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Winterlicious LOVE only - Where are the MUST eats?

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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.

            -----
            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: ace123

                  Thanks for the heads-up!

                2. 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.

                    -----
                    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.

                        -----
                        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.

                    -----
                    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.

              -----
              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.

                -----
                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

                    -----
                    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.

                      -----
                      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

                        -----
                        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?

                    2. We've done many Winterlicious and Summerlicious meals over the past 5 years but now the only one we go for is North 44 - delicious food and excellent service that does not make you feel like a second class citizen for coming during Winterlicious.

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

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: conmac

                        Can you get winterlicious menus sitting at the bar?

                      2. Hi all, just thought I'd do a summary post of all the restaurants listed in this thread to make it easier for people checking in before Winterlicious starts.

                        All the restaurants in the thread are listed here with a quick summary of the comments. I've also tried to pin all of them too.

                        Keep the suggestions coming - we'll try to update the list as we go. Also, if you visit one of the restaurants for Winterlicious, please post your review here!

                        Arcadian Court - good Christmas brunch experience, so going to try it again for Winterlicious.

                        Auberge du Pommier - several positive reviews for Winterlicious and general CH board love.

                        Biff's Bistro - good reviews by most, including past Winterlicious experiences, though OP had a bad service experience (though good food).

                        Bymark - good past experience and considered an excellent value over regular prices for Winterlicious.

                        Canoe - loved by many and though reservations are tough to find, canadianbeaver mentioned that they were able to get a reservation a few days ago (Jan. 19). Could be that they are opening up more spots or that people who made reservations early are now cancelling. Worth a try to get a reservation if you haven't been.

                        Celestin - interesting menu and shown some non-Winterlicious love on CH boards.

                        Globe Bistro - interesting menu and shown some regular menu love on CH boards.

                        Jump - another O&B recommended, but most are opting to try other O&B restaurants first.

                        Mildred's Temple Kitchen - a little difficult to find the entrance, but Winterlicious food & service was very good.

                        North 44 - universally loved with gushing reviews for Winterlicious.

                        Oliver & Bonacini - recommended by several, but since it's so common, many thought that it should be saved for post-Winterlicious to visit.

                        Senses - menu looks delicious, good reviews on past Winterlicious and Summerlicious experiences.

                        Victoria's at the King Edward - good past experience at King Eddy by one member, so going to try Victoria's for Winterlicious.

                        -----
                        Globe
                        124 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K1N1, CA

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

                        Jump
                        18 Wellington St. West, Toronto, ON M5L 1G4, CA

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

                        Auberge Du Pommier
                        4150 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M2P 2C6, CA

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

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

                        Senses
                        328 Wellington Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 3T4, CA

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

                        Oliver & Bonacini
                        2901 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M2K 1E6, CA

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

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

                        Victoria's Restaurant @ Le Meridien King Edward Hotel
                        37 King Street East, Toronto, ON M5C 1E9, CA

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Tony Calgary

                          With Winterlicious starting on Friday, if you visit a great restaurant, please post a quick (or a not so quick) review here so that we can share where the best Winterlicious experiences are with each other.

                          Thanks in advance everyone!

                          1. re: Tony Calgary

                            Could you point us to the recent CH "love" for Celestin? Any post I've seen laments the serious downturn it took two or three years ago when the original owner and chef sold the place and returned to France.

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

                          2. Had the Winterlicious lunch yesterday at Auberge du Pommier. Food was great, service was professional, and wine pairings at $20 for all 3 courses (including ice wine or port with dessert) were a steal. It would be very difficult to beat this value for money proposition if you want "fine dining".

                            1. Had good meals at Panagea, Canoe, and North 44 before. I would also vouch for Mildred's but not the space itself.haha. too industrial feeling.
                              We just came from a Winterlicious meal at Quince. If it is on your maybe list, I would not recommend it. It was quite a letdown. The food was not very flavourful and the portions were inconsistent.. but I won't divulge anymore because I know this is the 'love Winterlicious' thread.

