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Summerlicious 2010 edition

Hey all,

Once again we are in another season-licious installment. After a first-time bad experience long ago, followed up by reading what seemed to be only negative reviews here I've stayed away for years.

But I AM the eventual optimist, actually had a look on the official city website and am curious again. Is it possible to have a novel, reasonably-priced meal that would entice me to return to that restaurant during the rest of the year? Or will it be a foodservice-assembly-line experience about turnover where all I am is a few measly bux for the owner and a nuisance to the staff?

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  1. I'm not from the area, but local friends took us to Byzantium on Saturday night and the summerlicious menu was huge (6-7 apps, 6-7 mains, 3 desserts) and all 4 of us were very pleased with our dinners for $25.

    9 Replies
    1. re: L2k

      We'll see. We generally stay away but have decided to make a reservation at Lucien. Never been and looking forward to it. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised and maybe even reformed.

      1. re: millygirl

        Lucien was great for me
        I had the Tomato water gazpacho, steak, and the rice pudding. The gazpacho was great. Straightforward but light and well executed. The steak was done with filet which was kind of dissapointing and it was a little overcooked. I can understand it's not gonna be really red inside but it was a bit tough for sous vide filet. The rice pudding was spot on and was topped with puffed rice that really brought needed texture to the dish.

        Overall good value for $45 for lucien.

        36 Wellington St E, Toronto, ON M5E1C7, CA

        1. re: CoffeeAddict416

          Maybe I'm just nitpicking here but "disappointed" and "a little overcooked" doesn't sound like a great meal to me.

          1. re: millygirl

            $ 45 ? For 2 ? What was included for that price? Was it + tip and drinks? I'd like to know more.

            1. re: lamaranthe

              I've never heard of a steak cooked sous vide?? I imagine it would be real diffecult to control the doneness.

              1. re: gogomiser

                you can cook just about anything sous vide and if you know what you're doing it is possible to control the doneness but it requires many rounds of practice - trial and error!

                1. re: JennaBean

                  sous vide wouldn't be my first choice of methods to cook a steak but to each he's/her own I guess.

              2. re: lamaranthe

                I believe CoffeeAddict was referring to the $45/3 course meal.... that is per person, excluding drinks, tip and tax.

        2. re: L2k

          We had an excellent meal at Byzantium last night. Large portions, delicious food and excellent service. Neighbourhood standbys are usually a safe bet for 'licious good times.

          There were five of us, everyone was happy with their food but the curried chicken with egg noodles and fresh veggies was outstanding.

        3. Just back from a delicious experience at Starfish. Our first time at Starfish and lucked into their Summerlicious lunch menu as that was not the reason we went. Their 4 oyster (so fresh!) starter alone would have been $11.00 on their normal menu, but we had those plus perfectly cooked rainbow trout mains and dessert (so-so strawberry shortcake) for only $20. each. Count this as a big thumbs up as a Summerlicious experience.

          4 Replies
          1. re: T Long

            Good for Starfish!! Great for you...

            1. re: Full tummy

              I thought of going there for dinner, but found that their lunch and dinner Summerlicious menus are exactly the same! I am not going to pay almost double the price just for dining at night.

              1. re: Teep

                I noticed that the menus were similar too. I suspect the dinner portions are more generous than at lunchtime.

                1. re: Teep

                  Isn't nice to be able to read menus and compare?

            2. Did Bymark for Summerlicious lunch last Friday. It was OUTSTANDING. For Summerlicious they just may leave out an ingredient (i.e., no quail's egg on the variegated aspargus salad...no biggie for me), but some of the dishes you'd see on their regular menu. The dessert was small but perfect. Everyone was thrilled with their meal, and the service was as usual excellent.

              4 Replies
              1. re: MeMeMe

                Did Crush for dinner on Friday and it was fantastic. One of more interesting menus for 'licious.
                Seafood trio was very tasty, oyster, poached shrimp & grilled calamari, followed by the orzo salad and then the doughnuts. Delicious.

                1. re: Pebbles

                  Just returned from dinner at Edward Levesque's Kitchen. They were unprepared and the place was PACKED with two wait staff working very very hard.
                  I was delighted with my choice of grilled calamari, the burger and the carrot cake.
                  My friends were equally happy with their vichysoisse and fattoush salad.
                  Definetely not one of our best experiences but then again we have been doing this for 5 years (both winter and summer).

                  Edward Levesque's
                  1290 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L1C4, CA

                  1. re: domesticgodess

                    domesticgodess, if you are down to places like Edward Levesque's I would serioulsy consider quitting the entire S/Wlicious events. LOL!! Just kidding. I am happy that you were pleased with your selections.

                    I've had a couple of really BAD scary visits there in terms of both food and service. Don't know where he gets his meat but the last time, hubby's veal chop was inedible for the gristle. I can't believe he still packs them in.

                2. re: MeMeMe

                  We got last minute reservation for two at Bymark for tonight (Wednesday night). I got the reservation by calling, despite no availability on their online reservation system. When we got there at 6:15 pm, a few tables were free. By the time we left at 7:30 pm, about half the tables were free.

