[Recap] Winterlicious 2016 – America

I know… it appears I’ve gone to this restaurant for every single licious event… but their food is just spectacular, consistently tasty, and different every time. There’s always something on their menu that I want to try and it’s always different than all the other menus out there. What’s more, there’s always somebody that wants to try the good food at this restaurant together as well. So it all works out that I get to go here again! However, with the latest crazy politics that’s been going on south of the border, I think I’ll give them a bit of a rest this year haha! But here’s their 2016 winterlicious lunch review:

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There really isn’t anymore new restaurant pics that I can take that I haven’t already taken in my 749583745 other reviews lol. I always love their gorgeous menus.
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Drinks - Lychee Paradise (left), Mimosa (back center), Vanilla Orchid (right)
Drinks – Lychee Paradise (left), Mimosa (back center), Vanilla Orchid (right)

All these drinks were very tasty. The special cocktails were very candy-like. One was like a sweet candy drink, while the other was more of a sour candy drink!

Sourdough & Cornbread & Soft Butter
Sourdough & Cornbread & Soft Butter

As always, their cornbread is still my favourite cornbread EVER EVER EVER. Their butter is also so super soft and warm too :)

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First of all, I need to give them major props for actually waiting for me to return to my seat before serving my food when I had gone to the bathroom. Instead of making the other guests wait, or leaving my food sitting out, they actually kept my food warm in the back and brought it out for me when I had gotten back to my seat. What impeccable service and that’s why I love coming to this place again and again!

Appetizer - Whitefish Doughnuts
Appetizer – Whitefish Doughnuts

This was a super interesting dish and we all couldn’t wait to see how it would come out! The dish was absolutely delicious and everything went together very well!

Appetizer - Baked Potato & Raclette Soup
Appetizer – Baked Potato & Raclette Soup

The soup was tasty and had some sour veggies, but it didn’t take away from the potato soup itself. It actually literally tastes like a baked potato but in soup form! All the flavours in a deliciously filled baked potato were all there!

Appetizer - Crispy Beef Andouille
Appetizer – Crispy Beef Andouille

Inside the Crispy Beef
Inside the Crispy Beef

The crispy beef was very interesting as well! The meat inside was nice and soft and not dry at all. The crispy parts were just enough to add texture to the meat to create a unique meat appetizer. All the fine details in every little accompaniment was just right and made for a fun experience pairing it altogether! The accompaniments are another thing that America consistently does a lot of and does it well!

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Entree - Smoked Chicken Pappardelle
Entree – Smoked Chicken Pappardelle

The pasta dish was the most normal out of all the dishes in the entree section, but nonetheless it was a very tasty dish with a delicious sauce and well cooked meats. The pasta was a good al dente level. Absolutely nothing to complain about!

Entree - Grandview Farms Meatloaf & Hunter Sauce
Entree – Grandview Farms Meatloaf & Hunter Sauce

The meatloaf dish was also done very well. Again the sauce and accompaniments were all done right and the meat was cooked deliciously! A huge filling meal!

Entree - Northern Woods Mushroom Potato Bake
Entree – Northern Woods Mushroom Potato Bake

I have to say this is probably one of THE BEST licious dishes on my list. First of all, I don’t like mushrooms, but I do love potatoes. This glorious block was created with thin, smooth, creamy layers of potatoes stacked atop one another. If I had to describe it, this would be the perfect softness and tenderness of a delicious cake except in savoury form! The sauce was also so tasty and perfect. I think I wanted another one of this already after taking one bite. Perfection.

Entree - Spicy Salmon Tartare & Wild Rice Cake
Entree – Spicy Salmon Tartare & Wild Rice Cake

This dish was very interesting and unique indeed, but not my favourite. Only due to personal preference of not being a spicy food person, and also not being a wild rice kinda person either. Also maybe because the ingredients reminded me a lot of the asian cuisine I commonly have, but not made in the same way. Mind you, the tartare was still tasty, and the wild rice cake was crunchy and airy as you’d expect, but a little on the hard side). The combination didn’t come together as perfectly as the others for me though.

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Another one of my favourite sections to look forward to at this restaurant as they always come up with new and tasty desserts every time! And their presentations are always top notch, just like all their food presentations too though.

Dessert - Bourbon Chocolate Tart
Dessert – Bourbon Chocolate Tart

A delicious tart…err…block for the chocolate lovers! What else to say but tasty, tasty, tasty! Full of smooth chocolatey-ness!

Dessert - Jasper Hill Cheddar Whiz
Dessert – Jasper Hill Cheddar Whiz

When you think of cheese, this is definitely not what you would think of! First time having cheese in this form and type I think! It was super light, almost like having whipped cream but it was cheese! I thoroughly enjoyed it and it wasn’t too stinky for me!