                              http://theavidbaker.wordpress.com

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

                              1. Wintelicious experience at La Maquette
                                111 King Street East
                                Toronto, ON M5C 1G6
                                (416) 366-8191
                                Last night (Friday Jan 29 7:30 reservation session).
                                I was initially really peeved that my dinner companion told me he confirmed we could order from the "non-lish" menu but sheepishly admitted to forgetting to do so once the Winterlicious menus were placed on our table. (I avoid Lish any season as I don't like crowded dining)

                                Given that the babysitter was paid for already, I agree to stay, and as it turns out, it was better than the seafood dinner at Colborne Lane dinner i had a few weeks ago and for the price difference, shockingly tastier ( I know CL offers molecular gastronomy but that night at a table for 8, at least 4 of 8 wished we spent the same money elsewhere)
                                Anyhow, back to Maquette:
                                I orderd the roasted butternut squash soup, lobster tail and grilled shrimp on blackbean rice and veg, it was all nicely prepared and presented but oddly some weird veg twiggy fibers were in my soup which was otherwise flavourful..
                                My dinner partner had the prime rib entree with arugula salad app, he really liked both.
                                We each had the chocolate truffle dessert, I found it too sweet and uninventive but the creme anglais they poured around it was really lovely. I would have been very happy with 1/3 of the cake and 4 times more creme anglais....
                                Overall quite satisfying, service just a touch slow but acceptable for such a packed night and had a very talented guitarist playing all evening. Busy but not frantic.

                                Lucky we got early evening reservations I think.

                                -----
                                Colborne Lane
                                45 Colborne Street, Toronto, ON M5E 1P8, CA

                                La Maquette
                                111 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C1G6, CA

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Idas

                                  Visited Globe Bistro on Friday, where we ordered the Elk Broth & Salumi plate for appetizers, Roasted Wellington Country Rib & Braised Rabbit for mains and had the Walnut Butter Tart, Espresso Chocolate Mousse Cake and a taste of the Goat's Milk Panna Cotta.

                                  The most outstanding things on the menu were the Salumi plate & the Braised Rabbit.

                                  Overall the food was solid and the service was good. If you're curious about visiting them for Winterlicious, I'd give them a definite yes, but while two items were very good, I wouldn't put them in the "must visit"category. I'll try to post a more complete review (cribbed from my wife's blog) later this week, but I wanted to at least put something up for those curious about the Globe Bistro.

                                  -----
                                  Globe
                                  124 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K1N1, CA

                                  1. re: Idas

                                    Also went to La Maquette tonight. Seems like they change up their soup and one dessert option every day .. tonight's was a corn/mushroom chowder (in which we mistook that it was a corn chowder OR a cream of mushroom soup), and the dessert was a strawberry shortcake (as opposed to the caramel cake).

                                    All in all, a very good meal. The portions were just right. Service was attentive, but not overwhelmingly in your face... Soup was nice and hearty. It had big chunks of veggies in it. My prime rib was pink in the centre, like a medium. The sauce that it came with was nice, and it covered the veggies (a broccoli, bok choy, some root veggies), as well as the scoop of mashed potatoes. Again, the prime rib was a good size.. I felt just satisfied and just enough room for dessert afterwards. The veal medallions did not come with mashed potatoes, but instead with just veggies. I liked how tender the veal was, and it was comparable with the prime rib. The lobster option, I wouldn't choose.. It was overcooked (read tough), as was the shrimp. It just did not seem like a lot of food. The strawberry shortcake was great - not as decadent as the choco cake, and it ended the meal nicely with some fresh strawberries as well. My friend couldnt finish the choco truffle cake.. it was very rich.

                                    I was impressed with the food.. I've never had good experiences in French restaurants, this one was an exception. The room was nice, and there was live music as well. Would go back if in the area ...

                                    -----
                                    La Maquette
                                    111 King St E, Toronto, ON M5C1G6, CA

                                  2. Had lunch at Canoe today. As expected the place was very busy and we were only seated at 2pm for our 1:45 reservation.

                                    Apps: Salad with candied walnuts and apple -
                                    I found the apples too sweet and mushy (they were stewed in caramel syrup) but the greens were very fresh.
                                    Liver Parfait -
                                    Very smooth and rich. Thankfully there was still bread in the basket (a potato and a wheat bread with bean dip were complimentary) because the two small batons on Ace bread were not enough in quantity or that interesting in taste.
                                    Mains - Vanilla braised Rabbit on soft polenta
                                    I couldn't detect any vanilla flavour but the rabbit leg was very tasty. The meat was tender and well seasoned. I enjoyed the watercress garnish as well as the delicious mushroom garnish. Dessert - Chocolate caramel tart
                                    Texturally a bit runny but a good level of sweet. Oranges pieces macerated in orange blossom water were only ok.
                                    Bread pudding with pear and creme anglais
                                    Better than the tart. The bread had some chewy edges and the pear was discernible a good fruit choice.
                                    The service was pleasant and professional overall despite at least a couple servers mentioning it was their first day back since the 5 week renovation. One thing that realy bugged me is parking came to twenty eight bucks which negated any savings.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: chocabot

                                      don't they usually validate parking? or is it just for the evening that the parking is validated?

