Winterlicious

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Winterlicious 2014: Toronto Life’s 65 best bets for this year’s fest

WINTERLICIOUS 2014
UPTOWN
WESTDOWNTOWN NORTHEAST
WESTDOWNTOWN SOUTHEAST
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DOWNTOWN NORTH
DOWNTOWN SOUTH
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One question looms large in the minds of food-obsessed Torontonians around this time of year: to Lish or not to Lish? The extravaganza of cut-rate prix-fixe menus has a somewhat checkered past, and it’s true that not all Winterlicious meals are created equal. That’s why we pored over the master restaurant list and picked out the 65 spots around the city that have been tried and tested by Toronto Life reviewers. Restaurants begin taking reservations on Thursday, January 16, and the hottest tables are guaranteed to fill up fastso get those dialling fingers good and primed.

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Winterlicious 2013 Last Call: the scoop on the hot restaurants that still have tables available

Unusually, there are still a few tables available at Canoe this year (Image: Renée Suen)

Winterlicious ends on Thursday, but not before the dramatic final push, during which diners inundate their favourite ’licious restaurants with calls in the hopes of squeezing themselves into a cancellation. We called the 10 most-clicked on restaurants from our 61 Best Bets to find your best shot at scoring a table.

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Winterlicious 2013 opens today—see our top picks, recommended restaurants and more

The short rib from Canoe’s last Summerlicious menu (Image: Renée Suen)

After two weeks of ’Licious lovers jockeying for tables at Splendido and Canoe, the winter instalment of Toronto’s semi-annual prix fixe festival is finally underway. To make the most of Winterlicious 2013 be sure to check out our comprehensive coverage:

How’s your Winterlicious going? Diners, servers and cooks: tell us about your experience at thedish@torontolife.com

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The Dish Power Rankings: brunches and bans

Toronto Life’s weekly assessment of the restaurants with the biggest buzz, the longest lineups and the toughest tables to snag.

Momofuku Shōtō loses the top spot this week to the perennially buzzy Grove (see last week’s rankings). The Black Hoof drops off the list, but is replaced by the Hoof Raw Bar, which is hosting the return of Toronto’s favourite brunch service circa 2010. Also noteworthy: a new restaurant opens in Parkdale, likely the last until the ban is lifted, and a new tasting menu from one of the city’s top Italian restaurants.

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Alternalicious: a roundup of Winterlicious 2013’s prix fix rebels

Bent’s braised spiced short ribs, one of the critic-endorsed picks on their Susurlicious menu (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Winterlicious can be a double-edged sword for diners. Yes, there’s the prospect of great deals that you’d never get otherwise—except during Summerlicious—but the crowds are thick, the servers are frazzled and the ’licious menu doesn’t always measure up to the usual fare. For years, some restaurants have opted to keep the deals but skip the chaos, responding to Winterlicious with prix fixes of their own. We’ve rounded up the best of them below.

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The Dish Power Rankings: feasting menus and Maple Leafs edition

Toronto Life’s weekly assessment of the restaurants with the biggest buzz, the longest lineups and the toughest tables to snag.

The biggest movement this week was lower down on the list, where over-the-top feasting meals at Catch and Dyne managed to knock off a few restaurants that weren’t quite buzzy enough (see last week’s rankings). Café Boulud took the biggest hit, slipping three places after Jared Bland took the New York superchef’s bistro to task for its lack of ambition in our February issue. Real Sports Bar and Grill makes its entry in the list thanks to the long-awaited return of the Leafs this Saturday.

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VIDEO: Toronto Life’s food editor on the top Winterlicious 2013 restaurants

Winterlicious 2013 starts next week, and reservations are now open at the 191 participating restaurants. Toronto Life food editor Rachel Heinrichs appeared on The Morning Show this morning to talk about her top picks for the prix fixe festival.

