Summerlicious 2010: the restaurants have been announced, so let’s pick them apart
First things first: there’s not much change under the Summerlicious sun. All of the old favourites are here (including Canoe and Bymark, which always sell out first). Seven Numbers, which by Winter/Summerlicious rules is allowed only one location, has swapped out its Danforth location for its Eglinton one. Winterlicious participant Conviction is out for the summer edition as the second season of Conviction Kitchen films in Vancouver. The new owners of Crush Wine Bar are apparently not feeling the ’licious love—nor is Moroco. And while The Citizen’s digs are alive and kicking under new ownership, its vaunted replacement, Ruby Watchco, is opting out.
The city’s Summerlicious Web site has undergone a change, too. The old vegetarian option carrot icon has been replaced by a little green leaf, and the whole thing is much improved. When we’re trying to scan the list for favourites and favourites-to-be, pictures equal goodness. Happily, we can now sort by cuisine, area and price, though it does look like some restaurants are playing a little fast and loose with the “cuisine” tag. Ultra, for instance, comes in with a whopping seven cuisine types, though its Summerlicious mains are wedding-menu-basic salmon, chicken or steak (rubbing it with chili does not make it “international,” and how they’re justifying the Japanese and Indian labels is a mystery). On the flip side, poke us with Ontario-grown asparagus because Veritas didn’t make the cut for “local/market fresh” and instead ended up as “bistro.”
As for the menus, there are the predictable helpings of mixed greens and pasta primavera, though we did find some more interesting options. The returning Banu, Queen West’s Iranian kebab-vodka (and hookah) bar, is underselling its lush dinners by coming in at the $25 price point. Check out the “salad olivieh”: potato salad Iranian style, cornichons, carrots, green peas, turmeric and saffron, served with sesame barbari bread, followed by murgh chicken breast with saffron-citrus glaze and ending with rosewater ice cream.
At Westin Harbour Castle’s Toula, a 38th-floor view of the city makes it hard to regret spending $20 on lunch—particularly when the options include veal medallions pan sautéed with prosciutto and sage, and a dessert of hazelnut profiteroles. For those looking for more classic artery-clogging decadence, there’s Mistura. The mains are usually in the $30 to $52 range, so the $45 dinner prix fixe seems both justifiable and reasonable.
Why dine on duck confit somewhere expected, like Bodega, when we can wander to Lai Toh Heen, which is back this year with pan-seared foie gras and duck leg confit marinated with Chinese mandarin in pinot noir sauce.
Reliable ’licious veterans La Maquette and Noce have returned for another go. As has Jump—at $20 for lunch and $35 for dinner, it’s least pricey of the Oliver and Bonacini stable (Canoe and Auberge du Pommier are in, but Café Grill is sitting this year out)—which is offering some very tantalizing-looking options, like the big-eye tuna tartare and spicy sopressata followed by piri piri half chicken with smashed fried new potatoes, sweet roasted cipolline and garlic kale.
So bring it on, Summerlicious. Our expectations are set, our mouths are watering, and our credit cards are primed. Time to eat well and tip generously.
See Toronto Life‘s picks for the 64 best bets at Summerlicious 2010 »
11 thoughts on “Summerlicious 2010: the restaurants have been announced, so let’s pick them apart”
I know Mistura is supposed to be all the rage – but I had a disappointing meal there — the food wasn’t spiced well, some was overdone and I found it overpriced! My guest and I were very disappointed!
how about a link to the city’s summerlicious web site?
I eat at most of these restaurants regularly and the Summerlicious menu is not anything close to their regular menu choices – not the entrees, quality etc., nor is it prepared by their regular chef….don’t waste your money!
What’s with the big tip comment at the end? Was this written by a waiter?
I think, as someone who works at a high-end restaurant participating in summerlicious, that the tip comment *might* (hopefully, perhaps i’m being naive and optimistic) a recognition of the fact that in the restaurant industry we work HARD, and we work summer/winterlicious even harder. It is busier, faster, longer hours, for less money. I love ‘licious and fully support the concept. I think it is a wonderful opportunity for people to enjoy restaurants they might not normally be able to afford. But I think there can be a bit of stigma and lack of recognition of just how hard people work in the industry, just how much we DO care about providing the best possible experience for guests.
I’m sure I’m off base here, and reading far too much into the comment. Just wanted to put my perspective in – as a ‘licious worker who works HARD to help people have an amazing experience.
I think you missed out on the least expensive O&B comment: Biff’s is offering lunch at $15.
Why would you recommend Lai Toh Heen, a Cantonese / Chinese restaurant for foie gras and duck confit?
There are too many restaurants on the ovreall list that should not be here,in my humble opinion they don’t qualify as good to go on a regular day let alone for any ‘licious: Corner House, Brassaii, Edo, E’s Levesque’s Kitchen, Embrujo Flamenco,etc.
Speaking of disappointments, my friends and I are sad that CN Tower’s Horizons decided to pull out of this year’s Summerlicious ~ we were expecting to bring out-of-the-country guests “over the top” for Summerlicious lunch or dinner.
I went to Toula with friends based on Toronto Life’s recommendation. The food was atroucious. Do not go there for Summerlicious.
My girlfriends and me had terrible experience during Summerlicious lunch at Didier restaurant.
The waiter recommended us Steak Tartare. He said it was so delicious we shouldn’t miss it. We ordered, and they delivered something that looked and felt like uncooked burger with french fries and lots of mayonnaise. We asked to replace it for something we could eat, but they said they would charge us for the Steak Tartare anyway.
The overall service was very bad, but they added 15% gratitude to our bill. We paid for the food and taxes including Steak Tartare, but refused to pay for their service. Then the staff blocked the exit and didn’t let us out of the restaurant. They were extremely rude with us (three ladies). The female manager said she would call police if we don’t give them the gratitude. Then we gave them 10 dollars and left.
We were very upset, and our lunch was ruined.
Comments are closed.