How does a free main at a popular Toronto restaurant sound?
How about two free cocktails at a hip bar? NOW Access is all about added value. It's an innovative new membership program - just for Toronto - that turns $50 into $62.50 or $70. There are no strings or "special" menus, and it is definitely not a coupon. You benefit from this added value because NOW has partnerships with the city's best businesses.
Becoming a member is easy. Here's how it works.
Log on to nowaccess.ca and sign up. You can choose a Basic membership (which is free) or Access Plus ($7.25/month for 12 months, $10/month for six months, $15/month for three months). Basic memberships get you an extra 25 per cent on all purchases. Access Plus membership gets you an extra 40 per cent.
Let's break that down. A Basic member spending $50 in our NOW Access boutique automatically gets $62.50 added to his or her account, and an Access Plus member sees that $50 become $70. Let's say you've registered and chosen a membership level. What happens next? Head to the NOW Access boutique and make a purchase from one or several businesses. After your initial purchase, a NOW Access card bearing your name will be sent to you by mail. Use this when paying your bill at the restaurant you've selected in your online account.
It works just like a regular debit card. Each purchase is coded separately on your NOW Access card, so you can spend $50 at that cafe that's on your way to work, $75 at that restaurant you've been meaning to try and $100 for a splurge night of drinks with friends.
If you don't use all the money on that night out, NOW Access's Cash Back To My Wallet feature allows you to transfer the balance back to your e-wallet so you can spend it on new offers as you please.
For this NOW Access restaurant special, we added some good mileage to our NOW Access cards. Below we'll show you how to spend $50 - at both membership levels - at our partners' businesses.
With your NOW Access advantage, you could snack on Doomie's irresistible Mac & Cheese Balls.
DOOMIE'S 1263 Queen West
Your $50, plus 40 per cent more through Access Plus ($70 total) gets you the ultimate Doomie's dinner for two. Here's our suggestion for how you could spend all that extra money.
Fried mac 'n' cheese balls, Garlic fries, Philly cheesesteak, Peanut butter & bacon burger, Two cans of Old Tyme ginger beer, Doom Bits.
$62.50 will easily cover an amazing Doomie's dinner for two. Here's what we'd spend it on.
Nachos nachos nachos, Chimichanga, Asada tacos, Fried Oreos, Two Sprites.
EAST THIRTY-SIX 36 Wellington East, 647-350-3636
Your $50 - plus 40 per cent more through Access Plus ($70 total) - gives you the perfect night for two. We'd spend that extra money this way.
Mixed pickles, Albacore tuna crudo, Bone marrow with chicken liver parfait, Two cocktails: Tranquillo and Apothecary, or just get a bottle of 2012 Azienda Agricola Le Roti Chianti with some crispy chicken skin fries and warm olives.
$62.50 covers an amazing East Thirty-Six lunch for two. Here's what we'd spend it on.
Lamb burger and fries, Kohlrabi Caesar salad, Two glasses of 2014 Caleo Nero d'Avola.
THE TEMPERED ROOM 1374 Queen West, 416-546-4374
$70 at this beloved Parkdale purveyor of heavenly food gets you all the savoury and sweet creations you need for a feast for two. This is what we'd suggest picking up.
Two croque-monsieurs, Two bowls of soup (seasonal), Tourtiere (lentil or traditional), Two kombuchas, Two choco-citron, Two espressos.
Item selection and cost might vary due to availability/demand.
An extra $12.50 will do wonders for your intimate lunch/dinner for two. Here's how we'd spend $62.50.
Two chocolatines, Two bacon quiches, One eggplant focaccia, Two kefir waters, Four Black Pearls, Two lattes.
Item selection and cost might vary due to availability/demand.
BARQUE 299 Roncesvalles, 416-532-7700
If you're heading to this smokehouse, we suggest you spend $50 - plus 40 per cent more money through Access Plus ($70 total) - by sharing as many plates as possible.
Smoked duck tacos, Barque Caesar salad, ½ rack of dry rub ribs, Smoked lamb shoulder, Crispy Brussels sprouts, Pecan tartlet with cinnamon gelato.
