The fate of legendary table 26 and other tales from Canoe’s reopening

The fate of legendary table 26 and other tales from Canoe’s reopening

Once upon a wine list (Image: Matthew Fox) 

On Tuesday, we found ourselves sitting at the chef’s rail at Canoe for the second night of the Oliver and Bonacini joint’s grand reopening (check out our peek at the renovated space). Executive chef Anthony Walsh stood nearby marvelling at the general lack of chaos, and we asked him how the opening was going. Sure, minor elements of the $1-million renovation remained incomplete—baseboards weren’t finished, soapstone counters weren’t treated—but all in all, Walsh told us, things were running smoothly. The biggest challenge for staff, he said, was the installation of a new, more efficient computer system (which resulted in a few servers huddling over monitors trying to figure out how to process gift cards).

Walsh was especially proud of pulling off this opening in the midst of the hectic Winterlicious festival, a commitment owners Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini agreed to months ago and weren’t willing to renege on. In order to give the kitchen and wait staff some breathing room, a smaller-than-usual cap was placed on reservations for opening night, and the à la carte menu options have been limited for the duration of Winterlicious.

As Walsh sees it, the renovation has been more about “subtle, microadjustments,” not big-picture changes. One of his little disappointments is that fabled table 26—beloved by the city’s power players and the most requested seat in the house—is no longer the exclusive “get” it once was. The table still occupies the apex of the resto’s raised platform level and still commands the best view, but Walsh pointed out that it now has to share space with several other tables. Indeed, the inukshuk fountain that sat next to it is now gone.

But perhaps it’s all a matter of perception. When asked about the suddenly less-exclusive table 26, Peter Oliver sent word through his communications director that he didn’t see it as less exclusive at all. If anything, he insists, they’ve simply increased the number of exclusive tables. We’ll let him and Walsh sort that one out.

For our part, we can’t wait to get a look at Canoe’s full, revamped à la carte menu once Winterlicious is over. Stay tuned.

• See our pictures from inside the new Canoe »