Winterlicious 2014 – Canoe

The most well known restaurant of licious events is one of O&B’s top restaurants, with executive chef John Horne, and named as one of Toronto’s best restaurants. Canoe boasts delicious food with a spectacular view, sitting on the 54th floor of TD Bank Tower. It’s no wonder that this restaurant is also the most difficult to get a reservation with during these events. If you’re planning to eat here for their licious prix fixe menus, get ready to standby on your phone and call for a while before getting through to their reservation line, especially on the first few days when everyone is trying to secure their spot for the best times on weekends. Generally, this restaurant does not open on weekends as it is available for private events only, but during licious events is when they do serve on weekends for the overwhelming crowds of people who flock to taste the food for cheap at this place.

I myself have been here for lunch twice before this time, but not for dinner yet. I hear if you can secure a dinner time around sunset, the view is gorgeoussss for dining. Maybe one day I will get around to that! With my several times here, I have to say the food is a hit/miss. They are either reallyyyyy good and worth the hype (which thankfully happened this time!), or just kinda meh like you weren’t impressed for a top restaurant standard. And it seems I’m not the only one who thinks this way, since I’ve spoken to a couple of friends who have been several times whom also agrees to this. But it seems this time was a general all-round hit for lunchtime, so let’s check it out:

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Make sure to take the right set of elevators up to the 54th floor!
Entrance into the restaurant. Which actually has many tables and spans a large space all around the side of the building to give you that stellar view
Even if you’re not sitting window-side, there are still many seats where you are sure to get a glimpse of the Toronto view
Menu and decor. Lavenders : )

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Love the puree stuff these O&B restaurants do for their bread! This one went really well together!

Roasted Red Pepper and Chickpea Puree with Pumpkin Seed Bread

Mmmm… this soup was delicioussss! Was the perfect thickness for me and all the ingredients tasted so good together. The ginger is subtle enough so for people who don’t like ginger, you wouldn’t notice… it’s perfect! A bit of crunch from the croutons, which I also love. I think this is my fave soup for this winterlicious!

Appetizer – Butternut Squash & Ginger Soup

This appetizer was also done really well! Very nice presentation, coupled with a very interesting take on the food and its combination of ingredients! I tried eating everything altogether and then the pork rillette separately as well, and both tasted really good and its unique way! I would probably eat the whole plate of this myself if I could have…

Appetizer – Maple Mustard Pork Rillette

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Thick pieces of chicken, but still very tender and tasty to the center. Cooked to perfection I’d say! I’m not a fan of cranberry sauce, so I coulda done without that thanksgiving-like add on, but it was still good. But the even better thing is… didn’t even need the cranberry sauce because the chicken itself was that good!

Entree – Aurora Chicken

HAHA I’M SORRY I KINDA FAILED WITH THIS PIC. Realized you can’t really see the MEAT part of the meal which is the important part! LOL. I shoulda taken a second pic showing the meat after taking everything apart, because it was cooked to perfection as well! I like how this place didn’t even bother to ask you how you like your steak done, because they cooked it the way in which the meat would taste best and be the most tender. A perfect medium rare with a pink center and no blood squirting out on slicing. I think that should be the way it’s done because people often don’t know how they want their meat and get disappointed when it comes out not what they thought 65.47583% done means for that particular type of meat. But of course I know the picky meat eaters would disagree with me on that one =P. Their potato piece was VERY similar to North44’s in structure, but less buttery and smooth. A yummy yummy tender strip loin dish!

Entree – Ontario Strip Loin

So when the dishes all came, I was like… WHAT SMELLS SOOOO GOOOD? And it was my dish here with its steamy dashi pear broth! This dish was VERY japanese inspired I have to say… with the ingredients used and the smell that it produced. But this was also my least favourite dish of the meal. Maybe being asian and sensitive on good japanese food has made me a little biased about this dish, but really the only thing that was perfect here was the soft and tasty little pieces of rainbow trout fish… that looked very much like salmon to me at first and got me confused. The smell really got me with its sesame oil goodness, but biting into it, I found the buckwheat noodles to be somewhat undercooked. Would have gone with the rest of the dish SO much better if it was softer to complement with the smooth soft fish and light broth. Pear broth was interesting and definitely unique in taste, in a good way, but not good enough for me to want to drink it all at the end. Definitely wanted the other dishes way more than this in terms of worth.

Entree – Organic Buckwheat Pasta

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This dessert was the one who stole the dessert show because everything else was just too typical and normal and nothing special for a nice top restaurant. First time for me having rice pudding with some wild rice and I enjoyed it. That pistachio cream blob at the top was my favourite part of it though… tasted sooo good. Like an ice cream denseness type of cream, but without the cold and melting! All worked well together generally, except I didn’t like the dried apricots cuz they were a little too sour compared to the rest for my tastes… so I had them separately.

Dessert – Wild Rice Pudding

Mmmm… t’was good but not as nutty as you’d expect for a walnut tart. The insides was this creamy soft yellow… solid-ish thing… which I don’t know how to describe because it wasn’t like jam nor cake nor cream nor jello nor…. it was just like an inbetween of those things which I don’t know what to call it! Shoulda totally taken a pic of the insides of this as well. I’m SO not on the ball for this restaurant’s photoshoot! Sorry! But yea, good but not not that strong in taste… just kinda settled with a very light airy taste. Good for people who like their desserts without much sweetness though.

Dessert – Niagara Walnut Tart

And lastly, the most un-heirloom looking (and tasting for that matter) piece of carrot cake. Just re-read the menu ingredients… and THAT was red bean orange sauce??? Just tasted like some not so sweet caramel-ly sauce to me. The cream cheese mousse was whipped nicely and soft though… it saved the carrot cake from being a boring thing that I could just pick up from the baker’s downstairs here. Heh! And if you could tell that I don’t generally go for carrot cakes, I’m being totally unbiased about this review though. I’ve had my share of carrot cakes since my family eats them, and I’ve definitely had tastier/richer ones in many other places.

Dessert – Heirloom Carrot Cake

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Jeans / tshirt is seen and accepted here although most people do try to avoid it since you are dining at a nice place afterall. With the large amount of varying customers that come here for winterlicious though, you also get varying outfit styles so you probably won’t have a fear of standing out from the crowd, as compared to a place like STOCK. I like to still dress nicely here for respect, but more casual/common given the scene.

Dress Style – Nice Casual
People usually dress it down for lunch, and this location definitely gives you a more comfy casual feel environment.

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So here’s the deal on Canoe this year. I would say if you’re not entirely new to the licious events, you would’ve already heard about this place or eaten here. If you’ve still been having trouble with reservations here, don’t give up next time! Start dialing early and try to catch them close to the end of work hours… tends to be easier then. This place is good for bigger groups too if you can secure your reservation early. I have successfully gotten a table for 12 on a Saturday for lunch before… when they still had American Express holders head-of-the-line early reservations xD. I know it was a lot tougher making reservations this year though since everyone got to go for it at the same time. Best of luck and don’t give up! They do have enough space to accommodate everyone =) Food and view is worth the hard work to at least eat here once!

Fooding Onwards,
Dreamz*

http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Canoe.aspx
Restaurant: Canoe
Winterlicious: $25 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Call early and be prepared for busy tones all the time for the first 2 days. They do have lots of seats though so just keep trying!
Attire: Nice Casual/Casual

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2 thoughts on “Winterlicious 2014 – Canoe

  1. blobsofdoom February 28, 2014 / 11:35 AM

    Butternut Squash & Ginger Soup UGHHHH BEST. And wow, that buckwheat pasta is totally something I would order. It’s unfortunate it was undercooked :(

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