The premise of the column is simple; work with restaurants of all kinds in this amazing city to explore what they have to offer and what makes them unique. In a city like Toronto, the choices are sometimes daunting and the food reviews and critics can be snotty and too complicated for their own good. So why not keep this easy?
Drinks. Appetizer. Main Course. Dessert. All along with a bit of information about what makes them my choice for Daniel’s Dish and why you should try them right away!
This special edition is dedicated to the Winterlicious experience taking place right now in Toronto and the Prix Fixe Menus created specially for the occasion.
Azure Restaurant & Bar, 225 Front Street West (416) 597-8142
If you haven’t yet joined Azure, located in the iconic Intercontinental Toronto Centre, this is the perfect time to make your reservations for Winterlicious. The grandios space is surrounded by glass walls from floor to ceiling. Although some might find the decor to be slightly dated, the deep hues of blue and black are elegant and romantic when lit by candlelight. Add to that the backdrop of the downtown Toronto skyline, which makes you feel completely metropolitan, and you are in for an amazing experience.
My issue with the Winterlicious concept is that when it was founded, it was to help get restaurant patrons through the doors of the participating restaurants around the city for an affordable experience. The problem was that those same restaurants created menus that did not represent their regular menu and food style at all. Unfortunately, for some time, the experience became misleading and borderline deceptive for the restaurant patrons.
As for Azure, I can assure you that their dishes represent the quality of their menu and establishment in the most honest way. This menu is designed to feature their seasonally inspired Modern Canadian cuisine as you will see below.
With three selections to chose from, I had to make a decision that would best portray the culinary skills of the menu construction. Not to say that the bisque wasn’t delicious and warming on a cold Toronto night, but the Maple Whiskey Cured Organic Salmon simply called my name. Elegantly plated on a rectangular white dish, it combines tart mint yogurt, Ontario beets and and fresh cured salmon. The strong flavour of salmon is wrapped in the creaminess of the yogurt and the beets help to cut through it all in acidic bliss. Refreshing and aesthetically pleasing, my only criticism would be my biased disdain for candied pecans. In the restaurant world, I feel as though candied nuts are over used and under perform when it comes time to eat. Overall a beautiful dish and a great start to the night.
Apparently on our recent visit, I was in the mood for seafood. For those of you who can appreciate a finely executed seafood or fish dish in the middle of the off season, The Pomegranate Glazed Arctic Char is for you. Arctic Char is a fleshy fish which is a quasi combination of trout and salmon with a firm texture. It can stand up to strong flavours and still hold its place as the focus on a main course dish such as this one. Contrasted with an earthy navy bean purée and bitter arugula, this dish hit every flavour point on my tongue and I was left practically licking my plate.
For those non seafood lovers out there, Julio highly recommends the Ontario Grain Fed Veal Ossa Bucco. So much so, I had a hard time getting him to share!
Okay, at this point in the evening I have to admit to you I had taken a break prior to dessert. And when it was time to indulge, I may have gone slightly overboard and tried all three options. Before you jump to judge my indulgence, just know that they are smaller portions and that this wasn’t so bad. Right?
Of all three options, the consensus was that the Apple Caramel Cheesecake was the perfect ending to a Winterlicious evening with Azure. A soft praline crust held atop of it baked apples slices and the fluffiest cheesecake I’ve had in quite some time. Drizzle that with rich caramel and you’ve got heavenly bliss with a Toronto skyline backdrop. Sounds pretty much perfect to me.
So now it’s your turn to get out and enjoy this Winterlicious menu and all of the other options going on around the city. Be sure to stop by Azure for an authentic experience from start to finish. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to tweet @ICTorontoCentre, @LiciousTO & @DoTheDaniel to tell us what your favourite #LiciousTO #WinterliciousAtAzure choices were.
For more behind the scenes of this and other Daniel’s Dish visits, follow my Instagram!