[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

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Winterlicious 2014 – Fred’s Not Here

Fred’s Not Here is a restaurant situated along the restaurant strip on King Street, within Toronto’s Entertainment District. This place was a last minute (as in a couple of days before the final week of winterlicious – which is considered last minute for these events) dinner pick and I heard it was good from several people, so decided to try it out. They are pretty small and they also share a building with another restaurant that is downstairs (The Red Tomato).

I just want to say you should prepare yourself for a less enthusiastic review because this restaurant turned out to be the most disappointing on my list this time around. Not so much because of the food, but because of the terrible service that I unfortunately got. People say that the service is half of the experience, so I’m pretty sure this caused me to think twice about this restaurant, even though I already had lower expectations for the food and everything given that this isn’t a top notch restaurant compared to the others I’ve been. I still hoped for something better given that you ARE a restaurant that is charging in the second tier of expensiveness on the winterlicious menu and I’ve had recommendations. But nonetheless, you can be assured that I will review the food itself for what it is, and won’t let my negative experience affect it. If you want to know more about my bad service, I will follow up in a blurb after the photos. So here it goes:

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Very nice setting from the inside. Downstairs is a completely different feel though, including that shared washroom I mention in the caption…

Looking back from the entrance area of the restaurant. Also the stairways that lead to the other restaurant below… and the tiny ghetto washroom that they share…

One of those places where it’s so dim and lit with orangey light that it was hard to take photos =(

Interior decor. Dim lighting with italian-like paintings on the walls.

Menu on my small table with many things on top

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I thought that was garlic bread and got all excited… until I was told it’s jalapeno so I better watch out for it because I’m sensitive to spicy foods! It was a very very light subtle spice of jalapeno though and actually tasted very good! Kinda like corn bread rather than regular bread. I tried all 3 pieces of breads!

3 Types Of Bread: Jalapeno, Rye, Regular

So because this was the famous item and sounded good, I definitely got this. Also did some research and saw photos that this came with a puff pastry and I love that stuff. Sounds good but the biggest PROBLEM? This soup is spicy but not listed as that, nor was I told by the waitstaff. It was too spicy for me to handle so I ended up just taking 2 sips and eating the puff pastry on top only. The soup itself wasn’t very bisque-like which I would expect… but rather seemed a little water-ed down for this style of soup… and also had no seafoods inside so it was just liquid. So guess I didn’t feel that bad on the fact that I couldn’t have it cuz it was too spicy. Shoulda said something on the menu though, seriously. The puff? It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had (that belongs to a Hong Kong dish), but it was still good and yummy. I felt they needed more layers and to have the soft part be a closer part of the crispy dome as well, rather than just falling into the soup along the sides mostly. Still a delicious puffy~

Appetizer – Famous Crab & Lobster Soup

Breaking into the puff pastry to get to the soup

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There were quite a number of choices for the mains, but I went with this because I’ve been having too much meats lately. The mains are also really large portions at this place, because I only managed to eat half of this dish before having to pack the rest up! I was surprised they served me a full-on lobster with its shell! I thought it would be pieces of lobster meat in the pasta, but I sure had trouble getting the meat out of my fave part… the lobster claw (ended up taking it home so I could break it apart without being caveman-like at a proper restaurant)! The angel hair pasta was good, not very saucy but had enough taste already.

Entree – Roasted East Coast Lobster with Bay Scallops, Angel Hair Pasta “Marinara”

This place is listed as a steakhouse, and they sure know how to make their steak! The steak was cooked really well, and was nice and juicy and tender. Had a bit of fats but it was a big piece of meat! The rest of the stuff on the dish was just your typical stuff, nothing special. Sauce was good. A great alternative for good steak if you don’t want to pay $50+ to indulge in meat at the famous steakhouses in Toronto.

