A summerlicious weekday lunch break with coworkers. A nice dining space with elegant yet modern decor. A very open spacious restaurant so you don’t feel crowded with other diners, with a nice glass patio for those wishing to soak in the sun and people watch the financial district streets. For a high-end global hotel chain’s restaurant, I was looking forward to great things here, however the quality of the food fell short for me in this meal, especially in the main courses. My steak was severely dry and hard to chew, and others at my table mentioned their food being overly salty or just plain bland. What an unfortunate thing and hopefully we can just chalk it up to the busy season of licious in the summer, but now I’m not sure if I want to take my chances here again.
Good bread was provided at least!
The corn soup was fresh and full of strong corn flavours.
Good and pretty, but the ingredients were nothing special and had nothing more to it than what you see.
A tasty appetizer but also what you expect and no surprises here.
Terrible – the cook on it looked a medium rare, but it ended up being dry and impossible to chew apart. A plate that I did not actually want to finish eating. No flavouring either.
The tuna and couscous was very bland with no sauce to help it out.
Large portion but pasta was overly salty. It’s like they forgot to flavour everything else and then decided to go all out here.
Oh thank god for desserts because this was probably the best part of the meal and was actually tasty, interesting, and well sized to make up for the lack of appetite in the main course.
Hmmm… looks like a pile of melting poop but turned out to be tasty as well for those who like their desserts on the darker side. Presentation definitely needs work though haha. Adding a flower petals does not make poop suddenly pretty.
I’ve always wanted to sit out on the patio at Auberge and I finally got the chance to do this during this licious meal. The patio area is so well fenced in and decorated that you would have no idea the restaurant is actually in the middle of a typical corporate business park in the city. You just feel like you’re transported to a peaceful quiet garden on a lovely sunday afternoon. Service, as always, was impeccable. And food, as always, was top notch. I don’t think I’ll ever not love to dine here! No patios in the winter, but cozy interiors to be had I guarantee you (check my older winterlicious reviews if you’re curious)!
Soup’s croissant was super buttery and flaky – bakery perfection! The soup had a good sourness to it with a bit of a kick. Very refreshing and summer appropriate.
The croquette’s tartar sauce was very tasty and went well with the very soft pork meat.
This was cooked to perfectionnnnn. That is all.
The lemon was very subtle, pretty much non-existent in flavour. A very veggie-full dish for sure. Felt light but also very filling as ravioli normally is. The salty crunchy stuff was a great addition to mix up the textures and tastes.
A super refreshing dessert with minty coolness and a citrus heavy sauce.
Although it looks like a pile of soil, this was pretty much your typical dark chocolate mousse underneath. Simple and good.
Restaurant: Auberge du Pommier
Licious: $25 Lunch // $45 Dinner
Reservations: Definitely required.
Recommended Attire: Business / Cocktail
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:
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.
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!
As always, their cornbread is still my favourite cornbread EVER EVER EVER. Their butter is also so super soft and warm too :)
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
A delicious tart…err…block for the chocolate lovers! What else to say but tasty, tasty, tasty! Full of smooth chocolatey-ness!
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!
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
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!
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.
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,
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
Rosewater has been hovering on my licious list to try for a while since it was so close to work, had gorgeous photos of tall booth seating, and seemed to have a pretty good review for their food menu. So we booked a lunch outing to try this place with some foodie work friends! To our surprise, the place was empty when we got there for lunch, and didn’t really fill up completely even though it was in a core business area. For some reason, the place also didn’t seem as grand as I had pictured it to be from their website and online galleries. Not sure if it was a due to the fact that it was a lunch service, but it definitely felt quite casual from the decor placement to the wait staff attire and attitude, as opposed to the very fancy vibe you get from their marketing material. An interesting first impression, but here goes the review:
We sat right behind this interesting rose glass panel.
Snuck a quick shot of those super tall booths I was excited about. But it didn’t seem as grand in person – seemed a bit old and fading compared to the fancy looking photos online! Also… we didn’t get to sit in one since we were a large group… we just got regular chairs at a regular black wooden table in the center :'(
I think I expected something fancier for menus and placement sets too… I think I was just deceived on my expectations the whole time.
Everything came out really hot – which is nice because cold bread is always a bummer. Enjoyed their interesting pointy crunchy crisps things that you don’t normally get at restaurants!
The food also all came out really hot. A little too hot I’d say to be ready to enjoy. Got a warning from a fellow diner at the table to be careful not to burn yourself by being too excited to eat your food! The toast here was a bit hard, but the dish had the right flavours of what you would expect to get. The sauce was an Asian style sweet and sour sauce that kinda reminded me of cheap spring roll dipping sauce. The fanciness is really going out the window at this point.
Also came out a bit too hot for people. The soup was not very dense nor heavy as butternut squash purée normally is expected to be. The flavour wasn’t very strong either so this is preferable for those looking for a lighter butternut squash soup.
A nice solid plate of pasta here, although a little too peppery for the guests that had it. Good al dente texture and a good balanced mixture of sauce.