                                      1. re: pochacco

                                        only evening weekends i believe.

                                    2. I just posted a fairly detailed review of my visit to Senses (where I visited tonight for dinner). That place left MUCH to be desired to tell you the truth.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Borbor

                                        Hey Borbor - could you link me to your review?

                                        1. re: jennjen18

                                          http://www.chow.com/restaurants/13058...

                                      2. I just had a pretty decent meal at Quince. The beef poutine was very good (though how can you really go wrong with that?) as was the gnocchi with beef brisket. Lovely, pillowy gnocchi. The braised lamb was also excellent.
                                        For dessert, the chocolate bread pudding, which was light but had enough of a chocolate taste to it. I tasted my friend's punpkin pot de creme which was also quite nice.
                                        Great value for $25, IMO, and we weren't rushed at all.

                                        1. Dinner reservations with a couple of friends at the Drake Hotel last night. I liked that they had a sophisticated but casual ambiance there. It wasn't too packed, but it was a good crowd for a Tuesday night.

                                          I started off with the winter market soup (some bean sort for the night; it changes daily). Imo it was only decent, a bit more on the salty side, but I like salt so I didn't mind. I didn't get a chance to try it, but my friend ordered the spicy salmon roll which had a nice plating to it.

                                          For mains, I had the Georgian bay catch of the day. It was trout for the night, but it was cooked well and was still moist. Also had a nice crispy layer on the top that I enjoyed. The celery root (similar to texture of mashed potato, but softer and lighter) was more on the bland side, but went well with the fish when eaten together. I thought that the bits of golden raisins were a nice touch of sweetness to the dish. My friend had the grilled skirt steak (med well) that she indulged in. I only tried the roasted brussels which I found were dry, but it might be because I'm used to eating them steamed/boiled. As for my other friend that had the baked mac n' cheese, I took a forkful, as it was creamy, soft and the cheese was still piping hot underneath the breadcrumbs.

                                          I think that dessert was my favourite of the night, as it was the apple strudel with milk n' honey ice cream. Although the strudel wasn't as warm/hot as I wished it was, it still tasted good. Loved the ice cream.

                                          Overall, the experience went pretty well. Service was friendly, knowledgeable and courteous (we got our coats checked, which actually surprised me). Food was delicious, but in the end if I was to choose between Drake or Auberge du Pommier (based on my experience with summerlicious), I'd still have to pick Auberge.

                                          -----
                                          The Drake Hotel
                                          1150 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: expresso

                                            Mmmm the photos look so yummy! Thanks for this.

                                          2. Went to Canoe yesterday for Winterlicious dinner. There were 5 of us, as one of our guests had to back out last minute. To put things into context, we are all in our mid-20s and I was the only one who had been to Canoe before (only for business lunches).

                                            We all decided to do the wine pairing menu, which was $60 (instead of $45 without wine pairings), and included 3 oz. of paired wine for appetizer and main, and then 1 oz. of a dessert wine at the end. It ended up being the perfect amount of wine for the meal.

                                            The first thing I will note is the service. I have never had such GOOD service at Canoe before, which completely surprised me, as I would have thought during Licious it would be the opposite. Our server was prompt, kind and attentive the whole time; considering our group looked like a group that would not return to Canoe on a regular basis (we were dressed a little...down), I appreciated the fact we were not treated as such.

                                            Appetizers were loved by all. I tried the squash soup from one of my companions and was not enthralled, but I really enjoyed my liver parfait. Dinner was well-paced (we had a 6:30 seating and were told it would run until 9 p.m.), with about 20 minutes or so in between courses. Our mains were also well received overall (no one had the tuna so I can't comment); the pork loin looked like a slightly more substantial plate than the lamb.

                                            Only complaints during the meal were at dessert. Both the bread pudding and the tart should have been served warm, in our opinions. The bread pudding was quite unusual, it had celery shavings on top -- wasn't sure how to interpret that. The only other complaint of the evening was that the portions were quite small, and from my previous experiences at Canoe, I know they usually serve larger portions (although hardly 'large').

