[Recap] Winterlicious 2016 – The Chase Fish & Oyster

The Chase F&O was a newcomer to licious during the Winterlicious 2016 event, and a rather new restaurant in Toronto as well. It was a bit confusing at first because there’s two parts to this restaurant. The Chase itself is actually located upstairs in the same building. However, winterlicious was only running for The Chase Fish & Oyster – the seafood specialized restaurant that’s on the bottom floor. The two restaurants actually have entirely different menus too. So I think a lot of people were confused about where they were eating when booking for licious, including myself, thinking I was going to The Chase and not knowing this one was a little different! However, the menu looked just as good and there’s a lack of seafood specialty restaurants on the licious list anyway, so was very excited about trying this place out.

The problem with being new to anything, is that sometimes you aren’t prepared for what’s to come. I definitely think they overbooked themselves during this event and didn’t realize the sheer amount of people who show up to licious events. We made and confirmed our reservations for our group long before our licious dining date, but they were clearly running behind that night. There was a lot of people waiting, and we ended up waiting a full 30 minutes (at least) before we could be seated. That’s unfortunately the worst situation you could put in front of a bunch of hungry foodies after they get off work. To make matters worse, their kitchen was likely backed up too, and everyone was busy… so it was a slow night of dining… a lot of waiting… and food coming out slowly. However, being the professional restaurant that they are, we were kindly offered complimentary cold dishes to help ease our wait a bit. And let’s have the full food review:

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Love the vibe and decor – perfect for a seafood restaurant while still keeping it classy.
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Drinks - Powder Monkey (left), Tropical Mint Punch (right)
Drinks – Powder Monkey (left), Tropical Mint Punch (right)

Our drinks were the typical cocktails served at restaurants. A little refresher to start off the long night of waiting xD

Complimentary (probably for the long wait) - Seafood Platter
Complimentary (probably for the long wait) – Seafood Platter

Because they knew the food was taking forever, we were offered a complimentary seafood dish of cold items that we would gladly accept! These don’t require much prep and no cooking so they were a good idea to keep diners happy while waiting! Some nice BC and PEI oysters, with some snow crab legs too! What a nice freebie!

Extra Menu Order - Tuna Nachos
Extra Menu Order – Tuna Nachos

I can’t remember if we ordered these due to hunger or if they provided more food for us while we waited. But these seafood nachos had aioli on half, and something else on the other half because we had an egg allergy in the group. Tasty nachos! I think of it as a high class version of nachos because of the ingredients XDDD Very asian inspired version of nachos too with the taro chips which are some of my fave!

Extra Menu Order - Oyster Po Boy Slider
Extra Menu Order – Oyster Po Boy Slider

Another extra food item which was a seafood version of a classic pub dish. Again taking the cheap dishes loved by all and making it classier and “fishier”! Thoroughly enjoyed their rendition of the slider! Bite size (a couple of bites for me) of crunchy and tasty deep fried oyster in a baby burger!

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Appetizer - Lobster & Tomato Bisque
Appetizer – Lobster & Tomato Bisque

The soup was quite tasty, but also spicy! It was a bit on the more oily side, but very flavourful and nice and warm.

Appetizer - Salmon Tartare
Appetizer – Salmon Tartare

The salmon tartare was super delicious! Can’t go wrong with cold raw salmon right? The bread was a bit too thick and hard for this dish’s accompaniment though! Would have liked something thinner so it doesn’t take away from the tartare main affair.

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Entree - Pan Seared Arctic Char
Entree – Pan Seared Arctic Char

The char was a tad bit overcooked, but still a tasty cut of fish with a strong buttery flavour on it. The vegetables accompaniment was light and went well with the fish by adding something a little different.

Entree - Braised Beef Brisket
Entree – Braised Beef Brisket

The brisket was very soft and tender, and I especially enjoyed the crispy stuff! Very happy that this restaurant doesn’t only do seafood, but does their meats well too!

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Dessert - Caramelized Banana Sundae
Dessert – Caramelized Banana Sundae

The bananas drenched in toffee caramel is very tasty of course! The ice cream is just regular vanilla scoops of plain normal “peasant” ice cream though. lol.

Dessert (vegan) - Fruit Bowl
Dessert (vegan) – Fruit Bowl

What can I say? This is a bowl of fruit… rather berries… for the vegans :D

It appears that I’m missing a photo for a Chocolate Cake dessert on the menu, but I have notes that the cake was very dry and dense… more like eating a stale-ish cupcake. But the peanut butter ice cream that went with it was delicious!!! I guess the cake wasn’t good enough to deserve to make it into my photos… haha whoops.

Dessert - Donuts
Dessert – Donuts

The donut was kinda like a regular Tim Horton’s donut, but with an apple filling! Another incredibly filling dessert item!

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Missing attire pic again :( Was too dark and cold after the long table wait.
Attire: Business Casual

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Although this restaurant seemed to have a bit of trouble with their first licious event, their food was still very tasty and kept up to the standards. They made up for their issues by providing complimentary dishes to keep everyone happy which is an extra plus for them for incredible service! The seafood is at a high quality and I would definitely come back to enjoy their food again. There’s a good portion of food and the environment is so nice and modern. I would love to try their sister restaurant upstairs which is well known too. They are quite pricey but it doesn’t seem like they’ll be joining the licious scene. In the meantime, The Chase F&O have figured out their overbooking issues in licious events since then, and the novelty seems to have worn off so you can dine more comfortably without such a long wait now! Highly recommend this place for a good seafood pick!

