CLOSED: Far Niente (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 187 Bay Street
Type of Meal: Lunch

After having not visited the restaurant for two years, the surroundings still felt the same when walking in - comfortable banquette style tables and open layout of the dining room. This Winterlicious, I had a chance to eat here with my coworkers. Going on a Monday, they weren't overly busy and were able to keep a good serving pace. However, it still took over an hour and a half to get through the meal.

I was skeptical about getting the roasted cauliflower soup as was afraid it would be bland, but, ordered it anyways as felt like something hot on the cold winter's day.  But, the soup was surprisingly rich with a dollop of cream mixed throughout and drizzles of hazelnut oil. Topping the soup were some salty briny bits that tasted like fried capers, which was an interesting contrast to the smooth soup base. 

For the main I had the steak frites.  When ordering, I was surprised that the waitress didn't ask how I'd prefer the steak to be done in terms of wellness, but trusted that the chef knew best. Mine ended up being medium, a little more cooked than I normally prefer, but it was still tender and pink throughout.  The flat iron steak was a nice thick cut, which was great as sometimes restaurants slice it too thinly.

The steak had a Spanish twist of being rubbed in a chimichurri coating.  I appreciate Far Niente trying to mix up different flavours, but would have loved to have a sauce topping the steak instead to dip the generous portion of fries into. The frites itself weren't the normal shoe string thinness of most frites, but to be fair Far Niente did warn it was "home style".  The frites, although thicker, were still crispy and hot.  The garlic ketchup accompanying the frites was light tasting and not overly garlic tasting.  Finished with some vinegary coleslaw, it was nice to have to help cut the heaviness of the meat and potatoes.

I opted for the banana & Nutella s’more for dessert, thinking it would be a real s'more like their regular dinner menu.  But, this one was made "deconstructed" style. As always, the homemade marshmallow was great; although quite dense, it is still smooth in texture and not overly sweet. This dish included some caramelized bananas, drizzles of Nutella and caramel sauces and a sprinkling of graham crackers. All the ingredients went well together and wasn't too heavy.

Is Winterlicious worth it?

As a special feature to the Winterlicious blogs, I will attempt to calculate the savings being offered (based on my meal selection).

Winterlicious - $20

Regular menu - $46 - soup ($9), steak frites* ($28) and banana s'more* ($9)

Savings - $26 or 57%

* The steak frites and banana s'more isn't on their regular menu; prices based on the "bacon steak" and chocolate s'more

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!