                  We started with the seared tuna and spicy tomato soup with shrimp. Both were good. Mains were gnocchi and lamb. The lamb was cooked to perfection and melt in your mouth. Dessert was banana cake with caramel sauce and chocolate eclair with chocolate gelato. The banana cake was very good while the eclair was ok.

                  We also order a lobster poutine from the regular menu. While tasty, we found the lobster to be tough!

                  Overall, good service with good food.

                  66 Wellington St. W, Toronto, ON M5K 1J3, CA

                3. Try Caju. It was a first time for us, and a real find for Brazilian cuisine. Will return for more!
                  Attentative,friendly, service, albeit on the slow side, perhaps maybe because it is summerlicious time.
                  Any other great finds will be much appreciated to hear about.

                  1. I usually try to avoid summerlicious as well as have had poor experiences in the past. A friend organized a dinner at the Drake last weekend..menu looked really good. We ended up ordering some things off the menu, as well as a few bottles of good wine. I still felt like the server treated us rather poorly cause some of us did stick with the summerlicious menu. I have to say that the food items were NOT impressive..what looked good on the menu translated to pretty lame on the plate. Unfortunate...now I have no desire to return for their regular menu.

                    1 Reply
                    1. I really enjoyed lunch at Biff's Bistro - the service was good, the patio was great, and the food was fantastic :-)
                      I've also had good dinners at Reds Bistro and Tutti Matti (the service is usually a little lackluster but still worth going imo). Enjoy!

                      Tutti Matti
                      364 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V1R7, CA

                      Biff's Bistro
                      4 Front St. E, Toronto, ON M5E 1B2, CA

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ekim256

                        I posted my pictures up of Biff's Bistro here: http://cookiesandtomatoes.blogspot.com/
                        I think it's been my best summerlicious lunch to date, but I'm going to Jump Cafe and Globe Bistro next week, I'll keep you posted! Did you choose any places yet? :


                        Biff's Bistro
                        4 Front St. E, Toronto, ON M5E 1B2, CA

                        1. re: ekim256

                          That does look pretty great for a $15 prix fixe... thanks for a great write up (and visuals), ekim!

                      2. Went to Peridot for Summerlicious lunch today. This is my first Summerlicious experience, truthfully - now I see why I've avoided it.

                        Front of house scewed up our reso, even though we called to confirm an hour before hand. They wouldn't let us forget it, it almost felt as though they were insinuating we were trying to "sneak in", or that we had the wrong day. (Not that it mattered -- the main floor was 1/2 empty even at high-noon of the lunch rush).

                        My appie -- a Mesclun Salad -- was a soggy, wilted bowl of tough greens, browned by way too much balsamic. It took 45 minutes to get my main -- a room temperature store-bought pita -- laying open on a plate with a skimpy helping of chicken, a smattering of spinach and flavourless "apple chutney", which I can only describe as looking like reconstituted apple niblets. My main was paired with -- wait for it ! -- the exact same style of soggy salad. Dessert -- chocolate creme brulee -- wasn't too bad, but the custard was a tad grittier than I would have liked, not really smooth. It was the high point of the meal, I'd say, but that's not saying much.

                        We were reminded continuously by the frantic waitress on how far behind the kitchen was, how understaffed they were, etc. She was very friendly, at least. We heard that the patio was packed, but the restaurant didn't really seem that busy, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt. This said, customers at the table next to us us were threatening to leave because they had far passed the 60 minute mark wait for their entrees.

                        What do you get for $15, I guess. We definitely got what we paid for. Disappointing. Will never be back.

                        1. Went to Jump for dinner last night- typical, consistent O&B. Great app (tuna tartare with soppressata), mains (Miami ribs - tasty and a very generous helping, Piri Piri chicken - not authentic, but still tasted good), and dessert (skip the vanilla creme and get the cheesecake). Totally worth the $35. Excellent service, and it wasn't crowded - I will never do another 'licious event on the weekend after experiencing the calm of a weeknight.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: klf

                            Just came back from Jump lunch. Can't say that I was blown away. It was good, but nothing more.

                            Tuna tartare appetizer was quite boring - tuna was very fresh and good quality but it was just plain chopped tuna with nothing added to it; sopressata was nice and spicy but I didn't care for the combination of sopressata and tuna together.

                            Salmon main was ok. Tasty, but not exciting and quite oily. Horseradish cream tasted too greasy. I recently made my own horseradish cream with whipped cream and spicy sauce and it was a really nice contrast for a homemade fish and crab terrine. But in this entree salmon was already oily and the horseradish creme fraiche somehow added to the greasiness of the dish instead of cutting it. Beets were good but I wished they were more pickled because I wanted some acidity to help with the oily taste of the fish.

                            Cheesecake was really good - creamy, dense with tiny caramel crumbles. I might be too picky but I wished it was just plain dolce du leche and not dulce du leche cream as it was a bit too watery and not as intense as I love my dulce du leche.

                            I went to "Oliver and Bonacini cafe grill" at Bayview Village about 3-4 times for previous -licious and I must say that food there was more interesting and tastier than at Jump.

                            Service was quite slow and not too attentive, but that didn't really bother me.

