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Summerlicious 2008 must try restaurants

  • m

I'm going to Toronto during summerlicious for a weekend. Unfortunately for me, my friends aren't that rich and they don't want to have fine cuisine dining all weekend (beside, in a weekend, we NEED to have siu long pao, korean bbq, all you can eat sushi.. i'm from montreal.. it's not that great there :P) so we decided to go to one restaurant in the summerlicious list of restaurants. What would be the ONE restaurant i should try? I have been told that Canoe is a really good restaurant and that i should try it. Do you guys have other suggestions? My criteria is... good tasting food and a nice venue (not as important). Type of cuisine isn't important, i'm just compiling a list and then talk to my friends about it

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  1. Canoe would no doubt be a really good choice, but I've heard it can be tough to get reservations during the 'liciouses. Plus, they're not open to the public on the weekend, so you would have to go on Friday night.

    I've taken a quick look at the menus for Summerlicious this year and, personally, I think the menu at Celestin (which is a great restaurant, IMHO), looks very yummy but it's really a matter of personal taste. I would suggest checking out the SL menus that are posted online for each of the restaurants you're considering and see what tickles your fancy because, even if you might ordinarily enjoy a restaurant, you might not be too enthused with the 2 or 3 options they have on the SL menu.

    Some of the other restaurants on the SL list that are, IMHO, worth visiting are: Auberge du Pommier, Fat Cat, Globe Bistro, North 44, Quince, Starfish, the Rosebud, and Thuet. Some that I don't think merit a special trip are: Alize, Autogrill, Bier Markt, Cfood, City Grill, Five Doors North, Jaipur Grille, Oliver and Bonacini, Seven Numbers, the Host, and Vittorio's. Not that I'm saying that these are bad restaurants (in fact, I quite like a lot of them); it's just that they're nothing special, and if you can eat at a really top-notch restaurant for $35 I think you'd be better off.

    Let us know where you end up, and what you think.

    11 Replies
    1. re: torontofoodiegirl

      don't know if Rosebud has done Summerlicious before but they're not on the list for this year...

      1. re: JamieK

        Wow - I've now officially lost my mind... Looked at the list, and somehow imagined Rosebud was on it (perhaps Rosedale Diner and Rosewater confused me??). Thanks JamieK!

        1. re: JamieK

          They are on there, but listed alphabetically as "The Rosebud".

          1. re: nicopop

            Well, it's still quite possible that my mind has gone, but I feel a bit better having had that pointed out. Thanks nicopop.

            1. re: torontofoodiegirl

              apologies to all, the kinds of lists I usually deal with ignore the "The".

        2. re: torontofoodiegirl

          I would have to agree regarding Celestin, Auberge and Thuet. You may also wish to consider the Corner House which I've always found to be quite good, some reviews here notwithstanding, and with what many consider to be a "Chef's Chef" at the helm.

          As for Canoe, if you have an Amex, you can call early but if you do not, don't count on getting in.

          1. re: tikiliberationfront

            I was actually considering starting a thread "how to snag Canoe reservation during summerlicious."

            I do have an AMEX, but have found it utterly impossible to get through. Last year I just showed up at the restaurant at 9am on the first day of reservations, but even that didn't work (was told I must phone in).

            Anyone have any insight, other than "redial, redial, redial?"

            1. re: non sequitur

              so, the restaurant opens at 11:45am for lunch, do they start taking reservations earlier than that? if they do, does anyone know what time?

              1. re: non sequitur

                Go there.. tell them you want the regualr menu and its a business meeting.. they will find a spot for you.. then when you arrive for the reservation "under the rules of the licious" they must give you the licious menu if you ask for it..

                1. re: OnDaGo

                  Sounds like a good way to start off on the wrong foot if you ask me.

                  1. re: millygirl

                    Yes but the foot will be in the door... :-)

          2. I strongly recommend Batifole. I've been to summerlicious and winterlicious and have always enjoyed every meal. The restaurant is very casual and the tables a bit close, but the food is the star here....you'll really enjoy eating.
            A huge list of wines from all over France.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lonestartor

              I generally like Batifole, but I was incredibly disappointed with my last visit there, and I have to say that their Summerlicious menu is extremely limited and just doesn't grab my fancy at all. Do check out menus before you pick any place.

            2. Greg Couillard's Spice Room and Chutney Bar did a fantastic menu for winterlicious, and was the bargain of the season. The jump-up soup is legendary, and he's repeating the molten chocolate dessert.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Snarf

                He may have had a temperamental past, but he's hit his stride now. Agree with the Couillard Spice Room pick.

              2. i have my eye on Veritas, Quince and Rosedale Diner this time around - for personal preferences based on menu items, only.

                i loved Five Doors North last year and Boiler House three years ago.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LemonLauren

                  I have not seen the menu from the boulevard cafe on Harbord yet but they have always had a good selection for summerlicious.

