Canada: Where to eat healthy

In this section you'll find a list of restaurants and cafes with healthy choices on the menu. Most of them also follow the philosophy of using local products whenever possible. We know there are many, many other eateries where healthy eating is the focus, these are just a few of those we have personally visited. We'll keep adding as we continue to tour the country.

Canada Restaurants: Where to Eat Healthy in Atlantic Canada

The Rooms Café St. John's, Newfoundland
Blue on Water St. John's, Newfoundland
Restaurant 21 St. John's, Newfoundland
Lighthouse Picnics Newfoundland
Old Loft Restaurant Woody Point (near Gros Morning National Park
Mansion Pool Dining Room Strawberry Hill (near Deer Lake)
The Passamaquoddy Dining Room Fairmont Algonquin, St. Andrews-by-the-Sea

Canada Restaurants: Where to Eat Healthy in Ontario

AG Sterling Inn & Spas, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Perspectives Brookstreet Hotel, Kanata, Ontario
Angeline's Bloomfield, Ontario
The Black Thorn
Byway Market, Ottawa, Ontario
Sante Restaurant Ottawa, Ontario
Harvest Restaurant Picton, Ontario
Clara's Claramount Inn, Picton, Ontario
The Pie Plate Bakery & Cafe Virgil (Niagara-on-the-Lake), Ontario

C5 at the ROM Toronto
Cow Bell Toronto
Dining Room at The Drake” Toronto

Canada Restaurants: Where to Eat Healthy in Western Canada

River Cafe Calgary, Alberta
Nourish Vegetarian Cafe & Tea House Banff, Alberta

The Rooms Café St. John's, Newfoundland

For the best view of St. John’s, the harbour and Signal Hill, The Rooms Café is a great spot for lunch. Here you’re most likely to find fresh seafood chowder and interesting soups of the day that reflects what’s grown locally - turnip and apple, for instance and Roma tomato and juniper berry.

Following lunch you might want to check out The Rooms Museum. The Rooms combines Newfoundland’s Provincial Museum, Provincial Art Gallery and Provincial Archives under one roof. Collections and exhibits tell Newfoundland’s stories through art, artifacts, archaeology, architecture and archival records. The striking architectual building also offers great views of St. John’s and the harbour.

Blue On Water St. John's, Newfoundland

Intimate, contemporary restaurant on Water Street in the heard of downtown creates a contemporary feel with dark woods, dark leather seating and starched white table linens. Rice paper, globe-shaped lantern hang above the bar. The dress and atmosphere is distinctly casual.

Specialty here is seafood. Start with cod tongues, the local delicacy. The restaurant typically serves them deep fried with Scunchions (tiny cubes of pork fat cured in salt and deepfried) and tartar sauce but I asked that they be pan fried and the chef was kind enough to accommodate. Cod tongues takes like…..well, cod. Only a bit more gluttenous. Unless you plan to make a meal of it, the appetizer is meant for sharing.

Catch of the day was fresh, local cod, halibut and lobster. Owner Jason Brake, is known is say “even if you can’t find it anywhere else in the city, I still have fresh cod.” Andrew, my server, recommends it.. Served topped with a fresh blueberry salsa and mixed grilled vegetables (instead of the garlic mashed potatoes that come with) it’s tasty and as fresh as if it was caught an hour ago. Since the restaurants sits just a hop from the harbour, it could very well have been.

Selections include and appetizer of Grilled Scallops Finished with Raspberry &Chipotle Glaze $10.95, and salads including Citrus & Fennel. Breads – onion and sun-dried tomoto, for instance – are made on the premises. At the time of our visit, entrees were are priced between $23 and $35.

Restaurant 21 St.John's, Newfoundland

Located downtown called “modern dining” where fine food is served in a relaxed environment. Most fruit and vegetables and garnishes – items such as sprouts, flowers and herbs, from an organic fare in nearby Portugal Cove. As much local meat and especially fish as possible is served. Innovation of food and presentation is seen in dishes such as the Trio of Scallops & Grapefruit appetizer featuring grapefruit scallop carpaccio, grilled scallop confit of grapefruit and olive oil poached scallop served with grapefruit couscous. $13. In addition to scallops, look for local dishes such as local mussels, lobster (season is May to August). There are vegetarian selections plus daily specials. Today’s amuse bouche is caribou with red pepper and cucumber salsa. Bread, even butter is made on the premises – little rosettes of avocado cream and wild berry flavours to spread on the bread-of-the-day.

