Cafe Boulud was host yesterday to a media preview (read free) lunch at the veritable Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville. Invited guests tasted plates offered from the insanely popular upcoming Winterlicious food frenzy that clogs your fave Toronto hotspots with mostly food gawkers and water hoarders. Running from January 30 – February 12th, over 200 restaurants participate in this annual event, with each restaurant offering a 3 course prix-fixe meal at three tiered prices.
Let me say this straight out of the gate- I’m not a fan of Winterlicious (or Summerlicious for that matter). My top choices are always booked, I never remember to scramble and reserve ahead like everyone else. Service is usually lackluster, with poor servers running off their feet trying to keep tables flipping all night and pre-selected menus take all spontaneity out of dining out.
At the same time, I fully appreciate that those on a tight budget get to try those bank-break’in restaurants that everyone has been yammering on about for months. And restaurants-in the bleak and depressed January & February months get to fill the books and tables with actual paying customers. Just won’t be me- I’ll be at home, hibernating, waiting for the storm to pass and then re-surging like a phoenix when the crowds have dispersed and there’s a promise of a table for two that we can park ourselves at without two hour limit.
But in the name of research (and really, who am I kidding-a free meal) I busted out my finest eating pants and sashayed down to Cafe Boulud. The Winterlicious menu (here $45 for three courses) featured some of Chef Sylvain Assie’s Daniel Boulud inspired creations like the Digby Scallops swirled with brown butter sauce and celeriac gremolata (celery is the new kale in case you didn’t know).
Other options are Chestnut Veloute or Guinea Fowl Terrine, which my table mates scored. Inserted before our mains was a mini-bite preview of their Valentine’s menu (which will be four courses for $95) with a tiny offering of the pretty Celeriac Agnolotti.
Second round brought the usual surf vs turf, with salmon resting alongside a handful of Brussels Sprout, or the very presentable Beef “Pot au Feu”. Third option for you veg heads is the Artichoke Risotto (not pictured).
Desserts come in threes as well, offering either a Pear Chocolate Gateau, Apple Sundae (not pictured) or the Tropical Fruit Sundae.
Assuming you’re not a little princess like me, where will you be dining this Winterlicious? Valentine’s Day? Wherever you go, I hope you have your reservations already!