Dessert - Mulled Pear Upside-Down Cake
Dessert – Mulled Pear Upside-Down Cake

I was expecting this cake to look much crazier for some reason, but it definitely delivered on the taste in terms of the expectations. A solid cake that wasn’t too hard nor too soft, with a yummy pear flavour that came through without being too strong. A very well-made upside-down cake! Wish I had a bigger slice :P

Complimentary - Coffee Chocolate Medallions
Complimentary – Coffee Chocolate Medallions

As always, America provides complimentary chocolate at the end of each meal when you pay for the bill. This time they were coffee flavoured chocolates for everyone! A sweet and happy way to end the meal!

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Attire - Business / Cocktail
Attire – Business / Cocktail

This place is so elegant in a trendy way, and the service is so high class that I would feel disrespectful wearing anything too casual.

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As always, America restaurant delivered to the high standards that I’ve always held them at for licious events again and again! The licious price tag is definitely worth every bit of the excellent food experience you get here. This restaurant continues to be at the top of my recommendation list, and continues to impress me with its unique and delicious food. There’s always something great to come back to and they haven’t skimped on anything over the years. I hope they will continue to provide this great service and amazing menus at such a high quality. Silly enough, its name and location is a bit of a laugh right now, but hey, good food is good food and if they consistently deliver that, then they deserve the praise as an excellent restaurant in Toronto.

My food does not represent my political opinions,
Dreamz*

http://americarestaurant.ca/
Restaurant: America Restaurant
Winterlicious: $28 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Definitely do so since they are not a super large restaurant. Dinner services are always full. However, I’m not sure if they are still as popular right now due to its location and politics… hehe.
Recommended Attire: Business / Cocktail

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[Recap] Summerlicious 2015 – America

As promised, I’ll be running my Summerlicious 2015 reviews while we wait for Winterlicious to start serving! Don’t forget that reservations have already opened up for all the restaurants, and some of the popular timeslots for well-known restaurants have been quickly filling up. So take the time to read these reviews if you haven’t decided what you want yet, but don’t take too long :)

As we roll back to last summer, we start off with one of my favourite repeat restaurants – America. Situated on the 31st floor of the fancy Trump Tower in Toronto, we came back expecting no less of the great food we’ve always had at this place, back from since it began as STOCK. Since we came for lunch this time around, the natural lighting really helped with the photo quality! The last time I reviewed this place, all my photos were dark and purple-y, but now you can actually see all their food with the much better lighting! Let’s begin – but first I must apologize for the captions. Because it has been so long, I no longer have the original names of the dishes, so I tried my best to just explain what they are, but I’m sure the original naming was MUCH MUCH MUCH more appetizing and way more creative… totally my fault for not snapping a photo of all the menu items IN the menu!

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Artistic ceiling and wall decor all around
Artistic ceiling and wall decor all around

Yes, the restaurant is actually really nice when it doesn’t come out all dark in photographs :D

Very stylish menus
Very stylish menus

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Drinks (left to right) - African Berry Boat, Alice Mystery
Drinks (left to right) – African Berry Boat, Alice Mystery

Some very delightfully fruity and refreshing non-alcoholic beverages to start.

Jalapeno Cornbread with Butter
Jalapeno Cornbread with Butter

This was the first thing I asked about after ordering. If you’ve read my Winterlicious review for America, you would’ve known how hard I raved about this cornbread. I’m still raving about them. They are the most delicious cornbread I’ve ever had. The end. (Check out my other review if you want more actual info about them… lol)

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Appetizer - Fried Chicken & Matcha Waffle
Appetizer – Fried Chicken & Matcha Waffle

Insides of the Matcha Waffle
Insides of the Matcha Waffle

I knew I was getting this item when I saw the words “Fried Chicken” and “Matcha Waffles” listed under one dish. They’ve put an interesting twist on a very popular soul dish – adding some japanese matcha flavouring into an already well-known dish. It’s like putting two popular foods together and creating a fusion of popularity that people love to eat! I certainly loved eating this! The dish tickled all my taste buds. I could feel the sweet, salty, sour, and spicy all in there. The matcha in the waffle was very subtle. Overall a stellar idea for a fusion dish.

Appetizer - Soup with a side of Pork Belly
Appetizer – Soup with a side of Pork Belly

I know, my fault but I have completely forgotten what kind of soup this was, and my eyes cannot tell from this photo… and I don’t want to just guess and give the wrong info! But we know it’s soup at least! The soup was very very creamy and refreshingly cold. The pork belly was super chewy and salty, which added some contrast to the soup. The vegetables added a nice crunch to the dish. Yum cold creamy smoothness!

Appetizer - Fish Salad with Pickled Vegetables
Appetizer – Fish Salad with Pickled Vegetables

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try this dish for myself, but I heard that it was a good standard salad. What you would expect it to taste like by looking at it.

