The menus for (most of) the restaurants for this year's Summerlicious has been posted! Share your experiences here, and look for recommendations.
From my previous experiences with the Licious festivals:
Romagna Mia - Excellent food, and lunch portions that would have been generous for dinner. Service not so great, but I will definitely be back for the food!
Thuet - The worst dining experience I've had in years. Terrible service, awful food, the absolute tiniest portions I've ever had (including 7-course meals), horrible floor layout (coat check and washrooms and hostess station all share a narrow hallway!), long wait outside of peak hours, refusal to acknowledge complaints, I could go on. I have never been as disgusted with a restaurant as Thuet. Avoid at all costs.
Celestin - Delicious, memorable food. Great foie gras. A must.
This is what I'm considering this year. Does anybody have any experience with the Licious events at these places? Are there any hidden gems I should be considering?
Bymark - Lunch and Dinner both look fantastic. Definitely on my list.
Canoe - Reservation pending. . . .
Globe Bistro - Lunch worth going to for Summerlicious? Or just stick with the regular menu?
I'm considering all of the following restaurants since they all have very good reputations, but how do they fare for the Licious meals?
As you can see, I have quite a list to narrow down. Any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated!
I did the lunch at Bymark one year and it was fantastic. Highly recommended.
I do not recommend The Drake (not that you have it on your list, but still...) because I am sick of the cheap food they serve (the last couple of times I've been there for a Licious meal I've been served some kind of braised/stewed tough cut of beef -- yummy, yes, but for $35?) and the snobby service. The Drake also does a real hard upsell on the menu, offering a $45 fixed price meal as well. They really try pushing that one on you.
I'm eager to do dinner at Mildred Pierce as well. And of course, if I can get into Canoe (at a time other than a 2:30 weekday lunch service) I will!
I was thinking about trying Centro...I have not been to the Drake but I have been to Thuets and for Brunch I heard it was one of the best in town. As for Summerlicious I have as yet to experience it but Kasumeat I'm sorry I think I'll have to test those Thuet waters my self, as I can't see being disappointed..I'll let you know
Went to Zucca for Licious a while back. Three of us got the Licious prix fixe, the fourth ordered a pasta from the regular menu. He got a much bigger portion of something he really wanted to eat, and his meal ended up costing only a couple of bucks more than the others. And he didn't leave hungry, as the rest of us did.
Paese for lunch...$15....its a small restaurant located on bathust north of wilson. We had such a good meal that we will be going back again this summer. My friends and I enjoyed a great meal at Flow, Far Niete and Vertical. The only so-so meal we had was at Studio Cafe at the Four Seasons. Hopefully this year, we will attempt to get into Bymark and Canoe...the line is for-ever busy!!
You also have to look at the cost and preparation time of pasta vs mains~ anyway, tried zucca this past saturday and it was a great night~ Ordered the fresh herb & onion flan and stuffed zucchini blossoms for apps from the licious menu. Also ordered spanich stuffed gnocchi from the regular menu~ oh my god, all apps were SO amazingly preped!!!
For the mains, my SO and I had roasted guinea hen and wild bc sockeye salmon. The sauces compliment the meat extremely well. After desserts, we were both stuffed (ok, we have smaller appetite than avg people, i guess). The $35 menu is well worth it~
I think Mrs. Sippi and I will be partaking this summer. We never have before. I'm looking at Milagro and Trappers. The words "Double smoked bacon" are always a calling for me.
My picks this summer are:
Auberge du Pommier
The first two have been consistently delicious for us in past 'Licious years, and the other three are newbies I'm trying for the first time.
re: melly mel
I treated my boyfriend at Mildred Pierce for his birthday ... we were both stunned. We're only students, and not practised gourmands, but we found the food incredibly tasty. We ordered the salmon tartare, which was wonderfully tart and the perfect portion to set up our appetites for the rest of the meal (which sounds a bit obvious, but I personally find many appetizers too filling). The main was pork tenderloin, moist and swimming in delicious juice; the accompanying roast vegetables were just the right combination of crisp and soft. The profiteroles, puff pastries served with chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, and I think a drizzle of caramel sauce, we gobbled up. We were delighted to find each dish was even better than the last. Even though we had a bit of an early reservation (6:30 PM, the only one I could get for that Saturday), we left perfectly satiated, neither hungry nor overly stuffed, having fully enjoyed each course but still wanting to go back one day for more. I was very happy that a restaurant could walk the fine line of satisfying and teasing their customers, without overwhelming them with sheer volume (which happens at so many of the places I normally eat at for that price).
The servers were very thorough, warm, friendly, and attentive; being young and attending for a prix fixe menu, we were worried we might receive sub-par service, but the fears dissipated quite soon into the meal. We appreciated the little touches that a fine restaurant remembers; warm bread served with warm butter, water glasses that were always full, empty dishes and cutlery that were quickly whisked away. We were never rushed or left waiting.
The good news is Mildred Pierce apparently will be reopening some time in the near future under a new name. I'll definitely be in line when they do.
Here are my previous Summerlicious/Winterlicious experiences.
Mildred Pierce (wonderful food & service)
Auberge du Pommier (Been twice, service was pretty bad when we went in Winter 06, but I think it was just that one particular waiter. But do go for the excellent food.)
North 44 (not on the list this year)
Filet of Sole (closed)
So-so and not memorable:
Canoe (food & service were so-so, but a fabulous view)
Ultra Supper Club
Toula (great view)
Crush Wine Bar
Courthouse Market Grill (closed)
Acqua (Food was inedible...the fish was sooooo fishy I ate 2 bites and couldn't take it anymore, just ate all the vegetables. A friend had the pasta and it wasn't any better, she left almost the entire thing uneaten.)