Regular NOW Access members can make $62.50 go a long way. Here's how we'd spend it.
Small chopped kale salad, Rib taster (⅓ rack of all three house flavours), 7 oz Pommery pulled pork, Caraway stout sausage.
b.good 573 Queen West, 100 Front East, 10 King East
At this local health-focused restaurant chain, you and a friend can easily find a way to enjoy $70. Here's what we'd suggest buying with extra spending money at b.good.
Butternut soup, Curry and grilled avocado bowl (with super grain mix), Power bowl (with organic quinoa), Turkey burger (El Guapo style on white), Veggie burger (Buffalo style on whole wheat), Açai berry smoothie, Deep C smoothie.
Your New Year's goals are going to be that much closer if you stick to a healthy diet. That won't be too difficult with an extra $12.50 to spend at b.good. Here's what we'd buy with a NOW Access card.
Almond ginger bowl (with organic quinoa + tofu), Spicy avocado and lime bowl (with super grain mix and chicken), Side of sautéed veggies, Two chocolate milkshakes.
A tart of roast wild mushrooms and pine nuts is a big hit at Woodlot.
WOODLOT 293 Palmerston, 647-342-6307
Your NOW Access card lets $50 cover an amazing meal for two at one of Toronto's best restaurants. There's a lot to choose from, but here's what we'd suggest ordering.
Fire-roasted winter squash with curried kefir, savoury granola, black kale and pomegranate. Sourdough strozzapreti carbonara with black trumpet mushrooms, madeira, black pepper and pecorino. VG Farms flank steak with birch jus, mustard seed and crispy shallot rings.
Regular NOW Access members who spend $50 on an offer at Woodlot will get $62.50 to spend - and that covers an amazing dinner. Here's what we'd eat.
Sourdough strozzapreti carbonara with black trumpet mushrooms, madeira, black pepper and pecorino. Woodfired winter root Tarte Tatin with black salsify, sunchoke, Nantes carrot, golden beet, maple and thyme. Plum and hazelnut tart with malted chocolate caramel and espresso chantilly.
MILAGRO CANTINA 5 Mercer, 416-850-2855
Treat yourself and a friend to incredible Mexican food with $50 and 40 per cent extra spending money. Here's how we'd spend it.
Sopa de tortilla: tomato and pasilla broth, crema, crisp tortillas, aguacate, cotija. Al Pastor tacos: pork loin, pastor adobo, pineapple, cilantro, salsa verde. Adobados: seared ribeye, smoked bacon, three chile adobo, cilantro. Mole poblano: grilled chicken, homemade mole, Mexican rice. Two shots of Jimador Reposado.
Milagro's menu features many Mexican food classics and some local favourites, too. With $12.50 extra to spend, you'll have fun building a tasty feast for two.
Guacamole: aguacate, cilantro, serrano, tomato, lime. Doña Flora: chicken tinga, refritos, aguacate, crema, panela. Pulpo bar Tijuana ceviche: octopus, tomatillo, chipotle, red onion, cilantro. Pescado Rodrigo: fresh red snapper, cilantro, olive oil, lime, papas diablo.
MONTGOMERY'S 996 Queen West, 647-748-4416
Your $50 purchase with NOW Access goes a long way at this much talked-about locavore resto. The menu changes seasonally, but here's an example of what you can try with your $70 Access Plus credit.
Crispy cold water shrimp with Old Bay mayo. Sunchoke with water buffalo fresco, green apricot, sorrel and fava bean leaves. Trout with fermented green onion, malt vinegar and leek oil. Honey cake, sherry and sultana, warm custard sauce. Two glasses of house-made artisanal soda.
Regular NOW Access members get $62.50 to spend from $50 at Montgomery's - enough for a great evening of wine and small plates. Here's what we'd order:
Two glasses of Moscato, House-baked bread with cultured butter, Lentil dip with miso and sprouts, Pickled mushrooms with chili and sour carrot, Crispy cold water shrimp with Old Bay mayo, Pecan financiers with chokecherry coulis.
Try grilled octopus - French-Korean-style - at Doma.
