Winterlicious 2015 – Byzantium

Yesterday was the last day of Winterlicious 2015 in Toronto. I should have posted this post right after dinner on Monday but I honestly didn’t know anyone else going (to benefit from my review) and I didn’t want to recommend this place to anyone either. Sorry, Byzantium. You weren’t even my first choice. My group wanted to go to Trevor but they were closed on Mondays!

In terms of service, it was pretty good. The server we had was actually the manager and he was quite friendly. However, sometimes that’s not enough. The food at Byzantium was lacking. Disappointing even.

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Prior to dinner, they gave us a bread basket with flat bread and other things. The flat bread and hummus may have been the highlight of the dinner. That says a lot.

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We all had the poutine for our starters and it was not bad. It tasted pretty good despite looking kinda blah. It could use more cheese though!

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For the main, the group (except for BP and myself) ordered the lamb but according to my friend the main dish “got progressively worse. It was not worth the effort”. According to another friend, it was “aiite”.

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But I have to say, despite my friends’ comments, I think my pasta of the day (bowtie pasta with chicken) was worse. The chicken surprisingly didn’t taste dry and was not too bad but the sauce and the entire dish was just bland.

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BP was a rebel and ordered the macaroni and cheese from the regular menu. It was the best dish of the night, I think, despite looking like death.

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For dessert, I got the chocolate cake. The presentation was worse than grocery store-bought cake. It tasted on par with store-bought cake. And that stick of chocolate it came with? What even is it? Does not taste like what I thought it would be. It looks like a wafer with chocolate hazelnut inside? Nope. Nope.

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I tried the keylime pie and it tasted like lemonade to me. I don’t eat keylime pie so I cannot judge. To quote my friend, “It ended on a sour note”.

Would I come back again for food? Most likely not.

I believe there’s a DJ after a certain time. I still wouldn’t come back for that. Their women’s bathroom smells horrid! I gagged several times.

If you’re interested in checking out…. cause I mean it seems some people like it, then here’s their info:

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Byzantium
Website: Byz.ca
499 Church Street, Toronto, Ontario
416.922.3859

Winterlicious 2015 – MoRoCo Chocolat

This is my second Winterlicious dinner for 2015. I had invited several of BP’s friends to go for dinner and MoRoCo’s menu appealed to most of us. I’ve been there several times when I used to work on Bay and Bloor, and many times after for afternoon tea or high tea. (Not interchangeable) I’ve always had a pretty good experience… I’ve never found the hostess to be friendly like other places but I just chalked it up to the fact that we’re in Yorkville. (Ok, that’s really unfair to generalize like that but I’m being honest in what I was thinking)

So, before I get onto the food, I want to discuss my unpleasant experience before dinner even started. We were on our way there and I get a phone call from two other friends who were early that MoRoCo did not have reservations under my name. For the record, I called ahead earlier in the week because I was unable to make reservations on their Bookenda app on their website. (As an aside, I’m very disappointed they switched over to Bookenda from OpenTable because I’m a few hundred points from getting a certificate) I had spoken to the hostess that day who said that while they cannot accommodate my 7PM request for a table of 8 people for Friday, February 6, she would be able to accommodate 7:30PM. She confirmed and took down my information but I guess she never wrote it down. Or lost it. I don’t really care because at the end of the day, 8 people didn’t have a table for 7:30PM.

Prior to that unpleasant experience, I had in fact, called in earlier that afternoon to speak to a supervisor about a certain request but was put on hold for 20 minutes. I called in again after I hung up with my friend and asked about our 7:30 reservation. I apologize as I may have taken a tone with the hostess. I knew she had her hands tied in trying to accommodate for my group. However, I felt that the entire time she spoke to me, she wanted to make sure that I knew she wasn’t the one culpable for losing my reservation to the point that she asked the time and date that I had phoned in to place blame on someone else. But, I guess she was just covering her ass. The best she could do was push our reservation time. Eventually, I relented and said we would take a 9PM reservation. We came all the way here for dinner, and everywhere else was booked on a Friday night.