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Entree - Pork Chop
Entree – Pork Chop

The pork chop turned out to be a bit dry since it was a very very large chunk of meat. But it was salty and had a strong good meaty flavour to it. The skin was very crunchy and crispy. All that it needed was maybe a bit of sauce to even out all that meats!

Entree - Pasta Nettle
Entree – Pasta Nettle

So the nettle part tasted (and looked) like a spinach purée to me, but I then found out that nettle is actually a very interesting type of plant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urtica_dioica). The pasta broth was really really oily, but tasty with the large garlic pieces soaking in it. The pasta felt a tad undercooked to me, but wasn’t to the point that made it inedible. I guess I wasn’t quite expecting this kinda pasta and broth, so the dish was a little surprising. Taste was there, but didn’t really love it.

Entree - Steak with Beans and Rice
Entree – Steak with Beans and Rice

This steak was perfectly cooked – nice and tender. Probably the best made main item of the whole lunch. The sides gave it a Mexican taste and feel – with the spicy beans and rice. Not sure I love these accompaniments with a well cooked steak, but I think I just prefer to have the usual american staples like potatoes and veggies with it.

Entree - Salmon with Grape Sauce
Entree – Salmon with Grape Sauce

I liked that the salmon was topped with preserved grapes, but I didn’t like that the salmon was overcooked :( But as you know if you’ve read my reviews, I have a very specific expectation for fish cooking that most western restaurants do not meet. So I wasn’t surprised, but I very much enjoyed the presentation here that most restaurants do not do with fish dishes, and also the grape sauce was actually super duper tasty! Very interesting and unique sauce choice indeed!

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Dessert - Cheese and Chocolate and Accompaniments
Dessert – Cheese and Chocolate and Accompaniments

This plate was a great choice of sweet and salty for a dessert. The lavender crisp had a nice flavour when eaten by itself, but was sometimes overpowered by the other item’s flavours when eaten altogether. The dark chocolate with pistachios on top was a nice balance of sweet and bitter. The preserved apricot added an intense sweetness to the mix. The American cheese was of medium strength. The honey topping was what added depth to the other flavours in the plate’s combinations. [Courtesy of K2]

Dessert - Keylime Gelatin
Dessert – Keylime Gelatin

Didn’t get to try this one either :(

Dessert - Black Forest Cake
Dessert – Black Forest Cake

The cake was pretty standard. The cherries used were really fresh tasting, and the icing wasn’t too sweet. So I give it an “above average” rating for my cake standards in all black forest cakes :)

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Attire - Business Casual
Attire – Business Casual

It’s a fancy building and they certainly make you feel fancy in there. So feel free to fancy it up when you go here.

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And that sums up my review for America for the past Summerlicious season. Definitely a place to be if you’ve never been. The food is always worth it in my opinion, and it’s always nice to go somewhere that I wouldn’t normally go to for a meal (you’d know what I mean if you look at their regular prices). I haven’t posted up my upcoming list yet for the next event, but it looks like America’s lunch will be back in the mix for me and some friends :) Keep you posted!

It’s bedtime,
Dreamz*

http://americarestaurant.ca/
Restaurant: America Restaurant
Winterlicious: $28 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Maybe cuz it’s in Trump Tower, people will hesitate from now on ;) But I’d say reservations in advance is still best, especially for popular dining times.
Attire (Lunch): Business Casual (can get fancier for dinner)

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)

Winterlicious 2015 – Splendido

Yesss I’m still alive and working away at this! As promised, to deliver all the reviews before the next licious event rolls around =P

Next up, we have a well known restaurant in the Toronto foodie scene, that is also quite popular on the licious roster – run by Chef Victor Barry. I’ve heard great things about this restaurant so this was the first time I finally got to try them out! I remember it was a Friday night that we had booked ourselves in for a dinner, and I was looking forward to the delicious beginning of the weekend meal after work. I was the last to arrive in our party, and I was told that we had to wait a bit, so we grabbed drinks by the nice bar to chat. Time went on and we were getting a little antsy to get started, but they kept telling us the table would almost be ready. Looking around, the place is not too big. It had an intimately dark and quiet cozy sort of feel, but enough space between tables so that you could have your privacy still. The place was of course fully seated that night, so we waited for our table. And waited. And waited a total of 30 minutes before we were finally sat down at a dining table. Honestly, I understand that it’s a busy time for the restaurant, but I think a half an hour delay is uncalled for with reservations. No other restaurant has had this issue during this event, regardless of how busy or small they were. So this is something I think they really have to work on. And after dining here, I could see why we had to wait for so long… they really really take their time with you during the meal. Although we started half an hour later, in no time during our meal did we feel rushed at all. The waiters and staff were all very polite and kind, and took their time in ensuring we were having a good and comfortable meal. They were incredibly professional and in no way could you tell that anyone was in a hurry or that it was very busy – and this is something you often see at all the other popular restaurants during licious. People tend to drop service a tad bit in order to handle all the extra customers. But this place did an excellent job at not doing that… yet at the expense of other customers waiting it seems. A better balance could be made I think in that respect. But let’s talk about the food too!

