Winterlicious 2014 – Toulà

The final restaurant for Winterlicious 2014 was a last minute choice by my family, who heard about how extensive their menu choices were and wanted to try it out. Toulà is the restaurant with a magnificent view on the 38th floor of The Westin Harbour Castle hotel, on the edge of the Toronto harbour looking over Lake Ontario. The restaurant spans across a semi-circle arc overlooking the waters as well as the Toronto skyline with views of the CN Tower and the city. Makes for a gorgeous view at night when everything is lit up!

The interior is very well furnished. We were seated at a table that has a cushion-ey booth/couch, with a nice view of the night city. However, I do believe since it’s busy Winterlicious season, the space was a little crammed as our table was definitely meant for 2 people, but they barely managed to fit all the plates and utensils required for 3 people in there. It’s got the classic let’s-make-everything-so-dark-you-can-barely-see kind of lighting, probably on purpose though to give a higher class atmosphere and to emphasize the outdoor cityscape lights. Which is also why I was unable really to take a pic of the interior space without blinding other guests with the flash in such close quarters and dark lighting. And, you’ll notice from the pics below that this is the ONLY restaurant I actually had to use flash (which I really dislike using because I feel it distorts the colours and makes everything harsh) on some of the plates because it really was… THAT dark… too dark for proper photos without them looking like dark clumps of nothing. Although the place looked magnificent to dine at… I have to say in advance that we weren’t thrilled with our Winterlicious experience here. It was really just all about the view. During this event, food was mediocre, service was slowwww, place was packed, and I guess you can read the details below if you’re still interested :)

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Make sure to take the express elevator labelled “SCENIC ELEVATOR” (there’s only 1) when you get to the hotel lobby to get up to the restaurant! You get a glass pane at the back where you can see the view of the city as you rise up to the 38th floor :) I jumped into it accidentally without knowing, to find myself pleasantly surprised!

Scenic Elevator inside the hotel to get up to 38th floor – TOULA

Lobby entrance / waiting area to get into TOULA

Great thing about this place is no matter where you’re seated, they are set up close enough to the edge that you’re bound to get a good view outside!

City view from our dinner table!

That extensive list of choices I was talking about. I believe they are the one restaurant that gives you like triple the amount of choices compared to the usual 3 – 4 you get at other Winterlicious restaurants. Also, I was barely able to read this small text in the lack of lighting. You really need that candle light close by, or whip out your phone flashlight and blind everyone.

Menu for TOULA

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So… the first food item that came out was a bit disappointing for a final Winterlicious experience at a nice looking restaurant. The bread was… cold. Like… really cold. Like hard and cold. Like… couldn’t you have bothered to stick it in the microwave and heat it up a bit at least??? The funniest thing was, I watched the couple beside me… literally try to heat up their bread slices by holding it above their candle…. O__O” That can’t be good for ya. Haha. Antarctic bread… minus points.

Bread with a scoop of butter

Dark picture, but the scallop is sitting on top of this Milanese Risotto Cake. Never had one of those before. Thought the texture was pretty interesting. Kinda like a crab cake. Otherwise… pretty neutral about this appetizer. Nothing particularly good or bad about the tastes.

Appetizer – Scallops Milanese

I’m a huge fan of lobster martinis because I’ve had really delicious ones at other restaurants. However, this one didn’t even make the cut for me. Had way better ones elsewhere. I mean yeaaa, it’s good, what can go wrong with lobster and avocado and delicious things in a cup? But I mean taste-wise they have been 1-upped by other places who serve this (and those are not even pricey/expensive restaurants either). Could do with bigger lobster and avocado chunks… but if I didn’t have other places to compare to, I’d probably say this was still good.

Appetizer – Toula Lobster Martini

Mmmm… I love Italian meat platters, so glad I got this. Can’t really go wrong with smoked/cured meats right? So yea it was good for me! I enjoyed the little accompaniments of dried fruits and the cheese on tomato that went really well in addition to the meats. And they even served it proper on a wooden board. The right Italian touch to this Italian cuisine!

Appetizer – Grande Tagilere Misto (Meat Platter)

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The black cod was good. It WASN’T amaaaazinggg, delicioussss, yumyumyum. Just good. Haha. Black cod is usually one of the softest meltiest fishes to eat, and also pricey (which is why they usually serve really small portions)! I thought this fish went really well with the Lemon Aioli they used. Good stuff! But maybe since all black cod I’ve had was good/better, this wasn’t a standout dish either. But I should emphasize that this does deserve its credit as a good dish that evening!

