Let me begin by saying I am general pro-Licious, as I have stated on the boards before, I enjoy the prospect of finding new places that I might not normally try given my budgetary restraints - such as Corner House, the now-defunct Square, Mildred PIerce, etc, have all been great hits for me in the last few years. I had been to Five Doors North in SUmmerlicious, and while my SO and I felt a bitter rushed and the portions were certainly licious'ed, we loved the food, mood and atmoshpere, especially for $25, so i rushed to bring a GF there last week.
We arrived early for our 8:30 reso and were seated in the very back of the busy, buzzing room, under the window to the kitchen. Not the most ideal spot, but fine. Our server came quickly and even helped us pick a wine - he brought us two samples to help us choose! Our bottle was $38, without a Licious upcharge I think. Once he discovered we were ordering off the Licious menu, though, our server visits were curt and cursory.
My gal had the baked polenta with goat cheese to start and i had the beet salad. i'm on a beet kick these days and having had a STUNNING beet salad at Harbord Room, I was underwhelmed by the portion and presentation. Friend loved her polenta, though :) We moved on to Eggplant Parm for her and Salmon with Mango Salsa for me. Not sure if the timing of the dishes was off, but my fish was cold, overcooked, and the mango-pepper topping was pretty scant and flavourless. Not as great as I remember my salmon from Summerlicious being. Friend's dish had lots of cheese and hearty tomato soup and I think it was a hit. We finished with ramekin-sezed desserts, creme caramel and berry crumble. Let's jsut say I had to make a stop at the Cinnabon in Eglinton station on my home, since I had been expecting to have a more indulgent evening!
Overall, the experience typified what people seem to dislike about the Licious Events: crowded resto, curt service, small portions, lazy or rushed presentations, mediocre standards for meals and surrounded by non-usual-resto people - i felt like there were too many suburbanite couples out for their "night out" there for my urban liking, but i'll reserve that judgement. I hope my next Licious, tomorrow at 93 Harbord, lives up to expectations. This is my fave resto in the city, and I hope they won't let me down.