66 Wellington Street West
In her opinion:
Winterlicious is a fabulous opportunity to enjoy some of Toronto's top restaurants at fraction of what they would normally cost you! This year we were lucky enough to get the golden ticket of Winterlicious - a lunch reservation at Canoe. You see Canoe doesn't normally offer lunch on the weekend and since I live in Cambridge and can't really make it down to Toronto to enjoy lunch Monday to Friday on the 54th floor of this pillar of the financial district - I was thrilled!
What made this Winterlicious lunch at Canoe even more exciting was that were were bring Canoe virgins with us. Our friends the Normores hadn't ever tried Canoe so it was a special treat to introduce them to the fine cuisine of Chef John Horne.
We arrived early for our reservation and were shown to the bar...all I can say is what a view. I've sat in that exact spot a few times and it never gets boring. I decided to start our wonderful lunch with a cocktail. I chose a Sidecar. This is a classic cocktail of Courvoisier, Triple Sec, Lemon and Vanilla Simple Syrup. Just absolutely delicious. A cheery start to a fabulous meal.
We were shown to our seat in the middle of the dining room and that is were the magic began. I decided to order a glass of my favourite red wine...Biff's Juicy Red this is a Cave Spring Cellar's creation for Oliver and Bonicini restaurants and it's heaven in a glass.
The following is a list of what I ate:
Maple Mustard Pork Rillette
(Kozlik's Mustard, Hen's Egg and Gherkin)
I was treated to - Organic Buckwheat Pasta
(Cured Rainbow Trout, Bean Sprouts and Dashi Pear Broth)
Ontario Strip Loin
(Northern Woods Mushrooms, Layered Potatoes and Birch Onion Marmalade)
I was treated to - Wild Rice Pudding
(Poached Apricot, Rose Vanilla Sauce and Pistachio)
Heirloom Carrot Cake
(Cream Cheese Mousse and Red Bean Orange Sauce)
I've had many magical meals at Canoe and we've written about them many times. So I won't go into too much detail about each course other then to say that everything was executed perfectly. The flavours were complex and unbelievably delicious. The service was impeccable.
What made this meal really special was the fact that we got to introduce our friends to this restaurant. Chef Horne, although absent from the kitchen still managed to make it unforgettable for all of us. I would not hesitate to say that this was a superb meal from start to finish.
In his opinion:
Going to Canoe for a meal never gets old, boring or out of fashion. Many times I had tried to dissect my experiences at this restaurant but I come up empty when trying to find something to pick on. It is that good.
When I was first introduced to Canoe a few years back, I was told that it was a cold, Bay Street suit place with a great view. What they failed to mention was the consistency, attention to detail, great customer service and warm inviting room that catered to these same Bay Street suits, not to mention the stellar food.
Arriving at Canoe early is always a great experience as we get to sit by the bar or in adjacent window seating facing the lake with a cocktail waiting for your seats. We did just that. I ordered a Canuck to start. It is sort of a Sangria but much more subtle.
The warm bread came out with the red pepper chickpea spread to get us started as we browsed the menu. The choices were simple but everything sounded so good that made it a hard choice.
I started my meal with the Butternut Squash and Ginger Soup
(Roasted Squash, Tarragon Cream and Leavened Bread Croutons). It was creamy with a thick consistency and the hint of ginger in the after taste made this soup very delectable. The croutons added good texture to the velvety soup.
I then had the Organic Buckwheat Pasta (Cured Rainbow Trout, Bean Sprouts and Dashi Pear Broth) This is not a dish that I would usually order but it was a great surprise. The pasta was done al dente and the flavours were intense. I must make a mental note to have buckwheat pasta more often. The cured rainbow trout was outstanding and worked very well with the delightful Dashi Pear broth.
My next course was the Aurora Chicken (Seared Leek, Rye Berries and Muskoka Cranberries) This was my favourite dish of the meal. The chicken was done perfectly, very moist on the inside and with a just perfectly crisp skin. The seared leek was also very tasty, still crunchy but very soft.
Our dessert treat was Wild Rice Pudding (Poached Apricot, Rose Vanilla Sauce and Pistachio) I must admit that I'm not the biggest rice pudding fan in the world but the mix of flavours, textures, fruit and the fact that it was wild rice made it very enjoyable.
My actual chosen dessert was Niagara Walnut Tart (Apple Caramel, Roasted Apple and Creme Fraiche). The tart was very soft with a hard crust and very flavourful. The roasted apple was soft and a great contrast to the crust of the tart, and which worked very well together. Topping the textures and flavour were the creme fraiche that "cushioned" the burst of flavours very well with every bite.
I ended my meal with an espresso which was surprisingly good, given its track record. I'm very picky with my espressos and rarely find one I enjoy but this one was good.
I give it 4 1/2 Olives out of 5 as rating