships when she was just 28 years old.

Known for her refined take on culinary indulgences from around the world, there's no denying Craig's steady hand remains the primary appeal for diners. But, of course, no conversation about the Bearfoot would be complete without highlighting the vibrant atmosphere that restaurant founder Andre Saint-Jacques has helped foster over the years.

"I think the Bearfoot is a restaurant about experiences, so that demarks us," said Saint-Jacques, who often plays the boisterous yin to wife Craig's reserved yang. "From the nitro martinis and nitro ice cream, to the champagne sabreing and all sorts of things that demark us, it's about the experience. And, of course, the food. Melissa won best chef in Canada back in 2008, and this solidifies that Melissa's talent just keeps getting better."

Saint-Jacques also credited the rest of the Bearfoot staff for continuing to uphold the standards the restaurant is known for.

'Of course, we're very excited and very happy but it's also very exciting for the team, because this restaurant is obviously successful because of our big family," he said. "Everyone there at the restaurant is very proud that we've been recognized."

At the time of our interview, Craig and Saint-Jacques were just getting ready to depart for Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, a trip that will be part vacation, part research expedition.

"That's what we do in our spring and fall; we go and see different countries and from there we get ideas that we then bring back and apply or put into practice at the restaurant," Saint-Jacques explained. "We may put a twist on what we've seen and tried, and I'm sure it keeps new things happening for the patrons that keep coming back."

The Bearfoot is also gearing up for its annual lobster promotion, which cuts out the middle man by shipping the crustaceans straight from the Magdalen Islands, a small archipelago in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence known for the quality and flavour of its highly sought after lobster. Lobster should begin arriving at the restaurant by Thursday, May 9, weather depending.

"To me, it's the best lobster I've ever had, without a doubt," Saint-Jacques added.

Western Canada, and British Columbia in particular were well represented on this year's 100 Best Restaurants list, with Alberta counting 12 restaurants and B.C. 16. The highest-ranking B.C. restaurant on the list was Vancouver's St. Lawrence, which is at the forefront of the current renaissance of classical French cuisine around the country. Vancouver's renowned Hawksworth Restaurant—founded by chef David Hawksworth, who has previously partnered with Whistler Blackcomb on a handful of pop-up lunches at the Roundhouse—was the next B.C. establishment on the list, at 11.

To view the full list, visit canadas100best.com.

To learn more about the Bearfoot Bistro, or make a reservation, visit bearfootbistro.com.

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