Summerlicious 2006: Toronto’s Restaurant Festival

During summer Toronto goes all out to entertain its residents and visitors with a wide array of festivals including street, theatre, music and culinary festivals. This past weekend was a perfect example of the multitude of offerings on hand to explore the city. We decided to partake of some of the action on Saturday night as part of the Summerlicious restaurant festival.

My good friend and culinary expert Shauna likes to pour over menus and after some research she suggested that we go to the Wildfire Steakhouse and Wine Bar on Yonge Street, just a few blocks north of Lawrence.

So this Saturday evening we headed out to explore some of Toronto’s culinary offerings. Several street blocks on Yonge Street were blocked off for Toronto’s Celebrate Toronto Street Festival and the day was just winding down as we walked up Yonge Street. The Wildfire Steakhouse and Wine Bar has a fairly non-descript façade, but when you enter the restaurant you realize it’s a lot larger than it looks from outside. The dark décor gives it a classy appearance and the sophisticated menu features a large selection of seafood, pasta and grilled dishes.

The Summerlicious Restaurant Festival is now in its third year and 130 restaurants are participating this year with special prix fix lunch or dinner menus. Lunch menus are available at C$15 or C$20 price points, while dinner menus including appetizers, main dishes and desserts, are pegged at either C$25 or C$35.

The $35 dinner menu at the Wildfire Steakhouse and Wine Bar included the following choices:

For appetizers:
– Wild Mushroom Soup, a blend of fresh Porcini, Portobello, and Field mushrooms, seasoned, pureed, and finished with a rich truffle oil reduction; or
– Classic Shrimp Martini, succulent Thailand tiger shrimp served with a zesty vodka citrus cocktail sauce; or
– Summer Fresh Organic Greens, tossed with a tangy poppy seed dressing, and served with roasted red peppers, mandarin oranges and shaved asiago cheese; or
– Grilled Calamari, with warm tomato salsa, capers, black olives, and red onions.

My delicious Wild Mushroom Soup

The entrees included the following choices:
– Piri Piri Half Chicken Churrasco, accompanied by grilled seasonal vegetables and roasted garlic mashed potatoes; or
– Maple Glazed Salmon Fillet, charcoal grilled, lightly sweetened with Canadian maple, and served with wasabi infused mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables; or
– Wildfire Baby Back Ribs, basted with a delectable homemade barbecue sauce and served with fresh cut fries; or
– Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, three large pieces of fresh cannelloni pasta, stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese, and topped with a tangy roma tomato and basil sauce. Sprinkled with fresh Grano Padano cheese.

My second appetizer: Organic Greens

Dessert of course offered several options as well:
– The Sinful Angel’s Chocolate Torte – rich, flourless, made with pure Belgian chocolate, and finished with crème anglaise and a tri-colour coulis; or
– Strawberry Almond Daquoise, lightly baked meringue folded with coconut and toasted almond, layered amid homemade strawberry ice cream, and finished with crème anglaise

A tasty treat: Escargot Provençal

My friends ordered the ribs while my husband went for the pasta. Everyone confirmed that they were very happy with their selection. Rather than choosing from the Summerlicious selections, I ordered from the regular menu since I wanted to try the Escargots Provençal offered at Wildfire. As a big fan of appetizers, I also ordered the wild mushroom soup, a delicious starter, as well as the organic green salad. I topped off a satisfying meal with an apple tartlet that featured a scoop of Earl Grey ice cream, a highly unusual but very pleasing flavour. My dinner partners confirmed that the Summerlicious Chocolate Torte was indeed a very rich, sinful culinary experience.

My highly artistically presented Apple Tartlet

We had an animated conversation and at about 11:30 pm we appeared to be the last guests left in this establishment, so we slowly made our way out of the restaurant into the warm night of Toronto. Summerlicious, as far as we were concerned, is a great success and we may have another chance to sample Toronto’s restaurant festival since Summerlicious will be running until July 23, 2006.

The sinfully delicious Chocolate Torte

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