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Alternalicious: a roundup of this year’s Summerlicious 2011 rebels

Every food festival worth its weight in foie gras has its dissenters, and this year’s Summerlicious is no exception. While the citywide summer food-fest can be a great way to promote a restaurant (check out our top 63 picks here), the stingy tippers and city-mandated restrictions can be a major-league deterrent for others. And so notable chefs, including Susur Lee, are exercising their inner rebel by offering an (unofficial) alternative to the prix fixe madness taking over the city. After the jump, a roundup of prix fixe and alternative summer menus we’ve unearthed:

Pizzeria Libretto is offering two prix fixe options: a $15 three-course lunch, including a salad, pizza and gelato, and a $25 four-course dinner, with antipasti, a primo, a pizza and a choice of dessert. The dinner menu is available until the end of July, and the lunch will continue indefinitely.

• The dressed-up Elm Street Italian restaurant Oro has a special $60 summer prix fixe menu at dinnertime with four courses: one of three appetizers, a strozzapreti puttanesca, a mackerel or beef tenderloin main and a basil panna cotta.

• The popular Mount Pleasant Indian restaurant Debu’s launched its Summer Debulicious menu last week, and will continue offering it until July 24. The $15 lunch menu and the $25 dinner menu consist of a choice of appetizers, mains and desserts, and both include pilaf rice and naan.

• Susur Lee will be reviving his Susurlicious à la carte menu this year at Lee until July 24. Highlights include smoky gazpacho ($10), watermelon salad ($15), Asian-style confit chicken with chestnuts and shiitake mushroom ($22), clack pepper–crusted tuna sashimi ($24) and braised beef ravioli with Hong Kong–style XO sauce ($24).

• Finally, for diners looking to splurge while everyone else is scrimping, Splendido is offering a special $99 five-course dinner: chilled English pea soup; English pea, fava bean and green asparagus fricassee; smoked chicken thigh with spinach ricotta and pea agnolotti; roast pork belly and soft-shell crab with English peas, carrots and baby romaine; and strawberry crème mousseline with Grand Marnier and orange meringue.



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  • Jelly Fish

    This is garbage! These so-called rebels are just being whiners and sucks by not participating. Stingy tippers are visiting restaurants with or without Summerlicious and there are no restrictions worthy of stopping anyone from participating. If these restaurants/chefs were true dissenters they wouldn’t be trying to take advantage and capitalize on the Summerlicious buzz created by this promotion by ripping off the name. They’d come up with their own distinct promotion at a different time of year with a unique name. If they don’t want to participate … then don’t! There are plenty of great restaurants who are offering fantastic menus. Stop ruining it for the rest of us.

  • Lori

    hey Jelly Fish,
    I don’t think the stingy tipper statement is garbage. Both Winter and summer ‘licious’ events drain all the staff and the really good establishments. When you see folks come in – eat; drink glasses of water and then leave a 5% tip; and all the restaurant staff are run off their feet serving as many sittings as the restuarant can manage; I fully understand places opting OUT. I used to partake of these events but have stopped. I Don’t think that this events allows restaurants to show what they can really do; everything is stretched to the limit. i find I look for these gems that don’t get caught up in the madness and enjoy their special events. – AND yes there are guidelines for restaurants that can qualify- although relaxed a little in the past year or so.

  • Weez

    I would like to start by stating that I am a decent tipper, as are all the people I choose to dine out with. Just because we eat in restaurants with deals on doesn’t mean we’re some kind of cheapskate jerks, as your article seems to imply that Summerlicious patrons are.

    The idea behind Summerlicious is to offer people a “low-risk” chance to try your restaurant by giving them a bargain on a multi-course menu. Debu & Pizza Libretto seem to get the idea and I wonder; if were they able, they would have been included in Summerlicious. Your article should have ended there.

    Why Toronto Life would bother plugging an al-la-cart menu ($15 for watermelon salad?)that is hardly a best buy at Lee in the same article as a $15 three course lunch is beyond me.

    Meanwhile your comparison of Oro’s $60 or Splendido’s $100 so-called “Alternalicious” options to the $25 fixed-price meals featured is even more ludicrous.

    It seems pretty obvious that the only reasons those places are not involved with Summerlicious is because they are either too pretentious or just too cheap to come up with a special bargain menu for a few meals.

    Does the author think that everyone who was planning on spending 30-or-so bucks at Summerlicious willl suddenly decide to spend a couple hundred instead after reading this?

  • estragon

    I don’t actually believe this crap about 5% tipping, etc. I’ve heard from one regular participant that tipping at his restaurants during ‘licious is almost exactly the same as normal. But I guess some servers prefer to work in a half-empty restaurant and collect 20% tips just for opening 200%-mark-up bottles of wine.

    For restaurateurs and chefs, Summerlicious is what you make it. Design the right menu, and you can handle the crows, make money, and please the public. Offer something too complicated, and you burn out your kitchen. Cheap out and offer three peas on a plate, and you turn off the public for the rest of the year.



    totally agree with you!!! bravo