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This year, Christmas seems to be both a wonderfully joyous time as well as a very sad time for those in/close to the city of Toronto.

The City of Toronto (and surrounding areas)  has been heavily affected by a recent ice storm – aka Ice Storm of 2013.   It pains me to see the sheer volume of tree’s beautifully crystallized in ice only be snapped in half. A lot of people have suffered through the past few days without electricity and may still not have it back as of yet or until Friday – as of last reported updated.   Having suffered through not having any electricity for 4 days back during the flood in July 2013, I truly feel for those people except now they’re dealing with extreme cold & ice vs extreme heat & humidity.

Wishing warm thoughts to all as well as a very Merry Christmas.

Have a safe one.

With summer being in full swing, I totally lucked out with nabbing lunch reservations with one of my best girlfriends at a participating Summerlicious 2012 restaurant – Hot House Cafe.

For those not in the know, Summerlicious is an opportunity to try out fancy’ish, upscale & sawnk restaurants across Toronto, Ontario via menu’s that are “prix fixe” (one set fixed price for all three: starter, entree & dessert) Drinks, taxes & gratuities are not included. There are options of different price points ranging from $15 – $45 for both lunch and/or dinner with a wide range of various cuisines to choose from. (They also run this festival in the winter and call it “Winterlicious”)

You can browse Hot House Cafe’s Summerlicious 2012 menu here.

Personally, I find it an affordable way to get out for a date with your significant other or gather with friends to catch up while trying out various restaurants and cuisines.

We couldn’t have chosen a better day weather wise. We have been experiencing a very hot and humid spell – I’m not complaining, after all it *is* summer! – but today, there was a break in the humidity which made our meal that much more enjoyable by being able to sit out on the patio taking in the fresh air and sights. (Oh c’mon, who doesn’t love people watching?)

My view from the table…it was empty when we were seated but by the time we got our starters, it was packed!  Also, had it not been lunch, I’d have ordered some sort fun summery adult type bevvy!  Tough being responsible sometimes huh? 😉

My starter: Louisiana Crab Cake with Chili-Lime Aioli

[Crab cake fried to a golden brown served with a tangy Aioli sauce and crispy Shrimp Chips on mixed greens]

Mighty tasty! I was actually very surprised. It really did taste like I thought it should – like crab! Imagine that *lol* Apparently what I had been served in the past “called” crab cakes were nothing of the sort. They were horrible! I would eat these babies as an entree if given the option!

My entree: Grilled Cheese Supreme

[Gruyere, Aged Gouda and Fontina Cheeses melted between two slices of
thick Sourdough bread with fresh Tomato slices and Prosciutto di Parma, served with Sweet Potato fries

Hey…can’t go wrong with something basic and classic right?  I think I’m going to try making this at home…shhh, don’t tell them!

BTW: The fries were surprisingly great! Super fresh, crispy and perfectly seasoned. That was a shock as whenever I’ve tried ordering them elsewhere they’re served soggy and not fully cooked through.

My dessert: White Chocolate and Peanut Butter Pie

[Peanut Butter Mousse drizzled with White Chocolate on a Graham Cracker Crust]

I haven’t a clue as to why it’s called “pie” when it looks as if it was made to be some sort of a dessert square/bar.  It had the texture of a peanut butter cheesecake.

It was so peanut buttery and rich that I was barely able to eat it (especially since I polished off all them sweet tater fries! Moo.) So I just had a taste and wrapped it up to bring home and share with the hubster later, after dinner.  I will give props though as anything marketed as “peanut butter” flavour usually has the essence of it vs actually tasting of it.  This “pie” tasted like you were literally eating pb straight from the jar with a spoon. Totally awesome!!

I think my selections from the Summerlicious menu were great and were definitely not disappointing.  Not bad for $15 huh? How’s that for a bargain?  Great food with great atmosphere.

I wish restaurants would offer prix fixe menus more often so us frugal kinfolk could seek out hidden gems more often.

Do you like dining out and trying new restaurants? Any faves or recommendations?

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