Fishy Out,
Dreamz*

http://www.thechasefo.com/
Restaurant: The Chase Fish & Oyster
Winterlicious: $23 Lunch // $38 Dinner
Reservations: Seemed like they were overbooked at their first licious run. Definitely put your’s in early as they are popular.
Recommended Attire: Business Casual

[Recap] Winterlicious 2016 – Fred’s Not Here

Considering the disappointment I had with their service at a previous licious event, this restaurant would normally not be on my list to return to. However, sometimes the family has plans of their own and you just kinda get dragged into it =_=”. At least I figured, it can’t be any worse and I already know what to expect of their food, which was pretty decent even with the poor service. They’ve been around for a while and know what they’re popular for – their lobster bisque and their steaks. Their menu during this licious review period was quite something though. There were over 5 – 6+ different options for each course, when most places usually just provide 3 – 4 to keep things simple. Let’s see how everything went this time around:

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Previous review of this place has better restaurant photos :P
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Basket of Mixed Bread
Basket of Mixed Bread

Where’s the butter…… I think they gave us those pre-packaged butters, but it was like that last time too.

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Appetizer - Baked Lobster & Crab Soup
Appetizer – Baked Lobster & Crab Soup

Soup inside the Puff Pastry
Soup inside the Puff Pastry

Their famous soup but I feel like they changed the contents a bit. Hmmm. The pastry puff on top could be a bit more burnt for that browning crust that makes it much crispier and tastier. The soup had lots of pepper, but the seafood flavours were still strong and came through. Wish they had a bit more seafood chunks in there though.

Appetizer - Chopped Kale Salad w/ Miso Tahini Dressing
Appetizer – Chopped Kale Salad w/ Miso Tahini Dressing

This salad was a typical plate of kale, but the sauce was quite nice and refreshing. It was more on the tart side, so the sauce held the dish together… otherwise just lots of kale!!!

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Entree - Seafood Cioppino
Entree – Seafood Cioppino

A ciopinno is actually a fish stew that originated in San Francisco as an Italian-American dish. The seafood in here, particularly the fish, was a little too dry for my liking from being boiled for too long. It was a bit too watery to be able to dip the toast in and get anything out of it. The soup base was full of good seafood flavours, although the stew felt over-peppered again like the soups :(

Entree - Steak Frites
Entree – Steak Frites

As expected from this steakhouse – their steak was once again perfectly cooked. It was a solid cut of meat, except there was just no sauce to go with it!!! Sometimes it’s nice to have a little bit of sauce accompaniment especially if the steak is not the juicy kinds. The fries were pretty standard frites with a nice crispiness to them.

Entree - Duck "A L'Orange" with Coconut Rice
Entree – Duck “A L’Orange” with Coconut Rice

We got a very good quality cut of duck. Each slice had a bit of the duck skin, then a small layer of fat, then the duck meat. The skin was quite salty, and unfortunately the duck itself was a bit dry. It probably needed a bit more plum sauce or their “l’orange”. The rice was actually a bit hard so it needed to be cooked a tad longer.

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Dessert - Daily Fresh Fruit Ice
Dessert – Daily Fresh Fruit Ice

The sorbets were pretty regular – more on the sour side.

Dessert - Berry & Mango Cheesecake
Dessert – Berry & Mango Cheesecake

The cheesecake was a soft and creamy one. The standard kind of cheesecakes you’d pick up at a store.

Dessert - Baked Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum Sauce
Dessert – Baked Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum Sauce

Unlike the last time I had this, they really did it right this time! The bread pudding was the star of the desserts. Super tasty with perfectly melted chocolate in a proper consistency for bread pudding. Just the right softness with a bit of spongey give. The sauce was a delicious one too!

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No outfit pic – too dark and late :P
Attire – Casual

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Overall, I didn’t mind dining at this restaurant again this time. The service was definitely MUCH better than last time… felt more like a normal dining experience at the restaurant. A little bummed about the overly peppered food, but their meat dishes continue to be stellar. They’ve kept up their name as a steakhouse that can deliver good steaks. The seafood I’m still not so sure about (many other better dining choices for good seafood dishes elsewhere), but it is catered to a more western way of seafood dining and it’s not really their specialty here. The restaurant itself seems to be pretty consistent of what you can expect with their food, so it is definitely predictable. A great dining choice for having good steak if you don’t feel like splurging a bunch for the quality higher end steakhouses in area.

Thanks for rEATding,
Dreamz*

http://www.fredsnothere.com/
Restaurant: Fred’s Not Here
Winterlicious: $23 Lunch // $38 Dinner
Reservations: Call a couple days ahead of time and you should be able to get something.
Attire: Casual

[Recap] Summerlicious 2015 – Copacabana

So this restaurant is pretty well known for being around Toronto for a while now, serving a Brazilian Rodizio experience to diners. For those that have not heard of this before, it’s basically an all-you-can-eat meat festival. Waiters walk around and slice you different kinds of meat, alllll nightttt longggg, until you tell them to stop because you’re so stuffed with meats. So if you’re a vegetarian, just turn the other way now and skip this review!

