The most important countdown of the New Year has begun: Winterlicious 2015.
Starting this week you’ll be able to make lunch and dinner reservations at more than 200 of the city’s best restaurants to enjoy some of their finest food for a fixed price under $50.
It is a glorious time for foodies, but it’s also an overwhelming time for busy young professionals.
But not to worry; when it comes to matters of the stomach, we’ve got you full-y covered.
With so many options and so little time, you’ll need to quickly narrow down your search. So here are the 15 Winterlicious meals we think you simply can’t afford to miss.
Pangaea – Lunch ($23) or Dinner ($35)
Consistently one of the top restaurants in the city for more than a decade, Pangaea is offering up one of the best menus of the bunch this time around. Both the lunch and the dinner provide a selection of 13 items, all of which are amazing. Fish, beef, duck, lamb, risotto, dark chocolate cake, crème brûlée. For $35, this is a must-do.
Splendido – Dinner ($45)
This is the only time of the year where Chef Victor Barry will let you get a meal at this place for anything under $100 a head. You should probably jump on it.
The Saint Tavern – Dinner ($25)
True to its name, this Ossington favourite has really done something almost selfless with its Winterlicious menu. The selection is enormous, ranging from Pierogies to Fried Chicken, and all the way to Rainbow Trout and Braised Beef Chuck (4 App choices, 6 entrée choices, 4 dessert choices), and the price is the lowest of the available tiers. Not to mention its close proximity to a great night on the town.
Milagro Cantina – Lunch ($18) or Dinner ($25)
It’s hard to beat Milagro’s Mexican food, and at Winterlicious it’s impossible to beat this price. The lunch menu is particularly awesome, opening up with a mango, pineapple, cucumber & avocado salad and offering entrée selections of stuffed tortillas, skirt steak stewed with chili ancho and morita sauce, and cheese-stuffed pork and beef meatballs.
Wish – Lunch ($23) or Dinner ($35)
Right at Yonge & Charles, Wish hits the spot with location and menu this year. If you like your soup, both menus will agree with you, offering either a North African Peanut Soup with chickpeas & kale or a lobster bisque. And while not extensive in choice, their entrées are excellent with benedict, fish & chips, sablefish with spiced cauliflower mash, and pumpkin & Oka cheese risotto as the highlights.
Auberge du Pommier – Dinner ($45)
O&B’s first location, this is a prime example of a Winterlicious steal. While it’s a little on the northernly side, your $45 you’ll get a beautiful setting, individual entrées that normally cost over $40 alone, and an optional $35 corking fee. Their Spiced Pork Terrine and Mediterranean Sea Bass sound particularly tasty.
Blu Ristorante – Lunch ($28) or Dinner ($45)
Great location, great Italian food, and great deals on both the lunch and dinner menus. With a stunning spread of classics, including Carpaccio, calamari, lamb shank, and arctic char, you’ll be happy you discovered this Yorkville gem.
La Société – Dinner ($35)
This Bloor St. bistro/brasserie (with which you may be familiar from Montreal) truly does feel like a piece of Paris just fell onto your plate. With their average entrée running around the $26-30 mark, this Winterlicious menu is a great opportunity to check out the cuisine without breaking the bank. And we all know that the French know their desserts.
Bangkok Garden – Dinner ($25)
Looking for a Thai option? Well, this is it. With sweet Sriracha calamari, crispy pulled pork mango salad, Tamarind beef curry, and the spicy king fish on the Winterlicious menu, you can enjoy high-end, authentic Thai here for the best prices you’ll see all year. Just be prepared for the spice.
Marben – Dinner ($35)
Many have brunched here and partied here, but for those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to eat dinner here, now is your chance. Their Winterlicious menu is one of the best we’ve seen, including mussels and an apple & manchego cheese salad in the appetizers along with their top-notch burger and a Spanish seafood stew in the mains.
Nami – Lunch ($23)
If you’re craving some mid-day Japanese this Winterlicious, Nami is as good a spot as any you’ll find to kick it. Located in a convenient downtown core location, you can quickly grab about 12 pieces of sushi and sake-based mousse or venture into the well-prepared teriyakis, dons, and tempuras and polish it off with some green tea ice cream and berries.
America – Lunch $28 or Dinner ($45)
Recently opened upstairs at the Trump, America has a well-priced, comfortable but creative menu planned for Winterlicious. And maybe a tad heavy. Highlights are a salmon poke cocktail, chicken & shiitake dirty rice, blackened catfish, Wellington county steak & cheek, pan-seared salmon & clams, and a peanut butter panna cotta to round things off.
Nota Bene – Dinner ($45)
This Queen Street staple needs no further endorsement. Just be aware that their Winterlicious menu is excellent, including dishes like Quebec duck & foie gras terrine, braised Haldimand county beef cheek, and sweet potato & Ontario ricotta ravioli. Oh, and they have a cheese board for dessert.
Mildred’s Temple Kitchen – Lunch ($23) Dinner ($35)
This place has been awesome for years and for this year’s celebration, they’ve got a diverse, impressive menu available; a Mahi mahi sandwich, Kimchi-buttered trout, chicken and waffles, coffee & black olive caramel beef short ribs, and sticky toffee pudding? Um, yes please.
Bindia – Lunch ($18) or Dinner ($25)
We wouldn’t leave you without an Indian alternative. Bindia is a relative newcomer to the scene but does an excellent job with its cuisine and is definitely showing it off at this year’s Winterlicious. Covering all the bases – from Tikki to lamb samosas, all the way to butter chicken, shrimp vindaloo and paneer – if you like Indian, you’ll be more than happy to throw down a couple of 20s for this meal.
For all the participating restaurants and their contact information, you can go to the Official Winterlicious Site.
Cover image from: Splendido