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Winterlicious LOVE only - Where are the MUST eats?

So lots of chatter on the boards for Winterlicious already - so instead of hashing out a particular restaurant -- I wanted to know if there are any MUST visits for Winterlicious?

That is - restaurants that serve great food AND offer a good value & great tasting menu for Winterlicious.

Please limit your comments to places where you've actually had a past Summerlicious or Winterlicious meal in the last two years.

Thanks!

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  1. I've done quite a bit of research and have narrowed my choices to 4 or 5. One of these was Canoe which has announced on the first day of accepting general reservations that they are now completely booked for Winterlicious. I've also booked Senses based on comments here on CH.

    16 Replies
    1. re: T Long

      Would love to hear what your other choices were & why!

      I've heard so-so things about Canoe, so I look forward to what you think if you are able to grab a reservation last-minute.

      I've been to Senses for Winterlicious/Summerlicious in the past and it was very good and the menu this year looks excellent, so I think you'll be good there.

      1. re: Tony Calgary

        I would look at the other O&B restaurants. I really find that they are some of the few places that consistently take these events seriously. I would check out Biff's and Auberge du Pommier.

        1. re: TorontoJo

          Ok, I think Auberge has reached critical mass. Called and booked a reservation there!

          Haven't been to too many of the O&B restaurants for and Licious events before as we've been before and want to explore, but I think that's a good point for WInterlicious newbies.

          I've been to Biff's for non-WInterlicious times -- food was good, but our service was just terrible. Haven't been back since, though it's true that CH has given it some good reviews.

          Where are you planning to go TorontoJo?

          1. re: Tony Calgary

            I'm surprised to hear about your bad service at Biff's. That's a bummer, because part of the appeal of the O&B restaurants for me is that I think they have some of the most consistently trained servers in the industry (heck, the fact that they are trained at all seems a miracle to me in this city).

            No Winterlicious for. You asked for love only on this thread, so I'll leave it at that. :)

            But my best experiences in the past have been at Biff's, Auberge and Oliver and Bonacini. They seem to manage to have menus that don't make you feel like you're choosing chicken or salmon at a wedding dinner (which has been my experience at many other restaurants for 'licious events).

        2. re: Tony Calgary

          I've secured reservations at Victoria's in the King Eddy and Biff's Bistro. Biff's has had some good comments here on CH and I'm hopeful about Victoria's....we will see! Separately, I'm part of a group that will have a Winterlicious lunch at the Arcadian Court.

          1. re: T Long

            Look forward to your report on Biff's - as I mentioned above, we had a terrible service experience that put us off the decent food we had. Hopefully your experience will be better.

            Curious to why you chose Victoria's and Arcadian Court - I don't remember anything about their menus when I was scanning the menus quickly.

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            Arcadian Court
            401 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H, CA

            1. re: Tony Calgary

              I've had limited but good experiences at the King Eddy in general, so we are hoping this will translate well at Victoria's. For us, many standard menu items can be enjoyable if well-executed....that's our hope here. I like the location, so this is also a scout trip for future outings. As far as the Arcadian Court goes, that was a group decision based on location convenience as much as anything else...and the price is right. Our group was there for an enjoyable Christmas luncheon...most people opted for the buffet. Personally, I didn't like the buffet too much...next time (non-licious), I would opt for their a la carte chicken pot pie.

              1. re: T Long

                I remember being charged $6 for a coffee at King Eddy during a 'licious lunch. Not sure if it's a mistake. Just be aware.

                1. re: T Long

                  So far, we've had lunches at Victoria's and Senses. Both were enjoyable, but I think the Senses offering may not be as good as in previous years. For example, the advertised kobe flank steak appetizer turned out to be something called a small sirloin and the portion was a lot smaller than last year's kobe appetizer based on some pictures posted on CH. All in all, the Senses menu is more interesting than Victoria's, but both places used fresh, high quality ingredients and we were satisfied with our meals at both locations. However, Victoria's room is much superior to Senses and we thought Victoria's service was also better. In summary, I would give a thumbs up to both restaurants.