Copacabana has multiple locations throughout Toronto, but the Yonge & Eglinton location is the only one that joins in for the licious events. Because it’s already a buffet style restaurant, nothing really changes for them during licious, except you get to experience it at a cheaper licious rate. So you’ll find that this particular review will be a little different. I’ll just be throwing you a bunch of photos that won’t be as pretty as your usual licious restaurant reviews. Because really, all you’re gonna get is plates of meat and their famous grilled pineapples! I didn’t really go into the details of noting down every piece of meat that came my way, so if you want the full meat menu, you’re best just taking a look at what they have listed on their site – menu here. And here, I’ll be throwing you a casual review of the experience in general, so enjoy! Warning – pictures of messily sliced meat are probably not going to be super appetizing to everyone… :D

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Blue side of the sign for SERVE ME
Blue side of the sign for SERVE ME

Incredibly casual and chill environment. They had some live musicians playing at the front of the restaurant earlier on before we got seated. As expected of this type of restaurant, you get no menu. Just a sign to tell them you want food to come to your table or not. Blue side = you’re READY TO DEVOUR.

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Drink - Blue Curacao?
Drink – Blue Curacao?

I’m sorry I didn’t write down nor do I remember what this drink I got was. It’s definitely some sort of Blue Curacao sweet liquids, with some cinnamon rimmed on the side there. Very summery and thirst-quenching. Definitely need some cold liquids to wash down the meats!

One part of the all you can eat salad bar
One part of the all you can eat salad bar

So you’re not JUST eating one part of the food group, they do have an open salad bar that you can walk to at the back of the restaurant. This is maybe half of it (didn’t want to jump in there and disturb all the diners piling up their plates with food), but you get the idea of it! There’s also an area serving some breads, cold cuts, and grapes. So there, you get a little bit of everything if you want. The salad was… pretty ordinary take out salad stuff. They had some delicious cheesy coconut breads but don’t get too much because you don’t want to get full before your real meal – the meats! Also apologies, I’m not sure why I didn’t take any pics of my salad bar plate :(

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Meat Plate #1
Meat Plate #1

So it begins. This is basically what happens if you’re a slow eater. You get all sorts of meats piling up on your plate as you race the servers to eat as much as you can before they drop the next set of meats on ya @___@ That night, they were walking around with 15 different types of meats.

Beef Ribs
Beef Ribs

These were one of their specialties of the night. They were soft but very bland. And they also got really dry if you let them sit out for a bit.

Meat Slicing
Meat Slicing

Here’s how the meats come out. And how the servers slice dangerously quickly right in front of you! It’s all very safe and cool though :) Nothing to be scared of at all, except for all the meat you’re going to be trying to eat all night x_x

Meat Plate #2
Meat Plate #2

And another plate of random meats. All of the meats were properly cooked and pretty well seasoned, but some were a tad too salty for me. I found I liked the cheesy meats more. There’s just so much meat that near the end it gets to a point where you’re just like… it’s all meat. Just so.. much… chewing.. and… similar meat taste… ahhhh…

Grilled Pineapple Slicing and Serving
Grilled Pineapple Slicing and Serving

And that’s when the grilled pineapples come in! If there was a dessert section, this would be it! Definitely what this place is known for, and definitely a relief and savior from all those meats. I probably had a little too much of these because I just kept telling them to come back and slice me more. More warm sweet fruit for me!

Grilled Pineapples
Grilled Pineapples

Look at ’em juicy thick strips of pineapples topped with a bit of cinnamon which gives them their deliciousness. Mmmm, yes they deserved a plate of their own <3

Garlic Top Sirloin & Grilled Pineapples. Followed by the NO STOP SERVING red sign.
Garlic Top Sirloin & Grilled Pineapples. Followed by the NO STOP SERVING red sign.

So my favourites of the night were these pieces of Garlic Top Sirloin, and the GRILLED PINEAPPLES (could you have guessed that?). So this is my final plate of goodies before flipping the sign over to the red side… and letting them know that I’m about to roll out full of meats.

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Attire – No photo :( But super casual at this location, just come in t-shirt and jeans/shorts. Flip flops would be welcome at this place xD

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This is definitely a fun experience to have with a group of friends. The more the better because then you can pawn your meats off to others when you realize you’re way too full to handle anymore. For sure, a more popular choice amongst boys because they love to have a lot of meat, and they can definitely handle all that meat way better than I ever could. At the end of the dining experience though, you’ll definitely expect to get the meat sweats (being realistic here ok), and you probably want to be eating salad the next day. So if you’ve got friends that love love love to eat meat? Well make sure to take them here! Make use of the licious event to dine cheaper, because otherwise it’s normally $50 – $60 for these things. In terms of the restaurant as it pertains to licous, I would come and try this place if you haven’t or if you’re really craving a meat buffet. But otherwise, it’s not really super fancy or anything too special that you can’t go to on a regular evening (you’re just paying less during licious). I would suggest the downtown Toronto location on a regular night for a party group, because it’s much nicer and classier at that one. Plus, they’ve opened a seafood style buffet in the same downtown Toronto location called Copa by the Sea that you could check out if you’re more into the ocean foods.

