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Jul 10, 2012 04:42 PM

Summerlicious apparently blown off by Chowhounders...??

Very strange, not a peep. Summerlicious 2012 has been here since last Thursday, here it is Tuesday...No comments ...

Did I miss something?

Report One: Pangaea seems to have a winning formula. Take the Express Lunch ($40 for three courses) and put it out for Summerlicious but at $20. We went on Monday and enjoyed it immensely. Perhaps the quantity of the food was lessened (but still, three thick slices of rare lamb leg?) , but all three courses were above average. I had the cheese course for dessert. The web site has the express lunch listed...Food Rated: 3 out of 4.

Report Two: Frank at the AGO has drastically changed their Spanish-style menu, cutting the choices for each of the three courses from four to three, and changing many of the remaining dishes. The previous gluten-free dessert choice was gone, replaced by wheat flour, so there was actually NO choice for my wife. We had chosen Frank for its style and a flourless dessert. The server kindly gave her a pineapple sorbet, but she really, really wanted the almond flourless torte. A 15% (pre-tax) gratuity is automatically added. Food Rated: 2 out of 4.

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  1. As one of the longest standing chowhounder on this board, based on my observation, for the past few years, Summerlicious as well Winterlicious have never been a favourite discussion point amongst the 'die-hard and serious' foodie chowhounders!
    Negative experiences and reviews almost always exceed the positive ones! Personally, I have stopped going three years ago after a couple of disastrous meals!

    23 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Charles, i know, but usually there is always someone who chimes in on rarieties or special sightings. I'm just wondering...Great weather for lunches...

      1. re: Dean Tudor

        any of the Summerlicious events I have attended tended to be rushed, skimpy, with snotty service. Why would you want to go?
        Any restaurant that automatically adds a 15% tip is 1, totally off my list and 2: saying "we don't trust you rubes to tip appropriately". We rubes are tired of being treating badly and being expected to tip for that opportunity.

        1. re: Dean Tudor

          Due to inconsistency of quite a few establishments, may be a large number of us are not willing to take the 'gamble'??!!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Would agree with this, always find service/food to be below the restaurant's non-summerlicious standards

          2. re: Dean Tudor

            Today we happily stumbled upon Summerlicious at The Chefs' Table and had a wonderful experience. It was quite full when we walked in, but even though we had no reservations we were graciously seated straight away.
            After a few minutes while we studied the menu, our orders were taken. A small basket of focaccia arrived to before our meal. The bread was light and soft, gently herbed with a slightly crisp crust. For starters we had the layered lettuce salad with apricot and nuts, and a trio of slices of assorted tomatoes with thinly shaved parmesan and wax beans. The grilled salmon, two generous pieces atop chunks of tomato, cucumber, olives and feta, was delicious. The homemade spaghetti smothered in delightfully creamy mint pesto and parmesan was overflowing with fresh peas and corn. It was outstanding. Our dessert choices included a scoop of ice cream surrounded by fresh fruit in a sauce that tasted like zabaglione, and semi freddo with wild blueberry sauce accompanied by a shortbread cookie. So good.
            Service was attentive, efficient and very sweet. The water glasses were kept full and during each course someone came by to check that we were enjoying our food.
            We had never been to The Chefs' Table before but were always intrigued by its concept as part of George Brown's hands-on training. And while Summerlicious is a very busy and stressful event, these students made us feel welcome, well cared for and very well fed.
            I highly recommend it.

            1. re: b.craftie

              Thanks for your review...we've made our reservations and are looking forward to it. For others, the place is listed in the 'licious directory under "T" for The Chefs' House, George Brown College:

              1. re: b.craftie

                Oops, sorry. Of course I meant:

                The Chefs' House

                Lunch was $15 for 3 courses. Well worth it.

            2. re: Charles Yu

              Personally, I've found 'licious to an excellent city initiative and one that we've generally enjoyed and will continue to support. But as CY has indicated, talking about it here for whatever reason has not been so enjoyable. For this Summerlicious, we've already been to Canoe and have booked reservations at Starfish and George Brown. These are all places that we've known from previous licious AND non-licious times.

              1. re: T Long

                How was Canoe? I have reservations for Sunday dinner and would love to hear some feedback.

                1. re: ottawaoperadiva

                  We were there for lunch. Overall, it was fine. We had the great view of the lake (weather cooperated), the service was appropriate and friendly, and I enjoyed my beef rib main. The dessert was a bit tiny (cherry clafoutis) but that's nitpicking. And the price was right! As an aside, we noted that many of the other tables were ordering from the regular menu, so they were not there for Summerlicious. We could not see any differences in service or presentation between licious and non-licious. Of course, I have no idea of their bills, but guessing they would have paid more. The only downside of a 'licious meal at Canoe is the telephone lottery of making a reservation (took one of us spending 2 hours waiting and redialing to get through...even with the American Express card). That wasn't me, so the whole experience was enjoyable and one that I would repeat given the opportunity. Hope that helps.

                  1. re: T Long

                    Sounds like you had a lovely lunch! I noticed at Biff's last year there were equal amount of diners ordering from the regular menu as there were diners ordering from the licious menu. I called Canoe for a reservation last Monday and was lucky enough to get a reservation easily enough for dinner on Sunday night. Now to start saving my apetite!

                2. re: T Long

                  I have always enjoyed it as well, but I suspect that I don't eat out as often as many people on the board. I use it as an opportunity to try restaurants I wouldn't be otherwise able to afford, or to go out for food with friends that don't usually bother. This year I've been to Parts and Labour , which we did really enjoy, although I'm not sure it would be worth it at their usual prices.. and they had 18% grat added to our bill for 2 people! We only noticed it because I read the bill carefully, and my dining companion was very confused by this, and didn't know if it was gauche not to leave extra! Going to Colbourne Lane and Boehmer next week.. again, both places I'd wanted to try.
                  I've always heard that the George Brown restaurant was really good.. will have to try it one of these days...