DOMA 50 Clinton, 416-551-1550
Korean and French cuisines collide at this inventive spot in Little Italy - and with Access Plus, you can sample even more. A $70 credit will buy:
Tomato tartare and grilled eggplant with white kimchi, chili and smoked gochujang aioli. Fish of the day crusted with Korean herbs, with doenjang hollandaise and lentil salad. Grilled octopus with cabbage, konjac, bell pepper and Korean mustard dressing.
With the regular NOW Access program, your 25 per cent bonus gets you $62.50 on a $50 purchase at Doma. Here's what a sample order looks like.
Roasted cauliflower with quinoa, mugwort leaves, roasted pepper chutney and soy yuzu glaze. Tomato tartare and grilled eggplant with white kimchi, chili and smoked gochujang aioli. Grilled octopus with cabbage, konjac, bell pepper and Korean mustard dressing.
BOUTIQUE BAR 506 Church, 647-705-0006
Get your 40 per cent bonus credit and raise a few extra glasses at this Church-Wellesley premier cocktail bar. Here's how we'd spend $70.
Old-fashioned (bourbon, sugar cube, dash of bitters), Vespa martini (vodka, Campari, simple syrup, grapefruit juice), Caipirinha (Cachaça, sugar, lime juice), Belvedere Truffle martini (Belvedere, Frangelico, crème de cacao, nutella cube), Ontario spiced peanuts, Cheese trio.
A 25 per cent basic membership credit will still help you stretch your dollar at Boutique Bar. Here's what we'd order with $62.50.
Mardi Gras (bourbon, lemon juice, strawberry purée, simple syrup), The Maitland (gin, amaretto, cherry brandy, lemon juice), Sazerac (rye whiskey, sugar cube, Peychaud bitters, absinthe rinse, spash of soda), French 75 (gin, lemon juice, sugar, sparkling wine), Bourbon Manhattan (bourbon, sweet vermouth, bitters, burnt orange), Duo d'olives (with olives and tapenade).
OYSTER BOY 872 Queen West, 416-534-3432
The world is your oyster at this beloved seafood joint - and an extra 40 per cent credit means that many more delicious bivalves for the tasting. Here's where our $70 would go.
The mixed grill platter: grilled Alaskan king crab legs, white shrimp, clams, calamari and fish, with butter and Parmesan fries. (Go big or go home!)
Even with a 25 per cent credit, you'll still have a fabulous meal at Oyster Boy. Here's what we'd grab with $62.50.
Seafood chowder, Crispy crab cakes, Beer-battered fish and chips with Pacific cod, Onion rings.
Sip on a classic Japanese beer at Guu.
GUU IZAKAYA 1314 Queen West, 647-351-1314
$50 already goes a long way at Toronto's original izakaya, now in Parkdale - but with an extra 40 per cent credit, you can afford to bring a couple of extra friends. Here's what we'd order with $70 in credit.
Edamame, Karaage (Japanese fried chicken), Salmon tataki (seared salmon sashimi with ponzu), Deep-fried brie with mango and berry sauce, Harumaki (taco beef spring rolls), Okonomiyaki (crispy Japanese pancake), A pitcher of Sapporo.
Your basic membership's 25 per cent bonus will still allow you to bring some extra flavour to your meal. Here's how we'd spend that $62.50 credit.
Two bowls of miso soup, Korroke (corn and potato croquettes), Takoyaki (crispy octopus balls), Maguro tataki (seared tuna sashimi with ponzu), Kalbi (grilled beef short rib), Salmon oshizushi (pressed salmon sushi), Two bottles of ramune soda.
Make sure you snap up the Cubana sandwich at Torteria San Cosme in Kensington Market.
TORTERIA SAN COSME 181 Baldwin, 416-599-2855
More like $50 for four - at this Kensington eatery devoted entirely to the Mexican sandwich (better known as the torta), you can feed a crowd with your 40 per cent extra credit. Here's what we'd order with $70.
