Summerlicious 2014 – Lee Restaurant

*Finally was able to get this post out after the long delay from web browser issues and whatnot (wordpress crashing my browsers every 5 minutes) D: But enjoy the final review of summerlicious 2014!

I have heard of this restaurant many times before, and I finally got the chance to visit it for Summerlicious 2014. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to end off my Summerlicious trek with this famous restaurant, alongside my foodie friends! Lee Restaurant is owned by the internationally well-known celebrity chef, Susur Lee, who’s roots lie in both Hong Kong and Toronto (the same as me)! He owns several restaurant in the Toronto vicinity, but this is one of the more famous ones started in 2004. It was our lucky day for dining, as we were able to spot Susur walking around the restaurant and watching over his kitchen. He was too busy to be able to take a photo with us, but my friend was able to snap a couple of shots of him in his notable pose watching over things.

The restaurant itself was very nice. The decor had oriental inspirational touches, but was very modern still. Their patio was gorgeous looking and I wish we had been able to sit outside! We went on a weekday night and it was still packed and busy throughout. Large glass windows allowed natural sunlight to filter in, brightening up the place nicely. Environment was quite casual, and definitely a noisier type of restaurant with the amount of people all sitting so close together. Our waiter was super informative and very nice. He explained that because Lee is a tapas style sharing restaurant normally, that the Summerlicious can be done both regular style and tapas style. Regular style would mean everyone orders their own dishes to be served individually. With tapas style, all the dishes get set in the center for everyone to share. Tapas style worked perfectly for us because we had the right number of people to taste every dish in the Summerlicious menu, and we were going to share it all anyway! So easy ordering for us that night. Time for a final review of the food!

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Nice oriental designed outdoor patio seating
Nice oriental designed outdoor patio seating
Inside the restaurant
Inside the restaurant
Menu at Lee
Menu at Lee

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A nice refreshing drink, which was a strong mix of alcohol, sweet, and sour flavours. Lots of fruits including tropical ones that soaked up the drink with an interesting flavour! Not particularly my type of alcoholic beverage, but definitely an enjoyable cocktail to try.

Sangria of the Day - Made with 10 fruits, 10 liquors, 5 juices, Prosecco, etc...
Sangria of the Day – Made with 10 fruits, 10 liquors, 5 juices, Prosecco, etc…

Mmm the calamari was crispy, large, and delicious with some flavourful seasoning. The cod cake sitting below the calamari was just as good. Deep fried on the outside and soft on the inside. The mayo/salsa mix was a little too spicy for me though as it had Sriracha in it. The side salad… was a salad.

Appetizer - Crispy Calamari with Cod Cake
Appetizer – Crispy Calamari with Cod Cake

This is my first time having this type of salad, even though this is a well known combination I believe. I really enjoyed it and I think it’s the perfect summer salad dish! The watermelons were so sweet and juicy and everything was sized nicely to be able to pop into your mouth in one bite in order to taste the blend of all the ingredients together. Could definitely just have a plate of that to myself!

Appetizer - Watermelon & Feta Cheese Salad
Appetizer – Watermelon & Feta Cheese Salad

The chicken drumsticks were very tasty, but the spice was a little too spicy for me to finish a whole piece myself. However, everyone else loved the chicken. Instead, I thoroughly enjoyed those sesame crisps! The mango salad was a typical thai-style salad, with very fresh ingredients and a good “sour” blend to it.

Appetizer - Thai Fried Chicken, Green Mango & Citrus Salad
Appetizer – Thai Fried Chicken, Green Mango & Citrus Salad

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When the dish first came, we were like… WHERE’S THE SALMON?…. oh, it’s under the crunchy noodles! This is VERY Asian looking! Noodles were an interesting touch to it, but the salmon dish itself was cooked very western style. The noodles added a nice seasoned crunch to the rest of it, showing off the Asian inspired fusion style of this restaurant. The salmon was a little overcooked for my liking (but I’m starting to get used to this at restaurants that cook their fish to appeal to the western culture). The sauce however, was the best part of this dish for me. It was a delicious blend of sweet tomato flavours that made everything in the dish so tasty!!! I wanted to dip everything else in this sauce!

Entree - Roasted Assam Marinated Salmon
Entree – Roasted Assam Marinated Salmon

Entree - Side view of the Roasted Salmon
Entree – Side view of the Roasted Salmon

Probably my least favourite dish of the night, but that’s a personal bias because I never ever liked quinoa in any dish that I’ve tried. Also… mushrooms is not a food item that I’m a fan of… so this would definitely not have been a dish I would have picked individually =P. However, I think it was a group decision that this dish was not the most popular since it was the last dish with the most leftover in the end. It was a little too cheesy for me as well. I felt like all I could really taste was just strong cheese flavour with popping quinoa bits in it. Only liked those onion croutons on top. So this dish probably isn’t for everyone… it definitely caters to a very specific audience rather than to the general tastebuds of people.

Entree - Red & Black Quinoa Risotto
Entree – Red & Black Quinoa Risotto

The steak was cooked medium rare. A tad bit too chewy rather than soft and tender though. Probably not the best quality of beef, so an overall tasty but alright dish. Their tomato-based sauce was once again stellar and made everything else better. Flavour-wise, they got everything there, but it wasn’t the best of quality of dishes.

