416-979-6688 | $16 -$24 lunch mains
As far as good restaurants go in Toronto, I feel like people forget this place exists at the AGO. People know about C5 in the ROM, but otherwise the fact it’s in a museum seems to hide it a bit. Been meaning to stop by the Frank Gehry-designed spot, found a good reason to, and off we went.
Photo Credit: Lost at A Minor
The Frank lunch menu is essentially two succinct sets of starters and mains, many of which should dramatically improve what you normally eat for lunch. There’s a wide variety of interesting choices that aren’t too adventurous, but are just right for a ‘fancy’ lunch.
The three of us shared four apps to start:
- Carrot and ginger soup: Nothing surprising here, a well-made soup that more or less yelled ‘carrot!’
- Smoked paprika marinated grilled octopus with chickpeas, merguez, pequillo peppers and spinach (below): Really nice Spanish-inspired dish whose flavours were bright and balanced; also a beautifully-plated dish. Only thing was the octopus wasn’t quite as tender as it needed to be to knock this out of the park.
- Seared halloumi on chickpea polenta and caper peperonata (below): Nothing really stood out here, but a pleasant dish. Think the halloumi could have been crispy or something, the sear didn’t change much and the chickpea part of the polenta didn’t add anything. Peperonata was a flavourful touch though.
- Blue crab cakes with herbed ailoi (below): Golden and crispy on outside, soft and warm on the inside, really nice aioli with a bunch of greens. This made for a very tasty series of bites. Enjoyed these a lot.
Each of us then ordered very different mains. The first was the special of the day, a wild mushroom risotto with cipollini onions done to perfection. Flavours were dead-on (earthy and buttery), the texture was exactly where you’d want it to be and the portion wasn’t too large.
The second dish was the corn and cheddar souffle on warm cored-apple. Found this one to be bit a bit boring, as the souffle didn’t taste like much - the apple swooped in to save it from blandness.
The last dish (above), a skirt steak on crispy sour dough, triple crunch mustard, caramelized onions and goat’s milk gouda was awesome. The triple crunch mustard caught my eye in the description, but it’s just semi-crunchy grainy mustard. The real crunch is the sour dough along the bottom and the great sear on the meat. The dish reminded me of a deconstructed and elevated steak sandwich - this is a very good thing. It’s a large portion as well, so you get your money’s worth for the priciest of the mains ($24).
We also sampled a few desserts. We found all three to be average, but regrettably cold. The crustless apple tart (above right) I had with spiced whip cream reminded me of a lukewarm Starbucks drink; could be worse I suppose. My friend’s eggnog creme brulee didn’t taste particularly like eggnog, but with a great torching job on the top, it was strangely cold. The chocolate rum lava cake with poached pears was good, but again, not hot. We thought all three were best-served warm. It’s too bad.
Service and Ambience:
I found our server to be very friendly and helpful with the menu, and the supporting staff also were around frequently replacing silverware, water refilling, etc. Food came out at a good pace given the room was busy at lunch.
As for how the place looks, it’s very modern and minimalistic. There’s a great metal sculpture that protrudes out from the cafeteria below that I particularly liked (above). The dining room itself is really big and felt somewhat empty, but that’s minimalism for you. Whether you think that style is suited for a restaurant is your own call, but as a space in a museum, I can understand the design choice.
I liked lunch at Frank. Despite the temperature-challenged desserts and a few small misses, we quite enjoyed the steak, crab cakes, octopus, and risotto. For an area that’s a little short on nicer restaurants, I think it’s a very respectable option. I’d definitely go back to taste more dishes both at lunch and for dinner.
Posted by: Jacob, Visited Dec 22, 2011