Why bother with the farce of Winterlicious?

When “Summerlicious” and “Winterlicious” started many years ago, I thought this was a great idea. There are many good aspects of the festival including:

  • It made ridiculously high priced restaurants affordable and accessible to the masses.
  • January is typically a slow month for the industry and the restaurants offer their fixe-prix menus during a slow time to lure new and old diners through their doors.
  • It provided a great list of restaurants that one had never heard of with decent “prix-fixe” menus. It was for those who were afraid to risk their precious dollars on a new restaurant.
  • It offers a low risk (meaning cheap) chance to visit a restaurant you might not otherwise afford.
  •  150 restaurants are participating this year, offering up prix-fixe three-course meals.

That’s the good part.

The bad part of this farce, is that it has now become two times of the year where I strategically plan to not eat out anymore, well at least, not at any participating restaurant. I’m not averse to a great deal but I find it hard to stomach the giant list of crap and mediocrity offered up as prix-fixe.Unless the restaurant owners can truly commit to giving all their best during the festival instead of the banquet-style tripe that is usually offered to the masses, everyone loses out. Bad trends that infected the festival include:

  • Small portions – I mean, it’s not that I’m expecting some Texan sized gluttony, but seriously a Butter Chicken entree that contained 4 pieces of nugget sized chicken?
  • Banquet food – the food is usually insipid and uninspired because of the high turnover mentality that accompanies the festival
  • Stressed service – service is poor (sometimes due to the high volume… sometimes not)
  • No repeat business – this McDonald mentality is not a situation that will bring people back after the prices bounce back up and it certainly doesn’t show the restaurant at its best.

On Saturday, as part of a get together, some friends and I braved the masses and had dinner at Kamasutra on Bayview. The scene was predictable and the fixe-prix was of course mediocre and banal. Ordering off the regular menu was a treat, but with the stressed out service, it was tough to get our dinner to us in a timely fashion. Our waiter, Alex, was very good given the circumstances and was very patient with our party of 8. I highly recommend going back with Winterlicious is over. The food was decent Indian fare, in typical dressed up surroundings. The fixe-prix menu looked exactly like what one would expect for $25 at nice restaurant … not much.

I don’t want to be a complete pessimist on the affair. I do enjoy the fact that these events will create an awareness of restaurants that one normally would never know about or visit. It does get those who wouldn’t normally venture out, up and out of the house, but my time, effort and patience are worth more to me than suffering through any Toronto-licious affair. I would much rather visit these places at another time when I can have a better chance to enjoy my meal.


Kamasutra Indian Restaurant & Wine Bar
1522 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON M4G 3B4, Canada
(416) 489-4899

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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