Entree - Black Pepper Marinated Filet of Beef
Entree – Black Pepper Marinated Filet of Beef

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So for their tapas style Summerlicious desserts, everyone gets served one of each item on their own plates. #1 The meringues were a crispy crunchy softness of which you would expect. Very cute and light for a dessert. Enjoyed the lemon curd, but felt the rhubarb was too sour for it. #2 The mousse was very strong in white chocolate flavour, and also very sweet. Was a denser type of creamy mousse, but not sure if it went with the strawberry and dragon fruit mix. #3 The spring roll was a little too heavy and too sweet for a dessert I felt. I also didn’t like the fact that the spring roll was all soggy drenched in the overly sweet sauce. Everything was way too dense and heavy for the last item at the end of the meal, to the point that others weren’t able to finish it up. Overall, the desserts were really mediocre according to everyone, nothing to be excited about… which is disappointing for the end of a good meal. :(

Dessert Platter (left to right) – French Golden Licorice Meringue // Vanilla White Chocolate Mousse // Caramelized Bananana & Jackfruit Spring Roll

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On a weekday night, you’ll get the business people in the area, but the style of the restaurant is also much more casual than you would think for a celebrity chef restaurant. Coming in a nice casual summer outfit would fit right in, especially for the patio as well.

Dress Style - Casual Nice
Dress Style – Casual Nice

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Lee Restaurant was a great place to dine at. I felt like I had a bit higher expectations for the food based on its reputation and the hype from others who have tried their regular dishes. However, I still enjoyed the food and the asian fusion style they provided. Next time, I feel like I would like to try the restaurant with their regular menu items to see the difference, and whether there is an improvement in the quality of the dishes. I did feel like they had some very unique items and I’m glad I got to come to this place at last. The patio would be a great place to dine at in the summer as well!

And here finally is the end of the Summerlicious 2014 list of reviews! I hope it was informative and enjoyable and thanks for reading :) I will be back with random restaurant posts if I have some spare time, otherwise until Winterlicious 2015!

Lots of foodie loves,
Dreamz*

http://www.susur.com/lee/
Restaurant: Lee Restaurant
Winterlicious: $45 Dinner
Reservations: Definitely make a reservation early on as this is a popular location and gets full every night.
Attire: Casual / Nice Casual

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Summerlicious 2014 – Canoe

Ugggh. So life definitely got in the way and I’m doing the thing again where I’m posting up reviews a month after the event =_= I’m so sorry but I’ll have to work on a better schedule for review writing again next licious event. In the meantime, do enjoy the rest of these now outdated posts!

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Ahhh… Canoe… The most well known of the restaurants during licious events. Snatched a weekend lunch spot here only because the family wanted it and had the time to call all day for reservations (I personally gave up on this after having been so many times). I guess it was good that they got through because I enjoyed this meal more than when I went during Winterlicious (review here). I feel like they have been getting better with their licious meals every time I come here, but I haven’t had a “perfect” meal with them yet where everything was fantastic and I had no criticism about anything. Now let’s see what I remember from here…

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Got to sit in a different area than usual this time.

Far side of the restaurant looking back into the rest of the restaurant
Far side of the restaurant looking back into the rest of the restaurant

Nice window seats overlooking the lake
Nice window seats overlooking the lake
Menu cover design
Menu cover design

Just realized I did a horrible shot, cutting off stuff at the corners and not aligning the frame… I apologize for bad photo taking skillz T____T

Menu - Totally tried to open it up from the previous photo, but you just need to flip it around perpendicularly
Menu – Totally tried to open it up from the previous photo, but you just need to flip it around perpendicularly

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The potato pancetta was like the best bread I’ve had!!! I wanted to take a loaf of it home because it was so soft and flavourful with actual chunks of potato bits. Tasted great to eat even on its own! The sourdough went well with their in-house puree too. Best pre-meal breads award goes here for sure!

Bread - Potato Pancetta Bread & Sourdough Bread with Chickpea Hummus Puree
Bread – Potato Pancetta Bread & Sourdough Bread with Chickpea Hummus Puree

Did not expect this dish to look like this (I clearly did not know what Terrine is until I googled it). I don’t think I’ve ever seen chicken made in such a pâté style form before. Not only was the presentation fabulous, but the taste and texture was delicious too! Ingredients came together perfectly… really reminded me of the style that STOCK Restaurant does so well in.

Appetizer - Aurora Chicken Terrine
Appetizer – Aurora Chicken Terrine

So I briefly talked to the waiter about this dish to get an idea of what it was about before deciding I wanted to try it out. The description he gave really caught my attention because this was actually inspired by some traditional potted dishes that I never knew existed. So glad I went with this because it… was… AMAZINGGGGG. Definitely remember this as one of my favourite dishes of this summerlicious and definitely the most loved appetizer for me. First of all, LOVED the presentation and style of this potted dish, definitely my first time trying something like this. Secondly, the mayo-like mixture on top really elevated the way the cold soft trout tasted inside the glass jar. Everything on this plate was so good together, except for the giant piece of lettuce that I did not eat… xD The chopped up bits of radishes were seasoned well and gave a good sour-ish kick to the dish that wasn’t overpowering. So much yums I really want to eat it again right now…

Appetizer - Potted Rainbow Trout
Appetizer – Potted Rainbow Trout

Inside the Potted Rainbow Trout
Inside the Potted Rainbow Trout

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Very cute plating having everything on only one half of the plate! Overall I enjoyed this dish but I do feel like a few things could have been improved upon. The shortribs really needed more of the sauce because that sauce was really good. The bison ribs themselves were very difficult to cut apart, but they were a good kind of chewy to eat rather than the painful tiring kind. There was a very strong meaty flavour to it, but I feel like it could be a little more tender if they weren’t planning to use much sauce because it felt a little tough to chew through by the end of it. MORE TREE SYRUP. MORE SWEETS FOR MEEE @__@ But still a wonderful quality dish to have.