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A dim-lit and cozy wooden themed restaurant
A dim-lit and cozy wooden themed restaurant

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Bread and butter
Bread and butter

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The foie gras was very delicate in the sense that it tasted like you got it from a fancy french place. Very smooth and rich, and matched up very well with all the options provided on the plate. An excellent foie gras it was *pinkies up*!

Appetizer - Foie Gras Parfait
Appetizer – Foie Gras Parfait

Totally not what I expected in terms of polenta from all the types I’ve had in the past! I’ve only really eaten polenta at licious restaurants and they’ve ranged from a solid deep fried form to a softer patty-like form. But this one was just straight-up liquidy barely solid. Its texture was like porridge LOL. No kidding, I mixed in all the ingredients presented in the bowl together… and I didn’t bother posting that photo of it because it really didn’t look appetizing AT ALL… especially in dim lighting. Just like a bowl of brown baby food??? …HAHA. Taste-wise though it wasn’t as bad as it looked. It really was sorta like eating some fancy type of porridge/oatmeal. All warm and densely filling. Not my fave way of eating polenta… but interesting enough a new way of trying it… probably in one of its more “raw” forms since it is cornmeal afterall LOL. Not to mention it probably didn’t help me that those olive looking things are actually mushrooms? Heh =P

Appetizer - Polenta
Appetizer – Polenta

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Very small pieces, but very nicely cooked salmon. Not overcooked for the fish, but otherwise there wasn’t anything else special or very different to offer in this dish.

Entree - Roasted Atlantic Salmon
Entree – Roasted Atlantic Salmon

Beautifully plated and nicely cooked. The pork belly wasn’t a show stopper of a meat or anything though. Tasted good – wasn’t too dry but wasn’t very tender either. Nothing to fall off your chair about except for the visual beauty of it.

Entree - Smoked Pork Belly
Entree – Smoked Pork Belly

This was definitely my dish of the night. This is surprisingly probably one of the best sauced pasta on my list because the flavouring is just so perfect for me. It was a SWEET based sauce with stuffed pasta (one of my fave forms of pasta). And oh my my was it done so well. The agnolotti was very soft with a touch of sweet from the ricotta cheese. I have no idea what that brown crumbly stuff on top was but it was sweet with a powdery crunch, mixed in with the sweet potatoes and that killer sauce… it absolutely hit my love for sweetness. The pumpkin seeds added a nice change in texture with a strong crunch. Everything in this bowl of pasta just worked so beautifully together that I am sorta craving it again right now just talking about it. And mind you, it wasn’t overly sweet – still works out perfectly as a main course.

Entree - Ricotta Agnolotti
Entree – Ricotta Agnolotti

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A very unique and tasty dessert that arrived in appearance not how I had expected. It’s definitely more cake-like looking rather than pear-like. But the cake piece was bursting with a delicious soft pear flavour. It was very light and fluffy and felt very refreshing with the mixture of ingredients on the plate (icecream/gelato, mousse, pear jam, etc). The caramel also played nicely without overpowering the main attraction – which is definitely the pear.

Dessert - Bosc Pear
Dessert – Bosc Pear

One of the more rare cheeses to be served for a dessert, but you got it here and I can’t see where you could go wrong with a good cheese (according to my friend because this is prob too strong of a cheese for me to appreciate)! They also provided a bunch of fun things to eat your cheese with, including a small sugar meringue that tasted like it was wasabi flavour! Cheeses are always such a fun dish to experiment with different things :)

Dessert - T & T Stilton
Dessert – T & T Stilton

A fruity cake that focuses more on the citrusy sour flavours. Was a nice little cake but I think the bosc pear still won over this one big timeeee!

Dessert - Mango & Passion Fruit Gateaux
Dessert – Mango & Passion Fruit Gateaux

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A very formally presented restaurant given its status, so I would definitely go a little more business-ey and nice to match with the night environment and the classy and high quality foods. (I know… I also need to start coming up with different outfits to avoid the repeats!)

Dress Style - Business
Dress Style – Business

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The food quality at this restaurant is definitely up to par with its fame. The people are also extra polite and serve you with care, to give you that high-class dining feel. Other than the super long wait, I would recommend dining at this restaurant for sure. It is very nice and intimate, perfect for smaller groups and dates.

Just keep eating!
Dreamz*

http://splendido.ca/
Restaurant: Splendido
Winterlicious: $28 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Very well known restaurant so I would recommend booking ASAP. It’s also not very large so the seatings will fill up quickly!
Attire: Business

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