The menu changes seasonally. Entrees run from $15 to just under $30.

Lighthouse Picnics Newfoundland

If you are visiting in summer or early fall, Lighthouse Picnics, located in Ferryland (about an hour’s drive from St. John’s) on the east coast is a wonderful way to experience the traditional of picnics that is part of the Newfoundland culture. It takes about 25 minutes to walk up the hill to the Ferryland Lighthouse where you order from a deli-style menu – a selection of freshly-made sandwiches – for instance, ham and brie or curried chicken on home-made oatmeal bread served with a salad and freshly made lemonade. You find a scenic grassy spot overlooking the ocean and your picnic is brought to you in a wicker basket. Organic and local products are used as much as possible and the company also supplies a picnic blanket for your use. This is more than just a place to eat, this is an exceptional day time activity.

Old Loft Restaurant Wood Point (near Gros Morning National Park

If you are hiking the Tablelands, the Old Loft Restaurant in the seaside village of Woody Point is a perfect spot for lunch. The pretty little village of Woody Point was once a monied community for the wealthier fishermen and boat captains. Located on the top floor of a store, the restaurant offers inside seating or outside on a patio overlooking Bonne Bay and the Tablelands in the distance. You’ll find all the local catch on the menu – cod, mussels, caplin, cod tongue, shrimp and scallops. Entrees are $15 to $18. Downstairs, the store sells their own partridge berry and bakeapple berry jams and syrups. To get your daily dose of seeds (poppy, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and flax, order a half-dozen yummy Field Cookies for the road.

Mansion Pool Dining Room Strawberry Hill (near Deer Lake

The view of Humber Valley River from the patio is one reason to dine at this historic inn. The other is the food. It’s a great spot for lunch or a special dinner. The menu changes daily and focuses on fresh local seafood whenever possible. The day we visited, there were local scallops, lobster and salmon. A Roasted Tomato & Gin Soup served with Parmesan Crisps was offered as an appetizer along with Seared Scallops. Rack of Lamb, Duck and Beef Tenderloin accompanied Seared Salmon with Orange and Sambucca Syrup for the selection of main courses. Entrees are prices between $27 and $32. It’s not always on the menu, but if you are lucky enough to be there at the right time – definitely try the White Chocolate Soup with Ginger Snap Cookies.

Dating back to 1954 and decorated with many of the original furnishing and fixtures, the inn has just six room, plus eight three-bedroom chalets. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed here in 1959 and again in 1978. Other famous guests have included Pierre Trudeau, Marilyn Monroe and President Bush Senior.

More about Newfoundland Spas & Wellness Travel

The Passamaquoddy Dining Room Fairmont Algonquin St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick

The Fairmont's Passamaquoddy Dining Room gets name comes from the bay it overlooks. Get a window side seat and you can look out onto a beautiful landscaped lawn that slopes down to the pool. In the distance the bay and the main streets of St. Andrews by the Sea. And, yes, just like the name says, St. Andrews is a seaside town.

Healthy selections on the menu include the local organic green salad with cucumbers, carrots, cherry tomatoes and St. George cranberry vinaigrette. make from local cranberries and a balsamic reduction. Naturually there are several fish dishes on the menu this is New Brunswick one of the country’s fresh seafood capitals) including pan seared Altantic Salmon, Roast halibut, Artic Char, Pan Seared Bay of Fundy Scallops, a mixed seafood grill and Boiled Atlantic Lobster. Entrees at the time of our visit were roughly $25 to $47 but prices and menu selections will change so be sure to check with the restaurant before you go. Warmed New Brunswick Goat Cheese Madallions with vine-ripened tomato salad black olive tapenade, basil, sherry and mustard seed vinaigrette.

More about New Brunswick Spas & Wellness Travel

Old Fish Factory Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

In Old Town Lunenburg a Unesco World Heritage Site on the South Shore, you can stroll along the quaint streets of this hilly, waterfront town past colourful cedar-shingle, New England style homes, down to a lovely a pier and collection of boats. Work up an appetite for oysters. Stop at the Old Fish Factory with its wharf-side patio for local Bras d’Or Oysters on the half shell $9.99 and a Lunenburg Bay Biscuit just .99. Listening to the church bells play Oh Danny Boy makes the town seem almost spiritual.

The Black Thorn Cafe, Byway Market Ottawa, Ontario

Downtown Ottawa’s Byway Market, located just a five-minute walk from the Parliament Buildings, offers a collection of great places to eat mixed in with shops and, of course, the food market. Among other restaurants, we liked the Black Thorn Café.

It’s a toss up between the carrot puree soup and the crab cakes served with flax seed dip. The Black Thorn High Protein Salad with whole chick peas, red lentils, pumpkin seeds, hard boiled eggs, local sprouts, diced red peppers, chopped onions and mixed greens with a light vinaigrette ($12) is yummy and healthy. A selection of pastas under $20, There’s Atlantic Salmon with vegetable terrine and Cdn wild rice, a local organic chicken ($21) and a seafood dish ($28.) The restaurant seems to have a love of pumpkin seeds, one of the highest natural food sources of zinc. It is believed that pumpkin seeds act as an anti-inflammatory, lower cholesterol, decrease the risk of prostate cancer and fuel the brain.

In the warmer season, the restaurant’s cobblestone patio, overlooking the Tin House Courtyard a quiet pedestrian space with an old stone building and fountain, is a great spot to dine. We learn that the courtyards of Byward Market as we know them today were once back alleys for the disposal of garbage and storage of junk for the Sussex Street stores. Over the years they became parking lots which remained until the 1970s when it was decided that they should be restored into pedestrian spaces.

Sante Restaurant Ottawa, Ontario

Located in the same building at Holtz Spa, Sante is the go-to-place in Ottawa for Asian Fusion and Thai cuisine. Choose from appetizers, salads and soups such as Thai Chicken Satay, Bali Spring Rolls, Thai Crab and Spinach Salad, Thai tom Yum soup with shrimp, lemongrass a lime leaf Lunch entrees are $12 to $17, dinner entrees are$17 to $30 and include selections such as Pad Thai, Traditional Thai Curry, Organic Tofu, Cashew and Begetable Stir Fry. Sante is also an art gallery displaying works by local artists.

Harvest Restaurant Picton, Ontario

In season (which in Ontario can be June to October)Chef Michael Potters features a three-course, fixed-price (when we visited it was $45) 100 Mile Menu. Using 100 products from within a 100 mile radius, the menu features such selections as Wild Boar Terrine, Chilled White Heirloom Beet Borscht, Dana Vader's County Lamb, Black River 4-Year Cheddar wutg Walnut Bread Toasts and Warm Couty Berry Crepe. This food is delicious. We can almost guarantee you will be impressed. Stylish decor and lovely ambience. We like it. Entrees on the regular dinner menu start at $28.

Clara's, Claramount Inn Picton, (Prince Edward County) Ontario

According to the menu in the dining room of this lovely inn, "our region is blessed to have some of the riches and most fertile soil in Canada and we, at Clara's, are striving to prepare the very best regional cuisine." The menu goes on to thank all the local producers that have helped put the region on Ontario's viniculture map. Nice touch. This is a great place to sample all the region offers including local wines. Entrees start at $25.

Angeline's Bloomfield, (Prince Edward County) Ontario

Housed in a gracious late 1800s home located on the main street of Bloomfield, Angeline's Restaurant is a treat. In keeping with the style of the building, the dining room is gracious and traditional with crown moldings, wallpaper and a gold leaf chandelier. When we visited the menu - which features fresh and local whenever possible - offered a Sour Cherry & Water Melon Soup with Red Wine and Sour Creme. It was the best chilled soup we've ever had. Appetizers are priced between $6 - $10, entrees from $22 to $27. The wine list, which includes a selection from local producers, changes every two to three weeks. Lovely spot for lunch or dinner.

Along with this fabulous restaurants there are accommodations but the rooms are more motel style and really don't live up to the caliber of the restaurant. For more info

AG Restaurant at Sterling Inn & Spa, Niagara Falls, Ontario

The Niagara region – particularly Niagara-on-the-Lake – has a number of great restaurants but up until recently most of them have been located at the wineries – Pellar Estate, Hildebrand and Strewn, for instance. Now, Niagara Falls has its own fabulous wine-region restaurant and the thundering falls are actually within walking distance.

AG at Sterling Inn & Spa is the first time the farm-to-table, “slow food” concept has been taken out of the wineries and into downtown Niagara Falls. Along with its 130 plus wineries, the region is considered Ontario’s “fruit belt” and is one of the richest farm lands in Canada, so there is plenty of fresh-from-the-farm (or orchard) products for Chef Cory Linkson to choose from.

Décor wise – a contemporary look that combines greys and silvers hues, rich leather-covered banquettes and bar stools, crystal chandeliers, and draped red fabric as room dividers - this is one of the most visually striking restaurants I’ve been in recently, very New York-ish. Simultaneously sexy and sophisticated.

Menu is a “constant evolution” says restaurant manager Ted Andersen. Dishes themselves, may stay the same but they are constantly being tweaked as ingredients go in and out of season. Take tonight’s risotto. Tomatoes are just heading out of season so instead of the Fresh Tomato Risotto promised on the guest room copy of the menu, it’s now Forest Mushroom Risotto using fresh mushroom, picked up this morning by Chef Linkson, as the main ingredient.

Dishes are not only great in the taste department but beautifully presented and portions tend to be very generous. While billed as a Starter, the risotto, for instance, was a meal in itself.

AG is open six days a week for dinner service only. For more info

P.S. I liked the inn as much as I liked the restaurant – best place to stay in Niagara Falls.

The Pie Plate Bakery & Cafe Virgil (Niagara-on-the-Lake), Ontario

A pretty little veranda wrapped around a gingerbread house on the main street of Virgil (one of the small towns that make up Niagara-on-the-Lake)is the first thing you notice about The Pie Plate bakery & Cafe. Inside, the daily menu is written on a chalk board: Items such as sandwiches (Pear & Brie, Turkey Avocado and Ham & Brie) on walnut, whole wheat or baquettes all made on the premises - Smoothies, Artichoke & Asiago Tart (very popular). Ruth Anne Schriefer, baker and head chef of this family-owned business says the first choice of ingredients is "always local and everything is made from scratch." You can eat inside in one of the various small rooms or outside on the patio or in the tiny backyard. A delicious place to stop for lunch or buy to take with you on a cycling tour. Open year-round.

Perspectives Brookstreet Hotel, Kanata, Ontario

Editor's Note: Since we visited Perspectives and wrote this review, Michael Blackie has left and Clifford Lyness is now executive chef. Chef Lyness plans to continue the Slow Food philosophy the restaurant is known for.

~ ~ ~ ~

While Executive Chef Michael Blackie says Perspectives' menu doesn’t have a specifically healthy focus but is rather “good for the soul” that’s good enough for us. We really like the chef’s passion for incorporating fresh, local and seasonal. That in itself is healthy.

Located in Kanata, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Ottawa, Perspectives is the 4-diamond restaurant in the 4-diamond Brookstreet Hotel. In this elegant dining room where, in keeping with the nature theme of the hotel, trunks of young birch trees act as room dividers, Blackie presides over a menu that is both imaginative – a grapefruit and pineapple juice shooter served with a balsamic reduction – and whimsical – Tic Tac Toe Tartar made with tuna, salmon and beef, for instance.

Bits of whimsy are peppered throughout the menu and reflect the personality of the effusive and talented Blackie who travels often to various part of the world as what could only be called a Canadian Culinary Ambassador. His menu lists appetizers under the Submit heading, soups under Fluid and entrees are listed under Core. He says he strongly believes in “what’s next” and he designs his menu that way. The average price for an entrees (or Core) is $45.

If you’re really hungry go for the nightly six-course Blind Tasting Menu ($75 per person) The restaurant also offers annual Food & Wine Raves which allow participants to work with the chef and actually cook their own food in the kitchen.

For more info: Perspectives

C5 Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

Bright, airy, sleek and sporting clean geometric lines, C5, located on the 5th floor of the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), is very much in keeping with the new design of the city’s major museum.

Chef Ted Corrada serves what he calls ‘Toronto cuisine” which reflects the multiculturalism of the city - Chinese, Italian and Indian, for instance – an he is dedicated to using as many local ingredients as possible. But while the focus is on “local,” he is not obsessed about it. There are no avocado trees in Toronto, he says, but he’s not about to take avocado off the menu. “It’s about finding the right balance and being innovative,” say Corrada.

And innovative the menu is. When we visited appetizers included Heirloom Beets and Cured Ricotta Salad ($9) and Parsnip & Thyme Ravioli ($15). Main courses featured Black Cod Tempura ($26) Porcini Linguine ($20) and Salad of Vanilla-scented Hokkaido Scallops. Entrees run around the $22 price range.

For dinner it’s a destination restaurant, says the chef, while lunch times attract the local business community and ROM members.