I went in to speak to her that a friend of mine has work after dinner and if there was any way they could pre-order her food in the kitchen. She has given us the paper menu for Winterlicious and said we were free to keep it. Things were looking up.

Upon our return for the 9PM reservation, we had taken the liberty of grabbing the same paper menus that were free for us to keep and read it. The hostess returned and yanked it out of my friend’s hand and said that the menus were already on our table. I think that’s a little confusing because she was telling us to keep it earlier. And from what I could tell, we were her last table before it was time for her to leave so she was free to look cross, and treat us as if we had inconvenienced her evening. We were placed in the back with two tables put together. Two oblong tables that were meant for 2 people… for 8.

That aside, the experience after that was OK. Although the fact that we had to wait and the hostess’ attitude did sour the mood.

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A few of the group had the pumpkin soup. This is the soup that first arrived at the table for my friend with the rush request. Notice that there is no bread when the rest of the pumpkin soups came with rock solid french bread afterwards.

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This is the Tuna Tartare. The bread on the left is the same one missing from the soup above. The tartare was good. It wasn’t the best I’ve had.

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For your main, there were three choices. The Artisan Burger, which everyone loved. The sweet potato fries went really well with the chipotle mayo sauce. It was like having all dressed chips! I personally did not try the burger myself but from what I heard, it was delicious.

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I’ve been to MoRoCo before for the High Tea and the Truffle Macaroni and Cheese was part of it. It was exactly as I remembered. Delicious. BP said you couldn’t taste the cheese but I would have to disagree.

No one ordered the salmon.

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Finally for dessert, I had the Adam & Eve which is an apple galette. This is not a galette. It’s apple pie filling in a tart shell with whipped cream. It was OK.

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This is the one dessert I didn’t try. This is the Funfetti cake which is a red velvet cake with a macaron. They are known for their macarons so you can’t go wrong with that. It was the one with the best reviews among the table.

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Finally, the get cherried away. I didn’t order this as 1) I don’t like cherries 2) I am kinda over cheesecake. But I have to say, it was pretty good. It was rich but not overly rich.

Would I recommend MoRoCo?

Yes, with a caveat.

Either make your reservation online or call and double check. That’s just ridiculous. I still think they are pretty good in terms of afternoon tea/high tea offerings. The servers are troopers while the hostesses (not just the one mentioned above) could use some attitude check.

But their store front alone is worth a visit 🙂 See my other review here.

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MoRoCo Chocolat
Website: MoRoCoChocolat.com
99 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5R 3K3
416.961.2202

Winterlicious 2015 – America at Trump Hotel

So Winterlicious and Summerlicious started back in the day when the SARS outbreak scared everyone from leaving their homes – basically. So, this program was to help restaurants provide a prix-fixe sample of their menu to help boost their business. It was such a hit that bot Winter and Summerlicious still exists!

We have people on the “I’m a foodie and I’m too good for their prix-fixe menu” camp and the “This is a great opportunity to try out food at this restaurant”. I have been on both sides of the camp and I know the arguments for both. So my message to foodies – get over it. It’s a fun event and gives people an excuse to hang out with each other. Calm down.

Anyway, my friends and I decided to hit up America at the Trump Hotel. You can find their Winterlicious menu here.

So yesterday, I actually forgot my camera and only had my iPhone 5S with me. And you know how restaurants get really dark. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to take good photos of the food so I called ahead and the manager said she would try and accommodate me. The pictures below are taken by the manager at America, Serena, who took photos of the food in the kitchen with my phone. (you know, I don’t want to be that obnoxious blogger with flash at a restaurant)

As I type this, I’m trying to call MoRoCo to help a sister out but I’ve been on hold for 17 minutes now so they must be insanely busy at 4:30PM….

Just note: For those who are wondering, Stock was renamed to America. And Suit was renamed to Calvin Bar.

