Thursday, February 2, 2012

Toronto: Toula

go for the view, stay for the tea

The time is upon us – Winterlicious and the Superbowl. I freaking LOVE football!

This week was a particularly loveable one as I saw Cracker not once, but twice…and if you flash forward to Sunday, it will be thrice; three times? Why that’s enough to make me squeal.

Tonight I met up with Cracker and her foodie bestie, The Scotsman (THE? Yes, I only know one Scotsman). Quick sidebar: I would just like to say that I was not all that happy when The Scotsman arrived on scene. I mean I’m not going to lie, I was jealous of their burgeoning little relationship. Starting about three years ago she started coming home with stories of the amazing food she ate and vino she drank. I would drool as she gushed.  Then after a quick pause I'd ask, as apathetically as I could, “who’d you go with?”; her response? Always “The Scotsman”. But I’ve learned that in life it's better to share and I am really getting better at it. 

The three of us went to Trevor. I need not say more. Read here and here. Tonight's meal was just as epic and I have not had so much fun at dinner in a long time.  Granted I was the butt of most of their jokes.  Dinner with Cracker and The Scotsman is like a four ring circus where I am the clown.

Moving backwards, last night I joined Cracker and her crew at Toula.

It really has a spectacular view. From my seat I had a clear unobstructed view of the CN Tower and the surrounding concrete jungle. The view more than made up for the tired décor. If you like it, I reckon your favourite colour is boring?  Not a question, a statement.

Toula has by far one of the largest Winterlicious menus I’ve ever seen. I ate three bread rolls while reviewing the menu. It’s really detailed and there are typos. (Pause). Anyway, every dish on their menu sounds so intricate, but after having a day to contemplate, I would say that it didn’t translate as such. The dishes had good flavours but overall, uninspired.

The five of us “tried” to cover the menu, but sometimes when you know what you want, you just don’t want anything else. Let us break it down for you:

The best appetizer of the three that graced our table was Cracker’s:

“Center Cut, Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass Medallion On San Gimigiano Carnaroli Saffron Risotto Cake Finished With A Citrus Bur Blanc Sauce”
I don’t know about the bur blanc whatchamacallit – I’m sure it did something – but the bass and the risotto cake alone were so good.

The second best was the one that Cracker’s girl, Venus, ordered:

“Sautéed Portabella And Shitake Mushrooms Tower Over A Fresh Polenta Cake Finished With A Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese Fondue”
Fondue is fun-do...but there was no fun to be found.  There was neither a communal pot nor any dipping.  Still good.

My appetizer, of course, was not:
“Fresh Jumbo Black Tiger Shrimp Tuscan Tempura On A Bed Baby Aromatic Arugula, Drizzled With 20 Year Old Balsamic Reduction”
I think I always order shrimp because I’m mildly allergic. It makes me feel badass to order something I know I’m not supposed to eat. Apart from the shrimp being big and fatty, I wasn’t impressed.

Everyone but Venus ordered the tenderloin. Being the 'meat and potatoes' kind of girl I am, it was a no brainer for me, and then I saw the truffle mashed potatoes part and lost interest in everything else.

Let me start with what Venus ordered, because I was waiting with anticipation. It was “special imported paccheri pasta” with PEI lobster. Special import = Big expectations.
 Venus said it best, “ohhhhh, special imported pasta means giant rigatoni".
Giant Rigatoni with “Fresh P.E.I Lobster In A Lightly Spicy Roasted Plum Tomato Sauce Topped With A Fresh P.E.I Lobster Tail”

The rest of us had “Certified AAA Beef Tenderloin Filet Grilled to Perfection With a Medley of Sautéed Wild Mushrooms In An Amarone Red Wine Reduction”

Grilled to Perfection is incorrect, but then again, none of us sent it back.
The " Black Truffle Fontina Cheese Mashed Potatoes” were really, really good.
Finally, dessert was mediocre, but made more amusing with HOT tea. (I know, I'm so sorry - it IS indeed an inside joke, but I had to because I know that Cracker will eventually read this and laugh.)

All in all, it was a good meal, because it was $35. I left content, but underwhelmed.

Toula simply didn’t do enough to sway me to return post-Winterlicious. So I suppose they technically failed, because after all isn’t the point of Winterlicious to wow me so that I might think of you again in the future?

Toula who?

Toula Ristorante & Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. you seemed to have tried alot of restaurants in toronto so i am hoping you could give me some suggestions.
    among all the restaurants you have tried ( including those for summerlicious ) which one is your favorite? which one would you recommend for a couple to goto for birthday celebration which is not too noisy with nice atmosphere? my budget is 35 for each person. :) thanks.

    1. Dear Anonymous...I have tried a lot of restaurants. I have a lot of favourites - but that doesn't answer your question does it? So I would say, Trevor. It's a great place for a couple - not too loud, a little dark but that's romantic non? It's in your budget if you only count food and not drinks. Gusto 101 is also a great option. Hope that helps :)


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