Every January, Winterlicious returns to Toronto with its prix fixe menus available at hundreds of restaurants (this year, it comes in just shy of 200).
What used to be a way to bring diners into restaurants with affordable three-course prix fixe menus during a traditionally slow period, has extended from one week to two, and prices have also increased. Lunch is $23, $28, or $33 depending on where you dine, and dinner will set you back $33, $43, or $53. Hmm, go to a restaurant during it’s busiest time and get a limited menu for $60 with tax and tip? And that’s before drinks are ordered and added.
After polling over 1,000 people on Instagram, it turns out over 73 per cent of those food-lovers are not planning on making reservations for the city’s biggest dining event after all.
Which brings me to this: Many Toronto restaurants have been offering their own set menus during this time as well as throughout the year. And many of them aren’t as expensive, and the restaurant likely won’t be busy as those participating.
So check out who else in the city, both established and brand new, has got you this winter:
Starting at $20
Café le Gaffe
24 Baldwin St.
The long-standing Baldwin Village bistro offers a $20 lunch prix fixe menu that won’t break the bank. Enjoy a main and soup du jour, side salad, or crème brûlée.
p.s. They’ve got a cost effective four-course dinner ($39) too.
1600 Dundas St. W.
French on a budget? Mais bien sûr!
Tuck into a two-course meal by Chef Jean Regis Raynaud every Monday night. The $25 prix fixe menu includes a daily soup or salad bistro, and your choice of steak frites, fish of the day, daily special, or vegetarian option.
And to sweeten the deal, a housemade chocolate truffle is included.
Ooh la la.
$30 or more
Want dinner without doling out the big bucks? Il Fornello’s got you covered with their Winter Prix Fixe menu ($32), January 22 until February 12.
Osgoode Hall Restaurant
130 Queen St. W.
There’s probably a lot about this hidden restaurant you aren’t aware of. Did you know:
1. It’s located in and owned by The Law Society of Ontario.
2. Osgoode Hall Restaurant is open to the public from September through June.
3. The dining room boasts gigantic and ornate chandeliers and stained glass windows, wood-paneled walls, and bookshelves lined with law books.
4. Executive Chef Adam Foley creates “unpretentious, welcoming and accessible” farm-to-table fare, using “seasonal ingredients, sourced locally from within 100km whenever possible.”
5. in addition to the à la carte menu, “Taste Local,” a daily three-course prix fixe lunch menu ($33) is available, with your choice of starter - daily soup or chef's appetizer or green salad – entree, and dessert. The main course is posted on the website daily by 10am EST. Today’s selection: Braised Beef with parsley root puree, roasted carrots & crispy fried onions.
The Porch Light
982 Kingston Rd.
While a la carte options are available, it’s hard to resist the $30 prix fixe menu at this charming spot in Birch Cliff.
Enjoy menu items every evening starting at 5pm (excluding Sundays and Mondays). This month’s options include Mushroom Toast with pesto cream, sourdough, and smoked cheddar; and Fettuccine with pesto cream and zucchini noodles.
The Westerly Kitchen and Bar
413 Roncesvalles Ave.
Dining out doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Especially at Roncey’s long-established eatery where you can choose a la carte options or the three-course prix fixe menu, available every night of the week for only $35, such as:
- PEI Mussels with white wine, shallots and parsley, served with fresh cut fries
- Hearty Pozole Stew boasting hominy, golden beets, radish, and ancho in a mushroom broth (add chorizo if desired)
- Steak Frites - flat iron steak with red wine jus and parm frites.
See you there?
$40 and up
Islas Filipino BBQ and Bar
1690 Queen St. W.
One of the city’s best Filipino restaurants once offered the Boodeli “Two” ($40pp) menu as a special, but now it’s part of their regular menu.
The tasting menu served on banana leaves is a Kamayan-style meal. Kamayan is Tagalog for “by hand” which is the traditional Filipino way of eating, and so much fun. And there’s no way you’re going home hungry after all these delicacies:
Fresh Oysters, Crispy Spring Rolls, Empanada, Filipino Chicken BBQ, Crispy Pork Belly (Bagnet), Buttered Mixed Seafood, Grilled Beef Ribs, Kale Salad or Slaw Salad, Grilled Pineapple, alongside refillable rice, ice cream, and soda or juice.
325 Bay St.
Swanky new LOUIX LOUIS, located on the 31st floor of The St. Regis Toronto, is offering their own hotel-priced “Loiux Licious” menus from January 21 to February 9.
Lunch ($40) downtown includes your choice of Veal Schnitzel or a Hamburger for mains, while options for Dinner ($60) include Branzino, Tagilatelle or Pastrami Short Rib.
You fancy now.
72 Ossington Ave.
Union is one of those great restaurantst you hope lives on forever.
Especially when you discover they offer a three-course Paris Dinner ($45) every Sunday night - menus and ingredients change weekly - in addition to their a la carte selections.
So live like a Parisian if only for a night, and linger over dinner in a “casual and laid back atmosphere that allows you to take time, relax, and get ready for the week ahead.”
Heading into the week like ahhh…
730 Queen St. E.
Chefs Lynn Crawford and Lora Kirk’s restaurant has offered a table d’hôte menu exclusively every evening since doors opened back in 2010, so no need to wait for certain months or days to enjoy a four-course feast including dessert ($58). Wine pairings are also available ($42).
Their Leslieville resto offers meat, fish and vegetarian options every night (except Fish Fridays when it’s just fish or veg) and are great when it comes to dietary restrictions, allergies, dislikes, etc.
98 Portland St.
The Food Dudes newest venture is also one of their prettiest.
So head to their new fine dining spot in The Fashion District on Mondays from for “Journey Mondays” where you can enjoy prix-fixe seating ($55) and $7 drinks from 5:30-10:30pm.
One Benvenuto Place
Did you know that fine dining resto Scaramouche, est. in the early Eighties(!), celebrates “Lobsterlicious” every year at this time?
You’ve got until February 7 to dig into the sumptuous menu ($76) of amuse guele, your choice or Traditional Lobster Bisque or Wedge Salad, Grilled or Butter Poached Lobster, and dessert: Warm Apple Cake or Dark Chocolate Crémeux.
Of course this doesn’t include every restaurant offering pre-fixe menus in the GTA. High-end tasting menus can be had year-round at Actinolite, Alo, and Frilu, for instance, while more affordable eats can be had at establishments including Canis, Coquine, La Palette, Pizzeria Libretto, and Queen Margherita Pizza.
This isn’t the end of the story. Stay tuned.
Note: Menu items and prices subject to change. Prices listed do not include tax or gratuity.