                          2. Went to Rosedale Diner and 7 Numbers (on Eglinton) for dinner last weekend and the Yonge St. Diner for lunch today. Overall, the disappointment (though not really a surprise since I don't like them in their new location at all) was 7 Numbers. RD was very good and I've never been that into the food before: very tasty watermelon and feta/olive salad and unusually good in how the flavours did together and the gazpacho was lovely (and I'm not usually that into gaz). The salmon was very nicely done with lots of rapini and moussaka was quite tasty---a nice rendition for me since it had mushrooms and spinach. Bread pudding was OK (not great) and ditto for the tartuffo but creme brulee was excellent.

                            I've never been to Yonge St Diner and I was pleasantly surprised. The service was friendly and helpful (if somewhat inexperienced) but all the food was very good; arugula salad with beets---very, nice; arctic char, arugula pasta (nice light sauce, very flavourful without being too oily and nice crunchy/soft garlic cloves and generous on fresh arugula); and the trifle and meringue tower with key lime cream wasn't especially key-lime-like but it was lovely if you like crunchy meringue. Which I do.

                            So 2/3 experiences that are what Summerlicious should be like: A reason to go back!

                            Rosedale Diner
                            1164 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W2L9, CA

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Ediblethoughts

                              I work there. It's the Yonge St. Grill, not Diner.

                              Glad you liked the lunch, I think it's much better than the dinner but they took off some of the best parts for the latter.

                              1. re: jollyinebriate

                                Sorry about that--yes, of course, Grill. I noticed the dinner looked pretty similar to lunch except for the entrees.

                            2. Ended up at Didier. While the food was good, (duck confit was excellent) the service wasn't; we were basically ignored after dessert, and they weren't even half full. (Maybe because we didn't spend much on drinks?) So I didn't leave much on top of the mandatory 15% tip.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Teep

                                I've been meaning to post all weekend- after seeing the original posting re: summerlicious, thought I should share. Have been doing the 'licious' since it started, and I'd say most of our experiences have been great!!! Done Canoe, Bymark, Auberge in the past- and have never been disappointed, service has always been terrific. Some smaller restaurants certainly can't handle the volumes, service slacks, and the food sucks- and therefore I'd never go back.

                                This year- went to Didier on Friday and was actually blown away- Teep- our experience was the exact opposite!! Our server was so attentive we ended up having cocktails, wine with dinner and after dinner drinks and coffee! We spent far more than the $45 pp, and were incredibly satisfied. Duck confit must be one of my most favourite meals- and I was thoroughly impressed by Didier's...it was perfectly crispy, tender, flavourful... just wonderful. We will definitely go back to check out the a la carte menu..... I don't think the service was good just because of our drink purchases- but do think we spent more on drinks because our server was so incredibly attentive- thanks Christoph!

                                Went to Jump on Monday with some colleagues- again, service was fabulous. Meal was good- not blown away- portions were huge and flavourful, our meal was not rushed (and we lingered for quite some time)- overall a great experience.

                                To Celestine this Saturday- will keep you posted, but so far I'd say this Summerlicious is 2 for 2 for me!

                                66 Wellington St. W, Toronto, ON M5K 1J3, CA

                                1. re: shariberri

                                  Interesting Shari. Was Christoph the tall slim one? we had no less than 5 people serving us though the slim one was the main server. The reason why I thought it had to do with spending on drinks is that after I finished my glass of wine and declined another, the service went downhill from that point on, i.e. just bring out the food, no "how is everything", "would you like coffee" etc.

                                  1. re: shariberri

                                    shariberri, please let us know how Celestine is. I've heard mixed reviews since Pascal left and would be very interested to get an update. I hope you enjoy!

                                    1. re: millygirl

                                      Reporting back after our dinner at Celestine.... have to say it was, as my husband described, underwhelming. Service was actually wonderful, had great cocktails, but the food was a little lack-luster. My foie gras appy was a little rediculous- some kind of whipped mousse with maybe a quarter tsp of foie gras in it, and one 2inch toast. Lobster risotto was good- but the presentation was terrible- a wide thin plate with a circle of risotto, with a few chunks of lobster- tasted good though. My companions had the salmon (good but very small portion) and the beef ribs (also very good, but small servings). All the deserts were okay.

                                      We had a good meal due to the company and ambiance (until they started playing Euro Dance music part way through the evening, and then switched back to french music?!). I think they should have tried to offer ingredients that lend themselves to a $35 meal, rather then try to use premium ingredients scantly and compromise on the taste/quantity.

                                      Can't figure out if this was due to the change in chef or summerlicious. Have had several good meals there over the past year....

                                      Hope that helps Millygirl!

                                      1. re: shariberri

                                        Thanks shariberri. Although 'underwhelming' it still sounds as though you had a much better experience then we did last w'licious. In your case, at least the food was good. Our's was more quantity, than quality. We left extremely disappointed and saddened. Honestly, I felt if he keeps serving food like that, the place won't last long. Perhaps it's improved somewhat.

                                    2. re: shariberri

                                      Jump is always great. Probably one of the more consistent restaurants in Toronto. I was there for our semi-annual 'licious lunch (i go there other times too as i work nearby). And for $20 you really can't go wrong.