Celestin (food was REALLY salty)
Drake (cute waiter but cheap food)
Truffles (snooty service, mediocre food)
Interesting - I had one of my best 'licious meals ever at Acqua, and one of my worst at Filet of Sole (which was bad not just by 'licious standards, but by any standards).
I also had an awful meal & experience at Czehoski last year, but others have raved about 'licious meals there.
Just goes to show how much of a crap shoot these events are.
Just had 'licious lunch at Czehoski and it was absolutely horrible. It wasn't that the food was bad. Rather, they took so much artistic license describing the items in their menu that it was actually laughable. We asked for the menu as we were eating so we could actually identify it. "cookstown greens and roquet salad with hazelnut oil and bisongrass vodka-apple cider dressing" turned out to be nothing but a bowl of arugula. Granted, it was garnished with a spiced walnut on top but considering we already had a bowl of spiced walnuts sitting in front of us, it failed to impress. And for ten bucks, too. Skip this place and you won't be missing a thing.
Tutti Matti (twice): excellent food from regular menu, friendly service
Old Mill (strange but true!): Decent food and good service. Excellent martinis.
Centro: salmon tasted fishy, but service good
Pangea: horrible service and dreadful food
North 44: C+ food but not worth the money. $18 for a mojito!
Well, it took three of us calling Canoe's Summerlicious line for four hours, but finally, after seventeen minutes on hold- we got in! WOO HOO!
We're also returning to Pangaea for lunch, I know it has mixed reviews but we went there last year for Winterlicious and really enjoyed it. We found the waiter to be very attentive and the food was very good.
We've also chosen Courtyard Cafe at Windsor Arms Hotel for lunch.
Other than Canoe, we are heading to 5th Element for dinner.
Depending on our budgets we may add more restaurants later.
Here are my picks:
Canoe - still trying even though I've been calling since yesterday morning, almost non-stop
Bymark - dinner
Verticla - dinner
Doku 15 -lunch
Starfish - dinner
Mildred Pierce - dinner
Globe - lunch
Thuet - dinner
I'm crossing my fingers to be wowed all around. I'm sure my bank account won't be wowed....
Love the trashing... Finally a new restaurant that gets rave reviews joins in on licious and people trash it without even LOOKING at their licious menu! BOTH LUNCH AND DINNER HAVE RAW OYSTERS...
plus saving $10 on ~$45 is pretty much a 25% savings!!! and the Menu sounds great to me...
plus taxes and gratuity
Shucker Paddy’s shellfish plate – shucked fresh, on the half shell
Tomato Gazpacho with poached Gulf of St. Lawrence Matane shrimp and crème fraiche
Grilled whole Atlantic sardines with black olive tapenade and preserved lemon
Roast quail on a salad of fingerling potato, fennel and chili with a lemon and marjoram vinaigrette
Seared fillet of Nova Scotia char with roasted beets and wild rice served with a carrot and orange beurre blanc
Fish and Chips – Panko and horseradish crusted halibut with nappa cabbage slaw, house made potato chips and an oyster stout aioli
Summer tomato risotto with arugula pesto and Milford Bay smoked trout
Chocolate brownie with chantilly cream and rhubarb jam
Lemon square with Ontario strawberry salad
plus taxes and gratuity
Shucker Paddy’s shellfish plate – shucked fresh, on the half shell
Chilled cucumber and dill soup garnished with Gulf of St. Lawrence Matane shrimp
Classic Manhattan clam chowder
Marinated squid salad with watermelon, black olive, red onion, and feta cheese
Crisp skinned Nova Scotia char fillet on a summer vegetable ragout and lemon beurre blanc
Roast leg of duck on Yukon gold potato, baby spinach, port wine and cherry reduction
Paparadelle with Milford Bay smoked trout, leeks, fennel and preserved lemon
Chocolate brownie with chantilly cream and rhubarb jam
Lemon square with Ontario strawberry salad
they're known to have service issues, every single day.
no doubt it's going to be significantly worse with summerlicious. if this is your first time going to starfish, then you're likely to get turned off by it all even though the food might be delicious. it's not worth the suffering i think.
if you're just going ot base them off their menu only, then fantastic it sounds great. but no one can really ignore the service at a restaurant like that.
Did the Starfish $20 'licious lunch yesterday, and the raw scallops,and 2 kinds of oysters on the half shell were delicious. So were the fish and chips (unlike any other) and Arctic char..server didn't stop to chat, but did everything right.Only thing that didn't impress was the brownie, get the Lemon Square instead.Thumbs up.
The wife and I did Starfish for lunch as well, and we really happy with what we got for our 20 bucks each. The shellfish platter app (2 scallops, 2 Malpeques and 2 BC oysters) was easily worth at least half of that price, and the mains we had (same as Wiley - fish & chips and char) were excellent as well.
Of course, we couldn't resist ordering extra oysters, as well as a couple of drinks, and coffee with dessert, so what was supposed to be a "cheap lunch" ended up costing us $100 (the server was great, very relaxed and friendly without being overly familiar, so we added an extra tip on top of the automatic 15% gratuity they're charging for Summerlicious), but it was worth every penny.
My only complaint was that they were out of the Oyster Stout which I really wanted to try. Ah well, it gives me an excuse for a return visit.
