Winterlicious 2018 – Oliver and Bonacini Cafe Grill

Winter can be a long process in Canada, the days are short, and darkness comes early. Heading to the movies, socializing with friends and dining out becomes the way of entertainment during these frigid months.  This is when the foodie in me tends to come out!

Toronto’s Winterlicious is an exciting time when restaurants offer lunch and dinner price fixed menus.  It’s the perfect opportunity to try out new restaurants or visit old faithfuls.

This past Saturday, Hubby and I chose to visit Oliver and Bonacini Café Grill in Bayview Village. As many of you already know the O & B restaurants are some of our favourites. Hubby and I have began dining at one of their first restaurants Oliver’s in the Eglinton area some 30 years ago.


Winterlicious can be an incredibly busy time for the participating Toronto restaurants. We usually brace ourselves for the rush at reception but at the same time I look for the professionalism that should still be evident despite the bustle. We were not disappointed. The ladies at the front welcomed us with big smiles and a friendly Danny introduced himself and took us to a beautiful table in the back by the window. He took pride in telling us that on that particular night they were the second busiest restaurant in the city with Canoe in first place.  Another O&B classic restaurant.  Amazing so far!


Danny advised us that our waiter was Arshia. Arshia came over promptly and brought us water while we perused the drink menu. He gave us an appropriate amount of time to come back and take our drink order and food order as well. He was incredibly energetic and interested in how we were finding everything all weekend. His attention to accuracy and details as well as his pleasant personality contributed to a lovely evening. Arshia is perhaps one of the best waiters we have ever had in that particular establishment. Well done!


Casually elegant, the cleanliness of the dining room and upscale décor are perfect. A wonderful atmosphere for lunch, tea, dinner or even private events which can be held in their private room. Despite the business of Winterlicious the staff contributed to this atmosphere with their bright smiles and hellos.


The restaurant was currently running a promotion with Estrella Damm beer, according to the menu when you ordered one you received a ballot to enter a contest to win a trip for two to Spain. Enticing! I’m not a beer drinker so Hubby ordered one. I was intrigued by one of their featured drinks LA DOLCE VITA. Comprised of Argento Cabernet Sauvignon, triple sec, orange juice and lime. Surprisingly though our drinks took quite a while to arrive. That was a bit disappointing because with the absence of a bread basket we were left with water to simply sip and wait. When our drinks arrived, Arshia apologized and explained there was a backup at the bar. My feature drink was very good.



Appetizers– Both of us ordered the crispy curried potato pierogies with cilantro lime yoghurt for dipping. It arrived quickly at a great temperature and was delicious. The curry did not over power the taste which was a concern for me, delicious!



Hubby ordered the Tuna Poke Bowl, it was beautifully presented and tasted amazing according to him. He found it very filling which was interesting because you would think based on looks it was just a salad with tuna, not so! Consisting of: avocado, sticky rice, cucumber, pickled ginger and sesame seeds and tuna. There was egg and we are convinced some sweet yam or potato as well.


I ordered the rigatoni verde. Described on the menu as having kale pesto, oven roasted cherry tomatoes, zucchini, edamame and grana padano. The size of the serving was huge, it arrived at an excellent temperature and was beautifully presented.  It was yummy and the sprinkling of edamame throughout the dish made it so much fun to eat. The only criticism I had was that the pesto had just a bit too much oil. Other then that it was a tasty dish.


We both decided on the Baba Rhum with Chantilly. As always dessert is the crowning glory of any meal and we waited with anticipation. The Baba Rhum was a cupcake with chantilly cream decorating the top, we eagerly dug in to find that it was dry in the inside and the outside edges were hard, it was disappointing. When Arshia came by to check on us and get our thoughts we explained our observations and showed him the hardness on the outside of the cupcake and the dryness inside. He was disappointed by this, but he did not want us to leave dissatisfied, so he hustled back with the other two desserts on the Winterlicious menu for us to try. The Aged cheddar dish with spiced raisin compote and cranberry and seed toast. The cheddar was good, and the spiced raisin compote was perfectly spiced and left you wanting more! The cranberry and seed toast that accompanied this dish was perfect. He also brought us the Artisan black forest cake, which was moist and delicious. A solid ending to our dinner.


I would give this visit 8.5/10 marks lost for not receiving a ballot for the contest, an unusually long wait for our drinks and lack of bread basket as well as a disappointing experience with dessert.


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