                                    3. re: Teep

                                      Read some of the other posts on Didier - you'll realize it's not just you!

                                    4. We had a really wonderful time at Midi Bistro last night! They are participating with a $25 prix fixe dinner with a lot of variety - about 5 or 6 choices per course.

                                      I had their "MIDI salad," a lovely combination of flavours with prosciutto, parmesan, pine nuts and pesto. The saltiness, nuttiness, and slight bitterness balanced beautifully.
                                      My SO had an herby, rich (but not overpowering) and very satisfying pate.

                                      To follow, I had their duck confit. The meat was tasty, and a mustard sauce drizzled on the plate complemented it nicely. The duck was served with cooked veg and a small salad, and I commented to my SO that the portions were perfect for a multi-course menu (as I am often stuffed part-way through my main at Sidecar and end up staring longingly at the chocolate cake).
                                      My SO had their mushroom shepherd's pie, and found that it tasted more of carrots than of mushrooms. He really enjoyed the side salad but would try something else next time we return (and we are excited to return).

                                      To finish, I had creme brulee (I am no expert but found it tasty, creamy and nice - it had none of the problems I've had elsewhere with flaky or insubstantial top layers or runny custard) and my SO had tarte tatin (lovely with strong flavours of brandy and apple) and cinnamon ice cream, which paired well.

                                      As a side note, the table next to us raved about the salmon dish.

                                      The place was lovely, the service prompt, and we were amazed that the place wasn't full. A wonderful deal. Dinner for 2 with a beer each and a half litre of wine (after taxes) was $98. We're excited to return!

                                      Midi Bistro
                                      168 McCaul St, Toronto, ON M5T1W4, CA

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: c.cow

                                        Has anyone been to Cafe de Lac please comment. I am going this friday.

                                        1. re: gogomiser

                                          I'm also going there this Sunday, and taking my father for his birthday. Hopefully someone who has been there can post a review. If not, would you mind coming back post-meal and sharing your experience? :)

                                          1. re: team_eater

                                            OK I'll try to remeber to post Sat.

                                            1. re: gogomiser

                                              Cafe de Lac

                                              I Started out with the braised short rib poutine, very good, perfect amount of beef, cheese, gravy, fries where done perfect. The only negative was I could have eaten more. Taste my gf freese salad with lardon very good also. For my main I had the I had the rib eye medium rare with foie gras can say it was the best steak but good flavour and litte tuff and again great frits foie gras was a little grizzally didn't cut like butter. GF had the rainbow trout very well prepared crispy skin however the portion was very small, should be 3-4 times larger to be an entree, size was more like an app. Nobody at the table had the duck confit but it looked good. Dessert had the maple tart, tasted like sugar pie very good. GF had the apple crumble wouldn't recommend it, apples were not baked enough still crunchy.

                                              All in all I think it was a decent meal and the service was very good.

                                              1. re: gogomiser

                                                Thanks so much for remembering, gogomiser :) I'm excited to take my parents there tonight. I will definitely be ordering the poutine, and I'm going to try the duck confit as well. I'm glad it'll be worth the drive out there!

                                                1. re: gogomiser

                                                  So we went for dinner on Sunday.

                                                  The poutine was delicious, but you're right about the portion size - it was miniscule! It didn't help that they plated it on a dish the size of a bread plate, making it look even smaller. Speaking of small, I had the maple syrup tart for dessert. It was a bit too sweet for my liking. However, the most appalling thing about it was the size (or lack thereof). No word of a lie, that slice of pie was no bigger than my middle finger.

                                                  I know you can't expect fabulous value from Summerlicious, but the above portion sizes were a bit ridiculous for me.

                                                  For the mains, the duck confit was very flavourful, and everyone enjoyed this dish. Too bad the skin wasn't crispy, but it was still satisfying.

                                                  Not sure I would return again on a regular night. The food was decent, but it's too out of the way for me to make it a destination restaurant.

                                                  1. re: team_eater

                                                    I totally agree with your observation. The more I read about other peoples views of summerlious the more I want to avoid restaurants that have sumerlious until they go back to the regular menu.

                                            2. re: gogomiser

                                              I went for lunch and it was mediocre. I think they are trying really hard and use lots of wonderful local and artisanal ingredients. The service was friendly my grill cheese (with some meat in there too)was hohum, small mixed side salad, mesculan, nothing I couldn't make at home. Thought the bread , for the gc, should have been something exciting but it was regular white sliced! Nice wine list. They serve Tawse wines, one of my favourite Niagara wineries.
                                              The lady who runs the place very friendly. It was only lunch so.... I can't comment on dinner. It was just so dull, I am hesitant to go back.

                                          2. Went to Canoe this week.


                                            The appetizers were pretty meh. Especially the scallop ceviche, which included several slivers of scallop sashimi. It wasn't a ceviche. There was no hint of citrus or spice detectable in the slightly fishy scallop meat (ugh). The goat cheese tart was serviceable.

