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Frank Restaurant @ the AGO – Toronto

May 20th, 2009 · No Comments

Frank Restaurant at the AGO - Toronto Frank Restaurant at the AGO - Toronto Frank Restaurant at the AGO - Toronto

Restaurants at Art Galleries are (just in my experience) best avoided – but not this one.

Usually, the food is overpriced, underflavoured, and you’re surrounded by “ladies who lunch” who make you feel uncomfortable for not being on the board of trustees.

But at Frank, things are much, much different. First of all, the setting is beautiful – I’m no architect or architecture critic, but Frank Gehry’s re-do of the Art Gallery of Ontario is spectacular. The space created for Frank (the restaurant), with the light, airy feel and the large Frank Stella piece and the art on the walls – just works for a restaurant.

Secondly, the food is great. Wow – was I surprised. I realized after I ate here that Toronto Life recently rated Frank as one of the top ten new restaurants in Toronto, and certainly I’d agree that it deserves this accolade.

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I don’t have a reservation, so I sit at the bar (I’m dining alone), I’ve got a great book so no worries. It’s about 1:30pm, I’m hungry, thirsty, and still a bit bleary-headed from the late night the night before. I’m thinking brunch – something savory with a bit of fat in it is what I need. The menu all looks good, but one thing catches my eye – the Ontario smoked trout with poached eggs, potatoes, and hollandaise sauce. Sounds a bit like a smoked eggs benny without the english muffin. I order this, and wait.

While I’m waiting, I’m brought a basket of two types of bread, and a plate with some salt on it and a very pale, white substance that I mistook for decolored margarine. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The white bread would make the Ace bakery jealous, and the brown bread…I couldn’t quite place it…but I thought there was maybe some chocolate in there? I ask the waitress…

“Do you like it? Everyone does! It’s chocolate and espresso bread!”

Wow – it was great. And (on the white bread), the white fatty stuff – delicious – “miss, what is this?”

“That’s the goat’s milk butter”.

Ah. I could taste a faint mustiness of truffles in there but couldn’t quite place it – now I get it.

That butter, with the salt, on that soft, crispy-crusted white bread, is an experience worth going to Frank for.

Then, the main comes. The trout is somehow warm and cooked, but remarkably tender and full of flavour – it hasn’t gotten tough or lost its flavour like smoked salmon often does when cooked. The potatoes – just soft enough to give the meal some starch without getting in the way with mouthfuls of startchy nothingness. And the eggs? I haven’t seen too many perfect eggs before, but these were them – literally, perfectly poached eggs – just perched on top of the meal, runny yolks, with a thin, delicate white around them. Food like this doesn’t belong in any art gallery restaurant that I’ve ever been to.

For dessert – I was happy just to eat the chocolate/espresso bread and have a double espresso to go with it.

Reading, at the bar, dining by myself, on that beautiful sunny afternoon after a walk around the gallery – the only way it could have been more perfect a brunch would have been if D was there.

Go see the new AGO – with the new building and the new Thomson collection, it’s a truly world-class art gallery. For once in the last 15 years, Toronto hits the ball out of the park. And while you’re there, join the new ladies who lunch, and have the brunch of a lifetime at Frank.

Frank Restaurant at the AGO
317 Dundas St. W.
Toronto, Ontario
Tel: 416-979-6688
www.ago.net/frank-restaurant-contemporary-comfort-cuisine-toronto


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