                                            Overall, a good time was had and the best (and only good!) Licious experience I've ever had.

                                            1. Went for winterlicious lunch on Friday with 3 other diners. We had a 2pm reservation and were seated promptly.
                                              Service was excellent, meal was well-paced and we certainly didn't feel rushed - we sat for 2 hours. The reno and new decor are great - the view is incredible and the new renos really enhance it.
                                              Starters - Squash soup was delicious and generous portion. Pate was delicious, but presentation was a bit strange, lots of random bits strewn on the plate. Plus it only came with 2 "soldiers" of toast - luckily we still had some bread in our basket (which they refilled no problem.)
                                              Mains - Papardelle with lamb was tasty, nice size portion. Vanilla rabbit was dry all round, and to be honest, tasted like chicken. Polenta and mushrooms with it were nice, but overall, the components of the dish didn't work well together. It all just tasted like mushroom, except the rabbit, which tasted like chicken.
                                              Dessert - Bread pudding was delicious, chocolate tart was excellent - crust was like shortbread, almond cake was good and not too sweet. I had a cup of a tea for $5.75 - I resent that, even though it did come served in its own iron teapot.
                                              Wine - Good 'licious options this year, and served very nicely. Pinot Noir was especially nice.
                                              Overall, really nice experience, a little disappointed on the main course, and pleased to have better service that some other reviews suggested we would. We'll visit again for a special occasion or 'licious event.

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

                                              1. Went to a few places for Winterlicious, Chefs' House (@George Brown College), Tutti Matti and Hemispheres (@the Metropolitan hotel).

                                                Chefs' House was great! The food I chose were excellent, though after talking about it with my dining partner, he wasn't too thrilled with his. He got the beet salad, the pasta main (vegetarian) and the brownie. I chose the roasted red pepper soup, the cornish hen, and crepe suzette. The soup was very creamy and satisfying. The veggie pasta (I think it was ricotta filled with spinach) did not come with a thick creamy sauce as most others would .. so my partner left feeling hungry, not having a substantial main. The cornish hen ended up being really nice and crispy on the outside, and I shared that with my partner.. The crepe suzette was amazing. Could taste some Grand Marnier in it.. Service was good, given that they were all students... Can't expect too much! Meal was $25.

                                                Tutti Matti, as always, was amazing. I had the pork belly appetizer, which was slices of pork belly (very fatty, very yummy), with arugala, and slices of buttered toast. I stacked them up on my triangles of toast, and it was heavenly! My dining partner had the salad with figs and procuitto (i think?), and again, desired mine more... Then for mains I had the sausage tagliatelle.. the noodles were nice and thick and al dente. Just perfect. Not sure what the sausage was (whether they made it in house, whether it was pork or whatnot), but it was quite delicious. My dining partner had another sausage dish, but this was whole sausage, served in a tomato based sauce with beans... His was very hearty as well; got to mop up tomato sauces with bread! The sausage was also very tender... Dessert was not as strong as the meal though.. had the fruit tart, and I was thinking of fresh fruit in a tarte, but this was mushed up fruit and baked. My partner had a chocolate cake thing ... :) As you can see, I wasnt as impressed with dessert. Meal was $35, with tip on the bill.

                                                Hemipsheres. I dont think I'll visit there again. The place needs a facelift... :-/ It just wasnt inspiring, or intriguing enough. When I chose, i just thought to myself that Lai Wah Heen wasn't participating in Licious, so let's try Hemipsheres. Had the lobster bisque and it was very very lobstery. They must have took the heads of the lobsters because it was really rich in lobster flavour. There were morsels of lobster in the bisque as well. It was covered with a pastry puff .. which is more gimmick to me than anything. My dining companion had the panna cotta on salad. It was a baked veggie tart with cheese on salad.. nothing really interesting. For mains, I had baked sea bass with a jumbo prawn, and it was served with wild rice. I didnt touch the wild rice because I just never preferred it, but the fish was sweet, along with the jumbo prawn. There was one skinny chinese green in the steaming package, and the seafood was rested on top of a bed of fennel. My dining partner had the ribeye steak, in which I would have happily enjoyed. The steak was of good quality as it was very tender, and the sauce it was paired with was almost like a bbq sauce; it was smokey. For dessert, I had the choco brownie with beignets.. The beignets were interesting as it was savoury, with a sweet crunchy exterior. My dining partner had the apple strudel with ice cream. There was cheese (cheddar, I think) on the strudel! I didnt care too much for it, so I didnt try much.. he enjoyed it though! The meal was $35. Service was attentive.