We had sworn to avoid Summerlicious altogether this year (I hate fighting the crowds, dealing with stressed out service staff, and often getting served sub-par meals, but that's another topic altogether...), but we did end up doing the Summerlicious menu this week at Starfish (where we go quite often) and it was very good, and very season-appropriate: most of the dishes have been created in a summer-like, fresh and not heavy kind of vein.
The marinated squid salad was good (I'm an adventurous eater, but the idea of feta, squid and watermelon sounded weird; it turned out to be a really nice dish, like a classic marinated Mediterranean cold salad). The cold cucumber dill soup with Matane shrimp was great.
For the mains, the Artic Char dish was nice: a simple, pan-seared and oven-finished, nicely seasoned piece of very good fish, accompanied with some very good vegetables (which they typically source from farms such as Soiled Reputation and Cookstown Greens) and a nice beurre blanc. The papardelle with smoked trout and preserved lemon was also yummy.
I second Wiley's rec on the dessert: the lemon square is better than the brownie (although the rhubarb compote that comes with the brownie is good!).
What I liked about Starfish's Summerlicious menu is that it was actually an attempt to deliver a true "Summer" menu, and it's illustrative of what I like about Starfish in general: Patrick (the owner) and Martha (the chef) do a great job of sourcing beautiful product and serving it in a way that doesn't get in the way, so to speak: great rawbar plates and towers, main courses that showcase what's on the plate, rather than overpowering (or trying to make up for sub-par ingredients). Martha is also the master of sauces and reductions: always managing to be the right balance between being clean and not heavy, but still very flavourful.
We sat at the bar, had good service, and didn't feel rushed at all.
LBNL: fyi that they are only doing the Summerlicious menu right now, so if you're a regular, don't expect the usual range of options. They were however doing up extra plates of oysters for people above and beyond the rawbar plate option that's on the special menu.
i'm pretty sure this is the first time around for starfish. before oysterboy used to be on the list and i think they've swapped it out.
i'd also suggest that going for licious would be a rather limiting event. oysterboy didn't have raw oysters on their menu and i doubt starfish will either. a better experience will be had if you went on your own time. they also have service issues regularly and can't imagine how slow and inconsistent it will be during 'licious.
Hey Estragon, if you've never been to Mistura then definitely check it out. It's my favorite restaurant....the food is fabulous. The owners Massimo and Paulo are very hospitable and the place just has a great vibe. You won't be disappointed, I can guarantee you that! If you do go, try the beet risotto, even if you have to pay extra. Massimo has won awards for it. It truly is divine, that and the breaded artichokes, ohh and the lamb ribs are to die for.
Only one Summerlicious lunch this time around - Bymark. Parents had been impressed before but our table was unanimous this time: we were not moved by the food or the service. The kobe beef skirt steak was slightly overdone and oversalted, and the gravlax also seemed to suffer from heavy handed salting. The strawberry shortcake was lovely, though.
I've had two Summerlicious experiences more by circumstance due to other plans and both were very positive.
We went to Southern Accent before a movie at the Bloor on Friday. The service was a bit overwhelmed but once we got our drinks it was a team effort from there on out. Had Cajun Spring Rolls, Blackened Chicken with mash and bok choy, and a brownie thing for dessert. The brownie was kind of lame but the rest of the meal was great. Tasty and filling and well worth the $25. Friends had a strawberry bread pudding instead of brownie thing and it was really good. Everyone was full and happy.
Sunday night went to Byzantium. It was not very busy. Service was some of the best I've ever had in Toronto..and easily the best ever on Church St...(which isn't saying so much. Started with a Ceasar, which was really unique and tasty. Had the pasta dish which was a rigatoni with smoked chicken, and a fresh fruit and cream thing for dessert. Was excellent and very filling. My partner had the pork ribs and they were very good. Dinner for two with a bottle wine, and two martinis was around $100. Can't beat the value and it was a really tasty, filling meal!
While not on your list, I can vouch and ex a couple places.
I've had good experiences at Southern Accent. Nice staff and a good meal, though their winterlicious menu features were better (the bread pudding is a must!).
I had a HORRIBLE experience at Fred's Not Here. The food was awful (save the bisque, which was good, though still slightly off) all around and the service was terrible.
Cataplana is often overlooked, but their food is good, especially the tuna. Richlee's is also nice for Portuguese, but I can't vouch for a licious experience there, having not done it.
I had dinner at Boho on Roncesvalles last night - went back as I had been there for Winterlicious as well and enjoyed it. Yummy steak frites and a good portion too, though the chilled tomato soup with basil was ordinary. Dessert (flourless chocolate cake with ice cream) was nice as well and attractively presented.
No air conditioning though, which was unpleasant.
Myself and two friends went to 5th Element yesterday evening for Summerlicious. The experience was underwhelming overall.
Two of us ordered the bay scallops "wrapped in smoked salmon," as appetizers. What arrived at the table were two slices of scallops (I hate when they do that, it's so cheap), covered in a small slap of smoked salmon. There was a tiny mound of mixed greens on the side, minus dressing, although I attempted to use the vinegarette garnish on the plate to spruce up the greens.
My other friend ordered the sliced portabello mushrooms with polenta. Again, the sliced portabello were four incredibly thin, small, "blink and you'll miss 'em" slices, with a scoop of polenta in the middle. The polenta wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either.
We were not starting on a good note at all.
I was also taken aback by how fast the service staff operated- the restaurant was by no means busy, yet we were seated at 5:30 pm and done our meal within an hour. One waiter removed my appetizer plate while I was still eating the remains of a few leaves of mixed greens.