Milanese torta (breaded chicken, manchego cheese, refritos, onion, tomato, avocado, chipotle mayo), Cubana torta (adobo pork, ham, bacon, Gouda cheese, chipotle, avocado, tomato, mustard), Tres quesos torta (three cheeses, refritos, caramelized onion, avocado, tomato sauce), Salsicha torta (beef hot dogs, Oaxaca cheese, tomato, jalapeño relish, chipotle mayo, mustard), Charros (stewed beans, bacon, chorizo, tomato and serrano), Pepitas fritas (kettle chips with hot sauce and lime), Esquites (stewed corn niblets, epazote, crema, mayo, Cotija, chile piquin and lime), Four fresh house-made juices.
A 25 per cent bonus is still enough to throw a serious torta fiesta at San Cosme. A $62.50 credit buys:
Milanese torta (breaded chicken, manchego cheese, refritos, onion, tomato, avocado, chipotle mayo), Cubana torta (adobo pork, ham, bacon, Gouda cheese, chipotle, avocado, tomato, mustard), Poblana torta (roasted chicken, crema, Cotija cheese, onion, lettuce, mole), Pepitas fritas (kettle chips with hot sauce and lime), Esquites (stewed corn niblets, epazote, crema, mayo, Cotija, chile piquin and lime), Two fresh homemade juices, Two orders of churros with hot chocolate.
TALLBOYS CRAFT BEER HOUSE 838 Bloor West, 416-535-7486
Smack dab in Koreatown, Tallboys Craft Beer House focuses on Ontario craft beer and elevated pub grub made from fresh ingredients. When $50 gets you $70, pig out on this.
Two cans of Bench Balls Falls Session Pale Ale, Chili cheese fries, Burrito bites, Fried Chicken Sam'iche, Koreatown burger.
And, sometimes you just want to have a "light" dinner with your $62.50.
1 pound of hot n' honey wings, Two cans of Great Lakes Red Leaf Lager, Two pints of Nickelbrook Naughty Neighbour APA (American Pale Ale), Two pints of Side Launch Mountain Lager.
KINKA IZAKAYA 398 Church, 559 Bloor West, 4775 Yonge, Unit #114
Kinka's Japanese pub food has been a godsend. We'd order these shared dishes with $70 on our NOW Access card at the Annex location.
Two cassis peach oolong cocktails, One order of takowasabi (octopus with wasabi), Two orders of kaarage (Japanese fried chicken), because who are we kidding? One order of pork spare ribs, One order of kakimayo (baked BC oysters), Two orders of black sesame ice cream.
Even with just $62.50 on your Access Card, free members can really dig in at Kinka. We recommend spending that money on the following.
Two 16 oz glasses of Sapporo, Two orders of miso shiru (miso soup), One order of gomaae (spinach with sesame sauce), One order of takoyaki (deep fried octopus balls), Okonomiyaki (deep fried Japanese pancake with squid), Kimchi udon (spicy noodles), One slice of mango cheesecake, One order of coconut ice cream.
LALIBELA 869 Bloor West, 416- 535-6615
With your NOW Access Plus membership, $50 immediately gives you $70 to spend on a complete dinner for two at NOW Readers' Choice best Ethiopian restaurant. Here's what we would order.
Tomato salad, Hot vegetarian platter, Special ye'beg tibbs (lamb sautéed with butter and spices), Two beers, Slice of chocolate carrot cake, Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Regular NOW Access members who spend $50 on a Lalibela offer will get $62.50 to spend - and that will cover an amazing dinner. Here's what we'd eat.
House salad, Lalibela platter, Dero wat (chicken cooked in a mild sauce), Two bottles of beer, Slice of vanilla carrot cake.
It's delicious - and messy - at seafood specialist the Captain's Boil.
CAPTAIN'S BOIL 226 Queen West, 647-748-2886
Bring a fellow seafood lover to Captain's Boil and you'll see just how far $50 to $70 after the Access Plus 40 per cent bonus will go.
A pound of snow crab legs, A pound of shrimp, Cajun fries, Lotus root, Two premium pints.
At Captain's Boil you can eat as if you're on the Bayou. Here's what $62.50 gets you.
A pound of clams, Fried shrimp basket with Cajun fries, Calamari, Two servings of corn, Two domestic pints.