We had a lovely date night at Canoe during this year’s Winterlicious. Like I have mentioned before, Winterlicious is such a great event where Toronto’s restaurants open their doors and offer prix fixe menus. Not only is it a great opportunity for an evening out with friends and family, but it makes a pretty sweet date night. Ryan and I are now in the habit of trying one of the top tier $45 Winterlicious meals as a fancy night out. It’s such a fabulous way to taste the menu at one of Toronto’s top restaurants. Usually when I go to one of these more expensive restaurants I wouldn’t order multiple courses, so Winterlicious gives the perfect opportunity to do just that with it’s three course prix fixe menus. This year we had an incredible evening at Canoe, which is critically acclaimed as one of Canada’s best restaurants. It is one of Oliver and Bonacini’s restaurants and offers Canadian inspired cuisine. While I had been to Canoe before for martinis with vising relatives from Finland, this was my first time eating there. It is such a prestigious restaurant that Winterlicious reservations for Canoe get booked up quickly, so we were lucky to snag a weeknight dinner reservation.
I can’t say enough how lovely an evening it was. The fantastic meal was made even more exceptional by being accompanied by wine tastings, great company and stunning views of our gorgeous city as a backdrop. Canoe is located on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower and the views are beautiful.
Canoe is a wonderful place to eat for people with Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance or other food allergies. They provided exceptional service. Our waiter made it very clear that many of the items on the menu were naturally gluten free and that they would be able to make substitutions if I ordered something that contained gluten. Rather than give me a list of options that I could select for the entree, he happily told me to select whichever type of meat I wanted and they would do the rest. Lovely! It turned out that two of my menu picks, the appetizer and dessert, were naturally gluten free and there was only one component of the entree that contained gluten that they were able to easily substitute for me. What also blew my socks off was that they served me my own gluten free bread to start the meal off too. This was not your ordinary dry attempt at obligatory gluten free bread, oh no, not at Canoe. They served me homemade jalapeno corn bread that was still warm. Once the waiter confirmed that there also was no soy, guar or xathan gum in the ingredients, I dove in. I can honestly say that in that moment with the soft, warm corn bread melting in my mouth I was happy. Even if I didn’t eat anything else that night I would have been more than content. Canoe, you sure know how to treat a lady right!
During fixe prix meals, I like to try new menu items and flavour pairings that I have never had before. As an appetizer I had the Pressed Maple Braised Willowgrove Pork served with Heirloom Beans, Kozlik’s Mustard and Puffed Wild Rice. I had never tasted anything quite like this before but it was really good and the texture was so playful. The crispy puffed wild rice, crunchy heirloom beans and creamy mushroom sauce went so well together.
For the entree I had the Aurora Chicken served with Northern Woods Mushrooms and Spiced Apple Currant Compote. This is usually served with three grain risotto, however since it contained barley it was not gluten free, so they served it to me with Cheesy Alliston Spuds instead. The potatoes were from the steak entree option and were really good on their own. I was very grateful that the substitution was simple and did not take away from the overall flavour of the meal. This dish was out of this world. The chicken was so tender and the flavour and texture combinations with the apple compote and mushrooms were delicious. Ryan and I both ordered the same entree and as we took our first bite, we looked at each other with a slight smile and nod. That’s the only acknowledgement that was needed because in that instant we knew the other was in foodie heaven.
To cap the meal off perfectly, I had the Wild Rice Pudding served with Poached Apricot, Rose Vanilla Sauce and Pistachio for dessert. It had a divine flavour and was paired nicely with a glass of Peninsula Ridge Vidal Icewine. Niagara Peninsula Ontario 2006. For anyone who has never had Canadian ice wine before shame on you. I strongly recommend you try it, it is worth the splurge. It was such a sweet way to finish the evening.
All in all, it was a fabulous date night. You might think that for a fancy restaurant that they would offer very small portions since the quality is so high, but we were surprisingly full after our meal. We left very happy and couldn’t stop raving about the meal the next day. Thank you Canoe for one of the best meals I have ever had in Toronto. I will definitely be back. Also, thank you to our amazing City of Toronto for hosting Winterlicious and Summerlicious each year so that we can discover more fantastic restaurants! Have I mentioned that I love living in Toronto?!