OpenTable once more highlights Canada’s most appetizing and diverse culinary venues with its 2021 Top 100 Restaurants in Canada.
The online reservation system publishes the list annually. It features the most highly-rated dining spots analyzed from more than 540,000 verified OpenTable diner reviews from across the country.
Two St. Albert restaurants that consistently serve up creative dishes, unparalleled hospitality, and a one-of-a-kind dining experience were included in the list. Diners gave Riverbank Bistro and Tryst Wine & Small Plates a rating of 4.8 stars out of five.
“It’s pretty cool. OpenTable is a very recognizable platform and it’s very integral to restaurants. With this kind of recognition, news travels quickly. It creates a buzz and it’s a great opportunity to have new people in the restaurant that haven’t been here before,” said Dan Ducharme, Riverbank Bistro’s co-owner and executive chef.
Riverbank Bistro is located on St. Albert Trail in the heart of the city along the Sturgeon River in St. Albert’s most iconic Victorian-styled building. Its signature dishes feature fresh regional ingredients transformed to create new and innovative classics.
Ducharme noted that pandemic closures, restrictions, and the recent spike in food costs has challenged everyone within the hospitality industry.
“It’s not easy, but people can manage it. You keep your costs low, but don’t compromise the quality. Use less expensive cuts of meat and make something of quality. Take a humble ingredient and turn it into something extravagant.”
This is Riverbank Bistro’s third listing on OpenTable. It is also rated as one of the Top 100 Romantic Restaurants in Canada, and it reached the Top 100 Overall category.
Tryst Wine & Small Plates
At Tryst Wine & Small Plates, OpenTable’s accolade was received with equal excitement.
“We didn’t expect it. But we were pretty surprised. It’s nice to have your hard work recognized. It’s validating to know guests respond well to what you do,” said chef Zach Eaton, who partnered with pastry chef Michelle McDonald to open the trendy eatery on Perron Street in March 2020.
While Riverbank caters to a mature clientele with a traditional three-course menu of appetizers, entrees, and desserts, Tryst attracts younger millennials eager to sample a fusion of global/Canadian plated cuisine.
“One of my guiding principles is that I cook what I like to eat,” said Eaton. He studied French-style cuisine at NAIT and pulled together Asian and Mexican influences as an extra kick.
“The ingredients you use are the most important. We work hard to source ingredients locally from different places. We try to achieve a balance and hit all the flavour groups — sweet, salty, sour, savoury, and bitter.”
Both Ducharme and Eaton used the word “humbling” when describing the support St. Albert foodies provided during the restaurant industry’s most difficult months.
“I’m happy we’re still here. It’s nice to see familiar faces week after week. It’s honestly humbling. There’s so many restaurants to choose from in St. Albert,” Eaton said.
Ducharme added, “It’s been amazing. I hope it doesn’t fade. The community support has been very humbling. It was so great to have regulars and strangers support us. I’m very proud to be a part of this community."
Riverbank Bistro and Tryst Wine & Small Plates will offer a New Year’s Eve menu either in-person or by curbside pickup if restrictions change. While Tryst creates a fixed five-course dinner, Riverbank provides a three-course dinner with different selections.