Thursday, January 29, 2015

Winterlicious Preview at the Hyatt on King

Who:       Toronto Food Bloggers                    
What:      Media Preview
Where:    King Street Social at the Hyatt on King
When:     January 28th (Winterlicious Jan 30- Feb 12, 2015)
Why:       A tasting for Winterlicious 2015

In case you have never heard about it Winterlicious and Summerlicious is a program that was created by the City of Toronto to fill restaurants in the slow months of the year and open up spaces that may be too expensive for some people normally.  There are prixe fix lunches and dinners that range from $18-$45 per plate.  The restaurants range from upscale hotel restaurants to smaller casual restaurants.

Mary Tang, Chef Wesley and Nancy
I have had both good an bad experiences at Winterlicious/Summerlicous restaurants.  At one trendy bar/restaurant the food was ok but the service was horrible for our pretty large but well behaved group.  One had to leave before the bill came because it took so long.   But mostly my experiences have been great.  I have both booked in advance and have even just showed up at the last minute and checked to see if they have open spots.  Since I know that people make reservations and don't bother cancelling it's kind of a bit of a rush line if you want to take your chances.  Some places will just say no and some will fill each empty table.  The thing about Winterlicious is that the restaurants create special menus that may or may not reflect most of their regular menus.  The other thing is sometimes they might not be prepared with enough staff if they can filled up with a lot of reservations.  Because there is a 2 hour window because they usually have 2 seatings trying to maximize their tables it may not be the place to go if your friends show up late and like to linger.

Fellow food bloggers and I were invited by my lovely friend Mary Tang (Mary's Happy Belly) to join her in a tasting at the Hyatt on King Street.  We were there for the Summerlicious menu but this menu was totally different and created by the staff choosing their favourite Asian or street food favourites and other favourite dishes.
It runs from classic to global cuisine.

I must say that this was a very pleasant experience because the dozen of us at the table were all food loving and nice people.   Mary hand picked the blogger guests to join the media dinner.  I knew most of the people at the table so it made it fun.  We don't always go to the same events so that was nice.

We were welcomed with the beautiful French Martini's pictured here by the lovely staff at the Hyatt including  Executive Chef Wesley Boodhram, Vivek Satoskar Associate Director of Sales and Nancy MacDonald Director of Sales and Events person were all really amazing and gracious and generous hosts.  They went out of their way to make the evening really great.  It might be the hotel way but they are all really nice people so it makes it a pleasure.

Here's what you will see at a blogger dinner.  Bloggers looking at their phones and taking lot's of photos of everything and telling restaurant stories and gossip about the food industry but mostly just enjoying good food.

So you want to know about the food.  This is what we sampled.

Tofu and Vegetable Steamed Wonton Soup
Served with a lemongrass and tamarind gremolata and tamarind and soy miso

Red Oak and Aged Ontario’s Goat Cheese
With roasted pecans, grape tomatoes, soft herbs, sweet mirin vinaigrette

Grilled Chicken Satay
With a fresh pineapple and apple slaw, and a bambu kacang sauce

                                                            King Street Beef Lo Mein
Yakisoba noodles, local tenderloin beef, snow peas, lotus root, soft herbs, 
fungi, mango and jicama relish

40 Day Aged Rib Eye Steak and Teriyaki Prawns

Homemade Tofu and Black Bean
Stir fried tofu and black bean, with ginger, crisp veg, snow peas, shitake, udon noodles

Passion fruit Creme Brule

Some of the standout dishes were the full of flavour King Street Beef Lo Mein noodles,  The Tofu Udon Noodles which were soft and a bit on the sweet side, the Steak and shrimps had great flavour and they were accompanied by grilled vegetables and a cauliflower mash that was a hit with my fellow bloggers.  I also enjoyed the Passion fruit Creme Brule.  I don't get Creme brule often so I really like it when I do.

The King Street Social at the Hyatt on King is open for both lunch and dinner during Winterlicious which begins on January 30th and continues until February 12, 2015.  The King Street Social lunch is $23 and the dinner is $35 plus gratuity.

For the full menu and to book a reservation you can view the details here:  Winterlicious 2015
Follow Social media posts on Twitter @liciousTO 

It was a great night of food and fun hanging out with all of these great food loving folks.

Disclosure:  The meal was complimentary but the opinions expressed are my own.

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