Entree - Tree Syrup Rubbed Bison Short Rib
Entree – Tree Syrup Rubbed Bison Short Rib

I really enjoyed the special plating of this meal which I think they did much better than previous events. I thought this to be a very interesting and different choice since it is less common to have schnitzel as a “classy” dish. Everything tasted as you would expect it to from looking at the picture of the foods. Cooked very nicely, but nothing special to mention regarding the food flavours.

Entree - Turkey Breast Schnitzel
Entree – Turkey Breast Schnitzel

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This dessert was super duper jiggly wiggly that I had to play with the plate and watch it wobble around before I started eating it xD I felt like this flan was very similar to the dessert presented at Sassafraz as well, but much more jello-like. It had the same kind of tropical flavours to it. The blueberry sauce was my favourite part because it was fruity sweet like the best jam you could get to put on bread.

Dessert - Hewitt's Dairy Buttermilk & Lemongrass Flan
Dessert – Hewitt’s Dairy Buttermilk & Lemongrass Flan

Had no idea what this dessert was after reading the name and its description on the menu, but it was a pretty darn interestingly good dessert. A fun and daring mix for a dessert to kick off different parts of the tastebuds. The plum was sourrrr, while the pistachio cream was deliciousss in a light sweet way. The nuts gave a good crunch to everything, while the main centerpiece was actually very sweet, smooth, soft, and a lovely creamy blend. They made it all work well together, but I really focused on the pistachio creams… I could put that on every dessert.

Dessert - Sable Breton
Dessert – Sable Breton

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People tend to dress on the nicer side here, even for a Sunday summer lunch, likely because this is a more well-known classy place to dine in, atop a very tall building.

Dress Style - Business Casual
Dress Style – Business Casual

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Overall quite impressed with the menu for Canoe this summerlicious. Would I want to sit there all day calling a million times to try and get a table here… probably not after having been so many times. But I would recommend this place to anyone who has not tried it and would like to spend their time calling their crappy single phone line to try and get a spot. I have a feeling that if you worked nearby, just merely running up to the restaurant in person to make that reservation might be way more worth it. Don’t hold me to that though because I’ve never tried, not sure if that’s allowed. But that would be something I’d do next time I wanted to come here. Quite a delightful experience this time around though! And got to experience a new view, as well as some unique dishes! Very happy about it!

Thanks for food journeying on,
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/ Business Casual

Summerlicious 2014 – North 44 º

Running a bit behind again with the reviews, but hope everyone had a great Summerlicious event and look forward to the rest of the writeups for future references! Continuing on with a dinner at North 44:

Was quite excited to return to this top tier restaurant for Summerlicious after the raving review I gave it when I first visited during the past Winterlicious (North 44 Winterlicious review here). It was definitely my favourite restaurant last time, so I definitely came in with high expectations again this time. I found the menu to be quite similar to last licious event, so I guess I was looking more for getting the same great quality tasting foods as before.

The outside of the restaurant always gets me because you really wouldn’t stop at the front and think, oh, this must be a Canadian celebrity chef restaurant owned by Chef Mark McEwan. It’s not flashy at all and you can’t even really tell it’s a restaurant, so you really gotta know about it. But the inside is a gorgeous classy restaurant, and I even got to experience the second floor this time that I didn’t even know about! I had a great meal at this restaurant with a lovely atmosphere, but I’m going to warn you now that I’m afraid this time it didn’t live up to my heightened expectations…

And here you’ll find out why :)

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Yaay. The outside of the restaurant.
Yaay. The outside of the restaurant.
View from the stairs of the main entrance and first floor seating
View from the stairs of the main entrance and first floor seating
Second floor private dining area
Second floor private dining area
Second floor lounge/bar area
Second floor lounge/bar area
Menu - The same sparkly hardstock style as last time!
Menu – The same sparkly hardstock style as last time!

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The basil daiquiri was deliciously savoury and sweet, very refreshing and just the way I like without being able to taste much of the alcohol. Very pina colada-like with a twist from the basil. The honey ginger drink was a mix of honey Jack Daniels and ginger beer. Pretty interesting and super refreshing as well. Mint makes drinks pop so well in freshness and gives it such a nice after taste!

Dinner Cocktails - (Left) Honey Ginger Julep; (Right) Basil Daiquiri
Dinner Cocktails – (Left) Honey Ginger Julep; (Right) Basil Daiquiri

Both breads were soft chewy and yummy. I tried the olive bread even though I don’t like olives, and I was completely cool with the taste of it! Not strong at all so I could definitely take it!

Plain bread and olive bread with fancy balls of butter
Plain bread and olive bread with fancy balls of butter

The deep frying on these dumplings were done really well because they were all so crisp and crunch on the outside, while being soft in the center and the base. The chipotle gave it a really strong spicy kick, but I was able to handle it… because it was delicious! A very traditional asian dish done right, but with an added fusion twist with the sauce and the filling (traditional chinese usually has pork mixed in and the veggies are not as mushy-like). I actually really enjoyed the Western restaurant fancy-style take of this originally simple not-so-special asian dish.