Once again, I apologize for my lack of detail and missing pieces for this particular review. I hope I was still able to get the dining experience across though, and that you weren’t too grossed out by my plates full of meat pictures that aren’t as pretty looking as the other reviews D: Have a meat-loving day!

Tchau (goodbye in portuguese according to google),
Dreamz*

http://www.thecopa.ca/
Restaurant: Copacabana Brazilian Rodizio
Summerlicious: $35 Dinner
Reservations: There’s a lot of people during licious, but they will probably take walk-ins if you don’t mind waiting for a table during busy hours.
Attire: Casual

[Recap] Summerlicious 2015 – Cluny

After having an amazing lunch at this place when they first joined for licious a year ago from now, I knew I wanted to go back here for a dinner meal during Summerlicious 2015. And so I did! The vibe and atmosphere at night was just as amazing as during the day. The dimmer lights at night give the place a good outdoor French bistro on a cozy street corner kinda feel. The decor of this place is still one of my favourites for Toronto restaurants. Cute little story was that I happened to bump into my best friend also having dinner here on the same night, just at a table diagonal to me! What a sweet surprise! This place is definitely the new place everyone wants to try out in Distillery District. The great thing is you can take the time to enjoy the historic attractions after your meal too :) So, let’s get right to it!

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Drinks - House Sangria with White Wine (left) and Red Wine (right)
Drinks – House Sangria with White Wine (left) and Red Wine (right)

Myself not the biggest fan of sangrias – but I liked how they had both white and red here. I’m more of a white wine kinda gal so I enjoyed the white one more. Red sangrias tend to be a little more dry and sour. But both were very tasty sangrias and filled to the brim with fresh fruits as you can see!

Drinks - Joie de Vivre (Left), Aviator (Right)
Drinks – Joie de Vivre (Left), Aviator (Right)

So, let me talk to you about my drink for a minute, which was the one on the left. This drink probably means nothing to you by name, but let me tell you that the general ingredients were amaretto, egg white, and cinnamon. If you follow my food reviews, you’ll know that I’m definitely a sweet tooth for everything. Amaretto is always a safe bet with me when it comes to alcohol because, well, sweet and smooth! But let me tell you… this drink. It is STILL, to this date… the best alcoholic cocktail I have had to drink in my personal opinion. If I had a cocktail defining me – this would be it. I can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed this drink because it was like drinking dessert in alcoholic form out of a fancy glass. If I could borrow Thor for a minute – please click here for what I mean in picture form. I really hope they still have it next time I go because I’m craving it… Oh. And the one on the right was a gin with Violette – not mah type of strong alcohol but it was very nice to look at xD

Quinoa Rye, Olive Bread, and Baguette with Butter
Quinoa Rye, Olive Bread, and Baguette with Butter

Wow! Don’t you love variety and choices?! Especially great because this place has a cute little bread station in the center of the restaurant where you can see all sorts of breads! Then they cut them up and bring them to you. Everything is just so cute :) I’m not sure if I had a favourite out of these, but I think I liked them all the same here!

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Appetizer - Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
Appetizer – Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

This soup actually had a little bit of spicy heat to it! Unbeknownst to me, it was a surprise, but otherwise a nice chill soup to start. Nothing in particular to note. Ooo look at that pretty dishware!

Appetizer - Smoked Trout Rillette
Appetizer – Smoked Trout Rillette

Inside the Smoked Trout Rillette
Inside the Smoked Trout Rillette

The rillette had a pretty hard shell that I had to break into to get at the fish. I’m not too sure what the shell was exactly, but it had no taste and was a bit mushy in texture like hard potatoes. It was kinda like eating clay maybe… but once I got to the fish it was much better lol. The fish itself was very flaky and a tad dry, but taste-wise it was all there. Personally I prefer these with a little more creamier sauces mixed in to prevent the fish from being too dry in your mouth. The pickled veggies on the side turned out to be VERY sour… too sour for me to enjoy =P It’s ok though, smoked trout saved the day.

Appetizer - Spinach and Buffalo Ricotta Salad
Appetizer – Spinach and Buffalo Ricotta Salad

The salad was nice and crunchy and had a good sweetness to it from the ricotta cheese. A pretty standard what you would expect kind of salad from the photo and ingredients listed. It was healthy and refreshing and a very enjoyable starter for sure!

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Entree - Braised Short Rib Burger
Entree – Braised Short Rib Burger

So I picked the burger half because I remembered how awesome their fries were from the lunch I had before. And no doubt the fries were the same and absolutely awesomely thin, crisp, and delicioussssss~ However, the ribs in the burger I found to be a little bland in taste and too dry. I think it would’ve been much better if some barbecue sauce was added to the mix. A little bit of a disappointment there, but the fries were phenomenal!

Entree - Moroccan Style Pork Shoulder Pot Roast
Entree – Moroccan Style Pork Shoulder Pot Roast

This was a very interesting dish for sure. Definitely very healthy tasting and stew-like. The pork was fatty, soft, and tender (sorry did I say healthy?). The dish overall turned out to feel very light though, while having a good hearty meaty taste from the pork. A newer kind of dish to me for this event.

