WINTERLICIOUS 2015

Love it or love to avoid it, Winterlicious is upon Toronto again. This year’s event runs from Jan 30th to Feb 12th (just shy of Valentine’s day). Participating restaurants will be offering set lunch ($18, $23 or $28) and dinner ($25, $35, $45) menus. Reservations have been open for a over a week and weekend spots are becoming hard to find, especially for groups bigger than 4. This year, the set price for lunch has gone up by $3.

Every year, I aim to eat at one “fancy” restaurant to add to my list of restaurants for special occasions, one casual “dinner” for a night out with friends and one restaurant that caters to large groups. So far this year, I have 2 dinners and 1 lunch planned.

Where I’ll Be:

  1. Auberge Du Pommier; – $45 Dinner / French / The “fancy” dinner
  2. Cluny – $35 Dinner / French / The “casual” dinner
  3. Marben – $23 Lunch / Spanish / The “group” dinner

Recommendations:

  • Lunch – I’m looking for tantalizing menus that are similar or even more appealing relative to the dinner menu
    1. La Societe – $23 Lunch / French / I would order 3 Oysters, Oven Roasted Salmon and Grand Marnier Creme Brulee
    2. Tabule (Past Review) – $18 Lunch / Mediterranean / I would order Lentil Soup, Kefta Kebab and Gelato
    3. Canoe – $28 Lunch / Canadian / I would order Smoked + Potted Salmon, Alberta Beef Brisket and Osprey Bluffs Honey Panna Cotta
Winterlicious 2015
  • Dinner – I’m looking for great atmosphere, interesting menu items and best value
    1. Los Colibris – $35 Dinner / Mexican / I would order Empanadas de Tinga, Ropa Vieja and Helados y Nieves
    2. Cafe Boulud (Past Review) – $45 Dinner / French / I would order Digby Scallops, Cumbrae Beef “Pot au Feu” and Pear Chocolate Gateau
    3. Luma (Past Review) – $35 Dinner / Canadian / I would order Cauliflower Salad, Lamb Ragu Cavatelli and Lemon Posset
Winterlicious 2015
  • Good for Groups – I’m looking for a variety of choices, easy parking/access and a spacious dining area
    1. Marben – $23 Lunch $35 Dinner / Spanish / I would order the Steamed PEI Mussels, John’s Burger and Nutella Creme Brulee
    2. Habit Gastropub (Past Review) – $25 Dinner only / Canadian / I would order Beef Carpaccio, Habits Burger and Cheesecake
    3. Ganzi Osteria (Past Review) – $25 Dinner only / Italian / I would order the Winter Caprese, Homemade Fettuccine and Tiramisu
Winterlicious 2015

Check out all of my past Licious event reviews for more ideas and recommendations.

 

BEST EATS 2014

2014 was a great year for my belly. Looking back through this year’s archive, it was tough to narrow down just 8 amazing meals. Between trying some great new restaurants and discovering established classics, 2014 was a delicious hurdle to my wedding diet (worth it). In no particular order, here are my favourite eats of the past year.

01. Fresh Burger


Rating/Price: 4.5 $
Why? Great burger, loose patty, good poutine
Must Order: Prime Fresh Burger
Good For? Burgers, quick meal
 

02. The Fry


Rating/Price: 4.5 $$
Why? Crispy, juicy, well spiced Korean Fried Chicken
Must Order: Half/Half KFC Combo
Good For? Big groups, beer and fried chicken
 

03. DaiLo


Rating/Price: 4.0 $$$
Why? Innovative menu, authentic Asian flavours, sickasianfood
Must Order: Big Mac Baos, Whole Fried Trout
Good For? Big groups, dates, late night bar, snacks and cocktails
 

04. Bar Isabel


Rating/Price: 5.0 $$$
Why? I wanted seconds of everything on the menu
Must Order: Roast Bone Marrow, Whole Sea Bream Ceviche
Good For? Dates, small groups, cocktails, late night meal
 

05. Yasu


Rating/Price: 4.0 $$$$
Why? Unique dining experience, refined atmosphere and hard to find sashimi
Must Order: Omakase
Good For? Couples, small groups, special occasions, sashimi enthusiasts
 

06. Gourmet Malaysia


Rating/Price: 4.5 $
Why? Rich authentic flavours, buttery roti
Must Order: Crispy Butter Prawns, Curry and Roti
Good For? Big groups, family dinners, casual meal
 

07. The Stockyards Smokehouse and larder


Rating/Price: 5.0 $
Why? Darn good fried chicken
Must Order: Fried Chicken Dinner Platter
Good For? Takeout, small groups, quick meal, comfort food
 

08. Emma's Country Kitchen


Rating/Price: 5.0 $
Why? One of the best buttermilk biscuits ever
Must Order: Buttermilk Biscuit, Pancakes
Good For? Small groups, brunch, breakfast
 

Honorable Mentions:

Did I miss your favourite restaurant? Let me know in the comments.

