In a matter of two weeks, Toronto will be kicking off another summer of price fixe menus and good food with the annual Summerlicious event taking place from July 8th-24th! The concept and execution is exactly the same as Winterlicious and the only difference is that it takes place in July every year. I’m always excited to see which restaurants are participating and what their menus have to offer, especially now that they’ve made it a point to specify exactly which meals are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. It makes it much easier to figure out if a particular restaurant can offer you enough options to make it worth your while and this is particularly important if you’re going with a group of friends with varying tastes, diets, and lifestyles.
Even though I love both Winterlicious and Summerlicious (and this year’s newest addition, Veggielicious!), I’ve actually only taken part for the past two years, going out for two Winterlicious outings and one Summerlicious. I don’t go for the big ticket menus though and will always, always stick to the $15 lunch menus and $25 dinner ones. In all honesty, even if I could afford the fancy pants places, creating parameters for myself with this budget helps in narrowing down my choices which means less hair-pulling when it comes to actually making a decision. I have a hard enough time as it is because I’m so indecisive!
I’m really lucky to have had good experiences during the times I’ve taken part. Never have I felt that a meal wasn’t worth it or that I made a bad choice. I had a great Winterlicious lunch this past February at Amaya’s Bread Bar near Yonge St. and Lawrence Ave., a really fun time with my friend Sally the previous Winterlicious at Big Daddy’s Crab Shack & Oyster Bar on King St. West (no photos because my camera was unfortunately stolen not long after, ugh), and an AMAZING, memorable meal at Southern Accent (which is where the delicious photo up top was taken!), located in Mirvish Village. My boyfriend and I have already made a decision that we absolutely MUST go back for another Summerlicious meal because it’s one of our favourite places to eat in the city.
I’m no expert on fine dining, but if I could offer any tips and opinions, these would be it:
- Decide what your budget is. If you’re new to the price fixe fest, it is overwhelming trying to decide what you might want to try and what you want skip. The list of restaurants on the Summerlicious website specify what price points each of the participating restaurants are operating at during the duration of the festival, so at a quick glance you can either make a note or move on. My budget has ALWAYS been the $15 lunch and the $25 dinner and I’ve never once strayed from it.
- Compare lunch and dinner menus at the same restaurant. If you find a place you think you might like but you’re not sure whether to go for the lunch or the dinner or ditch the place entirely, read both menus and see what the similarities and differences are between them. Chances are there may only be a difference in one main or a dessert and if that’s the case, the $10 or even $20 difference between lunch and dinner just isn’t worth it. Look for variety between menus if you need to make a make-or-break decision.
- Stay away from places that offer ho-hum, every day eats. A place might make a mean Caesar salad, but you don’t need a price fixe menu to enjoy such a classic staple which you can enjoy any day of the week.
- Piece together all 3 compenents of the meal (appetizer, main, dessert) and do some quick mental math to see if you’re actually getting a sweet deal. If the main iself is normally something that runs close to $20 (or if appetizers and desserts go for $10 normally) and it’s being offered on a $25 price fixe menu, you know you’ve hit pay dirt. This is one of the reasons why I LOVE Southern Accent during Winterlicious and Summerlicious because their mains sit around $18 on their every day, permanent menu, not to mention their food is just amazing.
If you plan on hitting up a place (or two…or even three, ha!), let me know what you’re contemplating! As well, if you have past experiences you’d like share, feel free to leave a comment here as I love hearing about what others have to say about their meals!
Southern Accent is a cajun and creole restaurant with beautiful New Orleans and southern inspired decor and amazing food. They are located at 595 Markham St. in Mirvish Village near Bloor St. West and Bathurst. The Summerlicious list of restaurants and price fixe menus can be viewed here.