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Winterlicious Reservations to Make Right Now

By Suresh Doss
January 16, 2014

Start your engines ladies and gentlemen, Toronto's most popular eating festival is just around the corner. Restaurants begin accepting reservation requests for the annual Winterlicious program today!

This year a record 200-plus restaurants are participating in the program including a number of first-time heavyweights (Bent, Cafe Boulud, Momofuku). To make things a little easier for you, we've picked narrowed down to our top Winterlicious picks for this year. 

January 31 to February 13, 2014, prices vary.

  • For Power Lunches and Pre-theatre Dinners

    Nota Bene

    David Lee's popular Financial District restaurant has always been a sure Winterlicoius hit since it entered the program. This time around, NB is offering $25 power lunches, and $45 dinners. The menu reflects the restaurant's flair for combining Canadian ingredients with international cuisine and cooking techniques. Also important to note, Nota Bene will be serving newly opened sister restaurant Carbon Bar's brisket in sandwich form. Lee's brisket technique is already winning over critics, so this should be a real treat.
    Menu
    Top Dishes: brisket sandwich, coconut sorbet, soy-glazed BC black cod

    180 Queen St W., 416-977-6400

  • For the Curious Diner

    Banu

    Persian restaurant Banu has always been popular for groups wanting to share platters of grilled meats and vegetables. The cozy restaurant is once again joining in on the Winterlicious celebration with affordable lunches ($15) and dinners ($25). But rest assured, a cheap meal doesn't mean you can expect anything less than flavorful Persian cooking.

    Menu
    Top Dishes: Koobideh, Mamani Polo, Mirza Ghasemi

    777 Queen St W., 416-777-2268

  • For Dinner Before Dancing

    Bent

    Acclaimed chef Susur Lee's Bent is a new addition to Winterlicious this year. One of our top restaurants to check out in this city, offering an eclectic and modern Asian-themed menu. Lee is expecting to make a splash with $35 dinners, a bargain for diners that are itching to dine there on a budget. In typical Lee fashion, the menu is a mishmash of styles and ingredients with an Asian backbone. 
    Menu
    Top Dishes: quinoa and squash, short rib cannelloni, shrimp ravioli. 

    777 Dundas St W., 647-352-0092

  • For Romantics

    Splendido

    Winterlicious has always provided a great opportunity for first time diners to check out new restaurants on a fixed budget. The ability to dine without breaking the bank at some of Toronto's top restaurants like Splendido contiues to lure in hundreds of foodies from across the city. Chef Victor Barry has promised a stellar experience, $45 dinners where diners can expect to get a sense of Barry's penchant for creative takes with local and international ingredients. 
    Menu
    Top Dishes: roasted sea bass, sweetbreads, salmon treacle

    88 Harbord St., 416-929-7788

  • For Seafood Lovers

    Starfish

    If you love seafood, or know someone that does, then pick up the phone immediately and book seats at Starfish. World oyster shucking champion Patrick McMurray's restaurant features some of the best selections of bivalves in the city, with a rotating daily selection. Based on the Winterlicious lunch ($20) and dinner ($35) menus, it will be sure to please both oyster loves and fans of seafood alike. You've probably had your share of oysters, but how about a shucked scallop? Try it.
    Menu
    Top Dishes: Ontario trout, malpeque oysters, PEI mussels

    100 Adelaide St E., 416-366-7827

  • For Special Occasions

    Cafe Boulud

    Daniel Boulud's Toronto outpost will be participating in its first Winterlicious this year with a $45 dinner menu that highlights the four various culinary muses of the kitchen brigade. Again, since the festival guarantees that you'll be able to stick to a budget, we expect reservations at this fine-dining outpost to go quickly. Finish off with a cocktail downstairs at D Bar. 
    Menu
    Top Dishes: seared albacore tuna, braised beef shin, grilled mackerel

    60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6000

  • For Group Dining

    Momofuku Daisho

    Both Momofuku Noodle bar and Daisho will be participating in this year's prix fix festival with great menus at affordable prices. Our vote goes to Daisho for two reasons. The glass cube on the third floor offers a great view and the space and menu is great for group dining. Although Daisho's 'licious menu isn't its usual large format style, all of the popular items are featured in smaller form. If you're looking to get a group out for a fun food-filled night, this place is it. Save room for the whisky cart and cocktails at Nikai.  
    Menu
    Top Dishes: grilled mackerel, beef shoulder, all the buns!