The pie was quite tasty but a bit too greasy. There was a good amount of filling to be sure to make you full. The salad was pretty normal.
Unfortunately the fish was a bit bland, but the artichoke purée was very tasty! The fish was cooked well too, but just wished there was more seasoning to accompany all of it!
The pie was VERY MUCH banana cream flavoured above anything else. For once I think it overpowered the white chocolate component completely. It felt more like a buffet-style cloned dessert to me so it wasn’t anything special in experience, but just a regular dessert of sorts with heavy banana.
This dessert was my favourite of them all. It was a great bread pudding consistency for me, and had a yummy mix of fruity flavours. Everything was a complement and nothing overpowered in this one. Yum! Except the extra random fruits thrown in on the side… those can go in terms of being useless for plating and for accompaniments. lol
The only thing anyone could really say about this one was the sorbets were just… really really hard. I mean they look a bit iced over even in the photo, so maybe they needed some more time for them to sit so that it’s actually edible and not teeth breaking. Otherwise… it also felt like they threw together a random mix of things to make a “dessert” dish.
Missing wardrobe photo as it was a work lunch
Attire – Casual
Overall consensus with the group was that this place’s food was good enough, but it wasn’t amazingly great at the usual licious level. For the price, it might make more sense to just drop in for a regular meal on any day or night and just order the things that interest you for a cheaper price rather than a full set course. And definitely the place is not as fancy as you perceive it to be. Mind you, the environment is still pretty nice, and I think maybe at night everything looks a bit grander, but it’s also a fine casual dining place as well. The desserts were subpar for me. Would I come back? Probably not for licous and not that interested in returning for the food after this time. But by all means, it’s not a bad restaurant at all! I would just put them more on the average level given my expectations (which may have started a bit higher than expected unfortunately). I think they would need to keep up a bit with the more modern food palate and better presentations that restaurants are focusing on nowadays, in order to stay relevant and fancy.
We Dine On,
Winterlicious: $23 Lunch // $38 Dinner
Reservations: A known but not a very popular restaurant for licious, so they still had openings especially during a weekday lunch.
Recommended Attire: Casual / Business Casual
It looks like Cluny continues to be a crowd favourite every licious event! There’s always more people who want to come and try it out, and as a place with consistently good food and just such a unique beautiful environment, I just couldn’t turn down another Cluny outing to introduce more people to this place! And here we have another lunch review from 2016:
Trying to shoot some different environment shots every time since I’ve reviewed this place so often in the past!
Always fresh and delicious!
There was lots to choose from in this bread basket – one of them had a slight chili taste, another was multigrain. The bread seemed to be left out and was a bit hard and cold this time around, but the insides were still soft and fresh.
This soup had lots of ingredients, so much that it was almost stew-like! The base had an unexpected sourness to it, maybe there’s some sauerkraut in there somewhere? It came kinda lukewarm though, not hot.
I wasn’t sure what to expect for this dish, but when this showed up I was pleasantly surprised! The focaccia bread was absolutely amazing. It had some garlic inside and tasted sooo good even on its own. The brulée was very hummus-like in texture and looks. Super creamy and tasty. The pear was sweet and cold and everything just went together nicely for a perfect summer appetizer! Top pick!
A standard salad – the leafs were a bit bitter and peppery to me. The brittle was sweet and added a nice crunch to everything.
The veggies and the grits in the sauce were very flavourful and tasty. The very large prawns were not too spicy. There was a good balance of sauce and flavours on this plate for sure.
The beef tongue was very chewy and tender (maybe a bit too chewy in some parts). The mustard sauce that went with everything had a sweetness to it that made it extra tasty. The bread was nicely toasted. And of course their fries are perfect every time I have a dish with that on it :D
So there were lots of beans on the bottom of this. The breading on top was crunchy like bread crumbs. The duck meat inside was soft and shredded easily, being kept warm and soft inside the pot. This was full of very strong flavours of all the different ingredients mixing together. Something a little different on the licious menu! Definitely a good dish for people that enjoy the heavier stuff!
This was definitely a very dark chocolate macaron and was made very well. The sauce was very sour in contrast. Definitely a dessert to please the palette of those who are not fans of the sweets!
I like that they brought back their signature profiterole dessert on their licious menu, but it’s also a different flavour than before. The raspberry one this time was very light and fluffy and not too sour like the real fruit. The chantilly and chocolate and crunchy topped it all off nicely! Loved it just as much as the first time I had it a year prior!
This sorbet was just as if you took a very very sweet pear and mushed it into yummy ice form! The pear flavour was super strong and tasty. The sorbet was not too cold nor too icy – just the perfect mixture. You also get a very very large scoop!
Highly suggest stopping by the bakery on your way out and grabbing some delicious French goodies to enjoy at home later on!
A weekend lunch is pretty easy going and comfy with attire, but think of a pretty french bistro kind of decor that you’ll be dining at.
