Growling stomachs can hamper stealth operations, spoil belly dances, and, in extreme cases, induce dogs to attack. Quiet whimpering tummy tones with today's Groupon: for $30, you get $60 worth of fine dining at Lucien, located in St. Lawrence.
Chef Scot Woods culls his creative menu from local ingredients to concoct traditional and experimental upscale cuisine. Greet a romantic evening by whispering ex-sweethearts' social insurance numbers over an appetizer of mushroom-and-sunchoke flan with baby spinach, winter truffles, roasted garlic, and hazelnuts ($14), or tongue-spear the bincho-grilled octopus alongside fingerling potato, house-made chorizo, pimento, arugula, and olive ($16). Lucien's main entrees feature succulent beef, fowl, and fish embellished by regional fruits and grains, as evidenced by the BC salmon, served with swiss chard, farro, pine-nut brown butter, raisins, capers, and lemon ($29), or naturally raised beef tenderloin with risotto, cauliflower, baby cabbage, roasted garlic, and cocoa ($33). Stay for dessert, when Ontario apple cobbler teams up with goat-cheese ice cream for an acoustic rooftop reunion concert ($11).
On a nondescript St. Lawrence Market District street corner, one of the area's top fine dining establishments hides inside a historic brick building. Lucien's almost industrial-looking facade is a stark juxtaposition to an interior where chandeliers and velvety red curtains contribute to a refined yet welcoming space. Customers dine flanked by an elegant marble-topped bar and a sectioned wall behind which the kitchen staff can be spied conjuring up the restaurant's acclaimed dishes, all made form locally sourced ingredients.
Experienced restaurateur Simon Bower crafted the eatery's attitude and decor while chef Etienne Lemieux created the menu, which stars such gems such as grilled bincho octopus and red deer bresola. Lucien's genial milieu exudes the elegance of fine dining in an unstuffy, cozy setting. The establishment has won numerous awards for its overall quality, being praised as "the city's best new restaurant" by Toronto Life magazine and placed among enRoute magazine's top 10 restaurants in Canada. Meals can be capped off with an artisanal cheese plate ($17) or sake cherries jubilee ($12).