                                            Mains were much stronger. I had the oil poached tuna which wasn't fishy and was served atop a spring cassoulet. I liked the richness and pop of the accompaniments. And the Alberta Beef was a tenderloin wrapped in bacon. Very tasty, and done to medium rare as promised.

                                            Desserts were fine enough - I enjoyed the Nanaimo bar but ... I always enjoy nanaimo bars and this one wasn't very different from those I've tasted at home bake sales.

                                            Some stumbles on service (asked for our reservation twice, given the wrong dishes, twice, ceviche was described as being topped with 'ceviche sauce') but otherwise, service was friendly and competent, though not nearly as polished as I would expect from this calibre of restaurant.

                                            I had previously enjoyed a -licious meal or two at Canoe and was very disappointed this time around.

                                            54th Floor TD Bank Tower, 66 Wellington, Toronto, ON M5K 1H6, CA

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Yum2MyTum

                                              Just wondering if you had to dial a zillion times to get through to Canoe or is it less crazy now.

                                              1. re: Teep

                                                Just made a reservation at Canoe...single call.

                                                1. re: Teep

                                                  Was definitely not hard to get a reservation.

                                              2. did bodega on mccaul last week.

                                                upon seating we were not asked if it was for licious or the regular menu. we received both menus. we both chose the licious.

                                                appetizer: both had the goat cheese tart. it was acceptable. small portion.

                                                main: both had the seafood paella. it was good. medium size portion and flavourful. each plate had exactly 3 mussels, 1 scallop, 2 shrimp. also had chicken, a little light on the sausage, making the dish less smoky than i like it.

                                                dessert: chocolate pecan tart and strawberry shortcake. both were acceptable.

                                                added a side order of frites. they were good, plain flavour, medium crispness.

                                                markup on wine by the glass was average.

                                                service was acceptable. pleasant but not polished.

                                                patio was a very nice setting.

                                                it was friday night 6-8 pm and they were not full, so i don't think they were suffering from licious volume problems.

                                                there were a couple of additional choices on the licious menu beyond what is on the licious website and on the restaurant's licious page of its own website.

                                                according to the restaurant's website, they normally have a $30 prix fixe. that is not available during licious. it's also less than the $35 licious, but does not include a seafood paella option. although their website was updated to show the licious menu, it did not state that the regular prix fixe is off.

                                                the regular prix fixe offers a wine pairing half-pour with each course that could make things more interesting. we didn't ask but they might do that with the licious on request.

                                                considering the quality, i left feeling they should have been at the $25 price point, not $35.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. Went to Six Steps for lunch today. It was a lot more enjoyable than Jump yesterday (wrote about it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7177...).

                                                  Service was better, more friendly and more attentive although there was no description of the food.

                                                  The Tomato Salad appetizer was tiny, it had 4 slices of tomatoes with 3 little basil leaves and 2 shavings of cheese. It was tasty nontheless with a really rich balsamic reduction that paired well with tomatoes.

                                                  Chicken main was also good although I question the use of sweet potato puree in the summer, it seems a more logical side for a winter entree. It was a chicken breast with a little bone which made the chicken not too dry. It had skin which was crisp, although it could be crisper in my opinion. The sweet potato puree was plain but good. Summer leeks were great, I wish there were more of them.

                                                  Strawberry and Rhubarb crumble was mostly just fruit with a very sparse sprinkling of oats and nuts crumble. I actually liked it that way. The taste of fresh fruit wasn't overpowered by topping.

                                                  I found the whole meal to be not too big, but just the right size and I didn't feel heavy after. The menu didn't look that exciting, but the end result was very pleasing.

                                                  Six Steps
                                                  53-55 Colborne St, Toronto, ON M5E 1E3, CA

                                                  1. Quality and value for money wise - Pangea beats almost every one hands down! For $35 dinner, rather than serving you the 'ultra-dull' chicken breast or grilled salmon, Pangea offer their famous grilled calamari or expensive Spanish Sereno ham as appertizer. For entree they have rack of venison or Bison striploin!! And dessert, 'wild' blueberry tart!
                                                    Food was well executed and tasty too!

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                                        Well, we had the same thing, but at lunch. Amazing value for $20 a head. She had the calamari, the veggie main, the wild blueberry tart. I had the serrano ham, the stuffed lamb leg, and the cheese.

                                                        We could not eat dinner that night, since we were still stuffed and basking in the multitude of foods.

                                                        Hey -- value...!!!!

                                                      2. I went to Byzantium Saturday night and had a very pleasant experience for summerlicious.

                                                        Although the appetizers were just fine, the mains were defintely the highlights.

                                                        My friend and I shared all 3 services (bonus of going with someone who has the same food tastes as you..which I highly reccomend for these kind of menus)

                                                        We started off with the fried calamari, nothing extraordinary but simply good and well cooked, and most importantly, not too coated in batter, which is always my biggest criticism with calamari in restaurants. The mussels as appetizers were also very nice in a white wine, garlic and leek sauce I believe. Not huge portions but just fine as we had the mains on the way :)

                                                        We shared the ribs and lamb burger. I am always afraid of geting ribs in restaurants where it is not their speciality dish as I've had too many experiences with dry, rough, tasteless meat that is so hard to get off the bone. These ones were quite tender, and the sweet mango but spicy marinade was also a great choice and had a side of tiny crispy sweet potato fries with them.
                                                        But even better was the lamb burger. It was perfectly cooked, as in not overcooked, and tender as all, which again, is another concern with lambburgers. It was filled with a generous amount of goat chees and caramalized onions mmm...Nice portion!