Entree - Marinated Albacore Tuna Salad
Entree – Marinated Albacore Tuna Salad

The salad was slightly spicy and not too saucy. The tuna had a light fish taste. I especially enjoyed the large thick pieces. The pickled cucumbers added a nice touch to the dish as well.

Entree - Grilled Asparagus Crepe
Entree – Grilled Asparagus Crepe

The crepe was sooo thin and crispy, made perfectly. The asparagus was… well… asparagus. LOL. It’s a vegetable… that I don’t really like the taste of… and it tasted like what asparagus would taste like! So yea… that crepe…… hahaha

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Dessert - Blueberry Sorbet
Dessert – Blueberry Sorbet

A sweet and soft sorbet. Not overly icy. Lovely cold finish to a summer meal! Full of blueberries and blueberry flavour :)

Dessert - Banana Buttermilk Pudding
Dessert – Banana Buttermilk Pudding

Definitely packed this pudding with bananas because it had a very very strong banana taste. Texture was soft and mushy, with a sweet crunch from the accompaniments. Also, think western style pudding here, not the japanese style jiggly stuff. I thought this was a heavier dessert with strong flavours, but I enjoyed it. If you do not like bananas though, you probably won’t enjoy it. LOL

Dessert - French Apricot Galette
Dessert – French Apricot Galette

Look-wise, this would be the most drool worthy dessert I feel. But oddly enough, the flavour combination didn’t mesh too well with me on this one. The dried apricots were a little too sour for this dessert, and I’m not sure if it worked out overall with that sesame ice cream on top. I thought the fusion with the western pastry and the asian ice cream was a little weird and didn’t complement each other properly as a dessert. Womp womp~ I prefered to eat them separately as separate dessert things.

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Attire - Business Casual
Attire – Business Casual

The ambiance is just so nice in here! High fashion European styles would fit here for sure! But dining customer attire is pretty open and casual friendly still.

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So overall, I was still very happy with the place although not every dish was perfection. It didn’t live up to my hype in terms of food tastes from when I was last here for lunch, but it did meet my expectations as a whole. Environment is always a bonus for being so pretty, and the people being so kind. I feel the food was almost to perfection but just missing a bit here and there. I hope they will continue to improve and update their dishes because I would love to keep coming back and trying all the things they have to offer! Viva Cluny! Wait, that’s not French… Cluny… est magnifique!

Au revoir,
Dreamz*

http://www.clunybistro.com/
Restaurant: Cluny Bistro
Winterlicious: $23 Lunch // $35 Dinner
Reservations: This place is the new hip place, so make sure you make your reservations early to snag the good times. It’s pretty big so they can seat a lot, but they’re always full for this event!
Attire: Business Casual

[Recap] Summerlicious 2015 – Splendido

Ahhh, Splendido – a restaurant which has flourished in the Toronto foodie scene for so many years, and unfortunately, this would be my last review for them. Last year, they had announced that they would be shutting their doors as the owner decided to move on to new things. Read all about it here if you missed the news, but sadly they are now closed and these photos are what remains of my delicious time spent there :(

Nonetheless, I’m very glad I was able to dine here twice for licious. Both times I have had top quality food and I’m happy that Chef Victor Barry obtained such great success with Splendido, and will be moving on to greater culinary adventures! I returned here for dinner for Summerlicious after having an awesome Winterlicious the season before, so I was excited to try the new things. The meal was excellent and everything would have been wonderful except for one annoying fly that bothered our dining the whole night -_-“. Let’s have a detailed look at my last Splendido meal though :’)

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Your restaurant has made it when you have your name in the floorboards!
Your restaurant has made it when you have your name in the floorboards!

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Drink - Cucumber Basil Lemonade
Drink – Cucumber Basil Lemonade

Sounds like a refreshing non-alcoholic combination indeed, perfect for the summer right? Except that lemonade was truly… full of lemons. It was quite sour and not what I was used to for the usual sugary filled lemonades… so this was a tad too strong in sourness for my personal liking :S

Extra Order from the Tasting Menu - Uni Special
Extra Order from the Tasting Menu – Uni Special

In addition to the Summerlicious menu, they had also offered a Side Menu and Tasting Menu items. Ordering off of these would incur extra charges of course, but we decided to try it out since we were there already :) The Uni special consisted of Uni (of course) on top of a potato bun on the right, and on top of squid ink toasted brioche on the left (very accommodating to allergies). We were very excited to see the abundance of uni since this is a delicacy in Japanese sushi bars. The bread and the sauce here definitely had enough flavours to overpower the uni, which is what I believe might have been intended because many people are unsure of the unique and strong ocean taste that uni can bring. So to make it more palatable for everyone, they put together this combination. It was still very deliciously done indeed!

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Appetizer - Foie Gras
Appetizer – Foie Gras

The foie gras was suuuuper smooth and divineeee to have. It almost felt as if my appetizer plate was a dessert, the way it was presented and the ingredients that came with this. The strawberries made the dish very summer appropriate and added a freshness factor to it. Definitely love the foie gras here!