    190 University Ave., 647-253-8000

  • For Vegetarians

    Tabule

    The popular Midtown restaurant is once again bringing back tasty Middle Eastern dishes to the festival. If there's one guarantee at Tabule it is consistently delicious meals from top to bottom. The lunch ($15) and dinner ($25) menus are very affordable and also provide ample vegetarian options.
    Menu
    Top Dishes: fried eggplant, kubbeh, kefta banadura

    2009 Yonge St., 416-483-3747

  • Dining on King East

    Chefs' House

    George Brown College's restaurant outpost on King East is a student-focused learning restaurant with a globe-trotting menu that rotates seasonally. The dining room's central attraction is the vast open kitchen space, where all the food you'll be eating is cooked by students in GB's culinary program. 'Licious menus come fast and furious with affordable lunches ($15) and dinners ($25). Ask to sit close to the kitchen for the best view in the house.
    Menu
    Top Dishes: vine-smoked cornish game hen, sea bream, Moroccan vegetables and couscous.

    215 King St E., 416-415-2260

  • All Around Best Bet

    Canoe

    If we know one thing for certain from previous Winterlicious years, its that by the time the weekend rolls around, the majority of reservations for this uber popular restaurant will be gone. Nationally-acclaimed Canoe is the top reservation for 'licious with lunch ($25) and dinner ($45) menus that are great gateways for first time diners looking for one of the best views of the city and food from a critically praised restaurant. Sit at the chefs' rail for a killer view of the city.
    Menu
    Top Dishes: Aurora chicken, cured rainbow trout, torched heritage salmon

    66 Wellington St W., 416-307-3322

  • For Portuguese Fine Dining

    Chiado

    Reservations are quick to go at this popular seafood restaurant. If fine Portuguese dining is what you're craving, then the allure of fixed $25 lunches and $45 dinners will ease your decision to book seats here. Chiado has a long standing reputation for its seafood menu, and extensive wine list. Go hungry, and spoil yourselves.
    Menu
    Top Dishes; Grilled octopus, roasted skate, duck confit

    864 College St., 416-538-1910

  • For Meat Geeks

    Parts & Labour

    Matty Matheson's temple of meat in Parklade is once again participating in Winterlicious, but he's eased up on the meat offerings to create a more versatile menu. The $35 dinners will feature Matheson's flair for kicking up comfort food with unconventional ingredients
    Menu
    Top Dishes: Butternut squash risotto, pork belly, maple-glazed cod

    1566 Queen St W., 416-588-7750

  • For Midtowners

    Quince

    Over 8 years this Midtown restaurant has gained a cult-like following from locals for its casual atmosphere and Mediterranean menu. The well-beloved bistro also does a great job of maintaining attentive service during a festival that is known for creating a frenzy in dining rooms. Quince's prix fixe offerings doesn't hold back, highlighting some of the top dishes from the restaurant's regular dining menu. The space is great for small groups.
    Menu
    Top Dishes: Fregola di sardine, rapini orecchietti, red wine braised beef brisket.

    2110 Yonge St., 416-488-2110

  • Craving Indian

    Amaya: The Indian Room

    The original outpost in the Amaya line of restaurants still stands as the best of the bunch, offering innovative Indian food served with contemporary global influences. Seats quickly fill up at this restaurant especially considering the price tag for lunches ($15) and dinners ($25).

    Menu
    Top Dishes; spice crusted fish, black mustard and curry leaf chicken tikka, smashed eggplant

    1701 Bayview Av., 416-322-3270

  • For a Family Meal

    Mildred Temple Kitchen

    Mildred's Temple Kitchen warm and beautiful dining space is a popular destination during the 'licious as hundreds of diners come crashing in from out of town. And why not? It's easily the best place to eat at in Liberty Village with a seasonally focused menu that offers a wealth of options for any type of diner in your group. Perfect for the family meal.
    Menu
    Top Dishes: baby back ribs with squash, roasted cauliflower, mushroom risotto

    85 Hanna Ave, Suite 104., 416-588-5695

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Places Mentioned

Toula Restaurant & Bar

Harbourfront

Food21 Decor18 Service21 Cost$61
 
 
 
Mildred's Temple Kitchen

Eclectic • Liberty Village

Food24 Decor23 Service22 Cost$59
 
 
 
STARFISH OYSTER BED & GRILL

Seafood • Downtown Core

Food25 Decor18 Service22 Cost$66
 
 
 
Quince Bistro

Mediterranean • Midtown

Food21 Decor18 Service20 Cost$58
 
 
 
Food27 Decor24 Service24 Cost$84
 
 
 
Chiado

Portuguese • Little Italy

Food28 Decor21 Service24 Cost$96
 
 
 
Parts & Labour

Canadian • Parkdale

Food20 Decor24 Service23 Cost$46
 
 
 
Canoe

Canadian • Financial District

Food25 Decor27 Service25 Cost$94
 
 
 
Cafe Boulud

French • Bloor-Yorkville

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Bent

Dundas West

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Splendido Bar & Grill

Canadian • South Annex

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
 
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