                  1. re: T Long

                    Had a Winterlicious lunch today at the Arcadian Court. Going into the first 3 places on my list, I was expecting the best to be Senses, I was hopeful for Victoria's and not expecting too much from the Arcadian Court. I now rate their Winterlicious lunch experiences (costs aside) from best to least as Arcadian Court, Victoria's and then Senses. I was pleasantly surprised by the Arcadian Court. My salad was fresh and large, my salmon main was surrounded by plenty of quality veggies and the dessert (Strawberry Croquembouche) was so much better than desserts at Victoria's and Senses. While not disappointed with any of the 3, the only one that I would definitely do a return 'licious visit in the future would be the Arcadian Court. (Although an afternoon tea at Victoria's looks appealing too). Again, I would not have expected this. Next on my list is Biff's.

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                    Arcadian Court
                    401 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H, CA

                    1. re: T Long

                      Just a short note on my lunch at Biff's. I would rate it slightly below Victoria's but ahead of Senses. The meal was only decent and service was average. Ambiance was fair. So of my 4 Winterliciious lunch experiences this year, Arcadian Court was a clear winner, followed by Victoria's, then Biff's, and lastly Senses. I'm going to do a repeat at Arcadian tomorrow. Overall a big thumbs up to the Winterlicious program.

                      1. re: T Long

                        I tried lunch at Arcadian Court thanks to your review. It's close to my office and I had never been there, so that alone made it worthwhile. The lunch itself was decent and certainly good value. But combined with the grand hall atmosphere, I overall had this feeling like I was at a wedding - decent food, but prepared en masse. The salmon for example was perfectly poached, with the sauce on top. It did not have any nice browning or glazed effect like something prepared to order hopefully would. But it was a perfect dish to prep & hold and well done for what it was.
                        The desserts were generous and presented very nicely, I was just hoping for hard caramel crunch on my croquembouche and that I did not get. But again, overall good value and a fun workday lunch.

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                        Arcadian Court
                        401 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H, CA

                        1. re: julesrules

                          I actually did a return visit to the Arcadian Court last Monday and thought it was a bit below my earlier visit. It still tops my 2011 Winterlicious experience, but perhaps in a tie with Victoria's. Btw, did you catch the news regarding the space and pending partnerships with O&B.

                  2. re: Tony Calgary

                    To be honest King Eddy's summerlicious/winterlicious lunch is pretty forgettable. Jump is much better for the same money.

                    I'd fear the worst for Arcadian Court.

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                    Arcadian Court
                    401 Bay St, Toronto, ON M5H, CA

                    1. re: climacus

                      Thanks for your thoughts. For some variety, I didn't want to sample only O&B places. Missing out on Canoe, I booked Biff's... so Jump can wait for another time.

            2. I would recommend saving a visit to Biff's, or any other restaurant which offers a prix fixe year round, for some other time of the year. Try some lunches which can be less busy. My surprise last year, which I've mentioned before, was Bymark. The food was very good, not good enough to justify the prices they normally charge but definitely good value for 'licious.

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: dubchild

                Definitely a good strategy and while I think it's still worth it the rest of the time, North 44 is a bargain at Licious prices!

                I look forward to any Bymark reviews for Winterlicious as I'm always curious, but can never find the menu compelling enough.

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                North 44
                2537 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4P 2H9, CA

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

              2. I managed to get reservations at Canoe on the first day of AMex reservations. Not surprised that they were sold out by the time general reservations opened. Took me 5 minutes of re-dialing to get through and another 10 minutes on hold.

                For Summerlicious we went to Mildred's temple and had a great time. The food was great and the service was friendly and professional (not always the case during 'licious).

                2 Replies
                1. re: Sooeygun

                  AMEX reservations are definitely the way to go for the high demand places for sure! Look forward to hearing about your Canoe Winterlicious experience!

