The Countdown is On! Getting Our Forks, Knives, and Napkins Ready for the 10th Anniversary of Winterlicious


I have some good news and some bad news.  Bad news first.  Today, the 3rd Monday of January, is apparently known as Blue Monday, the saddest and most depressing day of the year.  I had no idea such a thing even existed!  We’re well-acquainted with the phrases, “winter blues” and “winter doldrums”, but Blue Monday wasn’t introduced to my vocabulary until today.  Stemming from holiday and Christmas debt, gloomy weather, and struggling new year’s resolutions, Blue Monday is allegedly the universal day for frowns and sad faces. 

I like to keep positive the best way I can though.  I may not have much money and things in life could be different, but I’m enjoying great food every day (taking advantage of winter’s comfort food offerings!), I have wonderful friends, and I have my scrapbooking and the blog which led me to all of you!  So here’s the good news: Winterlicious is in 10 days and I’m planning on sharing more than one Winterlicious experience with you all on the blog!

Last year's delicious Indian meal!

Last year’s Winterlicious meal at Amaya’s Bread Bar was so wonderful and I’m so happy I decided on them in the end.  The restaurant was so vibrant and colourful and the food was light, delicious, and a joy to eat – c’mon, who can resist basmati rice in a pretty metal bucket?  It was my very first time taking part in the event and it was a total success for me.  I’ve enjoyed Summerlicious several times but for whatever reason, Winterlicious never made it onto my plate until last year.  It fights through the glommy January winter clouds and shines like a ray of sunshine in my book! 

I don’t know if anyone else is excited as I am about this year’s Winterlicious, but I’ve been poring over the list of restaurants and the price fixe menus for over a week now!  Even though the prices are very reasonable for many of the meals and establishments, I’m not at a point in my life where I can go all out and splurge on the $45 dinners or on the many amazing culinary events.  If I could, I would be all over the fish-themed menu event and the chocolate one happening in February.  I LOVE themed menus and the culinary events are so great because they’re a little more intimate, they’re educational, and they’re unique.  It pains me not to be able to go to these, but I feel fortunate that I can at least partake in Winterlicious in some capacity. 

How adorable is this year's promotion photo?!

I stuck to the $15 lunch price point and started my process of elimination from there.  The only rules I made for myself this time around?  I wasn’t going to choose a place I had already been to (outside of the Winterlicious program) and, as much as I loved last year’s Winterlicious at Amaya’s Bread Bar, I wasn’t going to choose Indian food simply for the sake of eating a different type of cuisine.

The process of elimination has been painstaking, but I think I’ve finally narrowed my list down to the few I really want to enjoy this year.  I’m going to keep my Winterlicious picks a secret until I blog about them (ohhhh, you want to know where I’m going now so we can compare notes!  I’m mean, I know.  I like the suspense!), but totally feel free to share your own methods of choosing and what you want to get out of this year’s event.  This year is a big one: it’s Winterlicious’ 10th anniversary!  And for that reason alone, I’m determined to make this year’s experiences great ones.


Winterlicious and Summerlicious are annual price fixe food events where over 150 restaurants across the city take part in.  Click here to view all restaurants and menus.  Restaurants started taking reservations on the 12th, so if you want to secure your spot, give your top spot a ring.


Soaking Up the Sun and Good Food – Preparing My Taste Buds for Toronto’s Summerlicious!

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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.