While the city of Toronto remains replete with fabulous culinary outlets at which to fulfill any and all epicurean fantasies, several can’t-miss restaurants have made their presence known during the Summerlicious festival, July 5-21.
Toronto’s Summerlicious and Winterlicious food festivals have shaken things up on the Canadian dining circuit… and for good reason. Consider the fact that during the events, which run during what is considered “slow season” for Toronto restaurants, major eateries from across the city participate to offer limited menus of prix fixe dinners at discounted prices – a factor greatly appreciated by many financially-strapped residents and tourists who would otherwise be forced to avoid such restaurants. Since the promotions began in 2003 with 35 dining spots participating, the events have since grown at an almost viral-like pace to become popular semiannual extravaganzas, with 150 restaurants invited to participate in by 2009.
Fast-forward to Summerlicious 2013, July 5-21. While the city of Toronto remains replete with fabulous culinary outlets at which to fulfill any and all epicurean fantasies, several can’t-miss restaurants have made their presence known during the festival, resulting in heavy Web traffic. Some of the “most clicked-on” dining venues include Aria, Canoe, Bangkok Garden and Tutti Matti.
Aria, in what has become almost a staple amongst Toronto residents, continues to represent a consummate Italian eatery at Maple Leaf Square, boasting floor-to-ceiling windows some 30 feet in stature, extravagant sphere chandeliers hovering above tables and a laid-back vibe. The cuisine – as prepared by chef Eron Novalski – is traditional yet flourishes with innovation variety, with notable selections such as the fried lobster and shrimp appetizer, braised short ribs and Pop Rock-infused orange tartufo.
Tutti Matti, meanwhile, continues to impress with its Tuscan-inspired food, 100-year-old oak library counter that doubles as a bar, and a rustic room that complements the woodsy flavors emanating from chef and owner Alida Solomon’s kitchen. Treats such as crostini topped with percorino, squash, black cabbage and locally-sourced speck ham are just the beginning at this hot spot located at 364 Adelaide Street.
Often called “Toronto’s most complete restaurant experience,” Canoe, at 66 Wellington Street West, boasts a 54-story view of Lake Ontario and a curved copper accent wall that glitters like a dancer’s almost-there outfit in a gentleman’s club. Menu items like a gossamer-light Jerusalem artichoke soup surrounding maple-braised pork belly begin the foray into Canoe’s delectable dining experience. Favourites such as seared foie gras with sweet Niagara peaches, house-made peanut butter and candied peanuts create a wildly exotic take on the PB&J phenomenon.
Bangkok Garden, situated at 18 Elm Street, continues to reign supreme as one of Toronto’s must-visit Thai destinations. Since 1982, the beautiful teak-paneled dining room has continued to sweep diners off their feet with magnificent charm and incredibly warm, inviting overtones. A comprehensive wine list and a myriad of dishes on Bangkok Garden’s extensive menu await to be sampled, including fried spring rolls, breaded calamari, chicken satay with peanut sauce and a garlicky stir-fry of tender eggplant and fresh basil.
Beyond these all-around Toronto/Summerlicious favourites are a handful of additional restaurants that have made foodies sit up and take notice. Consider, for example, Starfish, located at 100 Adelaide Street East, where a daily menu prepared by the likes of chef Adam Moon enthralls with the market’s freshest and most sustainable catches. A rather exotic variety of oysters sourced from Ireland and Scotland, including Galway Bay and Loch Ryan varieties, and seafood entrees such as grilled Portuguese sardines and Lake Erie pickerel awaken the taste buds in a fashion not easily explained. Also on this list of additionally notable eateries are Colborne Lane, Parts and Labour, Senses, Chiado and Globe Bistro, proving that Toronto has indeed become one of the most recognized names in eating out.
Which of your favourite Toronto eateries take part in Summerlicious?