Friday, 12 July 2013

Restaurant Review: Luma TIFF Bell Lightbox

Twice a year, Toronto restaurants come together to promote special items from their menu during a two week period every winter (Winterlicious) and summer (Summerlicious) for a fixed, discounted price. We had actually been to Luma TIFF Bell Lightbox before during Winterlicious and had  wonderful 3 course lunch for $20, so needless to say we needed to come back and try dinner for Summerlicious!

We had made reservations for last Sunday, which was a nice option as they are usually closed Sundays. Although it was raining, we made our way downtown to the TIFF Lightbox where Luma is on the second floor. (The TIFF Lightbox is the place to be every year during the Toronto International Film Festival.)

The restaurant space and atmosphere is high class, artisanal - that's how I would describe it. It's modern contemporary with luxury fixtures and feeling, but with a hint on 70's Scandanavian with the tables a chairs. Because its on the second floor, the views of the city streets below and the CN tower on one side, make for exceptional fine dining. A great place to celebrate milestones with someone special or business lunches and dinners, its romantic but still contemporary enough for formal business.

The regular menu had amazing choices and variety with some of Executive Chef Jason Bangerter's best and most famous dishes, but since we participated in the Summerlicious promotional menu, I'll be talking about dishes from this menu. The menu itself had a great variety of dishes for every part of the prix fixe menu, something for everyone to try and enjoy. I found that the menu was very well balanced, really showcasing the freshness and lightness of summer foods and combinations. I ate a lot and none of it felt heavy, they really knew how to combine flavours for the ultimate summer experience.

Let's starts with our appetizers, I chose the Albacore Tuna Sashimi. This comes with fresh white tuna sashimi with fresh melon and cucumber slices, shiso and drizzled with wasabi oil. I love the plating, it invited you to have fun and make combinations of the different elements on your fork to have different variations of taste. The cucumber and melon make it so refreshing and then you get a little
hint of spice from the wasabi oil that brings everything full circle. A great start.

My partner chose to have the Chilled Sweet Corn and Onion Soup. This comes with this chunky basil and garlic- almost guacamole, and drizzled with chili oil. It's refreshing, not only because of the fact that its a chilled soup, but the sweetness of the corn make it really light on the tongue. The onion and garlic basil chunk counter play the sweetness of the corn making it very savoury. The creamy soup doesn't feel heavy and works with with the chili oil, to give just enough heat making it a full bodied soup. Very nicely balanced.

For my entre I had chosen the Roasted Chicken Breast. This came with roasted squash and zucchini vegetables, herb and garlic mashed potatoes and a roasted chicken gravy on top. Everything on this plate was absolutely Devine!! The roasted chicken breast has a lovely crispy skin, but was super moist and tender on the inside - it would practically fall apart when cutting into it. The vegetables were roasted perfectly, enough to soften them up a bit, but still keeping a nice crunch. The seasoning on the vegetables with the roasted flavour made them disappear quickly from my plate. My mashed potatoes were green, and although I thought they might loose their creamy-ness with the herbs and added garlic, they were dreamy creamy. So light and the subtle herb and garlic flavour was very welcome. They topped it off with the roasted chicken sauce, it gave everything on the plate some added flavouring and it was nice they put enough for me to enjoy my whole plate with. This is not your typical chicken, potato and vegetable plate, kudos for making it truly extraordinary.

My partner had chosen to have the Mushroom and Ricotta Lasagna. This comes with a several layered lasagna with ricotta and roasted mushrooms, with a white mushroom sauce, surrounded by  roasted mushrooms and a Parmesan foam on top, garnished with some chives. Again the plating is so inviting, making you want to dig right in, the presentation is just beautiful with that foam on top and I love that they had roasted the mushrooms in big meaty chunks. Very light with the ricotta and the airy foam, but surprisingly filling. The roasted mushrooms had this nice seasoning and oil to them, giving the dish a nice, meaty, earthy taste and feel. A super creative dish, that everyone (even people like me who are not big mushroom fans) will enjoy. Glad that they brought this back for Summerlicious! (I had the Winterlicious version for lunch last time with butternut squash instead of mushrooms. :D)

For my dessert, I chose (although it is very hard to chose just 1!) the Creme Fraiche Parfait. This came with a strawberry preserve in syrup and a lemon flavoured crumble, drizzled with olive oil and garnished with flower petals. I have to say I regret not having more room to finish this dessert, it was too yummy for words!! I love the whipped, almost mousse texture and the lemon crumble on the side gave it a nice balance of texture. The preserves in syrup were not too sweet, it's sharpness cut through the creaminess of the Creme Fraiche very nicely. I love the harmony of the Creme Fraiche and strawberry together, one not overpowering another - just perfect! It was a true injustice that I did not finish my dessert, normally I would have licked the plate clean.

For dessert, my partner had the Lavender and Peach Cornbread. This lavender, yellow cornbread came with a spiced custard cream and caramelized peach halves with the caramel syrup drizzled on top. This again, was one of those plates and presentations where they are inviting you to have fun and play with the flavour combinations. The cornbread was light and floral along with the spiced cream gave it some depth and the caramelized peaches with the syrup gave it this amber flavour and sweet after glow. A simple country dessert that's enjoyed by all even the ones accustomed to the city.

All in all, I am giving Luma a well deserved 5/5! This restaurant exceeds all expectations, always! From food, atmosphere, service - everything is absolutely amazing. It will be an experience that you won't forget, I assure you! I recommmend this restaurant to anyone and everyone, for any occasion and all occasions! And you should definitely try them out during Summerlicious/ Winterlicious, it's a huge bang for your buck and you can't go wrong at Luma. Everything here is top notch and the food is truly an art form. A delicious art form... mmm...

For more information on Luma or other Oliver & Bonacini please be sure to visit the websites below.

And for more information on Summerlicious restaurants and events please be sure to visit:

Well there you have it everyone, my experience with Luma TIFF Bell Lightbox. Have you visited this restaurant? I would love to hear your experience in the comments box below!! Tell me, are you participating in Summerlicious? I would love to know which restaurants you are planning on hitting up, or if you have any recommendations for a future restaurant review!

We are planning to take advantage of Summerlicious once more before its over, we have reservations for Frieda's on Sunday. So if you're curious to read that review or more reviews on other restaurants, please be sure to subscribe to my blog! (Top right corner ;)) For more daily photos and videos, follow me on Instagram (@fernonje) and you can also follow my blog on Bloglovin' (MakeupMasochist).

It's Summerlicious, Baby! Go stuff your face!


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