Entree – Pan Seared Black Cod Alla Portofino

So the good thing about this place was that at least their choices were quite different from other restaurants I had been to. So I could try some new stuff that I rarely get to eat… like veal! I enjoyed this dish. It’s also nothing to run around and scream in amazement about… but it was good once again. Meat was tender as veal should be since they’re just youngin’s! Sauce was good. All went down together as a nice dish. Oh, I remember especially enjoying those veggies because they were nicely seasoned and sauced (I normally hate the bland veggies that come on the side of western dishes)!

Entree – Veal Medallions Alla Senese

Ummm… yea. So that little shrimp is the Surf. HAHA. Probably unanimous agreement that this was the least fave entree of the night. That steak was definitely not “perfectly grilled” as they described in the menu. Not even close. We would rather hit up one of those well-known chained restaurants that serve steak instead. This was not tender, hard to chew, dry-ish, not enough sauce. IN FACT… NO SAUCE ACCOMPANIMENT now that I look at the photo again. NO SAUCE. If you’re serving your meat with no sauce, you better have perfected that meat cooking (check my North 44 entree review – first Winterlicious post). Yea this plate was kinda sad.

Entree – Toula Grande Surf and Turf

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This dessert, tasted exactly as you would expect it to taste from reading the name of it. Was good. Soft pear in the center, hard choco on the outside. Yaaay~ Sorry for bad photo, no matter how I tried to take it, the nature of this dessert and the lighting still made it look like a blob of mud. LOL.

Dessert – Chianti Poached Pear Dipped in Dark Chocolate

Ehhhh… the dark choco didn’t taste very dark. And the white choco was almost like whipped cream. And the berry stuff was sourrrrr. Tada~ That’s about it. Took a few spoonfuls. Then kinda shrugged and gave up on it. Not a berry nor parfait fan anyway xD

Dessert – Dark and White Chocolate Parfait with Berry Coulis

An Italian cuisine? And I love cake? Of course I get the Tiramisu. Verdict? Pick me one up from the nearby supermarket bakery and I probably wouldn’t be able tell much of a difference unfortunately. Not saying it’s bad or anything, just a regular piece of Tiramisu being a Tiramisu in the crowd of Tiramisus for me.

Dessert – Tiramisu

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Hmmm, I kinda put a large range in terms of dress code for this place. Because you will see people dressed with varying ranges, mainly depending on if they’re celebrating something or not. You will see the hotel guests and regular Winterlicious diners enter in more of a nice casual / business casual type of style. Then you’ll also see people that are celebrating special occasions or having a fancy night dressed in semi-formal wear. Given the atmosphere / environment of the restaurant, they do try to bring it more upscale in style. But given the dining quality and the sheer amount of tables for guests in close quarters, it definitely gives you leeway to come in and dine just for a dinner with a nice view with young kids and family, without having to dress up super fancy for it. So I gave it a big range based on what I saw that night along with the environment feels.

Dress Style – Nice Casual / Business

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And that is my last review for Winterlicious 2014 restaurants. YAAAAY *cheers and claps*!!! If you felt that was quite a mediocre review for a mediocre restaurant… well unfortunately that was the case. This restaurant just felt pretty mediocre overall for a Winterlicious event. The ONLY thing that wow’d me was the couches in an arc and the beautiful city view. So, nothing about the food did. Not sure if it was just busy during Winterlicious and coming close to Valentine’s Day, that they dropped the ball in their quality (not to again mention service was painfullyyyy slowww and not attentive). I don’t think I would be coming again for a Winterlicious event. I would, however, return for the view and maybe to try their regular menu items (since it doesn’t look ridiculously priced). Hopefully, I will also be able to enjoy the place in the future without feeling crammed while eating and having people all around you if it’s not during an event as well. If you love having a view and are on a tighter budget, this place would be good for a fine dining choice in downtown Toronto. Quite romantic too, lots of couples were there and they are set up with lots of smaller tables.

All in all, I hope you enjoyed the Winterlicious 2014 crazyyy series of restaurant reviews. I certainly had fun visiting them all and trying new places and foods! Then also being asian about photographing every little food detail, and finding the time to write and talk about it was HARD WORK. So I’m glad you went through this and I hope it’s helpful / interesting somewhat. If it’s not… THEN WHY ARE YOU STILL READING THIS??? =P I will be back for more reviews soon! Thanks for following to all you wonderful people!

Burp~
Dreamz*


http://www.toularestaurant.com/
Restaurant: Toulà
Winterlicious: $20 Lunch // $35 Dinner
Reservations: Was a last minute decision for us, so we were able to get a dinner table just fine a week before the last day of Winterlicious.
Attire: Nice Casual / Business

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