We opted to order different entrees to share- the gnocchi pasta with "asparagus, yellow and green squash in a rose sauce"; the filet mignon steak; and the stuffed tandori red chicken "with fig and raisin stuffing, and mint pilaf."
And again, we were disappointed. The pasta arrived with nary an asparagus nor squash in sight. There was just nothing there, and believe me, we poked through the sauce to make sure we weren't missing anything.
I had a large chicken breast, but, less than one teaspoon of fig and raisin stuffing, it was such a pathetically tiny amount, which is a damn shame because what I did taste was lovely. I also could not find any mint whatsoever in the "mint pilaf."
The only meal it seemed they could get right is the filet mignon. It was incredibly tender and grilled to perfection.
For dessert, we ordered the Tiramisu and the Chocolate Souffle. The Tiramisu wasn't a traditional tiramisu (I'm Italian, so I know), it was more like a light cake. My chocolate souffle was nothing more than a chocolate cake shaped-tart turned upside down, with a melon-ball sized scoop of whipped cream, which melted because the cake was too warm. It tasted like a warm brownie.
I know from reading previous reviews that it's always touch and go at this restaurant, but I thought I would go with the good reviews and give it a try. I won't go back again, I don't care what deals they have going on. When my friend looked at the regular menu, I couldn't believe the prices she was quoting us on our meal- there is no way I would ever pay that kind of money for such lame dishes.
My friend also pointed out that she found it funny that the restaurant describes itself as having a two-tiered patio...which is really just a patio with a step up to get to some of the tables.
And it wouldn't have killed them to put on the A/C inside the restaurant either. It was getting far too warm for customers.
I'm happy to report that after a dismal dinner at 5th Element, the girls and I had lunch today at Pangaea, and it was just fantastic. Our waiter was attentive and friendly, and our meals were just wonderful. For appetizers we ordered the tomato salad with baby mozzerella (which arrived with capers, and olives, and was so good I had to swipe my bread on the plate) and the grilled pear and endive salad.
For entrees we had the pork wrapped in puff pastry with braised cabbage (and tiny cranberries) and the rainbow trout. Both just delicious.
Dessert was the fruit shortcake- by this time we were just rubbing our bellies contendedly. What a great way to end the meal.
We're already discussing returning for lunch again, it was so good.
Had Summerlicious dinner at Chez Victor last night. Beautiful room with a lot of light and high ceilings, which made for a very comfortable atmosphere. Noticed that the restaurant was less than half full. Service was attentive and everyone was all smiles. When I asked where the bathroom was, our waitress informed me that the bathroom in the restaurant had been converted into an additional wine cellar and escorted me to the bathroom located inside Hotel Le Germain.
For appetizers, our table had both the Organic Tomato and Roast Watermelon Salad with Goat Cheese and Basil and the Fish Cake with Fennel Sauce and Pickled Mustard Sauce. The salad was a generous size and both were tasty.
For mains, I had the Kerr Farms Hanger Steak with Seasonal Mushrooms and Fresh Corn Polenta, cooked medium as recommended by our waitress. I wish she had just told me to order one of the other options because at this point, I encountered the toughest and worst piece of meat I've ever had in my life. My brother, who'll usually eat anything, declared that the steak had the texture like the bottom of his shoe. The steak knife refused to cut through the steak and I could not bite through the meat, which was dry and filled with tendons. Half the steak remained uneaten, and the other half that I tried to eat was either swallowed whole and washed down with my glass of wine, or literally spat out. It tried to eat it but it was just not edible. :(
As an aside, my Aunt had the Pan Seared Huron Whitefish with Roasted New Potatoes, Pickled Wild Leeks and Horseradish Cream and said it was delicious, so it could've been just a cheap cut of meat for the steak. I really wish they would just take the steak off the menu or substituted it for something in the same price range but still edible....even a pasta dish would've been better.
For dessert, there was a Chipwich with organic vanilla ice-cream sandwich between chocolate chip cookies or a raspberry tart with a side of raspberry mousse. Both were very good.
My stomach still hurts when I think about that hunk of meat...which is too bad because everything else about Chez Victor was very good.
Sorry to hear about your experience, I was just at Chez Victor (not for summerlicous) a few weeks ago and had an excellent meal. If I recall,my partner had a white fish special, which I didnt try but he said it was very good. I had the roast Chicken Breast with house smoked Ham, dinosaur Kale and crème fraiche as its described in the menu, which was cooked to perfection. It was fairly large portion of protein, but I certainly didnt mind since it was so flavourful, and juicy with a thin cripsy skin. For dessert we just split an ice cream with strawberries and little cookie, which, well, was ice cream and berries haha, you cant really go wrong. I dont recall many details unfortunetly but saisailup was right about the beautiful room. However, I was there at about 8:30 on a saturday night and I think there might have been only one other diner there the entire night... is this what its always like? I would definetly go back, and I hope your experience was just an exception.
Everything else was so good except that steak! I wish I had ordered the chicken. Someone please try the chicken and let me know how it is...
Despite the steak, I may go back and try the place again on a regular night. The restaurant is really beautiful and I was impressed with the service overall...attentive and warm but not overwhelming. I was really surprised that it was so empty...but then again the last few times I passed by the place it wasn't exactly hopping either...
I have eaten at Chez Victor twice.
Once very recently. I will post my review however I can only say that I was very unhappy, given the price, I expected better.
This place is an "avoid" on my list.
Every establishment has an off night as far as I am concerned and it is why I am a believer in second chances.