Appetizer - Crispy Chinese Dumplings
Appetizer – Crispy Chinese Dumplings

Mmmm, a repeat appetizer order from an earlier Summerlicious restaurant (see Sassafraz review). Which means we’ve got some comparisons available! This dish was a little smaller than Sassfraz’s, and the tartare was of course quite different. The one here was very meaty and the flavours of the ingredients used were very distinct. I quite liked how this one gave a good meat texture and strong taste of the FRESH RAW STEAK *carnivorous eyes*. The mustard to go with it was a little too strong though and I preferred to have it without that extra sauce. I very much enjoyed this tartare, but I have to say personally, I liked Sassafraz’s steak tartare a bit more in terms of a better fuller mixture of ingredients and tastes. I couldn’t take my hands off that one, but I’d be very willing to share this one around.

Appetizer - Steak Tartare
Appetizer – Steak Tartare

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Steak was not bad last time around so decided to try it again. Was looking forward to having their unforgettable potatoes… but BOOHOO they switched around all the sides this time around… to things that were much more… bland. Seems like the steak portion was larger than last time, and the steak was similar to last time. Maybe I’m a little biased because of previous expectations, but I felt super underwhelmed still. Was hoping to have it at least as good as last time, but I feel like although it was good steak, it wasn’t as good as before. Exactly same style as before though, no sauce, yet felt like it wasn’t as flavourful as last time.

Entree - 6oz Steak
Entree – 6oz Steak

Was also really looking forward to the chicken ballotine since this was ALSO on the menu last time and they did a superb job. Pretty much the same style again except with a different sauce and sides. Once again, they killed it for me last time… but wasn’t up to par this time. Quality-wise, the chicken was still done very well in terms of tenderness and cooking style, but still wasn’t as good as I remembered it last time. The sauce this time I also wasn’t so fond of at all. I mean, it could have had to do with the fact that mushrooms aren’t my favourite foods ever, but even so I’m not picky enough that if it was done well I would still enjoy it. I felt like this sauce was too strong and it felt like they formed too much of this alcohol-ey taste to it that came out from the mix of ingredients. Not a great summery dish for me.

Entree - Roasted Chicken Ballotine
Entree – Roasted Chicken Ballotine

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The sorbet came out to be much better than I expected, especially since I don’t normally pick sorbets given a choice of cold desserts. It was definitely very summery and tropical. I couldn’t determine exactly the flavour of it, but it was definitely something unique and maybe a mix? Possibly a guava / passionfruit-like style of taste. Very soft and subtle but fruity. Not too icey. And the rest of the dessert was just a bed of regular fruits.

Dessert - Mix Fruit & Berries Sorbet
Dessert – Mix Fruit & Berries Sorbet

This was the dessert I was definitely looking forward to when I saw it brought out to another table even before I ordered my food. The description on the menu really had me drooling, and this was the saving grace of the meal that night. Coconut ice cream and havana rum (really? alcohol was in the yummy sweet sauce???) glazed bananas went together so well. The best part was definitely the perfectly crispy flaking off layers of the banana roll… strudel thing in the center. Wow, I think I could eat another 3 of those. The flakes were so thin and blended so nicely with the warm soft bananas in the center when it was bit into. *drools thinking about this* It almost reminded me of baklava pastries, but less sweet and replace everything with bananas. Probably my favourite dessert in all of Summerlicious 2014 :)

Dessert - Banana Strudel
Dessert – Banana Strudel

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Very nice dim-lit atmosphere. Definitely people dressed in semi-formal clothing enjoying a nice dinner, but also saw some more business casual get-ups for a summer weekend night out dinner. Most people tend to be more dressy here though.

Dress Style - Business / Fancy
Dress Style – Business / Fancy

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Unfortunately not the same raving excellent review I had hoped for when I decided to dine here this time around. Which also means I might give this place a break and try some other new things, especially if they won’t be changing their menu around much for licious events. I’m hoping that this was just them being lazy this time around and not putting as much finesse to their dishes as much as other places would do. But for now, I’m looking for more unique dishes and consistent quality in future picks since I’ll be doing this over and over and over… so need to keep things fresh!

Chow Down Time,
Dreamz*

http://north44.mcewangroup.ca/
Restaurant: North 44º
Winterlicious: $45 Dinner
Reservations: Wasn’t too full on a Friday evening upstairs (but downstairs filled up for dinner). Probably want to reserve ahead for good time slots, but could probably still snatch something up throughout the event.
Attire: Business/Dressy

Summerlicious 2014 – Michael’s on Simcoe

Michael’s on Simcoe was a restaurant where I was not involved in the decision making process. Haven’t really heard of this restaurant before and I only decided to accept going here because my family decided they wanted to try something new and chose this restaurant based on the menu items. Hrrrmmm, some quick research showed this restaurant to be pretty nice looking, and its main focus on steak. Nothing bad about it so we gave it a try.

The decor of the restaurant was definitely really nicely done. Pretty rounded booths with comfy couches and chairs, and your typical fancy restaurant’s super dim romantic lighting style. The night that we went, we were seated at a booth where you can see their crazy “meat locker” fridge from. Definitely lots of different types of fancy meats. We went on a weekday night, and had a few tables around us, mostly having business dinners or couples eating after work. The restaurant never filled up throughout the night. Interestingly, most of the tables there were not there for Summerlicious. Many seemed to be ordering off their regular menu and drinking wine. Which is also when I noticed that their regular menu items were not that pricey at all considering this was a $45 dinner restaurant. By the end of the meal though, I kinda wish we had ordered from the regular menu instead…

In terms of service, the waiters were nice and accommodating as you would expect from fancy restaurants. However, the one biggest complaint I would have about this place is that everything was SO SO SO SO SO S-L-O-W-W-W-W-W-W-W. Even with just a few tables around, the wait time between each course was incredible to the point that we really ran out of chat topics and started looking around to see when food would show up. They also forgot to bring our bread at the beginning of the meal until I asked :( . I think I noticed that the service was also much better towards the other tables that were ordering copious amounts of alcohol… which I understand but I also think is unprofessional of them. The one thing that pissed me off the most was the fact that I had to ask them 3 times before I was provided the bill. The meal took SO long that we didn’t have enough time on the street parking meter so we really had to get outta there. We ended up having to go get the car while I sat there and waited, and waited, and waited…. and waited for the bill. Credit card in hand tapping on the table by the end of it. I’m pretty sure it was 20 minutes from the first time I requested the bill until I was finally able to pay for it in the end.