Appetizer - Salmon Sashimi with Rice Cake
Appetizer – Salmon Sashimi with Rice Cake

Because this IS advertised as salmon sashimi, so I caution you that as picky Japanese food eaters, we may have had something in mind already. But this restaurant is definitely taking inspiration from other cultures and creating its own kind of dishes, so I applaud them for this! The salmon sashimi actually turned out to be a smidge salty with the sauce, but the blend of flavours on the dish as a whole was still very tasty. And the slight subtle spiciness added by the rice cakes gave it an great additional twist!

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Entree - Steak
Entree – Steak

Those chunky looking steak pieces actually turned out to be very tender and chewy. Not difficult to eat at all. The rest was just plated with tomatoes to go give you a well balanced meal of meat and veggies :)

Entree - Salmon
Entree – Salmon

The salmon was perfectlyyyy cooked. And I can’t stress how much I love it when a restaurant FINALLY cooks my fish right. Soft and flaky and smooth on the insides. The rest of the dish was definitely very much influenced by Chinese flavours. The vegetables and the sauce definitely reminded me of food at home =P

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Dessert - Stilton Cheese
Dessert – Stilton Cheese

This cheese is known to be good cheese amongst cheese lovers. Very heavy for a final dessert. Combined with some apple jam and nutty buttery toast making this a strong finisher. Of course I haven’t acquired the taste for this cheese… but the accompaniments I very much enjoyed!

Dessert - Strawberry Shortcake
Dessert – Strawberry Shortcake

This was definitely advertised as a “cake” of some sort on the menu, but to my surprise it did not come as what you would expect for a regular cake. This was more of their own version of a broken down strawberry shortcake I guess??! There was berry gelato with a bunch of cream, and lots of strawberries. And some crumbly stuff which I guess represents the crust?! But definitely not in the usual cake form! LOL. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this broken apart cake dessert for its flavours… not because they disappointed me of my vision of real cake!!!

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Attire - Business Casual
Attire – Business Casual

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Overall, I enjoyed my time at Splendido (minus the stupid fly that somehow got in cuz it’s summer and stayed around, blegh). They always provided exceptional service and high quality dishes. I’m glad I was able to try a completely different take on the foods even though I had been here before. The meal was very satisfying and I’m definitely sad that I won’t be able to eat at such a great restaurant again! Here’s to finding new restaurants that provide the same great experience!

Clink,
Dreamz*

http://splendido.ca/
Restaurant: Splendido
Winterlicious: $28 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Unfortunately, they are no longer open :'(
Attire: Business Casual / Business

Winterlicious 2015 – Biff’s Bistro

And running the last Winterlicious review in here right on the wire, just as the first day of Summerlicious starts this year xD. The last restaurant to be reviewed during my Winterlicious is Biff’s Bistro, under the O&B restaurant franchise. This one is a bit under the radar as it isn’t as upscale as some of the others, but still at a convenient location in downtown core. It’s also in the style of a French bistro cuisine, and they also have a nifty patio open in the summer months! Biff’s also runs in all the licious events with the rest of the O&B restaurants, and is at a lower price range, so don’t expect it to be as high quality and fancy as some of the others. I had never been to this restaurant before, so this was my first time trying it out with a group. I went with pretty standard expectations for a restaurant and it definitely met it with good quality food. However, I found their presentation to be slightly lacking and not consistent. We had ordered the same plates where the sizing and placements were different. That would be something nice to look for that differentiates them between a restaurant with higher quality chef standards. Nonetheless, here’s the photo reviews!

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Nice comfortable booths in a large restaurant. With some nice French style decor.
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Pretty standard regular bread… not exactly freshly warm, and nothing special to write about.

Bread & Butter
Bread & Butter

Pretty standard looking soup as well. This was full of apple flavour though, almost in a thick apple sauce like texture. A very tasty a different style of soup though for Winterlicious :)

Appetizer - Parsnip & Apple Soup
Appetizer – Parsnip & Apple Soup

Good tasting smoked salmon. Very standard accompaniments plated nicely (yet inconsistent with another plate at the table). Good tasting food, but also nothing too special and also something that you can likely put together similarly from home. Enjoyed the dish for what it was worth though~

Appetizer - Cured Pastrami-Style Salmon
Appetizer – Cured Pastrami-Style Salmon

A very filling salad full of lots of different ingredients and textures. A good mix for a salad :) Exactly what you’d expect from what it looks like!

Appetizer - Mixed Grain Salad
Appetizer – Mixed Grain Salad

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Didn’t get a chance to personally sample the chicken leg, but reported as a good tasting dish with ample flavouring. It was also of a good size, but I felt the accompaniments were pretty normal for this dish, which is what could have changed to bring it to the next level of goodness.

Entree - Chicken Leg Confit
Entree – Chicken Leg Confit

A very heavy, yet soft and tender mix of beef and veggies in a cornmeal-like stew. First time finding out that Carbonnade Flamande is actually a type of beef and onion stew made with alcohol, originating from Belgium. Very interesting flavour-wise, but a little heavy and too mushy for my likes. Quite enjoyable trying out this type of dish for the first time though!

