Saha promises tandoori turkey tikka during the holiday season at Debu’s Nouvelle Indian Cuisine.
Why stay at home stuck with Swiss Chalet takeout and a Lindor chocolate truffle when you could be celebrating the season in style at some of Toronto's hottest restaurants?
Our current fave upscale Indo eatery, Debu Saha's Debu's Nouvelle Indian Cuisine (552 Mt. Pleasant, at Belsize, 416-927-9340) features a holiday-themed tasting menu ($55/$45 vegetarian) through January 4 featuring the likes of tandoori turkey tikka with cranberry jelly, and char-grilled caribou encrusted with Szechuan peppercorns.
Prix fixe plus
Hipster bistro Tati (124 Harbord, at Major, 416-962-8284) goes the prix fixe route Sunday to Wednesday (December 21 to 24). The three-course $25 spread includes soup or salad, choice of bavette, roasted chicken or vegetarian pasta and concludes with house-made tarte Tatin or profiteroles.
Downtown, funky Focaccia (17 Hayden, at Yonge, 416-323-0179) offers a Latin-accented $35 three-course prix fixe - Cuban-style pork tenderloin with rice 'n' beans, say - till the end of the month. Each dinner finishes with an Italian kiss.
"The chocolate kind," assures Focaccia owner Bill Iuele.
Esteemed Italian trat and celebrity haunt La Bruschetta (1317 St. Clair West, at St. Clarens, 416-656-8622) gets in the prix fixe spirit for December with its first annual Kris Kringlicious meal deal when three courses - pomegranate and blood orange salad, or chesnut-stuffed ravioli among them - go for $25 at dinner, $15 at lunch.
Rising star Scot Woods of Lucien (36 Wellington East, at Church, 416-504-9990) promises locally sourced venison sided with celeriac, peppered fruits, granola and wild rice ($38) as seasonal fare, while Mario Cassini of Caju (922 Queen West, at Shaw, 416-532-2550) is whipping up the traditional Brazilian Christmas dish of roasted salt cod dressed with shredded cod puréed in cashews, ginger and coconut milk (Bacalhau Two-Ways, $25) throughout the month.
Amuse-Bouche (96 Tecumseth, at Whitaker, 416-913-5830) salutes the season with hot organic turkey sandwiches ($14) served on potato gallettes sided with cranberry compote, beer mustard and parsnip chips.
The squeamish will be relieved to know that the UK yuletide dessert known as spotted dick ($10) served at Crush (455 King West, at Spadina, 416-977-1234) is actually steamed suet pudding and not a reason to see the doctor.
Toronto's only micro-winery, Olivia's (53 Clinton, at College, 416-533-3989) has added Dickensian roasted partridge stuffed with pine nuts and prune sausage ($28), the lot sauced with poached cranberries in pine needles (!) to its Mediterranean-inspired card till New Year's.
"We don't do Christmas," says Mun Wong of Red Tea Box (696 Queen West, at Euclid, 416-203-8882). "We celebrate Festivus!" That translates as Costanza-approved bento boxes of roast chicken stuffed with apples and sage ($17), and enough gingerbread to build a condo.
During December, patrons of the SIR resto group - Far Niente (187 Bay, at Wellington, 416-214-9922), Reds (77 Adelaide West, at Sheppard, 416-862-7337) and Alice Fazooli's (294 Adelaide West, at John, 416-979-1910) - make a donation to the Daily Bread food bank every time they add a dollar to their bill for one of the chain's complimentary bread baskets.
The kitchens of the Royal York Hotel (100 Front West, at York, 416-860-5050) donate a turkey to Daily Bread with every order of their precooked take-home turkeys, stuffing and jus - $95 and enough for four people, $115 for eight, or $135 for 12. Plum pudding ($36), chocolate yule logs ($49) and fruitcake ($32) are also available for a DIY feast.
Not to be outdone, fancy-pants supper club George (111 Queen East, at Mutual, 416-863-6006) hosts its third annual Christmas Day lunch for 100 abused single moms and their children.
Vegetarians get a raw deal at most holiday dinners, vegans even more so. But the friendly folks at Green Earth (385 Broadview, at Gerrard, 416-778-9199) are selling tofu turkeys stuffed with celery, mushrooms and chickpeas for $44.95. Anyone who can't stomach the real thing can also dine in at this modest resto from December 22 to 28, when its Christmas Delight dinner - faux turkey with cranberry sauce, veggie "ham," mashed potatoes with gravy, chocolate pumpkin cheesecake and apple cider - sets them back all of $17.95.
Those with celiac disease also have a rough time during the holidays, but Live Organic Food Bar (264 Dupont, at Spadina, 416-515-2002), Toronto's leading raw restaurant, solves their dietary dilemma by offering a line of gluten- and dairy-free desserts to go. All free of flour and refined sugar, the 9-inch rounds serve 12 and include chef Jennifer Italiano's sinfully rich takes on Black Forest cake ($85), nut-free chocolate avocado flan ($65) and local peach "cheese" cake made with processed cashews ($75). Four days' notice is required.
On the actual day
Fran's (200 Victoria, at Shuter, 416-304-0085; 20 College, at Yonge, 416-923-9867) has been dishing up traditional Christmas meals since the 40s. This year, the dinners - soup or salad, roast turkey with savoury stuffing, glazed baby carrots, mashed spuds, plum pudding with brandy sauce or apple pie, tea or coffee ($24.95) - are available December 23 to 26.
David Chrystian's swanky Chez Victor in Hôtel Le Germain (30 Mercer, at Peter, 416-883-3431) offers a $65 four-course prix fixe holiday-themed supper nightly from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day. Chrystian's card - the most luxe around - begins with a winter salad of beets, braised shallots, caramelized apples, pan-seared haloumi cheese and cabbage, then moves on to stuffed organic turkey and Brussels sprouts, or Kerr Farms beef brisket with Yorkshire pud, before coming to a close with Chrystian's interpretation of plum pudding.
The Royal York opens up its legendary Imperial Room on the 25th for a lavish buffet complete with carollers and a visit from St. Nick himself. Tickets are $120 per person and include tax and gratuity.
'Tis the season to don our gay apparel, so boogie over to campy Zelda's (542 Church, at Maitland, 416-922-2526) on Christmas Day from 5 to 11 pm for turkey dinner with all the trimmings - including apple-sage stuffing, buttered green beans and caramelized carrots ($16.95) - by the light of a tree decorated with mirrored disco balls and feather boas. Word has it reclusive owner Zelda Angelfire will make a rare appearance. Ho-ho-ho indeed!