Header image (clockwise from top left): Apple pork ragu at Girl & The Goat; lamb shoulder at Hawksworth; seafood at Raymonds; outside Yusho; braised fish head and barbecued sweetbreads at Yusho; Herbsaint gumbo; Girl & The Goat braised pork and coconut soup; Michael Caballo and Tobey Nemeth at Edulis
Earlier this year we brought you six of the most exciting restaurants to visit on the East and West coasts of the USA.
Now, in the final instalment of The Diners Club 50 Best Discovery Series, we bring you six destinations for your restaurant wish list in mid-USA and Canada.
1. Herbsaint – New Orleans, USA
701 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
+1 504 524 4114
Pork belly (image: Link Restaurant Group)
In a nutshell: Chef-owner Donald Link's New Orleans bistro has led the way in modern Southern American cooking for more than 15 years and remains just as fresh today under the stewardship of Rebecca Wilcomb.
Typical dishes: The menu is studded with Southern classics from gumbo to dirty rice (served with confit Muscovy duck leg, bacon and almonds), but there are also Italian and French influences. A gnocchi starter is flavoured with pancetta and a Parmesan broth, while slow-roasted pork belly comes with white beans, celery hearts and olives.
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2. Raymonds – Newfoundland, Canada
95 Water Street, St. John’s, NL
+1 709 579 5800
Seafood (image: John Cullen)
Chief reason to visit: Surrounded by rugged hills and overlooking St John's harbour, Raymonds is perfectly positioned to make the most of Newfoundland's stunning seafood, game and produce.
Typical dishes: Foraged ingredients with fine dining finesse is perhaps the best way to describe Jeremy Charles' cooking. Start with house-made charcuterie or panko-crusted duck egg with hay-aged duck breast, before ordering roasted Newfoundland moose loin with gnocchi and pickled chanterelles.
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3. Hawksworth – Vancouver, Canada
801 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7
+1 604 673 7000
Lamb shoulder with puy lentils, celeriac, pumpkin seed and tangerine
Why visit? Part of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, chef David Hawksworth's restaurant allies seriously sexy interior design with inventive contemporary fine dining. It's a winning formula that ensures a glamorous, buzzy atmosphere.
What to eat: The menu references a multitude of influences – Canadian, French, Italian, Japanese and Mexican – in elegant and refined dishes. Think seared Japanese squid with peanut, nashi pear and crispy pork or grilled sturgeon with roasted garlic nage (broth) and puffed grains.
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4. Edulis – Toronto, Canada
169 Niagara Street, Toronto, Ontario
+1 416 703 4222
Lightly smoked BC herrings a l'huile (image: Jim Norton Photography)
Chief reason to visit: The simple pleasures of really good food and hospitality are at the heart of Tobey Nemeth and Michael Caballo's tiny Toronto restaurant. Gutsy flavours, generous portions and outstanding ingredients are combined in dishes that are rooted in Southern Europe.
Typical dishes: Seafood, vegetables, and wild mushrooms are the cornerstones of the two set-choice menus of five to seven courses. Charcoal-grilled clams are served with artichokes, jamón and ajo blanco, followed by a pretty dish of bass with porcini mushrooms and Brussels sprouts leaves. The eight-course truffle menu and a superb Canadian and Spanish cheese board are further reasons to visit.
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5. Girl & The Goat – Chicago, USA
809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
+1 312 492 6262
Wood-oven roasted pig face
Chief reason to visit: Stephanie Izard captured Americans' hearts on TV cookery show Top Chef, becoming the first ever female cook to triumph in 2008. She has gone on to win stomachs too with this uber-cool small plates restaurant in Chicago.
What to order? Dishes are big on flavour and global in outlook. Think seared scallop with pecan romesco, Jerusalem artichoke and blood orange gremolata or duck tongues with tuna and black bean poke (salad), crispy wontons and piri piri. Don't miss the goat empanadas, which come with miso-blue cheese aioli and squash and apple slaw.
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6. Yusho – Chicago, USA
2853 N. Kedzie Ave., Chicago 60618
+1 773 904 8558
Braised fish head (image: Matthias Merges)
In a nutshell: After 14 years at pioneering Chicago fine-dining restaurant Charlie Trotter's, Matthias Merges went it alone in 2010 to open this inventive take on the bustling grill and noodle houses of Tokyo.
On the menu: The primary inspiration is Japanese street food, but the small sharing plates also reference Western cuisines. There's barbecue pork with Japanese mayonnaise potato salad or miso braised oxtail with shisito peppers and toasted brioche. Ramen noodles, made with pancetta and a '60-minute' egg, and steamed buns topped with tempura cod, yuzu aioli and jalapeño build on the 'east-meets-west' theme.
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