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Alternalicious: a roundup of Summerlicious 2012’s prix fixe rebels

Elle M’a Dit is offering a $17 lunch and $24 dinner prix fixe (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

One-hundred-and-eighty-one restaurant kitchens across the city are in full onslaught mode with Summerlicious now in day six—but of course, not everyone is on board with the annual foodie festival. Criticisms lobbed at the popular city-wide fête include hurried guests and hastily thrown together food as restaurants work overtime to deal with the influx of low-tipping and no-showing diners. This year, as in past years, a handful of restaurants have taken matters into their own hands, crafting rogue prix fixe menus outside the parameters of the official program. “We want our customers to avoid any unnecessary fees for small portions,” Sarah Eddy of School restaurant explained. “For us, we offer a full value with large portions for our Schoolicious menu. We want our new and everyday customers to experience our full dining experience and know that when they come back a second or third time that it’s still the same great experience.” Graham Culp, owner of Simple Bistro expressed a similar logic: “We want to offer our clientele a break while still maintaining our integrity.” See the lineup of this year’s rebels below:

  • Simple Bistro is offering a $35 “Summer Break” menu from July 1 until the end of August. Available for dinner only, guests can select a three-course meal from anything on the regular menu: that’s seven to eight appetizers and main courses and five desserts to pick from.
  • Between July 10 and August 30, School will be holding its very own Schoolicious, running Tuesday to Thursday during dinner hours (5 p.m.–10 p.m.). For $35, pick a regular-sized starter, entrée and dessert off their prix fixe menu.
  • For the duration of Summerlicious, Alsatian restaurant Elle M’a Dit is offering a three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menu, at $17 and $24 respectively. Choose between three appetizers and entrées, and two desserts.
  • Splendido will offer a “light and lively”  five-course summer vegetarian tasting menu, kicking off this week and running through to the end of August or so. At $75, this isn’t the low price one would expect from a traditional Summerlicious prix-fixe—but it is a significant break from the cost of Splendido’s regular fare.
  • Cuban-inspired bistro Delux is running a three-course, $35 prix-fixe dinner menu from July 6 to the end of the month. The menu is set to change every few days, but last we checked, it includes a fried oyster appetizer served with yucca chips, avocado, lime aïoli and grilled pineapple–red onion salsa; a pan-seared Pickerel, charred corn and chorizo chowder main; and watermelon sorbet for desert.
  • Trevor Kitchen and Bar is actually a participant in Summerlicious, but hear us out: the $35 dinner menu (featuring potato-crusted crab cakes, buttermilk fried chicken and surf ’n’ turf, among other options) is available for home delivery from A Summerlicious-priced meal, without the Summerlicious crowd? Sounds delightful.
  • Until the end of July, Florentia, a Mount Pleasant trattoria, is offering a three-course Tuscan prix fixe for $32.

Know of any other special prix-fixe offers competing with Summerlicious? Let us know in the comments.

  • T Ronto

    Perhaps the real reason for the “rogue prix fixe” operators is the hesitancy to hand over a slice of already thin profit margins to a greedy city hall for the priveledge of participating in the program.

    Summerlicious and Winterlicious have outlived their usefulness and their original purpose… to draw people out to restaurants when SARS and a miserable economy in 2003 were keeping them away.

  • David Kong

    The economy is still miserable.

  • Kaori

    Marketing isn’t free, so handing over a slice to the city doesn’t seem unreasonable.

  • Chow Hound GTA

    T Ronto

    Our sentiments exactly! Time to bring the Liciousness to a close. That is all.

  • Martine

    Summerlicious/ Winterlicious are great ideas but the City of Toronto’s marketing arm is REALLY greedy. You have to have experienced it to know. The restaurannts that can participate are not necessarily the best and certainly not representative of all that the city has to offer. That is unfortunate.

    Smart restaurants would do well to unite and offer alterlicious menus on their own. Say July and/ or August prix fixe, 3-course meals from their regular menus such as School and others are beginning to do on their own. Such programs encourage Torontonians to try several new restaurants during the “Prix- fixe Festival” that they wouldn’t otherwise try and furthermore, if the choice of food is the same as that offered all year, the experience will be more reliably repeatable through the year.

    I have just returned from a less than pleasant Summerlicious experience myself, a restaurant that rides on the popular locally grown phenomenon at the cost of serving monotonous food. While i’m very much supportive of the eat local phylosophy, i’ m beginning to want to live where my local food consists of more than onions, turnips, pork and pickles.