While I am not made of money, my "hobby" is splurging on a great meal every now and then so I know what it is bad, what is good, and what blows me away. I try to spend wisely.
I just can't justify going back there again.
I see some establishments get the odd poor review, when I have found them quite nice.
This leads me to believe that we have consistency issues in our restaurants in Toronto.
I don't like judging a restaurant on Summerlicious events. They are churning it out and they can't be paying close attention to detail during volume situations in my opinion. I believe some restaurants would be best to not participate and keep themselves grounded instead of focusing on the masses.
Just my opinion.
Well, I guess I should report in on what's actually happened. Whenever I eat out, I share as much as possible, so I'll try to report on everything that I tried.
Hemispheres - Late lunch on a weekday. Nice atmosphere, not busy, and not rushed until after the meal when we were lingering while they reset the room for dinner.
Service was pretty good. All three of us opted for the scallop ceviche over the soup de jour, tomato. It was pretty small, but the taste was simple, pleasant, and scallopy, a fine start. The mains were shrimp with yam frites, and a steak burrito, basically, with a salad. The shrimp were good, although not particularly memorable. The yam frites were excellent, perfectly crisp outside, and ethereally fluffy inside. The steak with a tortilla was just okay. The salad had an great miso or mirin dressing, and was quite good. Desserts were a raspberry pomegranate mousse, which decent but not outstanding, and I forget the other one, so it can't have been very good.
Portions were smallish, but I've had smaller ones for dinner (Thuet) and with much, much worse food (Thuet). Not a must-try, but for $20, I felt it was a good meal.
Romagna Mia - A very early weekday dinner. Service was a bit sloppy, but friendly (which is atypical of my previous experiences here).
The timbale was exactly the same as the one they served at Winterlicious, and it was still excellent. Also tried the shrimp salad this time, which came with five medium-sized shrimp, fairly generous for an app, and the dressing was very nice, but there wasn't enough of it to go around. The seafood risotto came with a generous portion of squid, octopus, scallop, and probably something that I'm forgetting, as well as a great mix of veggies. The taste was excellent, but I really feel that they undercooked it. Perhaps this is a personal thing, but I like my risotto creamy, not al dente. The pheasant risotto was better, with a rich, savoury taste, and cooked a little more. Panna cotta was very nice, and their hazelnut ice cream cake was a cacophony of textures (ice cream with frozen nougat and nuts and preserved fruits), but a very interesting, very good mix of tastes (fruitcakey preserves aside).
Portions were good, and I was happy with the meal, although it wasn't as good as their lunch for Winterlicious, for $15 more.
Celestin - Early Friday dinner, with rushsed, smarmy service.
Foie gras was oustanding, as was the bread, which is just how I remember it. Lobster bisque was nice, but I wouldn't pass up the foie for it. The salad, which none of us had, came in a very generous portion, which is pretty good considering you'd be skipping that foie for it.
The mains were disappointing, especially so after our last experience at Celestin. Two large scallops came perfectly cooked, with a cold porcini cake on top, and with not enough sauce. The short rib was worse - dry, tasteless beef, with a few potatoes, not enough sauce to carry the slack for the lousy meat, in a tiny, ugly presentation. Lemon mascarpone mousse was excellent, as was frozen nougat with pistachio sauce.
The portions were all very small with the exception of the foie, which was enough to generously slather over two crostini and four pieces of bagette. If I had opted for another app, I would have been hungry.
We actually complained about the poor mains, and the sous (?) came out to speak with us, but they did not reduce our bill or even provide something else to eat after we asked, saying that they only had their Licious menu.
Going to Zucca this Monday. Overall this Licious hasn't been too bad, but I haven't really had an experience where I've thought to myself, wow, this is a great experience for the price! I've thought to myself, yep, this is what a $35 dinner at an $80 restaurant buys you. Par for the course.
You should have a good time at Zucca! What I don't undertand is this: if people expect more than a $35 dinner at an $80 place...why bother? I've been to many 'licious events and the portions more certainly are smaller! Restaurants are in business to make money.
They might be trying to entice you come back, but they can't give stuff away, in the hope that you *might* return!
Simple. Apply the chef's finely honed skills to the best ingredients that make sense at the price point. Perhaps a luxurious app ingredient (in a small portion) followed by a wonderful preparation of something more economical as a main. Then a small portion of a decadent dessert. I can think of several other permutations, depending on the nature of the resto. Serve efficiently and cooperatively. Include a 15% tip (not more; not less) on the bill. And don't book more covers than you can handle.
If I'm going to Thuet because he is supposed to be such an incredible chef, I want to taste incredible food. His personal cuisine actually veers to cheap ingredients (sauerkraut anyone?). Treat me as an imposition and serve me tiny portions of badly cooked "fancy" ingredients and I ain't going back. Ditto a fancy place that serves me a portion of boring pasta.
This is a marketing program, no different from a newspaper ad. There is an associated cost. I'll never understand why restaurants get involved and then do things to drive people away. And, yes, they can give stuff away. It's called a marketing expense and is typically tax deductible.
I've mentioned in other posts that I now tend to avoid the 'licious frenzies. But I do sometimes end up at a participating restaurant. Batifole and Smalltalk did it very well when I've been there. But the "I got a 'licious reservation at Thuet, or Canoe," game isn't worth the trouble.
I went to Bistro Tournesol (406 Dupont St.) on the first night & was not impressed at all.
While the ambiance was nice at first, the meal was on the bland side (not to mention we had to wait a while for the entree, & they didn't even offer us any bread - not that I wanted it, but it's my choice whether I do or not) & for what I paid (I ordered one dish ala carte), IMO, it wasn't worth it.