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

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

                                                The Chefs' House
                                                215 King Street East, Toronto, ON M5A 1N1, CA

                                                1. I am sad to see that Lucien's name hasn't popped up on this list yet. Me and a few friends sampled their winterlicious menu last night and we were all thoroughly impressed.

                                                  The food was great, and it was actually indicative of their standard menu which is a great way to drum up repeat business in my mind. We all had the Ontario red deer and it was beyond delicious. The wine was reasonably priced, the tasting menu was well thought out and everything was cooked absolutely perfectly.

                                                  Outside of the great food, Lucien really shines when it comes to service. Where I know a lot of restaurants have a bit of a chip on their shoulder when it comes to winterlicious, Lucien doesn't stray from their standard operating procedure. The owner was working the floor when we arrived and he was just great. I cannot recall his name at the moment, but he is a seriously good restaraunter. He came over to talk shop a few times during our meal (our table was made up of a couple of industry folk) and he even comped us a round of port once we had finished our meal. Class act.

                                                  There is a right way and a wrong way to do Winterlicious. If you want to experience the former, visit Lucien.

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                                                  Lucien
                                                  36 Wellington St E, Toronto, ON M5E1C7, CA

                                                  1. We were extremely happy with our Winterlicious experience at Quince in the Yonge and Eglinton area. (Yonge at Manor). Food was delicious and portions were great. The service was very attentive....nothing to complain about! :) The crispy lamb was superb! As was the mushroom lasagna and the gnocchi. Dessert was delish! Wine was a bit overpriced.

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                                                    Quince
                                                    2110 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4S 2A5, CA

                                                    1. I went to Trevor's for lunch and it was really good.
                                                      I have wanted to go for years and found it lived up to expectations.
                                                      The mac and cheese was rich and cheese...with bread crumbs to add a little crunch and my friend had the soup.. oh so good.
                                                      I had the fish sticks and chips.. they were nice but not as good as my friend's chicken confit.. so tender and good.
                                                      the only down side was the creme brulee .. it was more custard like in the middle and the sugar was a little to burnt.
                                                      but the real treat was the cotton candy that came with dessert.

                                                      the only bad side is things they have no control over, when the place got packed it was really loud but with the early reservations we had at noon, it did not effect us till the end and since it is a basement , when it was busy it felt a little claustrophobic. But over all not bad.

                                                      I would love to go back since the place is pretty, the food was really good and the waitstaff is really nice.

                                                      1. I had a great meal at Red's Bistro with 5 people. I wrote a big review on another board:
                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/764207
                                                        I would definitely recommend it!

                                                        1. I had a great winterlicious dinner at Five Doors North with a party of 4. It is one of the $25 menus so I wasn't expecting much to be honest, but it definitely exceeded expectations.

                                                          The server was very friendly and always made sure our bread basket was full.

                                                          Appetizers:
                                                          Alaskan king crab cake - little bit of a kick to it, which is nice, and the portion was quite large
                                                          Crispy pork belly - perfect crispness and nice flavouring with the butternut squash
                                                          Baked goat cheese - did not try but my friends loved it

                                                          Entrees
                                                          Rack of lamb - considering the price I did not expect much, but I got five lamb chops that were very tender, cooked perfectly; the mint flavoured sweet peas were delicious and went really well with the lamb
                                                          Baby back ribs - again, for the price, you get a full rack of ribs and some beans on the side, so very filling (did not try)
                                                          Pasta of the day - my friend ordered a pasta with cream sauce, mushrooms, and carrots. Tastewise it was not particularly memorable, but the portion was huge and could definitely have fed all four of us

                                                          Dessert
                                                          Creme brulee - I love creme brulee so I'm biased, this one as good as any creme brulee
                                                          Chocolate banana bread pudding - to die for, this was so moist and the creme anglaise went really well with it
                                                          Chocolate cake - did not try but my friends gave it good reviews

                                                          On another note, I mentioned that I have an allergy to tree nuts and was informed that the kitchen is nut-free, which is very refreshing for a change.