                  1. re: rstuart

                    If they already added a tip on the bill than I would not feel obliged to add any extra... Did it say on the summerlicious menu that they would add an automatic gratuity of 18%... If anything, that would annoy me and I would have wanted to leave less of a tip.... I can see a group setting where they charge an automatic gratuity and make it clear in advance

                    1. re: ylsf

                      The auto gratuity is annoying. The only place we went last time that had the auto gratuity was Frank at the AGO. Coincidentally, it was also the least favorite place of the 4 places we went.

                      1. re: ylsf

                        I don't think so, but I didn't check. Usually they do warn you. I didn't feel the need to leave anything else!

                        1. re: rstuart

                          Tried Bohmer on Tuesday night. The food was good, but I wasn't bowled over.. probably because the music was so loud we were all shouting to hear each other!

                          1. re: rstuart

                            Colborne Lane last night.. really fabulous. Again, somewhere that I'd always wanted to go, but was always a bit much for me...
                            The desserts in particular was wonderful. There was three of us, so we got all three desserts. However, I was reluctant to share mine (the caramelized banana + peanut butter + hazelnut + dulce de leche)..
                            A really enjoyabe experience...

                            1. re: rstuart

                              We were there last night as well, and I also had the caramelized banana dessert. I agree that it was fantastic, certainly my favorite dish of the evening.

                              I also had the "popcorn" soup, which had a nice marriage of corn (though, oddly, not popped as far as I can tell) and pork, from bacon and a chunk of pork belly. The rock hen was good, but not particularly memorable. The bread served with the meal was mediocre and paltry. The service was really disorganized and more casual than I would have expected from a restaurant at this price point.

                              Overall it was an enjoyable meal, but it left me hungry, and at $75 all in (incl. one cocktail and tip) I would not consider it a deal.

                              1. re: autopi

                                I agree with everyone above on the food. Really solid and just as good as what you'd get by eating at the restaurant on any a la carte night. Our service was excellent. However, the overall experience was lacking, which is consistent with nearly every summerlicious experience I've had. Food comes out very quickly. Servers put the food on the table without any explanation of what's on the plate or cooking techniques. And yes, the bread was a huge disappointment (4 small slivers of baguette instead of the usual bread basket).

                                Overall, it's basically works out to be a 1 hour (or less) regular experience with excellent food, instead of a longer, special experience with excellent food. If you were to go to the restaurant on any other night, you'd pay about $15 more per person to order to the same or similar dishes, but would have a much richer experience.

                                1. re: SMOG

                                  The service experience has always been wanting for me when we go at night. But this is a very rare time of day for us these years.

                                  We usually only go for lunch, where the service is brisk anyway, to get the people in and out and back to their work spaces. Also, it is a lot less expensive for the food, and just as good at capturing the essence of what the kitchen is supposed to do.

                                  As for service at lunch, I notice that waitstaff don't really care whether you order wine, coffee, tea, bottled water, or not..They do not get shirty. .Most people around me don't order anything other than the meal. At night, if you want to linger beyond an hour, order a drink and/or coffee.

                                  1. re: Dean Tudor

                                    Are you referring to Colborne Lane?

                                2. re: autopi

                                  Yes.. I was disappointed by the bread as well.. very stingy. We had good service, and both the waiter and the busboy explained the spun sugar (I think?) disc on the salad...
                                  I enjoyed myself enough to want to go back on a non 'licous night, which does not always happen..

                  2. Actually - that's not true. There are two separate threads on summerlicious 2012, one of which you actually originally posted for which someone else put their not-so-positive review.



                    1. tried to go to colborne lane this evening for summerlicious, only to find that they had a water main break in front of their restaurant and so couldn't open. ended up trying origin, around the corner. good frites, so-so thai beef salad -- beef not properly caramelized, so didn't have the char and sweetness that it should; the salad flavors were tame and muted, rather than vibrant and in strong counterpoint. no tart lime, no kick from bird chilies, no funky fish sauce -- everything just seemed really tame. on the other hand, the negroni cocktail i had was very well done -- balanced, wisp of orange peel giving it a pleasant aroma, and a single large, slowly melting ice cube.

                      DC had a beautifully composed raw tuna salad, and peking duck tacos w/sriracha, which might have been the better order. for my part, the frites and the thai beef salad were competent, but at that price point they need to be executed perfectly, and the beef, alas, was not.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: autopi

                        I also had reservations for Colborne Lane tonight. Was looking forward to it but alas it wasn't meant to be. I am really curious how the 'licious menu is ther if anyone else went or goes. We went to Origin Liberty instead since they manged to get a hold of me before I headed into downtown. They offered a $45 prix fix but I don't feel like it was worth $45. The proteins and desserts werent that great. Anyway, since it was a 'licious menu I won't go into full details.

                      2. Year after year, the number of restaurants offering ' Variation on a 'Salmon or Chicken Breast' theme' is still staggering!!
                        9 replies and 'Grilled Salmon' is already cropping up!! How boring!!

                        1. I don't consider myself a chowhound connoseieur by any means. But I don't care for summerlicious or winterlicious. I went the first few years they had it and then I though t"Hey, I'm not really getting a $80 meal for $30 bucks" (that's how it was advertised by the media) Service didn't seem really good either. I went to Canoe and Epic, Dynasty on Bloor and Hemispheres. Of all those places I think Hemispheres was the only one that was decent.

                          I can do without pretencious food and pretencious staff anytime. Then again, I also think Burger King or other fast food is good too. Guess I'm just a 'bumpkin and I know it'