Entree - Simmered Beef “Carbonnade Flamande’
Entree – Simmered Beef “Carbonnade Flamande’

Definitely a different type of item on a Winterlicious menu from the other restaurants. It was done very nicely, with the crepe being the right thickness so the insides did not fall out, while still ensuring it you didn’t have too much “crepe” in each mouthful. Definitely a good vegetarian dish that was very filling but fresh at the same time. Flavour-wise it was what you’d expect as well, but I thought the sauces and mixture of vegetables was picked out to complement everything on the dish nicely. So that it didn’t feel like you were just eating a gross plate of vegetables at all xD

Entree - Stuffed Buckwheat Crêpe
Entree – Stuffed Buckwheat Crêpe

A very generous portion of fish here! Didn’t get a chance to sample it with my picky cooked fish eating expectations =P but it looked to be nicely seared on the outside and still soft in the center. Reported to be delicious, but I’m unsure if the accompaniments and little sauce is enough to flavour the large piece of fish fully. But since I did not sample it personally, I can’t give more info :( But it does look very nice doesn’t it???

Entree - Roasted White Fish
Entree – Roasted White Fish

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First time having a Bavarois as well, which is similar to a pudding dessert. This dessert tasted very… interesting. It wasn’t strongly cherry flavoured, but it did have an egg pudding texture and softness to it. I’m not too sure about that sauce either… apparently this dessert had pork involved in it too? Honestly, the colouring isn’t too appetizing to me, and the flavours were very subtle. Not my kind of dessert for sure… needed to be more powerful.

Dessert - Warner’s Cherry Bavarois
Dessert – Warner’s Cherry Bavarois

This was definitely more of what I’d expect in a dessert. Lots of new food terms in this review, but a Chômeur is a maple-based dessert originated in Quebec! The sweetness in the apples and maple sap definitely put this dessert in the right sugary direction. Loved the soft spongey cake-ness and was a wonderfully filling and warm final dish for Winterlicious xD

Dessert - Amanda’s Apple Maple Chômeur
Dessert – Amanda’s Apple Maple Chômeur

Yaaaaaa… your typical cheese plate. Nothing fancy or special about them cheeses and accompaniments here. Kinda standard supermarket available stuff.

Dessert - Cheese Boutique Selection
Dessert – Cheese Boutique Selection

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A pretty standard downtown restaurant here. Can definitely go in a casual or business casual attire. Dressing up too much would actually put you a little out of place given the crowd dining here.

Dress Style - Casual
Dress Style – Casual

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And all in all, that completes the Winterlicious review series!!! Finally!!! Biff’s Bistro is a nice comfortable restaurant if you’re looking for something a little more budget friendly while providing good quality food and service. But not quite the place if you’re looking for something more unique in flavouring and high-end. This would be a nice spot to stop by in the summer I think, when the patio is open and I’ve seen some pretty nice summer dessert offerings in past Summerlicious menus that would make me drool!

I hope you enjoyed the reviews, and hold on tight because shortly incoming will be this year’s Summerlicious reviews already! Stay tunedddd in!

Foodie loves,
Dreamz*

http://oliverbonacini.com/Biffs-Bistro.aspx
Restaurant: Biff’s Bistro
Winterlicious: $23 Lunch // $35 Dinner
Reservations: Do make a reservation before arriving for lunch and dinner on weekdays even, as it is in the part of downtown where many people can easily get to after work. But they aren’t a top spot for licious, so I wouldn’t be
Attire: Casual / Business Casual

Winterlicious 2015 – America

America – sounds like a new restaurant to licious? But it’s not at all. This is the restaurant that is in the exact location and became the replacement of STOCK from last licious events. Still located on the 31st floor of Toronto’s Trump Tower and Hotel, the restaurant underwent a 1 week renovation last summer in order to transform from STOCK into America (read about it here). It completed just in time for Toronto’s International Film Festival (TIFF), so you can bet some celebrities (Keira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch) have already been here.

STOCK was definitely one of my faves for previous licious events, so I decided to try this new replacement as well. The pros – food is still amazing and of utmost highest quality. What would you expect when you’ve got some top tier chefs from around the city like Executive Chef Anthony Walsh, Chef Bill Osburne, and Executive Chef Markus Bestig. The cons – the lighting is the worst for photos! Hence you are going to be bombarded with a bunch of purple photos because they’re all #nofilter =) Sorry for my laziness in editing, but I hope you’ll get a true idea of how the food is like visually! And how even more upscale and hip they have made the new place!

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Yes, this place was very dark and purpley.
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Fancy booths for dining
Fancy booths for dining
America's modern take on their menus
America’s modern take on their menus

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Nicely made cocktails. A strong dose of alcohol and flavours as described!

Drinks (from left to right) - Hazelnut Fashioned, Cucumber Julep, Red Chilli Scotch
Drinks (from left to right) – Hazelnut Fashioned, Cucumber Julep, Red Chilli Scotch

I forgot about this bread because I was too busy with the cornbread below…

Regular Bread with Butter
Regular Bread with Butter

THIS CORNBREAD IS WHERE IT’S AT. It was soooo warm and delicious soft goodness I just wanted to have all of this as my meal. I was worried it would be too spicy for me, but instead it was the best cornbread I’ve tasted with a tiny kick and just a great blend of flavouring. With the butter melting on top the fresh hotness… it was absolutely a divine start!!!