In fact I'm rethinking the WHOLE Fixed menu deal b/c of my experience & usually I jump at the chance to have a fixed meal.
Why should I spend $50-70+ (it's never just that amount) when I can't really chose from much, I end up ordering another appetizer usually, & I could spend the same amount & get more selection & maybe even spend less.
Maybe it was just that restaurant, I don't know, plus 90% of them are only downtown. What? The rest of TO doesn't participate?
Sorry, I'm hungry right now (don't know where to go & it's late), plus the restaurant I checked out the week prior to the Bistro (not part of Summerlicious) was also a disappointment, so I'm not too happy a camper right now spending money & feeling like everything is a waste : )
Thanks for listening
Summerlicious, and its cold-weather companion, Winterlicious, were wonderful events for the first couple of years, but - like most things that get too popular - it has since degenerated. Most joints now are a brawl, with rushed service, merely acceptable food and, it must be said, not that much of a deal. In effect, all the $35 prix fixe dinner means, in effect, is a free dessert. Think: you're buying a $10 appetizer and a $25 main course, so restaurateurs are just throwing in the dessert. If you don't ordinarily order dessert in a restaurant, take a pass on Summerlicious and move on to a relatively less fractious environment in a joint that's not on the Summerlicious program. But if you insist on doing Summerlicious, try a Summerlicious lunch, which usually offers better value. At Auberge du Pommier, for example, lunch is $20 (though beware of the $3.75 extra for coffee), service is superb, atmosphere is pleasant and relaxing despite the crowds, and the food - in my view - offers overall superior value to the $35 dinner at that place. If you must do dinner at Summerlicious, you'd probably do better to get out of the downtown core and into suburban restaurants that are trying Summerlicious for the first time, are anxious to impress first-time customers and aren't yet jaded by the free-for-all that Summerlicious downtown has become. In my end of town, there's Sequel and Coppi, almost across from each other on north Yonge St. between Lawrence and York Mills, first-timers on Summerlicious both, and offering $35 prix fixe menus of some imagination. There are doubtless a dozen more uptown that I'm not even aware of. But remember: all you're getting is a free dessert. And selection is limited, so check the Summerlicious website to determine if you actually like what's being featured. Otherwise, forget about Summerlicious. At one time a great idea, its novelty, freshness and vitality (and good value) have pooped out.
I agree with the dessert bit, juno..I don't like them, my wife does, but she can only eat one at a time. So I shut down the "licious" program..Then I checked the menus of some of the better restos, and found that Mistura offered a cheese platter. Also, Mistura offered, for $35 dinner, four apps, four mains, four desserts, and some decent aperitifs. We had a Campari and orange slice for six bucks each, the risi e bisi, the prosciutto, the lamb leg, the poussin, the fresh fruit with mascarpone, and the Italian cheese platter: three generous slices of Italian hard sheep, medium cow, and soft goat, with cremona mostardo and thin nut-fruit bread (toasted). All the courses were fabulous, served on entirely different plate forms with garnishes (arancio flattened, spinach, yellow peppers, sauces, etc. etc.: check out the posted menu). Superb service (at bleast six different people served us, and ALL remembered who was getting what dish). Thursday night, not very crowded, about 6: 30 PM..I'd been to Mistura many, many times for media functions, but this was the first time I'd actually paid with my own money. Best "licious" meal I've had ever...Great breads, great ambience. Of course, your experience may differ. ;-) Wine prices are high, but you can get a Prosecco bottle for $39.
I unusually avoid the summerlicious chaos as well. Went to Starfish last week and they were doing summerlicious only and the service was so rushed. Didn't even ask us for coffee... I would have spent far more if I had had my choice. In any case, the shuckers platter was amazing. The Artic Char was nice but I was craving their halibut.
Apparently Martha is leaving and the Lunch chef is taking over... there is going to be a new menu at the end of summerlicious...
My wife and I ended up doing two events this year (surprising, since we got tired of the 'licious events a while ago for reasons discussed on this thread and elsewhere ad nauseum). We went with my parents both times. To provide a bit of context, my expectations are not incredibly high.
Our first outing was at Celestin. Service was pretty good, the room has a light pleasant feel to it, and the food was generally very good. Bread was generously refilled twice and it's excellent quality (not surprising considering the adjoining bakery). For appetizers, the rilette starter was excellent, exactly as advertised, it delivered. I found the bisque somewhat boring, but that's not a criticism on this preparation. The highlight of the meal in my opinion was the 18$ additional app we ordered for the table - braised rabbit ravioli with an olive oil/herb sauce. This dish was outstanding - surprisingly light but very flavourful with the rabbit and herb flavour profiles shining through. Mains were the weak point. I enjoyed my short rib dish (moreso than a previous poster) but in parts it was a tad dry, and could've used a little more berniase. I found the taglietelle dish lacking though my wife enjoyed it, and the consensus on the scallop dish was that the scallops were tough. Both desserts (lemon mascarpone mousse and frozen nougat) were excellent.
Last night we checked out Six Steps. I had noted this one when the menus came out because I couldn't believe what was on offer for a $25 dinner - scallop ceviche for starters, roast leg of lamb or whole grilled snapper for mains. I figured maybe the restaurant needed to generate some attention, residing on the same street as Claudio Aprile's new restaurant. Consequently, I was non-plussed finding out just before when re-checking the menu that they had removed the snapper and leg of lamb from the menu due to costing.