It’s a more sophisticated cuisine, says the chef, something you can’t make at home. Food here is not only healthy it suits the space – sophisticated. The only down side, is that due to the design, the restaurant seems a little loud, so we would recommend if you’re looking to enjoy a healthy meal in a serene environment. More info on C5

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Cow Bell Toronto

This French bistro-style restaurant in the up-and-coming Parkdale neighbourhood is famous for its unique concept of buying an entire animal from natural producers and preparing it in their onsite butchery. Owner/chef Mark Cutrara says his food philosophy is based on sustainability and that means using the whole animal right down to the bones for stock. “Our animals are all natural raised and all from local farms.” One farmer he says is experimenting by raising pigs on mustard seed and flowers only. Can we be corny and say, “udderly delicious?”

The menu, written on a chalkboard, changes daily and offers a variety of signature meat dishes plus a least one fish or vegetarian selection. Menu items being offering when we visited included Mushroom Barley Packets with Kale,

The signature dish is probably Charcuteries - a study in sausage featuring 8 to 10 different varieties all made in-house. Works by featured local artists decorate the

Dining Room at The Drake Hotel Toronto

Expect a youngish and artsy crowd at this funky hotel in the Queen St. West (far West) neighbourhood. The menu – which includes dishes such as a Healthy Butcher Organic Ground Chuck Burger and Portobello Mushroom Falafel – is kept fresh and seasonal as possible because Chef Anthony Rose changes it every 4 to 5 weeks, makes as most everything from scratch and orders all meats and poultry from a natural butcher.

Wellness-minded travellers who subscribe to the eat-several-small-meals-a-day philosophy will like the Small Plates section of the menu. Perfect for dining solo or for sharing and socializing.

If you must have a burger. Try the Healthy Butcher Organic Ground Chuck Burger. We prefer the Portobello Mushroom Falafel.

More about Ontario Spas & Wellness Travel

River Cafe, Calgary, Alberta

Unlike Toronto and Montreal, Calgary has never been considered a "gourmet city" but with chefs like Scott Pohoretic at the River Cafe, that's changing. Located in the city's O'Clair neighbourhood in Prince's Island Park, the River Cafe is a Calgary classic. (The island park is connected to the mainland by a foot bridge.)

The decor theme of the restaurant is upscale fishing lodge and the attentiion to detail extends to the little fish-shaped dishes used to serve house-made butter. There's also a focal point floor-to-ceiling, wood-burning stone fireplace.

A demi-tasse of squab consumer with roasted barley and house-cured prosciutto with baby challots, launches today's tasting menu that the chef says in "on demand."

There is ample local produce on the menu including Alberta beets and goat cheese. "We try to stay as local as we can," says he says. "Local always trumps organic for us." And, when they can find local, they work around it. For instance, he says there's no Alberta vinegar so they make an infused local cherry vinegar.

He says they also get to know the farmers. "If they love what they do, the food always tastes better because the ingredients are better." Along with the farmers, River Cafe cooks also get dirty out in the field. A local farmer plants a garden for the restaurant and the staff works it. Pohoretic says, "forges a new respect for the ingredients." Among other things, the garden produces eight varieties of beets, five different types of carrots, edible flowers and spruce shoots. "It's like a reward for out cooks," he says, "inseason, they are all dying to get out there." In season, the restaurant also offers field-to-plate tours.

Lunch menu includes dishes such as Red Lentil Hummus, Chanterelle Mushroom Tart, Sunworks Farm Smoked Chicken, Alberta Cauliflower "Shepherd's Pie and Quinoa Crusted Tuna. Entrees are around $16 to $26. Worth every delicious bit. Along with its food, the restaurant is also known for its wine list.

Good news for the fitness-minded, there are cycling paths on this urban island park and bike-racks at the cafe. :new

Nourish Vegetarian Cafe, Banff, Alberta

Tucked into a corner on the 2nd floor of the downtown street Sun Dance Mall, this tiny and quaint out-of-the-way cafe caters to vegetarians, vegan and those on special diets. A creative menu includes dishes as a variety of pastas, an eggless quiche, teriyaki tofu, lentil-based Shepherd's Pie and mushrooms stuffed with seeds, nuts, spinach and cheese. There are also Vegan and Wheat & Gluten-Free dishes. Owners promise to use as many organic ingredients as possible. Those who like to eat several small meals during the day will be pleased to know that half servings are available. We tried the Grilled Panini with black olives, tomato, roasted red peppers, fresh basil and spiced cream cheese. You can also create your own selecting from a list of ingredients.

More about Alberta Spas & Wellness Travel


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