New Yorker writer Peter De Vries famously said that the artwork in restaurants is usually as bad as the food in museums. The Art Gallery of Ontario aims to turn this notion on its head with FRANK, a new restaurant opening on Friday along with the rest of the gallery, fresh off a $276-million Frank Gehry-designed renovation. Unlike its predecessor, a prim little beige room stuck in the back corner of the building, FRANK has an entrance on Dundas, asserting that it’s a restaurant proper, open even when the gallery isn’t.
FRANK, given a modern Scandinavian look by its namesake designer, Mr. Gehry, showcases three pieces from the AGO’s permanent collection, including Naga, a sculpture by Frank Stella. The squiggle of stainless steel and aluminum hangs inside the three-storey skylight that illuminates the room.
Executive chef Anne Yarymowich wants visitors to be challenged by what they see in the galleries, not what they find on the plate. “We didn’t want to be elitist or too intellectual,” says Yarymowich, who studied drawing and printmaking at the University of Ottawa. So, a menu of “contemporary comfort cuisine” offers meatloaf and chicken potpie alongside duck confit and loin of wild boar. The wine list and many ingredients come from local producers, though Yarymowich isn’t too fanatical about the local-ism. “We don’t want to make it a religion,” she says. “I like my chocolate and coffee too.”
Mains, $16 – $30. Closed Mondays. Lunch and dinner daily; brunch on weekends. 317 Dundas Street West.
Image Courtesy of sodapop81 on Flickr.