                                                        i'd say check it out folks,...cuz this is perhaps the only decent restaurant in the village and it is actually quite tasty. On top of it they have a few featured wines on their menu for the event at very decent prices- around 24$. We had a very nice Italia pinot grigio/chardonnay from Italy for that price!
                                                        Summerlicious may be the chance to give this a place a try for your first visit...

                                                        499 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y2C6, CA

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: jrex

                                                          Second Byzantium. Went there last night and was overall happy. I had the poutine appitizer and it was outstanding! Small portion but fine considering you wouldn't want to get too full on something so rich. Home made chicken gravy, fresh curds and wonderful fries. Not crispy but fresh cut and long and thin. I had the arctic char with beets, roast veggies and rice. The fish was fresh but sort of water logged and not overly hot. The short ribs where great. Big portion of them and very nice and saucy and smokey. Not quite smoke house material but a tasty dish. The key lime pie was incredible. Would have liked to have had more on the plate. VERY small piece. What made the night was the accomidating and genuinely friendly service. The patio is also lovely green and cushy.

                                                        2. Tried Trappers this evening and a very good experience. Angel hair pasta was a bit too oily but tasty and the salads were nice if a bit small. Still, portion sizes of mains were very good and the desserts were wonderful. Service was quite good too. Overall, I'd probably go back after Licious is over.

                                                          1. biff summerlicious dinner - $25

                                                            great value if u pick the right dishes.
                                                            cured albacore tuna + baked salmon would be a great choice.
                                                            chicken liver pate + steak frites would be an ok choice.
                                                            desserts are all weak.
                                                            overall, it's a very satisfying and great value 'licious offering.

                                                            Biff's Bistro
                                                            4 Front St. E, Toronto, ON M5E 1B2, CA

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: derekw

                                                              I really liked their flourless chocolate torte dessert! It was so warm, smooth and rich (but not too rich). The cookies weren't anything special, and I thought that their lemon cake was nice and light.
                                                              But I agree, Biff's is a really great value. Biff's, Reds Bistro, and Tutti Matti are my top picks for best "bang for your buck" 'licious restaurants.


                                                              Tutti Matti
                                                              364 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V1R7, CA

                                                              1. re: derekw

                                                                Biff's lunch is the best value -- $15. We're going Wed. We've been to Biff's for most of the licious events at lunch over the past five years.

                                                              2. went to pure spirits in distillery last week for lunch ($20).

                                                                upon seating we were not asked if it was for licious or the regular menu. we received both menus. we chose the licious.

                                                                appetizer: clam chowder tasted good but one person said there were very few clams. salmon flatbread was good, with smoked salmon, capers, and either sour cream or creme fraiche on pita wedges. mixed green salad was average.

                                                                main: salmon was a generous filet but was cooked through, probably too well done for most. sided with a tomato bread salad that one diner called moistened croutons. chicken supreme was a plain quarter breast with little seasoning and like the salmon also a bit overcooked. not dried out, but getting there. it came with sauteed cabbage and three asparagus spears.

                                                                dessert: the dessert trio was a small brownie-like wedge, slice of opera cake, and mini tart (possibly white chocolate cream). lemon tart had a soft crust and was served with whipped cream. both were acceptable.

                                                                markup on wine by the glass was low if you chose a licious feature wine, but a bit higher if you ordered from the regular wine menu.

                                                                service was acceptable.

                                                                patio in the heart of the distillery was a very nice setting. huge umbrellas were perfect for a hot sunny day.

                                                                the licious menu is significantly less than you would pay if you ordered three courses from the regular menu. none of us did so cannot comment on relative quality or portions. there were also 3 or 4 lunch specials on a separate sheet that were $15-18 (main only).

                                                                pure spirits

                                                                pure spirits licious page

                                                                1. Went to Zucca Trattoria for -licious dinner last Friday. They only had reservations at 6pm and told me that I have to leave by 7.45 which was fine. But somehow when we got there they couldn't find my reservations at all. Still they were able to accomodate us and we had a table for two near the window.

                                                                  Zucca is a long time favourite of mine. I've been there for -licious a couple of times and many more for a regular menu. Service on Friday was very slow and a bit inconsistent. About two or three times the server came over to a table of two next to us and asked them about their meal and totally ignored us. My bf and I joked that we weren't important enough to be asked. The wait for dessert was also ridiculously long and it took about 40 minutes to arrive, about half an hour after we finished our coffee.

                                                                  The food, however, was good. Their menu was different from what's listed on the summerlicious site. My bf had greens in flatbread which he enjoyed. I had a salmon appetizer with fish "cooked" in citrus juices, it was very flavourful and fresh.