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My company has done several events at the Trump Hotel before and I didn’t really love their Art deco furnishing outside but it’s slowly growing on me. But inside America was much more hip.

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For my app, I decided to go with Pressed BBQ Pork, apple mustard, chow chow pickles, tasso ham crackling. It was pretty good. It’s like a cold pulled pork sandwich without the bread. There was also this questionable white powder which I found out was bacon powder.

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My main was Wellington County Steak & Cheek (local), heirloom grits, collard green choucroute, smoked bourbon butter. This was my first steak in over 2 years. The last steak I had was in May 2012 in a restaurant called Cau in Amsterdam. The steak was OK – nothing special. The cheek was too … meaty for me so I apologize about that. (I’m still not 100% on the YAY MEAT IS GREAT train) However, it seems my friends reallly enjoyed the tenderness of the cheek. However, her only comment was that she did not like having to go through the corn nuts to get to her meat. Lol.

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Finally for dessert, I had Granny Apple Sticky Pudding (vegetarian/local), sourdough & maker’s mark bourbon pudding, pecan toffee sauce, pretzel ice cream which is NOT the image above. It was so flippin’ delicious. It wasn’t too sweet nor was it sour at all!! The dessert pictured above is the Peanut Butter Panna Cotta, toasted marshmallow, allspice peanut brittle which my friend got. As much as I dislike peanut butter…I have to admit, this was pretty amazing too!! It was like a PB flavoured whipped cream?!

I would definitely go there again outside of the Winterlicious promo because not only was the food good, America turns into a lounge afterwards with dancers and a DJ.

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America Restaurant
Website: americarestaurant.ca
325 Bay St. 31st floor, Toronto, ON M5H 3C2
416.637.5550

Giveaway Winner + Winterlicious reviews!

Congratulations to Afef! She won my first ever giveaway! Sorry for not posting this sooner. I was just really busy with various things! So I assigned each person ‘ballots’ with numbers and used the randomizer and tada! She’ll be winning $30 credit towards her ELF purchases! 🙂

But since there were only a few people who joined my giveaway, I’m giving away $10 e-cert to those who participated anyway! Thank you all for your support! (and that’s to all my readers)

Anyway, I have been busy with preparing a presentation (for something I will discuss later on), taking Mr.S out, spending time with friends, making semi-fail macarons, planning for a potential trip to London and Paris(like 95%). And for those dinners, there’s something called Winterlicious. This year I had the chance to go to two restaurants. One is Far Niente and one is Canyon Creek Chophouse.

Far Niente : I wasn’t planning on going to Far Niente but last minute plans (I didn’t want to make dinner) so i gave them a call and they had a table available at 6:30 and I jumped on it. You can view their Winterlicious menu here. We both had the Lobster Bisque which he quite enjoyed but I like mine with more chunks of lobster and having less of a consistency of a potato soup. For the main I had the Black Angus Top Sirloin Steak and he had the Crusted Mustard Glazed Chicken. Yum. LOL. I give it .. 6.5/10 – its steak. What can I say? It was in some wine sauce I didn’t really care for. The pot pie was onion-ey (according to Mr.S), I thought it was alright. And for dessert, we both had Apple Oat Crumble. This was delicious! sauf the sour apples. Bleh. And Mr.S’ dessert came with a candle (yay!) No pictures because we were in discussion of something important. LOL.

Canyon Creek Chophouse : I’ve been planning to go here for a while now (only because I know Yuki really loves this place). I had the Caesar salad to start. Again, what can I say? It’s salad – isn’t that like a generic taste? LOL. For the main I had KBBQ marinated Steak which was good, I quite liked it – 7.5/10 (Best steak was probably the one I had at Toula for Winterlicious and also a steak I bought/cooked) BUT the side was like – wtf? It was rice, I thought it was safe. I thought wrong. I didn’t touch it at all. Dessert was hot and sour and I had the crumbly part and cream at the top which was yummy! This is why I’m not a food critic, I just eat food, take pictures and make them! =P THE END