Summerlicious or Duck Fat: A Love Story


Every summer for the past several years, more than 100 of Toronto's top restaurants offer frugal gourmets the opportunity to sample a wide variety of diverse and innovative cuisine through prix fixe menus. Read: folks that can't/don't want to break the bank can go to fancy restaurants. There's also a sister event that takes place during the January deep-freeze called Winterlicious. There's something so pleasing about the way these events always coincide with the most extreme weather of the year. I always find that being too hot or too cold just makes me not want to cook.

In case you're wondering Summerlicious kicked off on July 7, to coincide with the Celebrate Toronto Street Festival opening celebration (which I slept through), and runs until July 23.  You should get out there and eat people.

Last night I headed out with some girlfriends to The Strip House which is a steakhouse in the classic sense of the word, conveniently located around the corner from my office. Oh happy day! A few of us had sampled their steak last summer at an event at Steamwhistle Brewery celebrating the local Entertainment District. The memory of that one taste has lived on all this time so we figured a proper meal at long time Toronto restauraneur Fred Luk's latest place was in order.

Here is what we had to choose from once we took our seats:

$35 Dinner
plus taxes and gratuity


Calypso Chicken Vegetable Soup
Baked Lobster & Crab Soup
Strip House Caesar Salad with Grana Padano & Duck Crackling
Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with Fresh Horseradish Cocktail Sauce
Strip House Salad with Vegetarian Pot Sticker, Citrus Honey Vinaigrette
Bacon Wrapped Roasted Divers Scallop with Chipotle Remoulade
The Iceberg Wedge Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Roquefort Dressing


Slow Roasted Alberta “High River” Region Certified Angus Prime Rib of Beef
Grilled Alberta “High River’” Region Certified Angus New York Strip Steak
Surf & Turf – Roasted Alberta “High River” Region Certified Angus
Filet Mignon with Pan Fried Stuffed Soft Shell Crab & Lemon Hollandaise
Lobster Linguine
Roasted East Coast Hard Shell “Canadian” Lobster, Salmon Filet & Deep Sea Scallops, Sauce “Americane”
Fancy Mushrooms Ravioli Stuffed with Sautéed King Oyster Mushrooms,
Spinach & Grana Padano Truffle Cream

Choice of Duck Fat Roasted Garlic Rosemary Potato, Baked Potato, Yukon Gold Smashed or Fries with your Meat Entree


Choice of
Chef’s Dessert Selection

My first impression was a favourable one and not just because I was really hungry and had just gulped down a cocktail on an empty stomach. A lot of times the fixed price menu provided for Summerlicious diners is somewhat limiting. We had all kinds of stuff to choose from here and our server was incredibly pleasant. So far so good. The ambiance was relaxed yet sophisticated, with cushy, high back dining chairs. I was comfortable with the room temp but I have to tell you some of the girls were not. They were really cold. All night. That wasn't good. I mean, I know it was hot out, but maybe some kind of happy medium was in order?

Our choices of apps ran the gamut. I chose the Strip House Caesar Salad with Grana Padano & Duck Crackling based on the waitress' recommendation and the fact that I was excited with the whole idea of DUCK CRACKLING! For the uninitiated that basically means that instead of croutons or bacon bits my salad was topped with crispy bits of cooked duck skin. Can you say YUMMY? The Baked Lobster & Crab Soup came with a puff pastry top that won it the award for best presentation. A close second was the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail with Fresh Horseradish Cocktail Sauce.

Zee Noixy said that it looked like something someone on WKRP would have ordered. She shouldn't have talked, eating as she was the crazy retro Iceberg Wedge Salad. The classic steakhouse is back indeed.

Once we cleared up our apps and swilled back a perfectly serviceable Australian Shiraz it was time for the main event. We all steered clear of the non-meat options (Hello! We're in a steakhouse here!). I ordered Grilled Alberta “High River’” Region Certified Angus New York Strip Steak with the Duck Fat Roasted Garlic Rosemary Potatoes. Look upon it's beauty and weep.

Now, first things first, the portions were huge. Again, with Summerlicious the portions aren't always what you'd get on a regular night. There was no skimping at The Strip House. I ordered my steak medium rare, a little closer to rare than medium. The kitchen got it just right. Red and bloody, but not blue. Delicious. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case across the board, at least two of the girls getting their orders served not as they had asked. To their credit the worst offense was taken back and cooked longer without any kind of protest from the kitchen.

The highlight of the meal, for me, had to be the Duck Fat Roasted Garlic Rosemary Potatoes. Duck fat, people! I love it. It makes everything delicious! In fact, on Tuesday, October 11, 2005 under an entry titled "Jon Stewart: I Think Winnipeg Knows" on this very blog you'll find this: "...After a scrumptious meal at the new Savoy restaurant on Victoria Street Friday evening (what makes the béarnaise sauce so irresistible? DUCK FAT!)..."

A popular choice at our table was Surf & Turf – Roasted Alberta “High River” Region Certified Angus Filet Mignon with Pan Fried Stuffed Soft Shell Crab & Lemon Hollandaise

The Soft Shell Crab was a big hit. I think that Hollandaise looks to die for. I wonder if there was duck fat involved?

For dessert I opted for the Chocolate Spring Roll simply because it seemed like such a neat idea. Spring Roll wrapper with a chocolate hazelnut filling, served warm. Sadly, it did not live up to its promise.

The chocolate was entirely overwhelmed by what I think was some kind of strawberry coolie that puddled at the bottom of the plate. The top was dusted with chopped fresh mint which frankly, just didn't belong there and the tiny offering of whipped cream came out of a can. Big thumbs down.

It seems that I wouldn't have faired any better with the Mango souffle which was generally received as bland.

So, desserts clearly aren't the forte at The Strip House.

Here they are, the Summerlicious ladies, ready for a brisk walk after all that food. (l-r) Joanne, Angela, Mary, Trish and Zee Noixy:

All in all, I have to say that I was incredibly pleased with the meal and the service and will happily return, even without the Summerlicious menu to aid my pocketbook. Ain't nothin' gonna keep me from that duck fat!


  1. Anonymous8:21 AM

    I sit. I stare. I drool!

    The potatos look cooked. As I recall my days of eating out, most places don't cook their potatos - they warm them under a heat lamp and put sprigs of something on them. The potatos look cooked. They look lovely.

    Duck Fat - good for what ails ya'.


  2. Not just cooked, BT, but cooked in DUCK FAT! Seriously though, you are so right about that. Homefries? Never cooked. Greek roasted potatoes? Never cooked. What IS that about? Why do they insist on serving raw taters?

    We should call W5 or Silverman helps or something...

  3. All the food may not have lived up to expectations, but everything looks amazing(except for the shrimp; I have issues with non-fried shrimp).

    And this whole potato controversy? I have never in my life been to a place where the taters weren't cooked! For shame, Toronto restaurants. FOR SHAME.

  4. Anonymous10:45 PM

    Hey Miss Tracey

    It was a pleasure seeing you guys again and I love the write up on the food.

    What more can a girl ask for??

    Ms. Mary
    a.k.a. Ms. WKRP

  5. Oh my god that looked amazing! Why aren't you in the pic??

  6. Citygirl, nothing disappoints quite like an underdone tater (just ask Scrooge). I hope you never have to endure one!

    Ms. Mary, it was great seeing you too! Hope we can do it again soon...

    CeCe, the truth is, I haven't mastered taking group shots at arms length...someone's head always gets cut off :)

  7. Sooo ... jealous. Steak, duck and garlic. Need I say more ...


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