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                                                          Five Doors North
                                                          2088 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4S2A3, CA

                                                          1. Here is the Winterlicious / Summerlicious places that I like and not care for so much:

                                                            Love:
                                                            Lucien--reconstruction of menu items were brilliant, service was near perfect. Lovely.
                                                            Mistura--intimate atmosphere, food items were perfectly executed, service was great.
                                                            Annona--located within Park Hyatt, went during a heavy snowstorm and sitting in a bay window just added to the elegance of our meals--any thing was that you had to take the elevator to the 2nd floor for restrooms.
                                                            Ciao Wine Bar: Nice presentation of all items, service was very pleasant and didn't rush you. Waiter overheard that one of our friends at the table had a birthday and he put a candle on her dessert without us asking.

                                                            Like:
                                                            Centro- all 3 courses were very pleasant, service was seamless--would go back.
                                                            Turf: service was nice, beef carpaccio was good, steak frites ( way oversalted--both the steak and the frites had so much salt that it literally coated each one)

                                                            Auberge du Pommier: Food was alright but didn't bedazzled us. Service was way over rehersed--you couldn't really enjoy your meal without a really zealous associate asking us how our meal was.

                                                            Not Good:
                                                            Corner House--food was pleasant enough but service was deplorable and reminded me of the 1st Winterlicious /Summerlicious events when the whole event was seen as an inconvienance. While we were having our mains, the associate told us that they needed to move our table back to make more room for other guests. Then while we were having dessert, we would have liked coffee or tea but instead the assocate just plopped the bill on the table without even asking us if we would like anything else.

                                                            Sassafraz: One wouldn't go here for the food--only for drinks or to people watch. On the night we went, soon after we arrived-- the waiter knocked over a carafe of wine on the woman sitting next to us. Pork Loin came naked with no sauce, 1 baby boy chok with plain rice--it was flavourless. Strawberry shortcake was tough and hard--no moisture whatsoever. The 2 waiters collided and one table's worth of dishes crushed on the floor. Eventful evening and not for the right reasons.

                                                            Toula: View was gorgeous, service was very pleasant but the food was past horrible. Ceasar salad appeared to be unwashed --how would I know? There was still dirt on stems of one of the leaves with a dried up insect on the leaf. Crostini was hard as a piece of slate. Shrimp with pasta---pasta was way overcooked, shrimp had no flavour. If it wasn't for the view....hmmm?

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                                                            Sassafraz
                                                            100 Cumberland St, Toronto, ON M5R1A6, CA

                                                            Centro
                                                            2472 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4P 2F5, CA

                                                            Park Hyatt
                                                            Toronto, ON, Toronto, ON , CA

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

                                                            Ciao Wine Bar
                                                            133 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 1C4, CA

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: fooddiva7

                                                              I've noticed that with the licious events - whenever we get our dessert, we were never asked whether we want coffee/tea... we'd have to ask for it. Seems like they rush us out... Anyone else have this experience?

                                                              1. re: jennjen18

                                                                Went to four licious lunch venues this round. We were asked about coffee/tea at each and only felt some rush (and it was very gentle) at Biff's.

                                                                1. re: jennjen18

                                                                  The only restaurant during any of the licious events that we were never asked for coffee/tea and literally rushed us out the door was "The Corner House" .

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                                                                  Corner House
                                                                  501 Davenport Avenue, Toronto, ON M3R 4R6, CA

                                                              2. I had a pretty decent experience at Biff's Bistro on Tuesday night.

                                                                I started with the Rabbit Rilletes, then went on to the braised pork belly and then had the almond cake (but ended up switching with my friends chocolate bread pudding).

                                                                Service was good, the app and mains were good (my friend had the Steak frites) but the desserts were a let down.

                                                                It was VERY busy for a Tuesday night and some fairly large groups (including one larger table of older ladies who were a bit too loud).

                                                                Having said that, I would probably return for a normal meal if I was in the area and looking for somewhere to eat.

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

                                                                1. I always have a good experience at the Corner House. Delicious every time!

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                                                                  Corner House
                                                                  501 Davenport Avenue, Toronto, ON M3R 4R6, CA

                                                                  1. Just home from Canoe, in a word...Fabulous! This restaurant does everything very well. Food, drinks & service. My husband loved his chicken & goose liver parfait, my baked goat cheese with beluga lentil was good as well. Our mains were albacore tuna with spiced root vegetable ragout & coconut couscous and roasted Alberta lamb with yellow split peas, swiss chard & garlic confit. Sooooooooo good! We finished our meal with the chocolate caramel tart with peanut butter ice cream and coffee. Service was spot on, attentive without being intrusive...a fine balance! Kudos to Canoe!