                  We've been to Mildred's in the past and other than it's a bit tricky to find the entrance, food was good. Haven't been back since though since it's a little far from the core. What caught your eye on the menu? Don't remember what they were offering offhand.

                  1. re: Tony Calgary

                    Agree about the entrance. Especially when you are coming from the parking garage. Honestly, I can't remember all the details of the menu, other than it was very tasty. I recall having lobster bisque for appetizer and from looking at the winterlicious menu, I think I had profiteroles for dessert. Pork for main course and it was so tender and perfectly pink.

                    and unlike our experience several years ago at Acqua, the staff were very friendly to all the 'licious diners

                2. Bymark always does a great lunch and North 44 always does a great dinner. Have reservations at both.

                  Biff's is a great deal and has always done Winterlicious well.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: MeMeMe

                    After digging through all the posts here on Chowhound & on some of the associated blogs, we finally decided on Globe Bistro & Celestin to go with our reservation at Auberge du Pommier.

                    I'm sure my wife will have fun blogging all about it too! :p

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                    Celestin
                    623 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto, ON M4S 2M9, CA

                    1. re: Tony Calgary

                      Had a 7:30 reservation at Toula last night -- there were 4 of us. Had a beautiful table with a wonderful view of the CN Tower. The restaurant did not get busy until about 9:30 p.m. and then it was crazy! But, luckily, we were almost done by then. I had the lobster tail appetizer, the cornish hen main course and the cheesecake dessert. I was disappointed in the dessert. I also had a B52 coffee, which was delicious. My husband had the salad, the lobster pasta and the apple studel with chocolate sauce and he enjoyed. The other couple were also happy with their food, smoked salmon appetizers, one had beef, the other sea bass and the same desserts as us. All in all, I would say the service was attentive, although our waiter was odd, the food was good and the atmosphere was great. We certainly were not rushed -- in fact we had quite a wait between our appetizers and main courses, which worked for us. We sat down at 7:45 and left the restaurant at 10:15. When we left, there were hoards of people waiting for tables, some with 9:15 reservations! My recommendation would be to make an early reservation, if going to Toula.

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                      Toula
                      1 Harbour Square, Toronto, ON M5J 1A6, CA

                      1. re: farmgirl1836

                        I went to Toula as well on Tuesday night. I agree the waiter was odd..he was attentive then would disappear at other times.
                        However, each of the three people had one amazing dish.
                        My friend and I had the Insalata Tricolore Caprese ... I doubt it was a vine ripened tomatos.. it was no where near ripe but very nice
                        however my friend had the Jumbo Black Tiger Shrimp ..If they had used the aged balsamic on the caprese salad it would have made it so much better but the Tiger shrimp was the best of the aps that we had

                        for the main,
                        a friend and I had the pasta and it was m'eh...nothing special with lovely pasta but nothing to write home about...
                        however another friend had the : Handmade Fresh Butternut Squash filled Ravioli ..oh my gosh I wish I had ordered that one..so tasty

                        and dessert we each had different ones:
                        one had: Tiramisu , which with all the cocoa on the plate was far to dry ..and was not that good
                        one other had: Homemade Frsh Apple Struddle on "Callebaut Belgium" Chocolate Fondue, she said the chocolate was amazing but the struddle was bad
                        and I lucked in on the best dessert: In-House Made Crema Veneziana with Fresh Berries , just so you know what it is.. it is really creme brulee and it is hard to go with burnt sugar.

                        Our reservation was for 8:30 and we got a window seat... take the scenic elevator up if you can ..the view is great.
                        I was overall happy with Toula since I had heard bad reviews of the place for summerlicious but it was good food with an amazing view

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                        Toula
                        1 Harbour Square, Toronto, ON M5J 1A6, CA

                  2. Just wanted to add that Canoe is not in fact booked up -- we called today and booked for 6 people for 6:30 p.m. on February 2nd. So they definitely are still taking reservations.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: canadianbeaver

                      That's great news! We look forward to your report! Any other Winterlicious recommendations / reservations that you've made?