So what about the food?

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Dining environment with dim fancy restaurant lighting, and a meat fridge over there!
Dining environment with dim fancy restaurant lighting, and a meat fridge over there!
Some nice decor surrounding the rounded booth area I sat in
Some nice decor surrounding the rounded booth area I sat in
Your typical menu
Your typical menu

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The bread was warm and soft, and I enjoyed the fact that they brought out a little plate of a variety of things to go with your bread. The pickled veggies were tasty and added a nice touch. I had a bit of trouble getting a good amount of both the vinegar and olive oil without getting my bread soaked in the olive oil by dipping, so I ended up having to use a spoon to get an even amount of that xD

Bread with an array of condiments - olives, pickled vegetables, balsamic vinegar & olive oil
Bread with an array of condiments – olives, pickled vegetables, balsamic vinegar & olive oil

The calamari and the sauce were both really good. The sauce was very flavourful without tasting only like tomatoes. The calamari was soft and chewy without being hard to bite through. Wanted to use the bread to wipe up all the leftover sauce on the plate but also didn’t want to fill up on bread before the rest of the meal -_-

Appetizer - Tomato Braised Calamari
Appetizer – Tomato Braised Calamari

The crostino bread stick thing sitting on top was a good bonus addition to the soup which also made it look much more than just regular soup. The cheesy crostino was yummy and tasted even better when dipped into the soup to be softened up a bit. The soup itself was alright as a chilled soup, but I felt that it was a little bit too strong with its tomato-sourness and whichever spice was used to give it the spice “kick”. It wasn’t spicy per say, but there was just too much of a sour/spice mixture that I didn’t really want to continue drinking it after a bit. Wouldn’t be a recommendation from me unless you like that kind of flavouring in soups.

Appetizer - Vegetable Gazpacho Soup
Appetizer – Vegetable Gazpacho Soup

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The sauce/accompaniments for this dish was what got me excited about trying it. Especially the “wildflower honey” and “peach salsa”, sounds right up my alley of sweetness! And those sauces indeed did deliver! The sweet touch to the pork loin was great on this savory dish and went well with the rest of the sides on the plate. The meat was pretty giant too, with a bit of fatty fat that I cut off, but still cooked well. I wouldn’t say it was cooked perfectly in that it was a thick slab of meat and did get a little bland after a bit if there wasn’t anything to eat it with, but I still enjoyed this dish for the most part. I loved the little fried polenta blocks! For the longest time I was trying to figure out if they were potatoes or a type of cheese because they were really soft and mashy in the center and had an interesting texture I couldn’t pinpoint. But I just looked it up and learned about a new food hehe! Pear salsa was an excellent sauce that I’d put on any of my food.

Entree - Ontario Pork Loin roasted with Wild Flower Honey
Entree – Ontario Pork Loin roasted with Wild Flower Honey

Being marketed as a steakhouse, I would think their steak should be their best. However, it was unfortunate that I didn’t feel this way about this steak dish. Everything was generally mediocre about it. Just steak, nothing special. Kind of like going to a typical chained restaurant for steak like The Keg and having steak there. Everything was very normal about this dish. You get a good portion of meat though compared to the usual Summerlicious restaurant steaks though. Meh~

Entree - Wellington County California Cut Striploin
Entree – Wellington County California Cut Striploin

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Was really happy to try this dessert when it first arrived from its presentation that seemed to be bursting with fruit and flavour. Started out with the top layer along with a bit of that mascarpone, which was really light and tasty, and blended well together with the fruits. Then we reveal what’s deeper down into the cup and we see lots of reds and berries and whatnot. Which I sort of expected coming from a fruit dessert, but what I didn’t expect was how friggin sour this thing turned out to be. There was absolutely no sweetness to it by the time you got past the mascarpone. The crumble was just chunks of hardness mixed in with the face-scrunching sourness of the fruit/jam. Then the rarest thing happened with a Summerlicious dessert dish… NOBODY wanted to finish it. It was the dessert that actually ended up being half leftover and uneaten to be brought back to the dump :( . Sorry fruits but we really couldn’t take all the sourness. :( :( :(

Dessert - Ontario Fruit Crumble with Vanilla Whipped Mascarpone
Dessert – Ontario Fruit Crumble with Vanilla Whipped Mascarpone

Inside the Fruit Crumble
Inside the Fruit Crumble

After getting past all the whipped creamy stuff and abundance of strawberry and jam… finally dug up the cheesecake which was hiding and camouflaging in underneath the layers of stuff. You really couldn’t tell about what was the “cheesecake” and what was the cream other than the fact they taste different in your mouth. The texture and looks were identical in the dim lighting. The cheesecake part worked out in terms of taste if you like them in the soft whipped creamy-like format rather than a solid cake style… but all the strawberry and stuff to go with it was once again too sour as a dessert. This restaurant really likes to over-sour their desserts to leave you with a sour impression eh? =P

Dessert - Bella Casara Ricotta Cheesecake
Dessert – Bella Casara Ricotta Cheesecake

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Most people was dressed in work outfits the night I was there. The decor of the restaurant was very fancy-like, but I felt it to be more of a business casual to business type of dress environment given the service and food.

