Went there with 11 other people on Friday. Our experience left me with mixed feelings about the usefulness of the event as whole.
First, as a large group, we were seated in one of the restaurant's smaller rooms upstairs - quite lucky for us, since it provided us with a great vantage point from which to observe the restaurant (the room's walls are made of glass), and escape the noise and general chaos of the place.
And chaos it was - the place was packed, waiters were shouting instructions to each other, and the volume meant lesser attention to the diners, and more mishaps.
The waiters were pleasant but fairly perfunctory in their approach (for example, we were asked about coffee when several members of our group were in the washroom; they were never asked about coffee on their return; coffee arrived well after we were finished with desert; those who chose meat were not asked how they like it cooked etc). It's clear that the sheer volume of customers that this event brings out reduced the quality of service.
Our choices for dinner were 1) chicken soup with crab meat (no one was able to identify any crab meat) or salad with candied walnuts and pears (the pears were great, but the walnuts were so syrupy they actually tasted like candy); 2) beef with potato mush and wilted spinach, or peppery Atlantic salmon on julienne vegetables, or cornish hen (I think - I can't remember) on basmati-style rice. For desert, we had apple tartlet with vanilla ice cream.
Overall, we were underwhelmed, both by the selection and by the quality. The selection seems faily pedestrian (chicken, salmon fillet, or beef). I guess that perhaps the menu for Winterlicious is based on the idea that many customers are not typical customers, and so the restaurant goes with fairly "safe" offerings. But it was the quality that was most disappointing. The beef dish seemed best, the meat was not overcooked (although some of us would have liked it rarer), the potatoes had a nice garlicky flavour and the spinach was a good if predictable accompaniment. The other two dishes, on the other hand, were fairly ho-hum. The bird was bland and overcooked, and the fish sat in a really sweet sauce that tasted like a watered down version of Chinese soya-based sauces. The desert was tasty, and we all agreed that it, and the cocktails, were the best part of the meal.
Which brings me to the question - what does this event do? I liked the idea of showcasing Toronto restaurants, and I like the idea of being able to go to some good restaurants on a bargain. But I am wondering whether the restaurants accomplish what they set out to do. I am guessing that the real menu at Rosewater Supper Club is better than this. But nothing about this experience excited me enough to make me want to try the restaurant again (and I assume that participating restaurants hope to entice some of the Winterlicious guests to come back at another time). Any thoughts about the merits/drawbacks of the event?