I remember how Cluny rose to the top of the recommendations list the first time, but didn’t wow me as much the second time during dinner. So this third lunch test was a real test of consistency and to see how their food has changed over the year. I’m happy to report that they are still doing a fabulous job at keeping true to their quality. This is still definitely a restaurant at the top of my recommendations list for anyone going to licious! Just have to make the trek over to distillery district, but you should definitely take the time to enjoy the historical area and unique shops while you’re there!
Restaurant: Cluny Bistro
Winterlicious: $23 Lunch // $38 Dinner
Reservations: It’s pretty big so they can seat a lot, but they’re always full of people for this event!
Recommended Attire: Casual / Business Casual
This is the last review I have here for my Summerlicious recaps, and as we end here, we’ll be beginning with Winterlicious 2016 very soon! I hope you all have your restaurants planned out for the next 2 weeks, and if not, don’t worry there’s still time to review, research, and pick your favourite ones :)
Harlem is a cute little gem of a restaurant located a little further out from the usual fancy financial district line of restaurants. It sits in an intersection that’s not very populated (Richmond & Church), but with a name that’s rising in popularity due to its unique style and tastes, people definitely know where to find it. Harlem does soul food and they do it authentically well. The restaurant itself is super cozy, and has their menu on a vinyl record on regular nights (I hope they still do this because it was a while ago since I last went). This was the first time for me visiting the restaurant during the summer, and I’m super happy that I discovered their amazing patio on a beautiful sunny day when I dined there for Summerlicious! The whole restaurant is perfect where it is because it provides the right chillin’ and jammin’ kinda vibe to go with their culture of food. So let’s check out their licious run~
The restaurant probably has one of my favourite unique summer patios in downtown Toronto. Because it’s not located in a busy area of the city, sitting on the streets between 2 buildings outdoors on a nice day really gives you the perfect chilling spot for lunch. You would be surrounded by all the graffiti and artworks everywhere you looked, and it was just so cultural and fun to eat in such an environment. You almost expect a Jamaican band to appear and start drummin’ on the corner of the patio under the sun! And yes, they do have overhead covering so you’re not burning your head off while enjoying your meal :)
Unfortunately, after having the cornbread from America Restaurant (which I keep raving about in all my reviews that you’re prob sick of it now), this was somewhat underwhelming. I’m not even sure if I can find cornbread as delicious as that anywhere else… even if that wasn’t fully authentic *cries* This cornbread felt a little too dry and the taste wasn’t really there for me.
This salad was exactly what you’d expect. A salad – refreshing, crunchy, healthy :) Freshly sliced pears :9
Personally, I’m not a fan of okra so I can’t give you an accurate rating of how good or bad this was. But I’m pretty sure this tastes exactly like what it is haha. Deep fried vegetable – not too oily, not too hard. A good balance but I just don’t know what it is about okra that I just don’t really enjoy… its texture or flavour? Deep frying it still doesn’t make me like it =P
I thought this dish was quite enjoyable. However, it was noted by those who can handle spicier foods that they felt the jerk chicken could use more jerk. For me, it was good enough because I can’t handle foods that are too spicy, but I understand that normally jerk foods are expected to give quite a kick! The coconut bread was super soft and yummy, and the meat was extremely tender. A perfect lunch meal sandwich!
The curry here was very flavourful, but everything else was mediocre in the sense that it was quite average and exactly what you see on the plate in terms of tastes. A solid curry and that’s about it.
Ahh, the chicken and waffles, a popular dish all around for this event. The deep fried chicken was very tasty. Crunchy on the outside with nice soft chicken meat on the inside. The waffles were also soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside – meaning they were freshly made! A good sweet and sour dipping sauce for the chicken, and of course the sweet syrup for the waffles! Everything delivered to expectations here!
These are my favourite things that they serve here. Their plantains are warm, sweet, soft, and absolutely delicious! This would be the item that brings me back to this restaurant for a craving of this dessert :D
I didn’t really enjoy the bread pudding. The raisins were overpowering here, and the textures were not quite soft enough for a good bread pudding. The accompanying ice cream scoop was however very good. Soft and melty, kinda like having vanilla soft serve instead.
Very casual and relaxing environment. Look at that young high school girl attire that I’m even sporting there… =_=”
This restaurant is a great place to dine. It’s such a good deal because they’re on the cheaper spectrum for licious, and totally worth it! You come here to have a great time enjoying good food for a good cheap price, and that’s exactly what they give ya. I think coming here in the summer is a much better choice because you’ll get to sit at the awesome patio that takes you to another place entirely. If you’re looking for some real soul home-cooked kinda southern style dishes, this is the place to be no doubt!
Let the licious continue on,
Restaurant: Harlem Restaurant
Summerlicious: $18 Lunch // $25 Dinner
Reservations: Quite a small and cozy restaurant, so not a lot of seats. A couple more seats open up in the summer due to the patio seating. Reservations recommended during busy hours, walk-ins might be acceptable. Restaurant is getting pretty popular lately though :)
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!
Yes, the restaurant is actually really nice when it doesn’t come out all dark in photographs :D
Some very delightfully fruity and refreshing non-alcoholic beverages to start.
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)
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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]
Didn’t get to try this one either :(
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 :)
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.
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!
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)