Entree – Roasted Prime Rib of Beef with Celeriac Yukon Gold Mash & Vegetables

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Was good but felt like something I could easily make at home. In fact, it is. Couple scoops of ice cream, grab a bag of those caramel / chocolate popcorns. TADA~ Yea, we all thought it was a good idea to try to make this at home one day… and not pay for it xD

Dessert – Popcorn & Peanut Crunch Sundae

So I’ve had actual bread pudding with rum sauce at another restaurant, and I must say this was not at all like that. I’m sensitive to alcohol tastes as well, and I can say that I tasted no rum in that sauce LOL. The bread pudding wasn’t very bread-pudding like. It was more bread than it was pudding for me. Felt kinda like I was eating a chocolate chip muffin that was just slightly softer. I like it when my bread pudding actually feels like it’s pudding and not so solid. Although lacking in my expectations of what the dessert actually should be like, this thing itself actually still tasted good. And I managed to nom it all because I was feeling for sweet foods that night. The melted chocolate chips inside added a nice touch. It made me very full.

Dessert – Baked Chocolate & Banana Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce

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HEH. Don’t ask about the extra photo decorations. I just felt like it =P
Yea the environment looks nice in the restaurant photos, but you could really go in there wearing anything. Plus it’s so dark people probably can’t even see what you’re wearing until you’re in the washroom anyway right??? =P Kidding.

Dress Style – Casual
Maybe more business casual on a weekday night, with people coming from work around the area

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So that’s that about the food. The quality is good for what it is, so I can see why people would recommend this restaurant. However, it definitely won’t be at the same level as the top quality restaurants I’ve been introducing before. I don’t think I will be coming back but I would recommend the food. It’s quite unfortunate that the service here came off as bad for me. If you want to know why…

We were seated in a tiny corner seat that was up against this box/machine thing on my right side, also the place where waiters pull new table sheets out to place on cleaned dining tables. First of all, I don’t think diners that are paying above $20/dish at a well decorated restaurant should ever be that close to stuff like that without having a barrier between the table and waiter supplies. Second of all, I sort of have this fear with sitting closed in with a wall in public, it makes me feel a little claustrophobic… and I definitely felt uncomfortable. So we were able to flag down the waiter after bread was dropped off… took a while for a small restaurant with like 10 tables… where we asked if we could move to several of the other open spaces we saw. It was 8 PM already and there was no wait outside. The waiter said he’d check but comes back and tells us exactly “All the tables are reserved, if you insist on switching, you can get up and stand out there and wait for the next available table, which I have no idea when that will be.” Did he really just tell us to GTFO of our table that was already set up with drinks and bread??? Also I noticed a same sized table that was already paying 2 tables down from us after that. My friend kindly offered to switch seats so that I could at least sit on the outside and have more breathing space comfort instead. What ended up pissing me off the most was that we watched the empty tables we saw at the beginning. They ended up being empty throughout the whole night until we left after 10 PM. It was clear they lied to us to save them the hassle. Service was meh as well overall. Hard to flag down waiter, felt like he wasn’t very interested in making sure we were enjoying our meals. Felt like they wanted to rush us by trying to place dishes down before we finished our courses, even though there wasn’t people waiting for the tables and there were empty tables around. Really felt like a lower class restaurant to me here, although the vibe they were trying to sell should be better than that. But food was good and I survived!

It’s your call, but come here for the food and not for the environment. In terms of winterlicious, there are honestly many many $35 choices out there that could give you both good service and food and environment. I’d go with an O&B restaurant even, at least they’re more consistent and attentive because they have a name to hold up. My upcoming review of LUMA is an example of a better restaurant at the same price range. It’s even literally just across the street! Hope you have better luck if you do plan on trying this place out though!

Foods out,
Dreamz*

http://www.fredsnothere.com/
Restaurant: Fred’s Not Here
Winterlicious: $20 Lunch // $35 Dinner
Reservations: Call a couple days ahead of time and you should be able to get something.
Attire: Casual