The annual Winterlicious prix fixe resto fest has proven to be one of Toronto’s most anticipated events. Not only does the culinary celebration running January 25 to February 7 allow foodies to check out some of downtown’s priciest dining rooms on the cheap, but it also helps keep some of their favourite bistros in business at the slowest time of the year.
The lineup of participating eateries has always been a mixed bag, but a quick scan of the 130-some kitchens involved this year reveals a few surprises.
Old favourites like Jean-Jacques Texier’s Batifole (744 Gerrard East, at Howland, 416-462-9965), where an outstanding three-course dinner goes for only $25 bucks, are sure to sell out almost immediately, as likely will newbies to the program C5 at the ROM (100 Queen’s Park, at Bloor, 416-586-7928), David Chrystian’s Chez Victor (30 Mercer, at Peter, 416-883-3431) and Rodney Bowers’s Rosebud (669 Queen West, at Bathurst, 416-703-8810) and Citizen (730 Queen East, at Broadview, 416-465-0100).
Even cantankerous Greg Couillard – whose Spice Room & Chutney Bar (55 Hazelton, at Yorkville, 416-935-0000) offers a $35 sampling of his greatest hits – has become a Winterlicious convert.
“The phone’s been ringing off the fucking hook,” says the oft-contentious chef. “In a 24-hour period we got more than 300 calls. After it’s all over, I’m off to Mexico for a month!”