The opening program of this season’s Casa Loma Symphony in the Gardens is Sinatra and Friends. Perfect. Rain or shine, they told us. On cue, as we arrived at the castle, the rain began. Thank goodness, we are saved by tenting that keeps us cozy and dry. The crowds of guests did not let a little rain deter the desire to dress up and enjoy a luxurious evening of good food and music at the castle. Let’s make a toast to the man who invented plastic. We are protected from the rain by plastic tenting and can still admire the unparalleled views of the city with the backdrop of the grand castle and its award-winning landscaping.
Perusing the cocktail menu, I see that a nearby table has ordered a pitcher of Strawberry Sangria which looks pretty fantastic. But I prefer The Dangerous Summer cocktail made with Kettle One Grapefruit and Rose Vodka, and for my guest, a lovely Villa Sandi Prosecco. From the globally inspired menu, we order Ahi Tuna Nachos, with crispy wonton, wakame, wasabi cream, avocado and sesame just to keep our hunger at bay until the piece de resistance arrives: Steak Frites, from the BlueBlood outdoor charcoal grill, a 10 oz. prime striploin medium rare, fries and charred cherry tomatoes still on the vine. So, who could ask for anything more?
And suddenly, Maestro Paolo Bustano taps his baton and the music of the Casa Loma Symphony Orchestra fills the air. The program is Frank Sinatra and Friends, and of course the first number is New York, New York. We’re tempted to sing along.
The mood in the Al Fresco dining room is like a party of friends, all of us loving the food and drink and the music, and when it ends, we leave smiling and with joy in our hearts. I make a note to check the seasons schedule and book a few more such Monday evenings. Rain or shine.
The Facts: The Gardens at Casa Loma
The Gardens’ new menu is globally inspired, offering seasonal fare ranging from starters and salads ($15 – $25) to grilled entrees ($26 – $48), while the Castle’s renowned underground wine cellar boasts the best of both new and old worlds, to perfectly pair. Gardens’ reservations are now open at 416-523-0450 or visit www.casaloma.ca for more information.
The Facts: Symphony in the Gardens
Maestro Paolo Bustano and the Casa Loma Symphony Orchestra and special guest performers are in the Glass Pavilion in the Gardens for weekly performances on Mondays, beginning June 6th. Ticketed seating is $30 pp. The weekly program line-up is as follows: June 6th is Sinatra and Friends, June 13th is Classical, June 20th is ABBA Mania, June 27th is Movie Night, July 4th is Broadway Musicals, July 11th is Psychedelic Monday, July 18th is The Virtuosi, July 25th is Piaf, August 1st is Big Band, August 8th is Nightingales, August 15th is From Disco to Queen, August 22nd is Movie Night, August 29th is The Virtuosi, September 5th is Disney/Dreamworks Night. Full program details and tickets at www.casaloma.ca
Sara Waxman is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.