Winterlicious Report: Toula
For someone who doesn't have much faith in 'licious, I seem to have hit a lot of them this year. My last 'licious luncheon was planned for Toula -- 'licious and a restaurant with a view -- a potentially deadly combination.
The hostess for our group had promised us a lovely view and promised nothing about the food, and Toula entirely lived up to those promises. The view was lovely -- I can't believe I've lived in Toronto for 14 years and had no idea the harbour froze up in the winter -- and the food was nothing.
Apps: Steamed White Asparagus in Truffle Sauce and Parmigiano Crostini. I presume 'truffle sauce' is what they were calling the unfortunate gloop that was slopped on top of the white asparagus, but I have no idea what on my plate might have been called parmigiano crostini. There was certainly nothing that even might have resembled it on the plate. It was probably off somewhere canoodling with the scallops that were promised in the chowder, but which nobody could find. The waiter mentioned they were 'chopped very finely'. Or perhaps the crostini, too, was chopped very finely? At least I didn't order the Venetian Doge Caesar Salad with Slices of oven Roasted Pheasant Supreme on Aromatic Herbs, which had its dressing uncaringly slopped all over the top of it, and slabs of pheasant slapped on the side.
Main: Wild Mushroom Pappardelle. This wasn't on the website, but was on the menu, and indeed it did appear to be fresh pasta and decent mushrooms. My presentation of it was almost sort of good, except that the pasta was undercooked and it was swimming in a lake of sauce. On the other hand, two seats away, another serving of the same dish appeared to be nearly absent any sauce or mushrooms. Perhaps they just sauced mine twice and sort of forgot about hers? One person at our table sent her chicken back for being ridiculously overcooked, while those who made the mistake of ordering the ravioli searched valiantly for any sign of pasta under the pasty sauce. I didn't hear any complaints about the salmon, though I have to admit I was a little afraid of the neon yellow sauce that came on it.
Dessert: Classic “Lemoncella” Toula Cheesecake. If I was to try and replicate this dish at home, I would start with a base of dry graham cracker crumbs, and then pour some lemon extract into a tub of cream-cheese icing and slap that on top, and send it out with a couple of raspberries for color. It would probably taste about the same, and it wouldn't look any worse. Reports were that the tiramisu, which appeared to have been plated by a cafeteria lady imported directly from the 1970s, was actually quite good, but I don't like tiramisu, so I didn't try it. I did try a bit of the Baba with rum, which was very sweet, but amongst all the desserts at least appeared to have been baked and served, rather than congealed.
Service: Umm, well, okay, I guess. It was pretty standard 'licious service: brisk and brusque. Still, they did keep the water glasses full, and did replace the inedible chicken with a small portion of the pappardelle. Why they didn't replace with totally uneaten pappardelle of another in our party, with something else, I don't know. Perhaps it was the best of the bunch and they couldn't offer her anything that wouldn't have been worse than the dish she wouldn't eat in the first place?
I went to Toula as well, for dinner Licious. I brought my parents for the view. For 3 people, they pushed a table for 2 to the centre wall and put 3 chairs around it, so while my parents had a nice view of the city at night, mine was limited to the wall, which you can see was all banged up by the back of the chairs and was patched up in blotches with a much darker paint. While it may be a bit hard to install chair rails on a curved wall, there must be some other way to touch it up nicely. Oh and some of the chairs were rickety, stained or ripped as well.
The food wasn't so bad. The scallop chowder was OK on first taste - nice scallop flavour - but you soon find there is no depth. The mains were better, my mom liked the steak and me and my dad enjoyed the cod - tender with flavour and enhanced by the sauce. My mom found the rum baba crumbly and hard as well as too sweet. The lemoncella "cheesecake" had the consistency of cool whip. Agreed that the tiramisu was the best.
Our server was polite and brisk. However the next table (also a party of 3 crammed into a small table by the wall) had a better server, who asked if they wanted help with the menu and offered advice.
Went there for winterlicious dinner on Feb 2, 2011. Service was okay, the servers were not chatty. The view was great - we got a good seat where we had a view of the frozen lake, island airport and could also see the cn tower and the skyscrapers. Other than that the ambience and food quality was not all that great.
The bread served initially was cold. The entree and appetizer portions were decently sized but they were tasteless. It seemed like the food was cooked in a large quantity and re-heated to serve us. We ordered one steak and one cornish hen. The sides for both the entrees were exactly the same some fried veggies and mashed potatoes. The cornish hen reminded me a lot of the fried chicken you get at KFC. Presentation was okay but that was it. The dessert was decent but then again you can't really go wrong with a dessert.
Overall the food was not worth the $90+ that was paid out for a dinner for two (including tax and gratuity). Would not recommend this to anyone for a night out!!!
1 Harbour Square, Toronto, ON M5J 1A6, CA
Went to Toula last year and was completely un-impressed. Service was so so and the food was completely blend. Friend of ours had dessert there and it was frozen and not defrosted.
All I have heard so far is that it has a good view, but the food not so much. CN Tower does a better job IMO.
1 Harbour Square, Toronto, ON M5J 1A6, CA