Jalapeno Cornbread with Butter
Jalapeno Cornbread with Butter

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Hmmm… I just remember this to be very soft creamy cheesy. Very strong goat-like taste to it. Didn’t try too much because the flavour was too intense for my liking, but those cheesy fanatics will definitely find this rare and delightful!

Appetizer - Sheep's Milk Quark Cheese
Appetizer – Sheep’s Milk Quark Cheese

The soup was your typical bean soup. Tasted very good but nothing too special about it. There is absolutely no turtle in this soup. And this is how a turtle bean looks like: http://www.organicroad.com.au/media/images/content/detail/turtle_beans-text452.jpg

Appetizer - Black Turtle Bean Soup
Appetizer – Black Turtle Bean Soup

Hmmm, a good dish as well. Also what you would expect though with some nice cold salmon mixed with some veggies and crunchy texture bits and sauce. Not too incredibly memorable either of a dish of its sorts.

Appetizer - Heritage Salmon Poke Ceviche
Appetizer – Heritage Salmon Poke Ceviche

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Mmmm this meat was cooked perfectly. Just like how STOCK always had the best cooked meats, this dish at America also delivers at the same high quality level of cooking and seasoning! The steak was very tender and the cheek was so soft. An absolutely great plate of meat!

Entree - Wellington County Steak & Cheek
Entree – Wellington County Steak & Cheek

I honestly don’t remember too much about this dish other than the fact that it was deliciously cooked salmon as well. I’m not sure it was as perfectly cooked for fish as I’ve had at other places, but I know the flavouring came out very well overall. Nicely seared as well. An excellent seafood dish that would not leave you hungry.

Entree - Pan-Seared Salmon & Clams
Entree – Pan-Seared Salmon & Clams

I very much enjoyed the sauce used for this ravioli. It was very heavy indeed, but I was surprised how well the sweet-tangy lemon flavour was able to come out from this dish without overpowering anything. It also didn’t make the dish sour as you think lemon would in most cases. Definitely done exceptionally for a unique lemon-based ravioli, which would also be my first time trying such a flavour! Presentation-wise could be fancier from this place, but definitely a yummy dish!

Entree - Lemon Ricotta Ravioli
Entree – Lemon Ricotta Ravioli

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I was already pretty full from the very generous quantity of food served in this meal, but this was definitely not something to be missed. In all my fullness, I was still able to gulp down this dessert because it tasted amazing and it would be a waste to not finish every last bit of it! Incredible combination of ingredients and baked to perfection. A soft hot date-like pudding, with the cold ice cream melting atop, alongside a sweet caramel filled sauce and nice sweet soft apples!!! Oh and some candied pecans to add additional crunch! AHHHH *o* I want to eat it again right now! Definitely for those with a strong sweet tooth, but it’s not too sweet at all! Sticky though! The perfect dessert!

Dessert - Granny Apple Sticky Pudding
Dessert – Granny Apple Sticky Pudding

A very strongly flavoured panna cotta (and did I mention it was eggless for a dessert?!). I very much enjoyed it as a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but replace the hard chocolate shell with soft jiggly pudding texture! Definitely a panna cotta to be remembered!

Dessert - Peanut Butter Panna Cotta
Dessert – Peanut Butter Panna Cotta

This was a plate of cheese dessert. I have to admit I’ve seen better plates of cheeses with better accompaniments. But this shall do as a plate of savoury cheese :)

Dessert - Cheese (Big Ed's Gouda)
Dessert – Cheese (Big Ed’s Gouda)

And with tradition, they’ve also kept the dessert-along-with-your-bill kind of thing going. This was a nice little marshmallow-ey chocolate bits. Continuing to add to the intense fullness that we were all feeling at this point!

Complimentary Dessert Chocolates
Complimentary Dessert Chocolates

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This place is in Trump! One of the fanciest and richest places! You can bet to be more upscale, especially since they’ve changed the environment to be this modern high end restaurant. Do dress it up rather than down if you don’t want to be frowned upon xD

Dress Style - Business / Formal
Dress Style – Business / Formal

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And with that, my foodies, I leave you with my America review. Very glad that I did end up trying out this place. I was skeptical at first because I loved STOCK and I was afraid this would change my fave licious place. But it has definitely become the second STOCK in terms of freshness and quality, so it will now stand in place of STOCK. Even though I really don’t like the name… could’ve been more creative there… and I’m Canadian… lolol. Definitely hit this place up. It’ll be so worth your time and money (especially during licious if you’re not a millionaire type).

Chowtown,
Dreamz*

P.S. One last review for Winterlicious coming then it’s all summed up finally! And we’ll quickly be on to Summerlicious soon ;D

http://americarestaurant.ca/
Restaurant: America Restaurant
Winterlicious: $28 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Might be a little off the radar from your usual crowd, because it did sound like a newer unknown restaurant. But they definitely filled up for dinner regardless. I would suggest to book at least a week ahead on a weekday, and even earlier for weekend seatings.
Attire: Business / Formal (it’s Trump, get fancy)