                2. wow! thanks for all the suggestions! i looked at the menu of the restaurants you guys have suggested, so far, Canoe's menu caught my attention.. it's so.. exotic and sounds great.. the dessert sounds sinful as hell hahaha North 44 sounds pretty neat too

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: mak2k

                    Trying to get through on phone right now (canoe)... no dice (30 mins now)

                    1. re: non sequitur

                      My friends and I have done Canoe twice now, as I had the time to stay on the telephone hitting redial for 3 hours (yes, that is how long it took to get through). Today, the three of us tried and just gave up after two hours.

                      Hint: when you hear the telephone ringing and ringing and ringing YOU ARE IN- DON'T HANG UP! Just let it ring and eventually someone will pick up that line and speak with you.

                      But I did manage to get through to Bymark after a half hour.

                      1. re: non sequitur

                        After much patience and persistence I finally got through and made a reservation at Canoe for dinner. I called this morning for 1/2 hour and after lunch for 1/2 hour, but at 2 pm I called again and finally got through to a tape. The tape warned about the high volume of calls and to be patient. Next the voice indicated to press 1 for a summerlicious host. Finally after about 25 minutes a live voice came on the phone and I got my reservation and she was so very cheerful I forgot about the long waits.
                        So there you go....I'm off to Canoe for summerlicious :)

                    2. so i managed to get reservation for Celestin.. i'll report to you guys when i go try it. The menu looks really nice

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mak2k

                        also made a reservation at Celestin. very excited to try their delish looking licious menu.

                      2. I managed to snag Canoe, Bymark and North44. Hopefully the 'licious menus will be as good as their normal offerings.

                        During this year's Winterlicious I had an extraordinarily bad "meal" at Alize (definitely avoid), a decent meal at Truffles, and a good meal at Sopra Upper Lounge.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: tjr

                          Really? I went to Alize for Winterlicious and it was by a huge margin the best 'licious experience I've had to date. What in particular about your experience merited the use of quotes around the word meal?

                          I got my reservation for Fat Cat Bistro and am very much looking forward to it.

                          1. re: vorpal

                            I once went to Alize (not during a 'licious) and ordered pizza. I took a bite out of it, and realized they had brought me the wrong pizza. I told them, and they whisked the pizza away, and returned awfully quickly with its replacement (I should have been suspicious). As I proceeded to eat the pizza, I discovered that they had simply removed the incorrect toppings and added the proper ones, and then proceeded to cover it all up with a thick layer of cheese! Any doubt I may have had about what they'd done disappeared when I lifted the thick cheese and viewed my bite mark, hidden underneath...

                            1. re: torontofoodiegirl

                              Eeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwww. What were they thinking? "Well as long as it's her bite mark, it's okay"?

                              1. re: Googs

                                I know, I know.... And can you imagine the lawsuit if I'd have been allergic to the original toppings?

                            2. re: vorpal


                              Overbooked restaurant in the middle of winter, really long waits for everything from start to finish, incompetent, unprofessional, slow, just plain awful service coupled with inedible food (bland, generic appetizers, incredibly overcooked, dry beef tenderloin, soggy tilapia out of the freezer, etc.). No one could stomach eating more than a bite or two of their entrees. Even though it was comped and the owner offered us a free meal if we returned (after claiming that it's "so busy that it's hard for everything to come out right," and that "the food isn't like this when we aren't doing 'licious"), I'd never go back.

                          2. Just booked Amaya, we'll see how it fares in the eyes and taste buds of my Indian wife. And booked Globe Bistro, she's never been and I know she'll love the space.

                            I'll probably see you all in a few weeks for the ritual "let's complain about 'Licious" thread.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: childofthestorm

                              grabbed starfish and senses for lunch and Celestin for Dinner.
                              All on the first day of Amex.
                              Decided to do a business lunch on the second day of Amex and dialed between Bymark and canoe at around 2PM. Got thru to Canoe first in about ten minutes.

                              Lucky I guess.

                            2. am i the only person who is cynical and has yet to have a spectacular Summer/Winterlicious meal?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: atomeyes

                                No you are not. But for those who love to eat out I guess it's always worth a roll of the dice. Still, it's guaranteed the "complain about 'Licious" thread will be twice as long as this one.

                                1. re: childofthestorm

                                  I booked Globe on Danforth. Has anyone tried it before?

                              2. We were offered the Summerlicious menu at Romagna Mia last night (1 day early). I was the only one who chose it. I was very impressed with the selections and portions. Definitely a good value for $35, unlike my previous 'licious experiences.
                                I had the tagliatelle with Guinea fowl ragout - delicious, and about twice as big as I was expecting. Then the Asparagus risotto, also very good but I probably overdosed on the starches (I knew that when I ordered but could not resist!). For dessert, the parmigianno creme brulee with two wild cherries and a little bit of pear. Very elegant and tasty, although I could have used a little cherry.
                                We received great service and I loved the details such as bread basket (3 breads including an interesting flatbread with citrus zest) and little cookies with our coffee. Other than myself, we had 3 mains and one appetizer. Our total bill with two $30 bottles of wine was only $200, and we sat for close to 3 hours. The place was almost empty. I hope things pick up for them with Summerlicious, and that the great food & service we experienced continues.