                                                                  For the main, I had hanger steak with potato cake. I hoped that it'll be similar to Nota Bene's hangar steak but it wasn't. It was quite chewy and not too flavourful, but not bad at all. The potato and prosciutto cake was basically mashed potato with prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes. It was really good but very salty. I salt my food quite liberally and it was too salty for me, whereas my bf uses very little salt and a bite of the cake was an overkill for him. The other entree was a salmon wrapped in zucchini, can't really say much about it. It tasted good, but nothing special, however I really liked the farroto.

                                                                  For dessert he had pastry with ricotta, I only tried a tiny bite as I do not eat honey. I had panna cotta which was very creamy and luscious. Tasted a little bit like warm ice cream.

                                                                  All and all it was a tasty dinner, but not their best -liscious menu and service.

                                                                  1. Had a nice -licious lunch at Eight Wine Bar & Restaurant located in Metropolitan hotel. The decor of the place was beautiful with lovely and modern red accents, interesting ceiling and ambient light. Service was ok, not too attentive but not slow.

                                                                    I had a Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Mousse Stuffed Vine-Ripened Tomato which was a really big tomato stuffed with a lot of mousse. The mouse was really great, I didn't taste the caramelized onions but the goat cheese flavour was well pronounced. I am not sure about the combination of raw tomato and this mousse though. Perhaps, the mousse would be better on crisp chips or rye bread or even baked potato. Still, the appetizer was really good and light.

                                                                    My dining companion had Crab and Pea Risotto with Poached Egg served with Hollandaise and Crispy Bacon. I am not an expert on risottos. It was good, but it wasn't too risotto-like. Still, very enjoyable and a very big portion for an appetizer. I would have been perfectly happy with my tomato and half of my friend's risotto for a big and satisfying lunch.

                                                                    For my main I had Pan-Seared Lake Trout served with Vegetable Cous-Cous, Peach Butter Sauce. The fish was quite tasty with nice crispy skin. Couscous was Israeli couscous and it was a bit too soft for my liking, I would prefer it more al dente. The sauce was a little strange, it was sweet but not too peachy and I think mayo or cream based (not sure about it though). All in all nice and light main course, it reminded me of a similar entree I had at Oliver and Bonacini Cafe for winterlicious a couple of years ago.

                                                                    My friend had Wild Mushroom Pasta with Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes and Field Pea Neige, at that point she was full on risotto and bread (bread was served warm with soft butter balls and we couldn't resist having a couple of pieces each), so she only tried a little bit and took the rest home. I tried one noodle, it was good, can't really say much about it.

                                                                    For dessert I had Sorbet with Fresh Berries which was disappointing. It was a very small scoop of very sour citrus sorbet with a few mixed berries - raspberries, bluberries, blackberries - no sauce, no mint, no anything. My friend had Pineapple and Banana Strudel served with Warm Chocolate Sauce and Lemon Frozen Yogurt, which was ok, but nothing special.

                                                                    In the end I actually enjoyed this lunch a lot, my choices were tasty and light and I didn't feel stuffed after.

                                                                    Eight Wine Bar
                                                                    8 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1E1, CA

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Julia_K

                                                                      Nice review JK... sorry to be know-it-all-ish, but note that Eight is in the Cosmopolitan Hotel not the Metropolitan (home of Lai Wah Heen).

                                                                      Lai Wah Heen
                                                                      108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                                                                      1. re: Rabbit

                                                                        Saw a tweet on twitter that there were spaces available at canoe. (last week).
                                                                        Picked up the phone and dialed and got through without a busy signal.
                                                                        Almost fainted.
                                                                        Managed to get a reservation for 215 for lunch. Not idea but i will take it as I have never ever been there. Will report back.

                                                                        1. re: Rabbit

                                                                          My bad... Thank you for the correction.

                                                                      2. Went to lunch at Senses ($25) and found it very enjoyable.
                                                                        Pan-roasted free range chicken breast (1 whole pc.) with salad - very moist meat.
                                                                        Charred Kobe flank steak & chilled soba noodle salad - medium rare for the steak with the just right char.
                                                                        Roasted New Zealand lamb chops - 2 pcs of 1.5", medium rare, tender meat.
                                                                        Pan-seared bacon wrapped monkfish medallions, Vodka shiitake mushroom tomato sauce - the bacon and tomato sauce really made the usual dull monkfish a lot more enjoyable.
                                                                        Peach tart w/ vanilla ice cream - the tart shell was the hard cookie dough, still quite nice.
                                                                        Cherry creme brulee w/ flambeed cherried - like it a lot.
                                                                        Both appetizers were exceptionally large portion with good protein. Service was quite good. Easy to book online too.

                                                                        1. Biff's - $15 a head, lunch, great value: salmon tartare, tomato-spinach tart, pork loin, baked salmon, flourless chocolate pie, lemon cake. Total: $40 (for two, incl. tax, tip).
                                                                          It was also slammed, so it was crowded. But we had an 11:30 reserv and were alone for 20 minutes -- that helped...

