Every summer and winter Toronto foodies get hyper excited about the Licious Season. Reservations are made with urgency as diners take advantage of the incredible value and exclusive prix fixe menus offered at over 175 of the cities top restaurants. I have always been a hesitant Licious fan as as I am typically more keen to eat off a restaurants regular menu in order to get a better appreciation of the depth of its culinary repertoire. Some love Licious, searching out the best menus and getting great value for their money. Others have horror stories of Licious gone wrong (where restaurants put out a sloppy mediocre menu). I think we can all agree the publicity for Toronto restaurants is exceptional but not every apple in the bowl is as ripe as the next.
This past Winterlicious I coordinated five reviews with the Bloor Yorkville BIA to showcase some of the best Licious menu the city has to offer. As many of you know I moved to Yonge and College this past summer from the West End. With Yorkville a short walk north from my apartment this culinary assignment allowed me to discover five new restaurants just a hop skip and a jump away.
My first review was at The Park Hyatt’s Annona with my friend Malcolm. Named for the Roman goddess of harvest, this chic, 65-seat restaurant offers up exemplary service, calming decorum, stellar Italian dishes and a bountiful wine and cocktail list to boot.
Highlights included their magnificent Mojito (which you simple must not leave without ordering) which features a crystallized sugar stir stick. The kitchen certainly knows how to prepare a good steak so if you are dining with meat eaters make sure to focus on these hearty offerings. I was elated to try four of their desserts all of which left me in a inescapable food coma.
We enjoyed (* notes my favorites):
La Lot, Peter Zemmer, Alto Adige, Italy
Joseph Drouhin, “La Foret,” Bourgogne, France
Roasted Pearl Onions, Shaved Apple Cheddar Crisps, Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Coq au Vin *
Frenched Chicken Drumstick with Red Wine Gastrique, Potato Croquette, Fresh Herbs
Grilled Park Ribeye
Boursin and Mushroom Gratin, Onion Rings, Red Wine Jus
Rich Braise of Beans, Lentils and Root Vegetables Topped with Gratineed Mashed Potatoes
Caramel and Chocolate Sauces
Warm Pear Bread Pudding
Calvados Creme Anglaise
Mini Warm Molten Chocolate Lava Cake
Caramelized Hazelnut Ice Cream
Berries and Shortbread