Winterlicious review: Sambuca’s On Church

Sambucas On Church delivered a satisfying three-course meal that exceeded my expectations.

Dinner was $25, the lowest price for a prix fixe dinner during Winterlicious, so I did not expect the food to be comparable to higher-end restaurants. Sambucas offered generous portion sizes and four-star quality food at a two-star price.

It gets better if you go for the lunch menu — the price is only $15. This is definitely a steal for students.

I ordered the P.E.I. mussels to start. The server brought over a large bowl of mussels with celery and Granny Smith apples in a cream sauce, and something magical happened in my mouth. The soup base was delicious. I wanted to lick the bowl clean, but decided not to embarrass my dining partner. The size of the appetizer would have sufficed as an entree portion.

My main course was lobster ravioli in a spinach rosé sauce. There are two things that normally deter me from ordering this dish in restaurants. First, the portions are always snack-sized. Second, the filling is always mashed, unidentifiable canned seafood. I went against my better judgment and ordered it anyway. Sambucas showed me the light. They gave me more ravioli than I could eat in one sitting, and when I looked at the filling I saw lobster chunks — real, live, non-canned lobster chunks. I had to pinch myself; I thought I was having a lucid dream.

Dessert was a homemade carrot cake. This didn’t spark fireworks in my mouth, but everything else made up for it. I was served a huge slab of moist cake that I was far too full to enjoy properly.

Now for the bad: the service. There were two servers with only four tables to serve, including mine. I was constantly trying to flag down my server because he disappeared for large stretches of time. The only time we saw him was when he took our order, delivered the food, and handed us the receipt. Getting water refills was a treat.

Will I return to Sambucas at regular price? Yes, but I won’t be itching to.

Price: $25 for a three-course prix fixe dinner

Vegetarian Options: No

Vegan Options: No

Overall Rating: 8/10

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on Feburuary 12, 2014.


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