Canoe (winterlicious)

Twice a year, Toronto has a two-week city-wide culinary event highlighting local restaurants; Winterlicious & Summerlicious. Right now, there’s Winterlicious going on (January 25 – February 7) and fret not, reservations are very much still available! After all, the celebration of sorts has grown to 191 participating restaurants this year! And on top of that, there are culinary events as well that offer over-the-top food adventures!
Financial district
66 Wellington st. w
Toronto, ON

Reservations: on their site / 416 364 0054 / (for 'licious events: 416 307 3322 )
Transit: Take the subway to Union station, 4 min walk from there
Hours: Mon - Fri   (lunch) 11:45am-2:30pm / (dinner) 5-10:30pm

Canoe is arguably one of the best restaurants in Toronto. 37 phone calls to a busy tone, a successful connection and 10 minutes of being on hold later, I got reservations for my parents and I! Before we headed upstairs (the restaurant is located on the 54th floor of the TD tower!), we walked over to the Interior Design Show to check out a family friend’s installation. Here’s Willy Chyr’s installation “As Luck Would Have It". 

Right off the bat, my parents loved the view! We came for lunch ($25 pp).

Since our lunch reservations were for 2 o’clock, you can only imagine how hungry we all were! Bread time, thank you! :D

Appetizer: Winter Green Salad - Charred Pear, Aged Cheddar & Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette
My mom really enjoyed it and insisted that we try some as well. The caramelized onion vinaigrette really made it pop.

Roasted Squash & Parsnip Soup - Birch Yoghurt & Spiced Croutons
I loved it. There was so much depth and complexity! Best of all, it was the right temperature!! Flavours present themselves differently depending on the temperature. The soup was HOT, perfect. :D

From the Canoe Wild dinner, there was a particular ice wine that I had and have been craving it ever since. Found it on the wine list and ordered a glass for my parents and I. Ha-ha yes we're lightweights... D: Will Predhomme, the sommelier at Canoe brought it over and he remembered me! Talk about genuine service. Now if I could just get my hands on a couple bottles of this...
La Face Cachée de la Pomme Neige Cidre de Glace (Hemmingford QC 2009)

Sheep’s Milk Quark - Baby Greens, Beet Reduction & Crisps
My dad was hilarious! We were all commenting on how pretty this dish is, then he comes in with “Yeah, it's very nice but how do I eat this?!” I’m sure it was as delicious as it looked.

Main: Maple Braised Willowgrove Pork - Orecchiette, Crackling, Kale & Thunder Oak Gouda 
My eyes glazed over after seeing the words “maple braised pork” and “crackling.” In the end, it was the sauce that stood out the most! It was so flavourful, I found myself separating individual orecchiette shells in the attempt to scoop up as much of it as possible. Embarassing, probably but I'm trying to show my appreciation! *Don't look at me!*

Slow Cooked Ontario Brisket - Steel Cut Oats, Red Wine Cabbage & Cedar Pickled Mustard Seeds
The brisket was tender but a little dry. My mom especially liked the mustard seeds because they popped when you bite down on them. She was so cute trying to figure out what it was that made that pop. Priceless.

Smoked Pan Seared Heritage Salmon - Wilted Greens, Horseradish Slaw, Wild Rice & Swede Broth
My dad is a man who finds what he likes and sticks to it. When it comes to cuisine, he prefers Hong Kong style Chinese food above all.  However, this superbly moist salmon, with its crisp skin, totally won him over. So there is hope after all. Dun dun dun!! Watch me take him out to a steakhouse next and attempt to further convert him! (he’s vegetarian haha).

Dessert: Maple Gingerbread Pudding - Cranberry Preserve & Scorched Citrus Crème Anglaise
Nothing more to say than YES, this is the good stuff. What a way to end a meal. :D

Dessert: Spiced Chocolate Panna Cotta - Marshmallow Graham Cracker Crumb

Dessert: Almond Cake - Niagara Apple Compote & Salted Caramel Sauce
My mum mentioned that she would’ve liked this even more had there been a bit more sauce.

Here’s the very well-stocked bar. Food isn’t the only focus here! ;D   **RANT WARNING: Ultimately, Winterlicious is but a snapshot of a restaurant during a period of time where they experience a much higher volume of customers than usual. As customers expect greater value for their buck, they have to adjust accordingly (ie. portion size, ingredient range, actual dishes etc.). So please, when you go to a restaurant for 'licious, know that it’s not the best representation of it. It can be a great introduction into the Toronto food scene (that’s what it was for me) but you’ll experience much more by ordering à la carte.
Verdict: I’m really happy that I was finally able to take my parents out to eat here. They loved the view and were able to appreciate the food as well (despite the new ingredients they haven’t had before). One day, maybe when I graduate and get my first career paycheck, we’ll do a tasting here! ;D

4 out of 5 NOMs
Canoe Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon