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Tempers Flare Over Canadian Top 50 Restaurants List

Are these the 50 best restaurants in Canada? Yes, says Maclean's food columnist Jacob Richler. No, say a whole bunch of other people on Twitter and, via a much-quoted email, known troublemaker Anthony Bourdain. The issue: the list does not include the celebrated Montreal restaurants Au Pied de Cochon or Joe Beef. Tweeted Frédéric Morin of Joe Beef, "I think that magazine just defined distinct society and nepotism in one top 50 list!" while his co-chef/business partner David McMillan adds "Forget Joe Beef, all chefs on list should refuse accolade in Solidarity for icon [Au Pied de Cochon chef] Martin Picard, you in your hearts know I'm right .TRUTH."

An email from Bourdain that has been passed around — Montreal talk radio show Dinner Rush got a hold of it, as did HuffPo Quebec editor Tamy Emma Pepin — also derides the list. Bourdain compares leaving the two restaurants off the list is "like writing a history of British rock and roll and willfully neglecting to mention either Beatles or Stones." As usual, there's more where that came from:

Omitting Joe Beef AND Au Pied de Cochon from any list of top 50 Canadian restaurants (or even a top ten list) is like writing a history of British rock and roll and willfully neglecting to mention either Beatles or Stones.

It speaks of a personal agenda so deranged or corrupted as the throw the entire enterprise into disrepute. Both restaurants are in fact, Canada's best and most Influential cultural ambassadors. I can't imagine what kind of spongiform bacteria might have caused Mr. Richler to neglect one or the other.

Local journalists got in on the criticism as well: food writer Alexandra Forbes writes, "A '50 best restaurants in Canada' list that includes the VERY unremarkable Dominion Square Tavern, and newcomer Maison Boulud but not Joe Beef or Au Pied de Cochon is simply wrong." Montreal Gazette restaurant critic Lesley Chesterman tweeted, "Just saw the Macleans 50 Best Restaurants in Canada list. Jacob Richler, you know nothing about Montreal restaurants. #pathetic"

The intro to the top 50 list includes the following disclaimer: "We will come right out and admit that when rated exclusively on traditional merits, scored only on what they put on the plate and how they serve it, the restaurants included here may not be our absolute 50 best." Rather, they chose to prioritize a mix of "old and new, cheap and pricey, casual and posh" as well geographically diverse selections. The Maclean's restaurant issue is out now.

· The 50 Best Restaurants in Canada [Maclean's]
· All Canada Coverage on Eater [-E-]
[Photo: Maclean's]