Dress Style - Business Casual
Dress Style – Business Casual

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I will not be back to this restaurant for a Summerlicious event unless there is some drastic change to it and everyone recommends it or something. I really felt like this is not a restaurant you want to go for Summerlicious, where you want to be trying high quality foods that are generally out of your price range on a normal day. I feel like they really didn’t care about their Summerlicious dishes and it was just a way for them to charge you $45 for something that’s not even worth more than $45. In fact, I saw them bring out their regular menu dishes to the other tables, and I think those looked much more appetizing and probably tasted better in terms of the meat used? Their regular menu dishes aren’t even overly expensive for a steakhouse… so if you really want to go here I’d say just order from their regular menu. Don’t waste your money on Summerlicious here.

Sour foods and long waits make me saaaad,
Dreamz*

http://michaelsonsimcoe.com/
Restaurant: Michael’s on Simcoe
Winterlicious: $25 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Reservations are probably not even required for this restaurant on a weekday. Not much hype here and not a famous licious restaurant.
Attire: Business Casual

Summerlicious 2014 – STOCK

Still one of my favourite licious restaurants of all time, of course I’d be back for more at STOCK Restaurant Bar & Lounge for this Summerlicious event! Situated on the 31st floor of the Trump International Hotel & Tower, this restaurant brings you a mix of fancy classy with modern chic. From the moment you step into Trump, you’ll be greeted with top service and all the personnel who work there are super polite, whether at the hotel lobby or up in the restaurant. One of the great things I was looking forward to this time around was the fact that I knew the balcony patio area would be opened up for the summertime! I never got a chance to check it out before when I came for lunch last year, so I was sure to be making a trip out there before my dinner started. It’s no fancy patio with any crazy views… mostly buildings in the surrounding area really since it’s not at all that high up. But it was still nice to get a breath of fresh air and to look out into the city while enjoying a bit of sunlight. Definitely a good walk out spot for people to chill with drinks :)

As always, let’s get right to talking about how great the food is (yes you should be expecting a thumbs up review already):

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Entering STOCK

There is also a super fancy chic bar / lounge area when you first enter into the restaurant that I didn’t get a chance to snap a pic of. Well, there’s always next time!

Fancy walls, high ceiling. All the nice things in the interior of the main dining area.

The balcony patio is opened up in the summertime for drinks! Not much of a view but fresh air and sunlight!
Menu – Fancy trifold with other non-summerlicious options and drinks on the sides

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The Pimm’s cocktail was sooo good that the table ended up making 2 orders of it xD It was a very delicious refreshing blend that is so perfect for summer. The cucumbers and mint really gave it a burst of FRESH~ It was also very light and just slightly bubbly. Not too strong of anything in particular, so it’s great for anyone who isn’t a big fan of strong alcoholic drinks. The Zing Flower one wasn’t as stand-out of a drink for me… still summery refreshing but more cocktail-like and bittery because of the grapefruit (which I’m personally not a fan of). Overall excellent summer cocktail drink list in general though!

Dinner Cocktails – Pimm’s on the left and Zing Flower on the right…. (shoot forgot the full names…)

I thought the shape of the breads were really cute xD There was 2 kinds, the regular white and a healthier multigrain one (ugh healthy LOL – sorry I just don’t like healthy breads and their grainy texture for some reason!). Good breads and good puree as usual though.

Teardrop shaped breads with a puree of roasted red peppers and such.

Didn’t get a chance to personally try this dish out myself, but I was told it tasted very good. Also very healthy and light. Good blend of flavours.

Appetizer – Ancient Grain Tabbouleh

Yummm, how can you go wrong when it comes to cold scallops and salmon??? And then what, you’re gonna throw in some popcorn JUST so you can keep us on our toes and be innovative??? WELL IT WORKED! Always love how STOCK finds new ways to come up with unique dishes and ingredients that are different from the other restaurants. All the elements on this dish was delicious on its own and altogether. A bit of cold, salty, crunch, and soft smoothness while being fresh. You really get everything and it all WORKS!

Appetizer – Bay Scallop & Atlantic Salmon Ceviche

I’m a big fan of chilled soups. But not so much a fan of peas. However, this soup was excellent in the fact that it brought the refreshing-ness (i’ve been using that word A LOT but everything really is… refreshing feeling…) without making the pea-taste too strong or too dense at all. The soup was actually a lot lighter than expected so I enjoyed it much more! I was really thinking mushed up cold peas, except the pea taste was there but mixed in with other flavours that allowed it to not be the only thing that defined the soup. The prosciutto bits added a fun little crunch to everything. And they dribbled the soup with a few little peas to give it some more texture without overdoing it. Lovely pea soup even though I don’t even like peas on their own!

Appetizer – Chilled English Pea Soup

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I’m thinking ravioli and pasta are pretty normal and overdone already… but I saw the flavouring and ingredients for this and I thought that I just had to give this one a go because I’ve never had lemon with ravioli before and it’s one of my favourite types of pasta dishes. And behold, it was as delicious as it sounds! The lemon sauce was light and creamy sweet-ish rather than the expected sourness of lemons, and went really well with the soft fluffy ricotta. The ravioli itself was sooooooo pillowy soft; the filling was not heavy at all and felt like it could melt deliciously in my mouth. Definitely reminded me why ravioli is one of my favourites when done right! The most unique ravioli sauce ever!

