20 restaurants to eat at during Winterlicious 2014
Winterlicious 2014 doesn't kick off until January 31st, but the real frenzy begins today as restaurants start booking tables for the 12th year of the citywide prix fixe food festival. Along with many repeat restaurants, this year's roster of participants includes a slew of notable first-timers ready to shake things up.
Here's a rundown of what to expect from Winterlicious 2014.
HOW IT WORKS
This year sees 210 restaurants on the Winterlicious roster (up from last year's 191 participants), who will offer three-course prix fixe meals for lunch (priced at $15, $20 or $25) and dinner (which comes in at $25, $35 or $45). Dinner reservations are imperative, especially for the most popular restaurants, though it's easier to snag a last minute table at lunch hour. Although facilitated by the City of Toronto, each restaurant handles bookings directly and must be contacted independently or booked via OpenTable (when available).
NEW THIS YEAR
There are 24 new participants this year, of which a few are particularly noteworthy. They include the following:
- Momofuku Noodle Bar (menu) - David Chang's ramen and pork bun bar.
- Paintbox Bistro (menu) - Top notch food, and socially conscious too.
- Museum Tavern (menu) - Excellent cocktails and bistro fare.
- Bannock (menu) - Oliver and Bonacini's casual Canadian restaurant.
Considering usual prices and popularity, these are the places you might want make reservations at pronto.
- Origin North (menu) - Claudio Aprile's newest restaurant at Bayview Village.
- Momofuku Daisho (menu) - This year's pick of the litter.
- Bent (menu) - Small plates, bold flavours from Susur Lee.
- Canoe (menu) - The flagship of Oliver and Bonacini 's empire.
- Stock (menu) - Just listed as one of the 10 most expensive restaurants in Toronto, the time to go is now.
Glad to see these well seasoned participants return for another year.
- Bymark (menu) - Mark McEwan's eponymous Financial District restaurant.
- Nota Bene (menu) - David Lee's posh spot on Queen West.
- The Shore Club (menu) - Upscale surf and turf.
- Splendido (menu) - Now a sophomore Licious participant, still a big draw.
VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN OPTIONS
Meatless eaters can partake in the prix fixe program too. Here some of the better vegetarian/vegan-friendly options.
- Quinta (menu) - A casual spot for rustic Iberian fare on Dundas.
- Trevor Kitchen & Wine Bar (menu) - Surprisingly good vegetarian options.
- Tabule (menu) - A Middle Eastern menu that does plenty of meat-free options.
CHEAP BUT GOOD
Here are some top picks in the most reasonable Winterlicious price range of $15/$25 (for lunch and dinner, respectively).
- Banu (menu) - A lovely Iranian restaurant on Queen.
- Destingo (menu) - Casual Italian dining on Queen.
- Mill Street Beer Hall (menu) - 500+ tables improve your chances of getting a reservation.
- Smith (menu) - Solid bistro fare in The Village.
The Winterlicious Culinary Event Series offers delicious interactive food experiences designed to educated and indulge. Tickets have been on sale for over a month.
- Sweet Winter Heat - A cooking demo and spicy-food tasting opportunity at the Spice Route.
- Five Ways Dinner by The Group of Seven Chefs - Five menus from five chefs distributed at random.
- The Tin Chef - A friendly "secret ingredient" cook-off between a roster of foodies, none of which are professional chefs.
- The Tempered Beast: Sucré - Salé - A 4-course tasting dinner featuring four chefs all repurposing the same main ingredients in different preparations. Kind of like Chopped.
Got a restaurant you think others should try out during Winterlicious? Let us know in the comments.
Photo from Momofuku Daisho