Since its inception in 2003 after the S.A.R.S. epidemic, licious has become a twice a year staple event in the Toronto food industry, with many of Toronto's most well known restaurants taking part. It offers guests an opportunity to dine at restaurants with a prix fixe at very reasonable prices; $15, $20, $25 for lunch, and $25, $25, 45 for dinner.
While I think this is great for the city and the industry, I tend to shy away from restaurants during these two weeks. In past years you would hear stories of the quality of food dropping, portion sizes being reduced, and appalling service. With that said, it's been getting better over the years as restaurants have a tried and true battle plan to ensure a smooth service and consistent experiences for diners. Starting a couple years ago I began visiting restaurants for licious again, two years ago I went to one, and this year a whopping TWO restaurants!
If you know me well, you know Canoe is my favourite restaurant in Toronto. So with some convincing from Chef we headed out to Canoe for the last night of Summerlicious 2014.
Light bright menu perfect for the summer!
Course 1: BBQ Trout Escabeche with Pickled 100km Veggies and Sesame Lavash (flatbread).
A Canadian take on a Mediterranean/Latin American dish where fish is marinated in an acidic mixture before being poached. This dish was developed by Chef Bill Osborne before leaving for Stock Restaurant.
Paired with Ziraldo Riesling, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 2012.
Course 2: Sweet Pea Panna Cotta with Tender Shoots, Crispy Roots (Taro Root), Okanagan Hazelnuts, Fava Beans, and Puffed Tapioca.
Paired with Rosewood Estates Sémillon, Beamsville Bench, Ontario, 2012.
Course 3: Aurora Chicken Terrine with Holland Marsh Leeks, Scrunchions, and Wild Gribiche Sauce
Garnished with mustard seeds, mushroom caps, capers, and dried croissant. The terrine is made by puréeing chicken thigh and cooking it souside, combined with breast meat, it's then compressed and cooked again.
Paired with Malivoire Moira Rosé, Beamsville Bench, Ontario, 2013.
Course 4: Caribou Loin with Sqush Blossum, Young Sour Apricot, Smoked Honey, Spruce Grits.
A preview of Chef Horne's next tasting menu, Taste Grain/Prairies, starting next month.
First time I have ever had Caribou! It's a really gamey meat with a iron/metallic aftertaste that lingers. Incredibly tender and lean this was cooked perfectly. The apricots paired well by providing much needed balance and acidity to the meat.
Course 5: Rye Brined Pork Loin with Kohlrabi Slaw, Niagara Stone Fruit Mostarda, Crispy Barley, Wild Garlic Scapes
Easily the winning main for us. Well balanced with varrying textures and super tender and juicy meat. Only gripe with this dish is that the portion was huge!
Paired with Creekside Iconoclast Syrah, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 2011.
Course 6: Bison Bavette & Short Rib with Heirloom Tomato, Watercress and Crushed Alliston Potatoes.
If you love big bold flavours you're going to like this one. The Bavette comes from the belly of the animal, very tender, economical, and flavourful. This cut is perfect for grilling and has a deep earthy flavour! I had really high hopes for this dish, meats had great flavour but the sauce/glaze was jsut a little too sweet for my liking.
Paired with Mission Hill Reserve Merlot, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, 2011.
Course 7: Hewitt's Dairy Buttermilk and Lemongrass Flan with Wild Blueberries, Angel Food Cake, and Green Tea Cream
Paired with Cave Spring Indian Summer Select Late Harvest Riesling, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 2011.
Course 8: Coffee Chocolate Gâteau with Banana Cremeux, Milk Chocolate Chantilly, and Peanut Brittle.
Paired with Lighthall Muté, Prince Edward County, Ontario, 2011.