Vancouver’s old(er) guard of fine dining restaurants were left by the roadside last night at a Michelin Guide ceremony where only eight one-star awards and 12 Bib Gourmands (the guide’s ‘great food at a great price’ category) were handed out. No Vancouver restaurants achieved two- or three-star ratings. Bafflingly for a city which prides itself on its seasonal, grower-guided, zero waste credentials, there were no Green Stars awarded, which highlight restaurants at the forefront of sustainability.
One of the West Coast’s most casual destinations, traditionally yoga pant-wearing Vancouver does not do “fancy” well; international chef superstars Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten both launched — and subsequently shuttered — restaurants here, and European-style fine dining with its squads of waitstaff and sky-high tasting-menu prices simply does not exist. Popular opinion tends to be that Vancouver shines brightest as a culinary destination thanks to its abundance of spectacular produce, and chefs from around the world who bring their techniques, traditions, and flavors to the city’s (admittedly casual) tables.
When Michelin made its proposed guide announcement in July, Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the MichelinGuides stated: “Our inspectors are… eagerly diving into Vancouver’s wide variety of cuisines, prepared with high-quality products and served in warm, casual atmospheres.” The sentiment gave many hope that the city’s lack of starched tablecloths would not deter inspectors. Surprisingly that’s exactly what has happened, with cozy boltholes such as St. Lawrence and the joyfully casual Burdock & Co bagging their first Michelin stars and even beloved brunch hangout Café Medina making the recommended list, and Eater 38 chicken wings staple, Phnom Penh, scoring a Bib Gourmand. Established heavy hitters such as Cioppino’s and L’Abattoir, who were expected to be shoo-ins for the tire company dining guide were instead consigned to “recommended restaurant” status, while fine-dining staples in the city such as Le Crocodile and Boulevard were completely ignored.
Scanning social media prior to the event usually outspoken industry staff have been uncharacteristically quiet online, except for one lone Tweeter, Michelin’s destination marketing partner, Destination Vancouver. At the 33rd annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards ceremony at the beginning of October, industry insiders seemed sharply divided between those who believe the attention that Michelin brings can only help the city’s Covid-crushed restaurant scene, and those who, as one chef put it, believed that a star “puts a target on your back and guarantees a restaurant full of picky assholes.”
Vancouver’s full list of 60 restaurants falls well short of Toronto’s 74 picks earlier this year — which included 12 one-star awards and a two-star award for Sushi Masaki Saito. Here’s the full list:
Vancouver’s 2022 Michelin Stars
Burdock & Co
iDen & QuanJuDe Beijing Duck House
Published on Main
Anh and Chi
Fiorino Italian Street Food
Kin Kao Song
Little Bird Dim Sum + Craft Beer
Michelin Service Award: GM Justin Isidro & team at Kissa Tanto
Michelin Sommelier Award: Wine director Jayton Paul at Published on Main
Michelin Exceptional Cocktails Award: Creative Beverage Director Grant Sceney & Head Bartender Jeff Savage The Botanist
Nikki Bayley is an award-winning freelance travel, food, and wine writer whose work has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, National Geographic Traveler, The Globe and Mail, and The Guardian.