Entree – Lemon Ricotta Ravioli

The presentation of this dish made me gasp…. It came in a flat board… and there was definitely so much artistic-ness to it. The way the mashed potato was smeared across and the placement of all the elements of the dish created a picture that was so nice that I almost wondered if it was food or artwork! And wow… the veal was soooo tender and flavourful. Mashed potato was very soft and delicate. What a beautiful AND scrumptious dish!

Entree – Roasted Corner Farm Veal Loin

They really got the lemon theme going on here, but it’s really working for them and making them standout! This dish wasn’t as “lemon-ey” obvious as the ravioli up there in terms of taste, but it was subtley hiding there. The chicken itself was very tender and cooked to perfection as well. The sauce was quite a standout for me though, had a good sweetness to it and was unique-ly flavourful in its own way. The daps of puree gave some extra flavouring to mix in to the rest of the dish as well.

Entree – Lemon Thyme Roasted Chicken Supreme

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The Sweet and Savoury dessert (2 different versions of it, the top photo being the originally served dish). Macarons are always delicious, what can I say? The chocolate had a bit of a surprise in the center… a gooey slightly sourness touch if you weren’t expecting it. And cheese… is cheese… which I don’t have much to say about. But man… that cheese is old. *gives it a cheese cane*

Dessert – Peach Macaron, Blackcurrant Truffle, 10 yr Cheddar

Dessert – Sweet & Savoury

A very rich looking chocolate fudge cake that has the richness of the chocolate but without the denseness that makes it feel too heavy or filling! Yaaay exactly what I need in chocolate cakes! Was very soft cutting into it, and definitely had that smooth pricey chocolate texture to it. Wasn’t too sweet and the cherries provided a good fresh fruity taste and juiciness (none of that crazy sweet sugared crap or super sour cherry toppings they put on desserts). All the different sauces blended in nicely together with everything too so that the cake wasn’t just all chocolate. I loveeee cake and this definitely exceeds my expectations for a cake of this type!

Dessert – Flourless Fudge Cake

This dessert had a lot of components going on that all worked well together – nutty, creamy, crunchy biscuity, fruity. STOCK does such a great job of combining different textures and flavours in their foods! The Chantilly cream really helped to balance out all the harder items in the dessert and give it the light sweetness that makes it dessert-ey! I found the pavlova really fun to eat and was tasty. Didn’t expect anything less from STOCK’s desserts :)

Dessert – Strawberry Pavlova

And with the bill, they obviously had to pamper us some more and provide some of their most tasty in-house chocolate treats! With a pretty design printed atop too! Love me some white chocolates… which had some small black cookie-like(?) chunks mixed in as well! Yumyumyum all the way to the end!

On the House – Special White Chocolates

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Dress Style – Business Casual / Fancy

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What can I say? STOCK has proven themselves everytime, so I just want to keep going back and trying their new and unique dishes! I certainly hope they continue to keep up the quality, presentation, and mouthwatering aspects of their dishes! Can’t wait to be back for the next event. I really love this place, it’s got to be one of my favourite expensive restaurants now! Please please please please go here if you haven’t already! And they are so creative with their dishes that I never get bored and never know what to expect <3 Thank you STOCK for being a part of Summerlicious! And thank YOU for taking your precious time to read my silly food ramblings!

Hope I made ya hungryyy,
Dreamz*

http://stockrestaurant.com/
Restaurant: STOCK®
Winterlicious: $25 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Call in beforehand to reserve (earlier for weekend spots). The dining space isn’t too large and it is always a full house everytime I dine there on weekends for licious events. The great thing is they are open and available all days of the week.
Attire: Business Casual / Fancy

Summerlicious 2014 – Sassafraz

The first stop of Summerlicious this year is a returning trip to Sassafraz after a few years later. The first time I came here was winter time, and I loved checking this place out during the summer because I found it to be so different! Located in a cute little yellow house in Toronto’s famous Yorkville Area for celebrity sightings, it opened up its windows and had a great patio during the summertime! The live music at night was to be heard through the windows and out into the streets! This classy restaurant always has the nicest decor and furniture. Super comfy chairs and couches both in the dining area and the outer bar area. Such a pleasure to eat in such a lovely environment. Was a great pick to start off this event with for me!
Shall we begin once again?

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Entrance to Sassafraz. A cute little yellow house which entirely opens up its windows into the patio area during the summer. So beautiful and cute!
High up pretty canopy area with a waterfall decor at the back of the restaurant.
Menu – graphic designer complained about the pixel-ey apples that lowers its professionalism! Hah!

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The usual bread starter! Nothing much here, crunchy outsides with soft centers. Mmmm :)

Classic bread and butter and candle.

WOW. WHAT A STARTER. This was delicious in every way. They really know how to feed their ontario cows… because this beef tartare was possibly the best I’ve had ever. The tiny little quail egg on top was so cute! All the flavours mixed in nicely. Creamy and soft with crunch from the taro chips! It was awesome to eat both on its own, and along with the chips. <3

Mmm this was really artistically presented (and I always love that with dishes at fancy places). So summery feeling and tasting as well with its pomegranate bits and citrus-ey sauce. A nice sweet refreshing touch to this summerlicious dish… and the cheese wasn’t overpowering at all, unlike what I was first expecting! It was nice and soft with a subtle mozzarella taste, which works for me who can’t take strong cheeses. It was like biting into summery food pillows. Heehee!