Last Updated: 12/30/2014

BEST EATS 2013

As someone who blogs about eating out, it’s hard to re-visit restaurants when there’s always a new one to try. In 2013, I really amped up my post frequency and this meant eating some great meals. Taking a look back at these past meals, here are the restaurants that I’ve continued to frequent or am dying to return to.

1.0 Sansotei Ramen


Rating/Price: 5.0 $
Why? Great ramen, well priced, downtown location, lots of repeat visits
Must Order: Tonkotsu Ramen
Good For? Quick meals, small groups
 

2.0 Farmhouse Tavern


Rating/Price: 5.0 $$
Why? Complex menu, comfort food, savoury rich and delicious
Must Order: Mother and Child Reunion, Hangover Poutine
Good For? Brunch, relaxed meal, any sized group
 

3.0 Sukho Thai


Rating/Price: 5.0 $$
Why? Started my love for Chef Nuit's Thai cooking
Must Order: Pad Thai, Penang Curry
Good For? Big groups, casual dinner, pre-going out dinner, special celebration
 

4.0 The Burger's Priest


Rating/Price: 5.0 $
Why? Made me appreciate a good burger
Must Order: The Priest (always order The Option)
Good For? Burgers, quick lunch, grab and go
 

Honorable Mentions:

Did I miss your favourite restaurant? Let me know in the comments.

Last Updated: 11/27/2014

ZOMATO IN TORONTO

When I start researching a place to eat, I have two go to websites. One is for blogger reviews, while the other is for restaurant information and recent pictures. Both sites have their pros and cons with room for improvement. This is why I’m excited for a new major player in the world of restaurant reviews. Introducing Zomato.

The Basics:
Founded in 2008, Zomato is an online and mobile restaurant search and discovery service that originated in India. Users are able to search for restaurants, add their own review, rating and pictures. Today, Zomato employs 800 people across 17 countries and provides detailed information about over 270,000 restaurants. Toronto is Zomato’s first foray into North America and the company has invested a substantial dollar amount into their Canadian expansion.

Zomato in Toronto

My Experience:
With both the website and app, Zomato is beautifully designed with drool worthy images and simple to use navigation. I’ve been using the app to “check in” to restaurants over the past month on my phone and the app has found every location so far. Their database is impressive in it’s breadth and depth of coverage. There are franchises, mom and pop shops and all the trendy new spots around town. Adding reviews have also been easy and there is still so much functionality in the works like conversations directly with restaurants and easy payments through the app. Integration between Zomato and all other social media networks to allow for easy sharing.

Zomato - CollectionsZomato - Restaurant Listing
What I liked:

  • Collections – Zomato uses themes and curates a collection of restaurants in the city to fit that theme. For example “Achin for Bacon” or “Healthy Eating”. Looking through the collections, restaurants included are all ones that I would recommend or want to try and fit each theme perfectly. This is a great way to discover new restaurants.
  • Instagram integration – Including the hashtag #zomato in an Instagram post automatically pulls your picture into the Zomato food porn stream that’s featured on the front page
  • Menus – This is huge! I love that Zomato actually has a team in each city that goes to each restaurant, takes pictures of the menu and updates them regularly. When choosing a restaurant, the menu is always the first piece of information I look for and Zomato does the research and leg work for their users.
  • Again, the fact that Zomato made the investment to have a team in Toronto that organizes community events, physically visits restaurants themselves (not just relying on their user base) is a huge plus for me and makes me buy in to the app.

Zomato - Restaurant ListingZomato - Search Results
What could use work:

  • There are still a few bugs. When rating a restaurant, even when disabling the send to Twitter function, a tweet is generated with your rating. This causes me to spam my Twitter every now and then when I’m writing reviews.
  • The feedback form for editing a restaurant information is very general.
  • Currently the homepage feed only shows reviews and activity from people I’m connected to, I’d love an option to read/see reviews in general from all users.
  • A page highlighting new restaurants would be great.

TL;DR: Zomato is a restaurant discovery and review service that has launched in Toronto with a slick design, the resources and potential to win over users.