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Winterlicious - last minute rsvps

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Hello all, we thought we'd avoid winterlicious this year but have now had a change of heart (mostly cuz we're too tired to cook these days and need a break!) Of the list below, can anyone provide recommendations/suggestions?:

Da Gianni E Maria
Grano
Herbs
Le Continental
Oro
Paese
Romagna Mia
Smalltalk
Trappers
Truffles
Tutti Matti
Zucca

I've read positive reviews of RM, Smalltalk and Zucca so I'd be more interested hearing about the others...

thanks in advance

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  1. i've been to tutti matti twice in different seasons for a 'licious and the atmosphere ended up being completely different while the food was tasty and very competent but lacks that certain finesse... that said the feeling is much more rustic than refined.

    anyhow, the first time we went the place was fairly empty and there weren't many staff around which led to a lovely meal with attentive and friendly service but an incredibly quiet restaurant. the second time around it was near chaos and we dropped into the middle of it without a reservation (2 top) and were seated near immediately. the waiter was a bit gruff in a somewhat endearing old school italian way and food was served rather prompt while diners clanged their utensils and plates around us.

    1. Went to Herbs on Sunday night with a group for Winterlicious. The owners and wait staff were extremely friendly and gracious.

      As for the food, it wasn’t especially good. I want to start by saying that I have eaten twice before at Herbs and on both occasions really enjoyed the food and was suprised to find a quality restaurant at Yonge and Lawrence.

      We did a lot of sharing so I got to taste most of the menu. I had the foie gras parfait to start which was smooth, rich and tasty but the accompanying ice wine gelee was miniscule in portion size. The goat's cheese pithivier was tasty but no wow factor. The chowder was the best appetizer with tasty chunks, nice flavour and rich with cream.

      For main course I chose the chicken and smoked wild boar roulade which again had nice flavours but the boar sausage seemed to be mostly pork fat and little boar. The presentation was good and the accompanying sides were tasty, but the entire dish was too fatty for my tastes. Others at the table had to Beef Bavette, which I googled before dinner only to find a "bavette" is a loose term for several cuts of beef usually from the flank or skirt. Herb’s take on a bavette was a slow cooked beef (I believe the waiter mentioned sous vide) which was shredded in large chucks mixed with veg and served on mash. It was tasty but honestly, it simply came off as a cheap dish designed to keep Winterlicious costs down. I know the beef was organic and perhaps I am wrong but the impression I got was cheap and easy dish for the event.

      Desserts were pretty standard with the Ginger Spice Pudding as the best option.

      The wine list was on the pricey side with some $40 / $50 available and we really enjoyed a couple bottles of 2004 See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Noir from Okanagan Valley.

      Overall it was a blasé experience. The service was the high point and we felt welcomed and looked after. I know they can do better food than this and I think speed and food cost played far too much into their Winterlicious menu. I will go back, but not for Winterlicious.