Ciders, patio visits, and trips to the island are all signs that summer in Toronto has kicked off. With the season in full swing, I am more than excited to partake in one of my favourite Toronto summer events, Summerlicious (thanks to scheduled posts, I am likely dining at SoCo Kitchen + Bar as you read this).
Characterized by prix fixe menus from some of the city’s largest and most prominent restaurants, Summerlicious (and its colder months counterpart, Winterlicious) has been part of the local scene since 2003. The city seems to be divided between two different schools of thought regarding these food festivals that were introduced to boost spending following a decline in spending and tourism as a result of the SARS epidemic in 2003. One camp likes to sing the praises of the -licious events, claiming these promotional menus are of great value. And it is undeniable that these affordable prix fixed menus are a great way to catch a glimpse of honeyed Toronto has to offer. But the other end of the table likes to remind us that the -licious events really just offer a glimpse, a tease. A friend texted me the other day and referred to Summerlicious as “watered down”.
As I read his text I took a step back and shook my head just the slightest bit. As someone who lived in the city for 4 years I’ve visited my fair share of restaurants for Summerlicious and Winterlicious. I’ve had great food and great experiences at some (Pangea and Harlem East) and not-so-great experiences at others (one visit resulted in credit card fraud). But I still adore the -licious events.
I adore Summerlicious and Winterlicious because it provide a platform and reason to reconnect with friends and reach beyond the highly frequented pizza and sushi joints. These events check off the why,what and where boxes behind each social activity. Summerlicious and Winterlicious isn’t just about lunch or dinner,the marketing and hype behind it make it an event. The nature of such an event with a lengthy timeline makes it super easy to meet up with multiple different friends with minimal planning without doing the exact same monotonous thing.
The beauty of Summerlicious isn’t found in the relatively affordable menus of participating restaurants or in the experience the glimpses offer, or even in the food. Instead, the beauty of Summerlicious is found at the table, in laughter and jest, with the friends that you see frequently and the friends that you never get to see without an occasion. Without Summerlicious I would be watching Netflix and eating dinner in pjs right now (not that that’s a bad thing…), but let’s face it, hanging out with a number of gorgeous Rotman Commerce ladies in a pair of delightful heels with a glass of wine is probably the better option :).
If you were hoping to read a restaurant review and not a ramble, sorry! To make up for it, let me redirect you to Aija’s review of SpeakEasy21.