On to the meal... I heeded the waitress' warning about the ceviche (it's more of a soup than a ceviche, with scallop as garnish) but decided to give it a shot anyway. She wasn't kidding. Actually I didn't see the scallop as garnish. The soup itself needed to be put through a chinois or something (it was a little grainy) and it really just tasted more like heavy cream than anything else. My wife's guinea foul terrine, on the other hand, was excellent. Mains (flat-iron steak and salmon trout) were pretty good but small. Give the portion size, I think more attention could have been given to the sides, but the actual proteins were well-executed. Desserts were decent. Curiously, the normal menu is much more standard Italian in character. I think they need to work on the concept. The room is beautiful and comfortable, and the chef seems pretty capable technically-speaking.
re: Ben Reiner
I think this is my last year doing Summelicious (avidly, at least) and it's going out with a bang.
So far I've been to Habitat and Globe, tonight is Boulevard Cafe and next Friday is Fieramosca. All are dinners.
HABITAT -- I was disappointed, but I was expecting to be. I had heard that the old chef left and the new one wasn't getting the greatest reviews, but my friend wanted to go. We all started with the mushroom terrine (very oily, heavy, and small but otherwise a good rich taste) with a small salad and blue foam (very good sharp light cheese). Next we all had the duck. Very small, just dark meat, and a bit tough. For dessert, 3 of us had the chocolate cake with green tea mousse which was a glorified brownie (luckily, I love brownies). The 4th had the creme brulee which I tasted and was delish, very gooey and eggy tasting. Service was attentive but (as I complained in an earlier but deleted post) a fly landed in my friend's 2/3 full wine glass and when we asked for a new glass, he merely changed the glass and poured the remainder of our bottle into the glass. We were sitting inside, so I think they should have comped her a glass of house at least.
GLOBE -- A coworker and I really enjoyed it. He had the soup of the day (some cream soup, I believe) and I had the procuitto with peaches and greens. He enjoyed his soup, I found my salad a bit salty but that's my fault -- procuitto I think is always salty. We also had very good crusty bread with curry hummus, good stuff. For the main, my coworker had the duck (4-5 small medallions with a good sized rhubarb cake) and I had the trout. Both of us agreed that they were done very well (not overcooked, I mean, cooked properly). Dessert I had the strawberries, which were stewed and tasted like those frozen strawberries (again, I like frozen strawberries, so no complaints). Coworker had the cobbler, which was 2-3 cookies on reduced cherries, he enjoyed it. After we left, our only comment was that the portion sizes for the entrees were a bit on the small side but that we left satisfied because there were 3 courses and bread. I think they did a great job hitting the $35 price point.
My verdict is that I will go again to Globe to try their regular menu, but I will not go back to Habitat.
We dropped by Smalltalk for dinner this week, and were surprised that they gave us a summerlicious menu.
A beautiful green salad with a large mound of carmalized onions topped with goat cheese, and an excellent dressing
Main was choice of beef short ribs or grouper.
I didn't taste the grouper but was told it was good.
A excellent tart lemon tart for dessert.(which was big enough to share)
I thought this was excellent value.
We actually shared as I had the salad, hubbie had the mussels in Thai curry.
For the main I had a delicious tandoori chicken which was beautifully presented.
The mussels and chicken were not part of summerlicious, but the combined bill was quite reasonable.
I dropped by Batifole last night, there were tables free on the patio. It was excellent, as one might expect. My dining companion and I had the whole Summerlicious menu...for apps, the coho and smoked salmon tartare with creme fraiche was delicious, while the wild boar terrine was tasty, but a little dry for my taste. Mains were a bass filet in olive oil, very delicate, and a braised veal in tarragon cream. Included with the mains was a great salad and those delicious chunky frites. Desserts were a lovely frozen chocolate mousse and a perfect cognac-infused creme brulée.
Batifole has certainly figured out Summerlicious...the amount of food for $25 was staggering, I had to drink a mint tea to settle my gut down when I got home. But they are keeping their food costs down by using relatively inexpensive ingredients and cooking them well, and the service was impeccable if a little harried (the place was rammed). I guess it's a broken record at this point, but another Chowhound recommendation has to go to the best French restaurant in east Chinatown. If it's a nice night, try dropping by to see if the patio has a table free, as I'm sure getting a prime time table inside during Summerlicious will be tough.
Thanks for posting this! I didn't realize that they wouldn't be booked full, but upon your post, my partner and I dropped by tonight and managed to get patio seating. It was lovely and we both really enjoyed it.
I agree that the portions of food were generous! I had the terrine (loved the wild boar, not so crazy about the ostrich), the veal, and the creme brulee, and I was barely able to put a dent in the frites and the salad before I was full. Even though the restaurant was packed and we were out of the way outside, the service was pleasantly attentive. Total bill for two with one glass of wine and a French martini with a generous tip was $90. Great value.
My wife and I tried Arriba, and were for the most part dissapointed. The restaurant was less than half full and the service was still extremely slow. We had a play we had to be at, I eventually had to get up, hunt down the server and get our desserts and the bill at the same time. We had sat for over half an hour by that point after finishing our mains.
The atmosphere was great, we had tables right by the window and there was an Argonaut game goint on. It was quite neat to sit and watch the game while having dinner. Neither my wife nor I follow football, but it was still neat.
The food was dissapointing. For apps, I had a cold pea soup that was just okay. The mint was a nice touch, but really it wasn't anything special. My wife had chicken spring rolls (they had a fancy name on the menu, but really they were just spring rolls). Again, okay, but nothing special.
