Winterlicious Top Picks According To A Toronto Food Blogger

It’s already here! Reservations opened today for Toronto’s Winterlicious and I’m dishing out my top picks. I’m not a professional food critic, (although I wouldn’t mind,) but I do have a passion for food and there couldn’t be a greater city than Toronto to entice my global palate.


This year’s winter culinary celebration boasts over 200 restaurants offering lunch prices at $18, $23, $28 and dinner prices at $25, $35, $45. Get your reservations in, ’cause Winterlicious only runs from January 29th to February 11th. It’s your perfect opportunity to experience the culinary goodness that Toronto has to offer!


Bar Buca (Lunch $18, Dinner $25): Italian shareables on King West. Bar Buca is offering Italian specialties like, Testa – a crisp pig’s head with chili and marcona almonds or select from a few of their sausages like the Ammazza Fegato atuscan offal sausage with farro, cavolo nero and king mushrooms or Salsicce Schiacciata a ciociare-style pork and fennel sausage with roasted sweet pepper, cipollini and scamorz

Carbon Bar (Dinner $35): A Queen East smokehouse with staples like fried chicken and ribs to flavor bombs like their Asian influenced, Hamachi Poke with compressed Asian pear, ginger, green onion, wakame, kombucha vinegar, coriander, toasted sesame or South Atlantic Snapper with coconut & achiote curry, Jamaican pumpkin, eggplant, fresh coconut & chayote salad.

Concession Road (Dinner $35): On St. Clair you’ll find that haute French cuisine meets globally fun flavors. Ranging from classics such as, Escargot Forestiere with mushrooms, watercress, garlic and white wine butter sauce to global flavor infusions like, Japanese fried chicken ‘JFC’ with buttermilk mash, tomato and preserved lemon mayo.

Diwan (Lunch $28):
Be transported to a private Syrian home in the early 19th century exuding with flavours from the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent set inside the Aga Khan Museum’s elegant dining room. Taste a Middle Eastern staple, Lentil Soup with coriander pesto and zaatar croutons or fire up your tastebuds with, Grilled Salmon with organic red quinoa, falafel, harissa glaze and pomegranate yogurt.

Yuzu No Hana (Lunch $18, Dinner $25): Authentic, fresh and artfully prepared Japanese on Adelaide St. expect sushi, seafood tartare and show-stoppers like, Alaskan King Salmon Saikyo Miso Yaki, or the Yakiniku, Shimeji Mushrooms Bento with thinly shaved angus beef, ginger and soyu.


Canoe (Lunch $28, Dinner $45): Not only do you have the chance to eat regional- Canadian cuisine from one of Canada’s critically acclaimed  best restaurants, but you get to catch a glimpse of the city from the TD Bank Tower’s 54th floor to boot!
I Would Order:
Starter: Haida Gwaii Albacore Tuna Crudo with sumac jelly, sweet onion slaw + black garlic tartar sauce
Entree: Arctic Char (local) with cauliflower couscous, grilled mustard greens, xo romesco sauce
Dessert: Niagara Orchard Apple Pavlova (vegetarian/local) with praline cream, cranberry jam + toasted almonds

Chase Fish and Oyster Bar  (Lunch $23, Dinner $35): Just to see why the city’s flashiest seafood joint is all the rave! Located on the ground floor of a refurbished 19th century office building and offering drool-worthy menu items like, Harissa-Spiced Grilled Octopus and Whole Halibut with Brown Butter Sauce – what isn’t likable about this place!?
I Would Order:
Starter: Salmon Tartar with horseradish crème fraiche, beet relish and crispy capers
Entree: Pan Seared Arctic Char with potato rosti, braised red cabbage, caramelized apple and chestnut
Dessert: Donuts with cinnamon apple compote, caramel and calvados cream

Lee (Dinner $45): Chef Susur Lee is one busy guy and this fine-dining spot fusing Chinese traditions and French techniques offers the seasonal best from land and sea.
I Would Order: 
Starter: Cod & Leek Tart with Tomato Indian Jam, Red Coconut Curry
Entree: Fresh Ground Green Curry & Lentil Stew with Winter Veg, Paneer Cheese & Polenta
Dessert: Trio of Desserts Spring Roll Crème Brulee with Hot Chocolate Sauce, Apple Stack with Crème Fraiche and Pani Puri with Strawberry & Raspberry Compote, Whipped Cream
L’Unita (Dinner $35): You’ll get seasonal local fare described as ‘New Italian with a Canadian Heart’ in this Upper Yorkville mainstay. Everything is made in house from scratch.
I Would Order:
Starter: Salt Cod Fritto with charred lemon aioli & spicy peperonata
Entree: Grilled Duck Sausage with purple potato salad, balsamic agro dolce & duck egg
Dessert: Bufala Pannacotta with poached plums & brown sugar crumble

Sassafraz (Lunch $28, Dinner $45): Set inside a sunflower yellow house in the center of Yorkville – from hippies to celebrities, this Canadian/French stalwart has seen it all! I think this is the perfect opportunity to check out this celeb hotspot.
I Would Order:
Starter: Skillet Baked Escargot with king oyster mushrooms, gruyère, chardonnay thyme cream and black pepper crostini
Entree: Beef Striploin 10oz (local) with butterbean sweet potato succotash, black garlic braised leeks and chipotle pommery emulsion
Dessert: Gotham City Cheese exclusive to Sassafraz (vegetarian/local) with dried fruit, truffle honey and house crostini

Thoroughbred Food and Drink (Lunch $23 , Dinner $35): 
Because I just have to see how good the chicken liver patè and 15 hour short ribs are!
I Would Order:
Starter: Chicken Liver Mousse with Wild Ontario Huckleberries Spiced Bread
Entree: ‘Shepherds Pie’ made with 15 Hour Shortribs Whipped Potato Corn
Dessert: Chocolate Chip Cookie Baked to Order with Vanilla Ice Cream and Salted Caramel


Cafè Boulud (Lunch $28, Dinner $45):
Located in the Four Season’s in Yorkville this flagship offers exquisite international flavors with French roots.
I Would Order:
Starter: Paté grand mère, Chicken liver & porc terrine, pickles, country bread
Entree: Moules sauce poulette, Mussels, shallot & fennel, crème fraiche, pomme alumette
Dessert: Warm Madeleines, fresh baked lemon madeleines

Colette Grand Cafè (Lunch $28, Dinner $45): With an interior as stylish as a Riviera brasserie, drenched in French lavishness the cooking techniques and taste are touted to match.
I Would Order:
Starter: Goat Cheese Soufflé (vegetarian) with marinated beets, frisee & truffle walnut vinaigrette
Entree: Salmon Almandine, pan roasted with smoked almonds, parsley jus & red quinoa
Dessert: Horchata Rice Pudding with cherry gelée & pistachio mascarpone cream

Bar Buca (Lunch $18, Dinner $25): Just a few steps from King West’s Buca, lies this offshoot that’s dishing out fresh, authentic Italian and crafted cocktails.
I Would Order:
Starter: (Pick Two) Crisp rapini with bergamot zabaglione, chili and the Testa: crisp pig’s head with chili and marcona almonds
Entree: Mortadella Schiacciata: pistachio mortadella with green tomatoes, buffalo ricotta and pesto
Dessert: Torta Cioccolatino

Momofuku (Lunch $18, Dinner $25): …Because I hate to admit, I haven’t been here yet!
I Would Order:
Starter: BBQ Pork Bun (local) with mayo, slaw and sweet pickle
Entree: Smoked Chicken Ramen (local) with toasted miso, scallion, menma and egg
Dessert: Milk Bar Cookie





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