So for many single and couples in Toronto, Valentine’s Day comes with a bit of dread. So much anxiety and pressure built up over a fabricated holiday to share your feelings for another. My life partner, Simon and I decided to keep it cool this year. We wanted to do something that we felt was relevant to both of our interests (food), relevant to both of our wallets and relevant to both of our lives (being social).
That’s where the Luma Group Love package comes into play. Luma (the Oliver and Bonacini restaurant at the TIFF Lightbox) held a pre-fixe menu for solo foodies ($25/per person) or groups of three or more ($50 per person). For those that were ‘riding solo’, you got to saddle up to the Communal Table and share your evening with a night of fabulous new friends.
We took our seat at the communal table seated amongst a diverse group of new friends. The table was set with a beautiful array of Valentine’s Day candy and the wait staff started us off with a lovely drink titled the ‘Icebreaker’ (double black cherry infused bourbon), which did just that. All of us went round-table and introduced ourselves and what we did. Finally once we were all done, we cheers to a fabulous Valentine’s Day.
Now a dinner like this may not be for the brave at heart. Having to make conversation over a great meal with strangers for at least one hour might get awkward and trust me, at times, it did. But thankfully we had our wonderful servers who had impeccable timing and always made us feel like we were the stars of the evening. Well that is, next to the food – of course.
Our Ted Allen looking waiter served up one-half dinner theatre style theatrics and one-half food guide for the evening, as he told us everything would be served: “family style, because group love and sharing is caring”.
First up, platters of Fritto Misto of squid and fanny bay oysters fried up with duck egg and radish crudités were put onto the table for all to enjoy. Each person had their own oyster and each section of the table had their own Misto platter, so we didn’t have to fight over who took the last piece. Next up, we were plated what (at first) looked like art. Beautiful and delicate pieces of smoked trout and celery root in a deep bowl which our server then ladled in a lovely herb creme fraiche base. Can I just say that I wanted to lick the bottom of the bowl. I thought it may have been a bit rude of me to do so, but the chowder wasn’t heavy or too creamy. It was rich and perfect.
We decided to keep the juices flowing by ordering a carafe of Punch Drunk Love (rose, passion fruit liqeur, juice and lemonade). It reminded me of Beyonce and for that, I thought it would be a good choice. Verdict: it made me Drunk in Love. I may or may not have sent Simon a text midway through our meal that read: “I think I’m drunk” because clearly I’m old and a lightweight now.
Our next grand dish was the Lemon & Rosemary Cornish Hen served up with a warm chicory & chicken liver salad and a yukon gold potato & kale dauphinoise. Simon had never had Cornish Hen before and he was won over immediately. Where as my favourite thing was the potato, which whilst fumbling around trying to dig into this accidentally sliced through half a lemon. Yep, I’m a class act. Note: I did not eat half the lemon, just almost ate half of it. Also: the chicken livers – so baller. I am proud to say that our side of the table may have taken the salad home with them because: waste not, want not.
By this time, we were beginning to feel sluggish with Luma Group Love feels and food. Not only that, our dinner reservations began at 9PM and it was it was nearing 11. I felt that we were at an authentic Italian style family feast. The dishes and courses would not stop coming and while I was feeling quite blessed (and well, Punch Drunk Loved) — I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the dessert course without at least unbuttoning my jeans. However, I took one for the team and dove into (without falling into a food coma) my Warm Chocolate Cake and Salted Caramel Chicharrones.
This evening was everything I could have asked for food-wise and budget-wise. I mean, I rolled out of Luma with a 3 course meal including 2 solid desserts for $25! This deal was better than any other Valentine’s Day evening out. I mean, let’s be real: even if we had cooked dinner and bought a bottle of vino, it probably would have cost as much as our Luma dinner date (or more)! But thanks to Luma, they guided our entire evening plus gave us some rad new friends and I didn’t have to do the dishes afterwards. This was something I am so thankful for.
Best part? They are offering this amazing special for just ONE MORE DAY! For those that live in Ontario and celebrate Family Day, you should march your butts over to Luma & partake in the Group Love menu. You can be like me and stuff yourself silly all in honour of FAMILY! Then pass out in a wonderful blissful food coma.