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Winterlicious 2013: our food editor picks 10 ideal meals from this year’s list

The clafoutis from last year’s Summerlicious menu at Canoe (Image: Renée Suen)

Winterlicious is upon us again, with restaurants serving three-course prix fixe dinners for $25, $35 or $45. The roster doesn’t change much from year to year—the buzziest new restaurants generally don’t participate because they’re already besieged and or/managing their brands on Twitter—and there’s usually enough chicken, salmon and short ribs to throw a city-wide wedding buffet. However, there are always some top-notch standbys and even a few surprises (huzzah, Splendido!) mixed in. We sifted through the 191-restaurant list to find the most creative dishes—no rubbery chicken—for the best value in this year’s fest, which runs from January 25 to February 7. Here, the top 10 Winterlicious 2013 restaurants, ranked in the order you should call for reservations—which, by the way, they’re taking starting January 10.

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Delux celebrates five years on Ossington with a special discounted menu

Delux’s signature Cubano sandwich (Image: Glen MacLarty)

Corinna Mozo’s Delux was one of the pioneers of the Ossington strip’s restaurant explosion when it first opened in 2008. Today, the French restaurant (with the cult Cuban brunch) celebrates five years in business by offering a special menu of their classic dishes until the end of the month. Apps are $10, mains are $20 and desserts are $5, making a $35 three-course meal a mighty tempting alternative to trying to secure a Winterlicious reservation.

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Winterlicious 2013: Toronto Life’s picks for the financial district and King West

WINTERLICIOUS 2013 | DOWNTOWN SOUTH

As usual, Winterlicious 2013 is heavily concentrated downtown with 22 of our recommendations located in the core and along King West. In the middle, the prized reservation for every hard-core ’Licious-head: Oliver and Bonacini flagship Canoe.

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Winterlicious 2013: Toronto Life’s picks north of St. Clair

WINTERLICIOUS 2013 | UPTOWN

The vast area north of St. Clair has many quality Winterlicious 2013 restaurants, including old standbys Didier and North 44°. Below, our 16 best bets.

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Winterlicious 2013: Toronto Life’s picks for Yorkville and the Annex

WINTERLICIOUS 2013 | DOWNTOWN NORTH

The many excellent Winterlicious 2013 options between College and St. Clair cluster in Yorkville and along Harbord. The most sought-after reservation in the area will be Splendido, which joins the prix fixe fest for the first time this year.

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Winterlicious 2013: Toronto Life’s two picks east of the DVP

WINTERLICIOUS 2013 | EAST

Winterlicious and Summerlicious are never particularly kind to the east end of the city, but this year’s selection is worse than ever. Despite the recent slew of promising openings in Leslieville and Riverside, we can only recommend a pair of restaurants in the area for Winterlicious 2013.

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Toronto Winterlicious 2013 restaurants are out—and the list grew once again (it even includes Splendido)

It’s nearly that time of year again: earlier today, Toronto Special Events released the list of Toronto Winterlicious 2013 restaurants. Given the fevered pace of openings in this city, it seems logical that the number of participating restaurants has grown once again, to 193 from last year’s 175. That said, the list is, as usual, full of older places hoping to draw attention during the slow winter months, as opposed to flashy new ones who don’t need to. One participant worth mentioning: Splendido, which usually sits these things out, will be offering a $45 dinner menu (we’re guessing it will rival Canoe as the hardest ’licious reservation to nab). The price categories have stayed the same, meaning lunch menus will go for $15, $20 or $25 and dinner menus for $25, $35 or $45. The prix fixe festival itself takes place between January 25 and February 7, with restaurants accepting reservations starting January 10 (January 8 for AmEx cardholders). Stay tuned for our comprehensive guide to the festival early in the New Year. See the full list »

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We called our 10 most clicked Summerlicious restaurants to find out when you can still get a table

Aria’s dramatic dining room (Image: Lisa Paul)

With this year’s Summerlicious festival winding down (the last day is Sunday), we decided to call up the top 10 most clicked-on restaurants from our 67 Best Bets list to see how they were faring. “Winterlicious is crazier,” says Senses’ general manager David Kipis, “but we’re taking more reservations than last year.” Aria reports a similar situation, receiving comparatively less guests than during Summerlicious’ wintery counterpart, but still doing “quite nicely” overall. While this season’s most clicked-on restaurants included some of the usual suspects (Canoe, Aria), there were some surprises as well, like long-time Thai-food fixture Bangkok Garden and Adelaide Street’s Tutti Matti. See below for the full lineup of the most viewed Summerlicious restaurants, and to get the scoop on when you can still score a table:

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