"Top Dish" Round Two: Vancouver's Cinara

Which restaurant reigns supreme? Find out in "Top Dish," a multi-part mini-series where the top three Canadian restaurants go head-to-head for the title of best dish. Restaurants and their chefs, one in Montreal, one in Vancouver, and one in Toronto, will fire up their pans and show off why their talent, style, and concept make them No. 1.

How It's Scored

The scoring system for "Top Dish" begins by determining the top restaurant in each city through our proprietary Foodable Labs data, but to shake things up, we've enlisted the top local food influencers to put their taste buds to the test as critics. Each critic's responsibility is to taste the chef's featured dish (sign us up!) and give a serving of the truth — what is their honest, on-camera critique? (Not in front of the chefs, of course. Unless they're watching this now...)

Our critics are asked to privately rate different elements of the dish and experience to determine an overall score. The overall scores for each restaurant are revealed at the end of "Top Dish." But what goes behind each of the scores? Three things: the critic's scorecard (which includes selection, tableware, plating, ingredients, and more on a scale of 1 to 10), food sentiment score, and service sentiment score, the latter two tracked by Foodable Labs. In total, the highest score a restaurant can earn is 270 points.

The Selection Process

There were top contenders considered for "Top Dish," but in the end, we chose the restaurants based on current consumer data in the Top 25 Restaurants Canada list. Critics for "Top Dish" were painstakingly selected by our editorial and production teams, based on social and editorial research, local sentiment, and how well these influencers are connected to their local food community.

"Top Dish" Round Two: Cinara, Vancouver

In the second installation of our three-part series, we take a seat at Vancouver's Cinara and meet Chef Lucais Syme. Syme and his wife, Gill Book, uphold the traditional cooking techniques of Europe with unique twists.

The Rabbit Dish

The Rabbit Dish

The Restaurant: Cinara

Cinara, a European bistro with a rotating menu of seasonal, creative fare and cocktails, delights guest with its modern cuisine. Not to mention, they make whatever they can in-house, such as their bread.

"We only use pristine ingredients.  Much of it right outside of our doorstep, and we pair it with a lot of care, a lot of heart, and simplicity," Syme said. "We like to use ingredients locally and the philosophy of Italy to make our cuisine."

The Critic: Mijune Pak, founder of FollowMeFoodie.com

Mijune Pak, founder of Follow Me Foodie (a restaurant and travel website featuring international culinary adventures), was born and raised in Vancouver, BC. As a food and travel writer, published author, public speaker, social media director, and honorary media judge for the BC Chefs' Association, she is a cuisine queen. 

And what does she have to say about her hometown?

"It's really so multicultural here, and we have such talented chefs here putting their own spin and modern twists to traditional food," Pak said. "We're here dining tonight in Cinara, based in Vancouver. ...It's not fine dining, but it's sophisticated. It's not pretentious. It's somewhere where you can go to on an everyday basis, not necessarily just for special occasions."

The Food: Anchovy Toast and Rabbit Dish

"We're preparing two dishes tonight for Mijune, related in their philosophy. They're both comprised of very nice ingredients," Syme said. "I don't like to overcomplicate. I believe each ingredient should sing and no ingredient should be placed with incongruent ingredients."

Appetizer: Anchovy Toast. The anchovy toast has been on the menu since the beginning and is the only one that's stuck, Syme joked. Its bread is made in-house using a Tartine recipe, which Pak called one of Vancouver's best-kept secrets. It's topped with Maitre d'Hotel butter, pickles, shaved radish, herbs, and great white anchovies.

Main Dish: Rabbit Dish. The rabbit dish is comprised of loin wrapped with housemade bacon, as well as leg braised with cerignola olives, carrots, and roast poultry jus.

"One of the things I love, love is that Lucais incorporates the liver, the kidneys of the animal. There's no wasting going on here," Pak said.

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The Verdict

While the final scores won't be revealed until part three of "Top Dish," what were Pak's lasting impressions of Vancouver's top restaurant?

"Absolutely delicious meal. I didn't expect anything less from Lucais. People come and support him because he's a great chef. He's true to what he does. If you're looking for something special, come visit Cinara," she said.