Where to Celebrate Valentine's Day
Restaurants that are perfect for the day of love, or any other day
1740 Argyle St., 902-422-4421
Don’t mistake this excellent restaurant for a tourist trap; cuisine is topnotch and sommelier Avery Gavel’s wine list is terrific, with a solid international selection, plus a decidedly local angle. This is the best Nova Scotia wine list in the country, with the province’s wines classified by sub-region. The list features 26 bottles in total, including 22 by-the-glass offerings at reasonable prices. (Craig Pinhey)
5218 Prince St., 902-423-8816
Located in one of the city's oldest stone structures, The Press Gang offers a formal dining experience and a menu of seafood, poultry, meat and game. For a more casual experience, check out their oyster bar, which features a great selection of fine wines and cocktails.
3927 rue Saint-Denis, 514-845-5333
L’Express has been doing a fine job for 20 years or so and whether you are looking for a classic Bordeaux or a non-sulphite Beaujolais, this has been, and still is, the reference when it comes to affordable and interesting wine lists. (Bill Zacharkiw)
536 Avenue Duluth Est, 514-281-1114
Get a taste of traditional Québecois cuisine in a casual bistro environment at Au Pied de Cochon. The menu boasts a variety of meat and game options — try the duck in a can, poutine and foie gras. Great service and environment, with an extensive wine list.
93 Murray St., 613-241-5500
Chef/owner René Rodriguez has carved out a niche for Basque cuisine and tapas in the culinary embassy row called the Byward Market. Sommelier John Gross has assembled a well-priced list peppered with unsung Spanish regional wines that neatly provides international touchstones, as well. (David Lawrason)
537 Sussex Dr., 613-789-7355
A fusion of contemporary American and French cuisines, Social is located in the trendy Byward Market area of Ottawa. Try the Alberta lamb shank or the duck. The atmosphere is trendy and hip — make a reservation.
720 Queen St. W., 416-504-0320
Featuring wine from all over Italy, with every selection well chosen for value and quality, this list is short on well-known labels — but you will rarely be disappointed. The food is well-priced and there is an amazing selection of pizzas, such that you will find yourself returning to try something different every time. You will never be disappointed since it’s all good, wholesome stuff that is well presented. It does get noisy and very busy, so best to go early and avoid at peak times. (Steve Thurlow)
180 Queen St W., 416-977-6400
An elegant supper club that features contemporary American fare. Try to the tuna tartar or the Yucatan hot & sour soup to start, with the soffritto of braised rabbit for the main course. Good wine list and you can bring your own bottle.
725 Osborne St., 204-777-2525
South Osborne’s Bistro 7 1/4 is among the best of the area’s many cozy-yet-happening eateries. Its French-inspired cuisine, with an emphasis on local ingredients, works well with the concise, well-chosen and fun wine list. Any doubts about pairing wine and food can be handily put to rest by the knowledgeable staff. (Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson)
620 Niakawa Rd., 204-254-3500
Owner/sommelier Shawn Brandson has done a stellar job of compiling a wine list that matches the beauty of both Provence Bistro’s fare and the surrounding golf course. The food is distinctly French and the wine list favours France, Italy and Australia. It’s the city’s first restaurant to offer wine lockers to patrons. (Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson)
2310-4th St. SW, 403-457-5522
This wine bar is known for its wide selection (70 wines by the glass,) intimate atmosphere and elegant small plates menu. The service is laid back — but not lacking — and the staff are happy to help you select a wine.
200 8th Ave. SE, 403-290-1012
A classic, old school, 800-plus label list with both breadth and depth in a fine-dining atmosphere. Primarily focused on French and Italian wines, the wine list also features several high-end verticals and lots of older vintages. A great list of aged wine that is ready to drink, no matter your budget. (Tom Firth)
109 10220 103 St. NW, 780-757-1114
The Sabor Divino list is impressively large, with a proud showing of Portuguese wines along with popular regions, both New and Old World. The food is authentically European and well paired with the wine options. There is something here for all tastes and all budgets, including by-the-glass and small formats. (Tom Firth)
10009 107th St. NW, 780-990-1938
A really well-balanced list concentrating on quality, small producers, with an emphasis on Canadian and Californian wines. The list also features a nice selection of bubbles, interesting Aussies and cool picks from Bandol, Marche, Rias Baixas, Wachau, Sicily and Priorat. (Gurvinder Bhatia)
900 Seymour St., 604-632-9560
The captivating list, the food and the ambience are what UVA is all about. Order one of the many gems, like the Palmina Santa Ynez Nebbiolo, for a thrill. (DJ Kearney)
1095 Hamilton St., 604-688-8078
This plentiful list can seem overwhelming, but it is hard to top in terms of depth and breadth for pairing with seafood in general and Pacific Northwest seafood in particular. All of the selections are served by the crack wine team. Sipping fizz at the Raw Bar is a pleasant pastime in this town. (DJ Kearney)
Photo courtesy of Five Fishermen