Fred’s Not Here [Toronto]

famous lobster and crab soup

famous lobster and crab soup

seafood paella with leg of rabbit

seafood paella with leg of rabbit

chocolate banana bread pudding

chocolate banana bread pudding

This year I decided to only attend one Winterlicious event by a request from a friend. I heard good things from Fred’s Not Here in the Entertainment District of Toronto a couple of years ago and decided to try it now.

Simply put, I can’t say I’m very impressed at all. The lobster and crab soup was probably the best thing that I tried that evening, though I was disappointed that there weren’t any pieces of lobster and crab in it. The sad attempt that they call the paella was disappointing with the rabbit being cold and overcooked and the rice was undercooked. There was something amiss with the chocolate banana bread pudding, perhaps the fact that the chocolate could not be tasted, instead just a hint of cocoa.

This is more of a presentation point, but doesn’t it look like a chunk of the bread pudding was missing? It looks like they make the bread pudding in muffin tins and for the bread pudding to sit lopsided; it means that a chunk was very likely stuck in the tin.

Warning, incoming rant.

Lately, I haven’t experienced top quality food at Licious restaurants. I’m not quite sure of the reason, but I can guess.  For one, I’m pretty sure that a significant portion of the customers during the Licious events are one time only, and are unlikely to return. Second, a restaurant does take quite a large discount on their dishes when participating in Licious and would likely have to shave costs to stay afloat during this two week period.

Although I cannot defend where customers end up spending their money, I can say that I thought the Licious events were about showcasing the cooking skill and service of each restaurant. I thought of the Licious restaurants as a celebration of food and an event where people are encouraged to step outside of their normal dining comfort zone to try something new.

When a restaurant can’t execute on dishes that they are renowned for, even during the Licious event period, it does speak poorly of the team’s commitment to excellence. Maintaining a reasonable cost during promotional events might result in portion size changes and a change in ingredients, but what it shouldn’t mean are cold, undercooked and just plain horrible dishes.

After a couple of years attending both Winterlicious and Summerlicious, I feel that there is an increase of restaurants skimming on what they are offering customers during this period. For me personally, I won’t be making a priority to dine at Licious restaurants during the two week periods, and instead focusing on their food and service during the other periods of the year.

Let me know your thoughts and past experiences in the comments below, would love to hear it.

Until we dine again,

-The Piquey Eater

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