Winterlicious - Corner House
Advance apologies b/c this is likely to be long. I love talking about food :)
Never been to the CH before, but heard good things from a couple friends. Reservation for 4 people @ 8pm on Friday. Only 3 of us went and were seated in about a minute, downstairs.
The CH is a bit of a zoo for Winterlicious I think - there were several near misses where people almost ran into each other. But the atmosphere is really nice - my friends and I loved how cozy it was. Upstairs was really noisy (I think that's where the larger groups sat?) but downstairs the volume was at a good level.
Pleasantly surprised to see the addition of a few items to the Winterlicious menu (beef bourginon, tropical fruit/sorbet). We all had the seafood salad appetizer: scallop, shrimp, calamari, on a bed of greens with vinaigrette, carrot, celery, and a flaky pastry on top which looked like a bread stick. Excellent, and definitely would've liked a larger portion ;) The shrimp tasted like it had been grilled, and the scallop and calamari were barely cooked so they were really tender.
Oh, and I loved the bread provided - crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, with a great red pepper hummus!
My friends both had the salmon for their entree. It smelled great, the sauce was good, but the salmon was just okay. The vegetables with it seemed pretty good - tender, yet crisp. I had the cornish hen - vegetables were underwhelming, but the hen and sauce were good. I liked how the skin was crispy and the meat came right off the bone.
I had the chocolate mousse for dessert - very good, presentation was nice. The tropical fruit sorbet was excellent!
Portions were all maybe a bit small - my friends commented on it - but everyone was full by the end of the meal. Cons: they gave my friend the wrong dessert and placed the wrong entree in front of me, drinks were slow in coming for several tables, there was a strange extra charge on our bill (which was removed promptly after we pointed it out).
CH was pretty much what I expected it to be. I chose it for Winterlicious b/c I thought it might be have a good atmosphere and service, above average in terms of food although unlikely to absolutely 'wow' me. Pretty much spot on confirmed my suspicions.
Would I return? Depends. For a nice, intimate restaurant with food which is good, yet not too 'scary' for non-adventurous eaters, spending (I'm guessing) about $50-75 on a normal night, then yes. But if you're the type to know about or head to, say, Susur, I think you'd like the CH, but foodwise, you're not likely to have your most unforgettable meal ever.
I agree with pretty much everything you've said in your review. I was at CH last year during Winterlicious and almost a mirror experience as you've described.
One exception was that we DID sit upstairs (it was quiet), and had Collin Mockery sitting at the table beside us (Whose Line Is It Anyway fame) so were pretty impressed.
I found the food to be quite delicious, but certainly not top-tier Toronto dining. But for the prices they charge, and especially during Winterlicious, it truly is a great value. The owners are the nicest people, too.
I will say though, that during my time there at Winterlicious last year, and the numerous times I've been back since, the wine service was rather lacking. They really could stand to train their staff a LOT better when it comes to wine service. I'm not certain, but I'm quite sure they don't have a proper sommelier. That might be a good investment.
Glad to hear you had a good time, though. Thanks for the review.