                                1. We had a really outstanding meal at Crush tonight. First course was the cold soup - leek and watercress which was pretty good. Partner had scallops and asparagus and raved about it..I don't enjoy eating our underwater friends so can't confirm.

                                  For mains I had a roast beef. Was absolutly excellent...thin sliced roast beef, perfectly cooked medium and juicy. Had a light but super flaovurful gravy that I ended up using bread to wipe the plate clean of all of it. Also a potato and green bean cold sald. Really was gasto pub fare at it's best! Partner had the fish served with barley rissoto. The fish (can't remember the type) was reported to be good but not great, but the barley mushroom rissoto was outstanding.

                                  For dessert I had an excellent mocha chocolate cake with rasberry finish, partner had a lemon poppy seed cake..both outstanding.

                                  Service was outstanding, we got a split a bottle of an very tasty South African Shiraz called Bon Courage. The whole meal was a winner and will deff return to check out the regular menu. I can't stress how damn good that roast beef was!

                                  1. Had a very nice lunch at the Drake (although the service was a little slow). Duck prosciutto was fantastic as an opener...the salad (the other option) was only ok. The cumbrae skirt steak was excellent as was the pea risotto and trout...everyone raved about thier main. Desserts were was top notch...the chocolate threesome had a to die for pudding but the fresh berries option was more to my taste.

                                    I usually hate licious meals but this one was better than all previous experiences which include Senses, Pangea, Across the Road (I HATE THIS PLACE...DISGUSTING on every level) and even Thuet (which I adore usually).

                                    1. Must try? None!
                                      If you REALLY need to go to one I would choose either Starfish or Auberge du Pommier. At least the food is fairly consistent and less of a rip-off

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                        Had lunch this afternoon at Pangaea. I know that this place gets mixed reviews but each time my friend and I have eaten there for Winter or Summerlicious, we've always been pleased.

                                        Here are the photos of today's lunch:

                                        Soup was a beautifully smooth, light and palate pleasing shrimp with coconut

                                        I had the rainbow trout which came out with a medley of green beans, sauteed onions, and an almond foam

                                        My friend had the roasted leg of lamb (very, very tender) with a gorgeous bean salad

                                        We both had the apricot shortcake with creme anglaise and blackberry compote. Lots of fruit. So delicious.

                                      2. Went to Quince for dinner. We were impressed - portions were very generous for $25. Had the cold tomato soup, Salmon for entree and meringue with lemon and blueberry. All very good. Hubby's pork with succotash was very tasty. His dessert was a fruit crumble, had nice chunks of berries in it. Service was friendly and the space is very relaxed. Last week we tried Globe and although we had no complaints, overall Quince is definitely a better choice for Summerlicious. Thanks CH for 2 good recommendations!

                                        1. If you google the summerlicious site they now have a listing of which restarants still have openings and when they are available.
                                          Enjoyed the lunch at Toulas today and the loved the view. to die for Poached Pears with chocolate for dessert. Would recommend.

                                          1. I've been to Bymark twice with friends (with Canoe and North44 to come), and it was excellent both times. Good service (despite the usual minimal servers for packed Summerlicious restaurant), great food, good value.

                                            Of the appetizers, the salad (greens with dressing) didn't really seem to be a great starter, just something added for less adventurous eaters. The gravalax with sweet potato pancakes was really, really great, the duck confit risotto was a little less al-dente, though better than a lot of the other risottos I've had around the city (I make a much better risotto at home, though).

                                            The Bymark burger was a great main, and, having had it before, it seems pretty much exactly the same as it is when you go during non-Summerlicious. Great flavour, cooked to order (medium-rare), juicy, delicious. The onion rings were just okay.

                                            The gnocchi that came with the chicken main was excellent, the chicken itself was moist and juicy, with the skin crispy and well-seasoned.

                                            The vegetables with the salmon main were done well, but the salmon itself was very tiny and thin (and therefore overcooked). This, along with the salad, seemed to be the real losers of the menu.

                                            The pavlova was good, though a bit too sweet. The lemon mousse on top of it was excellent though. I wasn't able to eat the banana cream cake, as I have a nut allergy.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: tjr

                                              It is just me, or has anyone else noticed that there is a trend with "foam" and pavlova? It seems that so many Summerlicious restaurants are featuring some type of pavlova and every entree has foam with the meat/ fish.

                                              I am not complaining, I'm just curious as to this new 'movement' in food, so to speak, LOL

                                              1. re: czthemmnt

                                                I noticed a lot of foams when I was back in Japan in April, especially at Michelin-starred French restaurants. I'd imagine a lot of Canadian restos doing Summerlicious do foams for the cost-savings (small amount of product expanded in size).

                                                Pavlovas because they're cheap and easily made in advance in large quantities.

                                                1. re: tjr

                                                  My wife and I went to the Corner House last Thursday evening.

                                                  Did not have to wait long for a table. We had reservations for 8:00 and were sitting on the patio at 8:10. Service was great and you would have probably noticed by now that the many has many choices and if that is not enough they still had a wonderful Warm Goat Cheese and raison App in addition. We really enjoyed the Striploin and the wine. Very romantic spot, with very good food and service.

                                                  Well Done!