Appetizer – Buffalo Mozzarella

Umm… what can I say. These were tomatoes. Just as the dish says. HAHA. I mean, they were great. Yummy and juicy and summery refreshing as well! But… it really just comes down to them being all different sorts of TO-MA-TO. OH YEA… there was an avocado puree… which is spread around in blobs on the plate… I remember thinking it could have more pop in taste considering avocados are usually really strong in taste… but definitely overpowered by all the tomatoes so not sure if that added much for me.

Appetizer – Tomato

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As usual, not a lamb eater, but I did try this dish a bit, and I defer my judgement to both my guests who said this was delicious indeed. The piece of lamb that I had was quite tender and actually not too strong for me it seems. The sweet potato frites on top were so crunchy and thin and delicately made without being oily :) props on that skill! And that vegetable medley (which you can’t see) wrapped inside/under that giant cucumber-like (menu says it’s summer squash) veggie was the pleasant surprise for me in this dish! It was mixed up as little chunks of with some cheeses thrown in and the flavouring came together SO WELL and so different than what you would expect from veggies! I’m sure anyone who usually hates veggies would give this a go!

Entree – Ontario Lamb Sirloin

Yeaaa… looks pretty normal / plain / vegetarian. However the taste and flavouring was done really nicely! You wouldn’t expect any less by now right? Pasta was a perfect al dente for me, cheese and sauce wasn’t overpowering. Everything came together deliciously without it feeling as heavy as it looks.

Entree – Penne

Duck breast was definitely the dish I had expectations for at this French cuisine! First piece made me question a bit. I felt it was a little TOO much on the raw-er side. Could be cooked a bit more so that it’s not so overly chewy and hard to bite apart. But that duck taste and quality is definitely there. Second piece I had with more sauce and cut up into smaller pieces actually seemed better than the first impression. Hmm… the orange reduction sauce… thought that the orange could be more prominent. Regardless, was still a delicious duck dish (alliteration yaay)!

Entree – Muscovy Duck Breast

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I liked all the different parts of this dish that came together so that it wasn’t JUST mousse. The chocolate mousse itself was very soft and chocolatey in a light fluffy way while retaining all the chocolate strength! A bit of light citrus-ey touch in the sauce to balance out the sweetness and make it more summer-like! The candied pistachios was so crunchy sweet and yummy! The mousse itself also sat on top of a biscuit base… which I didn’t really care much for. JUST MORE YUMMY MOUSSE AND CANDIED PISTACHIOS PLEASE!

Dessert – Milk Chocolate Mousse

Ahhhh the jammy stuff… “caramelized pineapple” according to the menu… omgggg sooo gooood! This was like a pudding but with a completely unexpected flavour than what you’d expect just from looking at it. You’re thinking, ok, light, creamy, milky taste with a bit of fruit? Then BAAAAM… WHAT IS THIS UNIQUE FLAVOURING? That was the response for both me and my friend xD It’s sooo different it’s almost indescribable as a dessert. IT WAS GOOD. It was like such tropical refreshing crazy goodness! Hah! I tried!

Dessert – Pina Colada Panna Cotta

I am nottttt a cheese person so to be most accurate I defer my judgement to my cheese friends. I asked “Did you feel like batman after eating it?”… I got “No I did not feel like batman”. BOOOOO LOL. But in all seriousness, the cheese was medium flavourful and not overpowering. Apple honey compote was sweet and worked nicely with the smoked walnuts. The different levels of sweetness and saltiness complemented each other really well :) SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD SAVOURY DESSERT TO ME! Thanks K2 for the input! ….
“and the walnuts/flatbreads provided a wonderful juxtaposition of texture with the cheese and compote”…. rambles on.

Dessert – Gotham City Cheese

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One thing I noticed about summertime outfits… people tend to be more colourful / casual with their outfits compared to winter. You’d get fancy, but it would be more focused on artsy and lighter outfits that seem to be less fancy, but still look just as classy in the pretty restaurant environments! So I will be picking some more random splashes in my wardrobe choices as well this time around for dressing up!

Dress Style – Nice Casual / Business

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Phew! Got through my first posting of this Summerlicious finally! Hope to be somewhat on the ball with all these restaurants so you don’t get crazy gaps of reviews and better up to date info!

Sassafraz was such a great restaurant, I definitely enjoyed it this time in the summer much more than in the winter. Please stop by here if you get a chance to enjoy the fresh air and live music! Beautiful place in a classy neighbourhood for sure. Keeping up to the standard of their foods!

Continued Food Adventures!
Dreamz*

http://www.sassafraz.ca/
Restaurant: Sassafraz
Summerlicious: $25 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Busy, but not that crazy. You’ll need a reservation for sure before dining, but they are open everyday for lunch and dinner so you should be able find availabilities.
Attire: Nice Casual / Business

Summerlicious 2014 – My Lineup

Are ya’ll ready for this? I sure will be hitting up my first Summerlicious restaurant at night on the opening day of this event! Look out for these upcoming reviews:

▪ Sassafraz
▪ STOCK
▪ Michael’s on Simcoe
▪ North44
▪ Canoe
▪ Momofuku
▪ Lee

A bunch of returning restaurants for me, but also a handful of brand new ones to try out! Hope everyone is excited for some good eats and delicious reviews!

Chow,
Dreamz*