                                                                          1. Thought I was done, but another event came up and I thought- lets try another 'licious dinner....
                                                                            Ended up at Frank at AGO. Have wanted to go here for a bit, but never heard anything too much about it, so never got there.
                                                                            Have to say I was really pleased! The portions were huge! It was a $35 menu, and everyone in my group of 6 was very satisfied. I was running late- called, and they didn't give me any grief. The restaurant was pretty busy through our meal, and even though we lingered for almost 3 hours- they didn't really kick us out :) Server did bring us the bill before we asked for it- but then didn't seem to care that we sat there.
                                                                            The wine was pretty pricy though- Had a glass of 06 Cab Franc from CaveSprings for $16 for 5oz.... seems a bit much- but I enjoyed it.

                                                                            For dinner I had the goat cheese in pastry on a bed of delicious greens. Had calf liver with mashed potatoes and onions for main. Was very good. The liver portion was so much I actually left some on my plate. My only complaint was that there was a hunk of onion on the plate that wasn't really dong much for me (I get the liver and onions thing)- it was kind of caramelized but not quite. Potatoes were good, and the CabFranc reduction was yummy.

                                                                            For dessert had a strawberry shortcake on a massive biscuit.... was delicious.

                                                                            All in all, I'd have to say I'm 4 for 4 this summerlicious- hope the rest of you lucked out too!

                                                                            1. Ok, I think this is my last -licious meal, 4 lunches and 1 dinner is enough. In my defence I missed last few -licious events. Today I went to Far Niente for lunch. I called to make reservations yesterday and they were booked but the girl adviced to show up early (11.45-11.50) and we'd be seated anyway. Service was quite quick, I think it was the fasted out of all other lunches, we were in and out in just a little bit over an hour whereas in other places it took at least an hour and a half. The portions were also really big, however the actual food wasn't anything special.

                                                                              My dining companion and I both had Panko Crusted Shrimp and Haddock Croquette with Corn, Tomato and Green Onion Salsa, Chili Caper Mayo for appetizer. The portion was quite generous with two big croquettes. Shrimp was left whole and it was surrounded by rather liquidy haddock "batter". It was quite plain with no real taste. I think it would be better with a squirt of lemon juice. The chili caper mayo lacked the heat but was nice. After eating two croquettes I felt really full already.

                                                                              For my main I had Pan Roasted Wild Pacific Halibut with Udon Noodle and Sesame Seed Cake, Snow Pea Vine, Chili Orange Dressing. Halibut was nicely cooked - light and flaky. The noodle cake wasn't good at all, I left most of it on the plate. It was mushy inside and not crunchy enough on the outside. Also if there was Chili Orange Dressing on the plate then I didn't taste it at all.

                                                                              My friend had Grilled Top Sirloin Steak with Fontina Cheese and Truffled Sour Cream Baked Potato, Red Wine Jus. It was a nice piece of steak cooked medium rare (although he wasn't asked how to cook it). I tried a piece and it tasted ok, not the best steak, but better than hanger steak at Zucca that I had last friday, although I guess one cannot really compare sirloin and hanger cuts.

                                                                              For dessert I had Chocolate Espresso Ganache Tart with Chantilly Cream. The tart was good, nice crust and rich filling. I tried the cream but it was just too much with the tart, so I left it. I think it would be better with some candied orange or even just orange zest on top as the tart together with the cream was an overkill.

                                                                              All in all, I would say that in terms of service and portion size it was the best value out of all 5 -licious restaurants that I visited this time, but in terms of taste probably the worst - too plain, too uninspiring. Still, it's a nice change from my regular salads or sushi.

                                                                              Far Niente
                                                                              187 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5L 1G5, CA

                                                                              299 James St N, Hamilton, ON L8R2L4, CA

                                                                              1. I too have done 'licious installments since the beginning, but a couple of bad experiences in 2007 turned me off till now. Perhaps the recession helped encourage the restos to try a bit harder, and treat us a bit nicer.

                                                                                I went to Mildred's Temple Kitchen on a Monday night with two other friends. My starter was a Panzanella salad. Tomatoes were fresh, fried bread cubes were fatty and crunchy, yet the dish was rather boring and underseasoned. I'd made more interesting tomato salads at home that week.

                                                                                My main was the trout with cauliflower curry. The trout was so fresh, and panfried to perfection, crispy skin, moist flesh. The cauliflower curry was perfect. Again the florets were caramelized and brown on the exterior and firm and al dente in the middle. The curry wasn't overly greasy or salty (which is my pet-peeve with restaurant Indian food), and so it digested well, and I didn't regret my choice later on.

                                                                                Desert was perfect, a lemon curd/meringue/berry concoction. It was the perfect tart/sweet/creamy/refreshing treat to follow a spicy meal on a hot summer night.

                                                                                Not so sure about their take on a caesar? They rimmed the glass with cumin?? No celery salt and packed in way too much celery in the glass. To me, it wasn't really a caesar without the celery salt, and the excessive shaved celery in the glass made it seem more like a gazpacho.

                                                                                Aside from the boring starter and bizarre bevy...I'd say twas a great meal, with an excellent main and dessert. I've thought about it often and felt compelled to provide a positive 'licious review.

                                                                                Mildred's Temple Kitchen
                                                                                85 Hanna Avenue, Toronto, ON M6K 3S3, CA