For mains, my wife had a nice maple trout. It was tasty, but very small. I had the porkchop, which was quite large (nearly an inch thick) but very well cooked. It was moist in the middle and seared for texture. Unfortunately it was also very bland with no real flavour.
For dessert my wife had a citrus tart that could have been purchased at a second cup. Nothing special. I had a chocolate and raspberry bread pudding that was the highlight of the meal...even if I couldn't find any chocolate.
All in all, I might go back on a game night just for the atmosphere, but I won't bother with the licious menu, maybe the a la carte will make up for the licious experience.
We really enjoyed Milagro. Great service, good cocktailes and sangria and a really fun menu. Crab Tostadas and a very nice pulled pork served with pickled onions on a banana leaf. Good times! The only disspointment at all was that the mango sorbet for desert wasn't made there. I'll definitely be going back though.
My family dined at Corner House last night. The food was pretty good, but don't expect the Summerlicious menu you saw online. They've changed it all around. I recommend the baked goatcheese salad, grilled shrimp or arugula salad. Skip the corn chowder. All the entrees we had were good - striploin, halibut, salmon and cornish hen. The cornish hen was likely the best I've ever tried, but it was NOT boneless! For dessert, you won't go wrong with the berry crumble and ice cream unless you like super rich chocolate cakes. Yes, there was no bread pudding as indicated online. The service was quite efficient and pleasant. The house would have been claustrophobic on a hot summer evening, but okay last night.
Our first impression was the worst of the entire experience. The hostess, dressed like Daisy Duke, acted even less refined. She was verging on rude, barking demands at waiting guests (not us) at the door. She looked and acted like she should have been presiding at some truck stop. Should mention too that the acoustics on the second floor where we sat also suited a truck stop more!!
Our reservation was for 7:15. We arrived shortly after 7, and people were already leaving after their first seating dinners. We were seated at about 7:15; there was a big lineup at the door when we left at 8:20. In other words, do not expect a leisurely or romantic dinner.
Went to the Rosewater Supper Club last night for Summerlicious. Gorgeous building, with the water wall and the two level resturant. It was rather busy, but found the service was attentive, and our waiter was friendly and extremely helpful in choosing a wine that wasn't too pricey, but went well with the meal.
We both started with the squash angolotti pasta. I had the chicken stuffed with mushroom for a main course. My partner had the "surf and turf" which i was quite suprised to see on a licious menu. It consisted of a striploin of beef, with jumbo shrimp. Desert was a basket of strawberry's. Quite simple, but very refreshing with the ice cream!!
Would go back again!!
I had a slightly different experience, I also went there for dinner last week, yes it was busy, the waiter was friendly, but as should be expected at an establishment such as rosewater, however I was slightly disappointed with the meal, I had the stuffed chicken which was good, but not great, my partner had the cod, which was probably the better choice since he really liked the shrimp and mango salad that went with it. We both had the strawberries which was refreshing, however it was falsely advertised as you can tell the strawberries didn't look like they were from Ontario, nor did they taste like Ontario strawberries.
my firends and I, went to Ultra Supper Club for summerlicious.
We loved the atmosphere, we loved the service, we loved the food...the only complaint would be the noise level!! After dinner, we went upstairs to the patio and hung out.
We also checked out Paese for a summerlicious lunch. Once again, the food was great but the service was borderline-rude. We complained...and they not only listened but will be mailing us certificates as an apology.
Looking forward to winterlicious..LOL
I tried 3 summerlicious locations.
For the second my friend and I went to La Bruschetta for lunch and while it was crazy busy and took a long time to place our wine and food orders, after a while things got more peaceful and we enjoyed a really great meal - the complimentary authentic Bruschetta and the wonderful desserts - Profiteroles & Tiramisu - being our favourite parts of the meal.
With my husband, we did BOTH lunch and dinner at Fred's Not Here.
Lunch was mediocre - the escargots did not have any of the wonderful garlic butter I order the dish for, and my hubby said the Gazpacho was just "ok".
The salted butter with the bread was a surprise but maybe that is because of the summer heat?
For main course I had the agnolotti which was a bounty of mushrooms, but the pasta was very tough or perhaps dried out. I figured it was because they had to make them in advance to keep up with the volume. Husband had the Kobe Burger and was happy with it and raved about the yukon gold and yam fries.
For dessert we both had the Chocolate mousse cake which was tasty but the cake a little dry.
After having a so-so lunch, we were wondering how dinner would turn out - we were so glad we went, because it was so much better than lunch.
For apps, he had their Famous Lobster and Crab soup - that comes with a puffy crust top - very impressive and tasty! I had the goat cheese tart with arugula salad - also a winner.
For mains - he had the Pork 3 ways - the sausages and ribs being his faves - the crispy suckling pig was a bit too fatty - but the ginger marmelade on the side was a perfect compliment as was his Stella Artois (beer).
After lunch I wanted to stay safe, and went with the NY Strip steak - which was perfectly rare as ordered and came with tender crisp summer veggies and the yummy fries that hubby had at lunch and went perfectly with the Mondavi Merlot I ordered.
For dessert hubby had the banana split which he regretted, but I made a special request to have the Fruit Ices from lunch (that I wished I had ordered) and the server graciously accommodated the request. Hubby ended up eating the lime and raspberry ice, leaving me my favourite - the mango.
Being my first time doing Summerlicious, it was a great experience and I will definitely watch for Winterlicious and next year's Summerlicious. I will also be going back to all of the places I tried.