Mar 13, 2009

Festival of Chefs 2009: Frank

The next stop for Breemer and O-reagano on their tour of Festival of Chefs restaurants was Frank, located in the newly renovated Art Gallery of Ontario. The Chef is Anne Yarymowich, who makes her appearance at the Festival on May 10th.

courtesy of Dean Tomlinson © 2009 ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO

The space is bright and multi-leveled, with an open kitchen at the back and a stylish bar area by the front. It is here the bartender mixes up such aptly named cocktails as the "Picasso Sting" (a spicy mixture of mandarin vodka, freshly squeezed lemon, orange and cranberry juice topped with a Serrano chili), the "Joan Miró Margarita," and the "Emily Side Carr."

courtesy of Dean Tomlinson © 2009 ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO

The whole North facade is floor-to-ceiling glass, giving a good view of the street and passers-by, and the West end features a vast, back-lit open concept wine rack filled with the best of Ontario wines.

An interesting feature spotted in the menu was the "Stop for Food" prix fixe three course lunch special (running until March 28). One would be hard pressed to choose from the delicious sounding options, but can rest their social conscience at the same time as enjoying a fine meal, as $5 from every order is donated to The Stop Community Food Centre.

But alas, we opted (this time) for the regular menu: starting with the silky, salmon-like arctic char gravlax with Meyer lemon relish (deeelish!) served with crème fraîche and crisp poppy seed crackers. And just as we were remarking on what that interesting garnish might be, Chef Anne Yarymowich herself came to our table and answered that it was baby red kale from Soiled Reputation in Stratford. One of many sprouted plants provided to the restaurant, and part of the emphasis placed on local ingredients.

And then (naturally), we asked her about cheese. She expressed her fondness for Cheese Boutique, saying she is enamored by their level of knowledge and willingness to help. Whenever she wants a certain type of cheese, or a certain quality in a cheese, she calls them up and they do the research for her and source whatever she’s looking for. And after a brief and interesting chat she left us to the difficult business of deciding on our main courses.

Chef Anne Yarymowich

After some amount of pondering and discussion, ever on the look-out for that "cheese" angle, we opted to share two mains: a goat cheese soufflé and a grilled bison cheddar burger.

The soufflé, in proper soufflé fashion, was wonderfully light and fluffy, and while tempted to say it melted in your mouth like butter that’s not an airy enough description. It was accompanied perfectly by colourful, sweet baby beets and Soiled Reputation micro-greens with candied walnuts.

The bison burger, laden with Niagara Gold cheddar, came with a side of frites and house made apple/pear ketchup . There is nothing like sinking your teeth into a thick, juicy burger, oozing with all that melted cheese. No need for further description!

And then... the dessert. There were various options, all sounding delicious, but no need for discussion on this one. Hands down, both Breemer an O-reagano had eyes only for the baked bittersweet chocolate pudding with warm Malden-salted caramel sauce and sweet whipped cream. The rich, dark pudding was a great mixture of near liquid and lightly baked, and when combined with the sticky-sweet caramel sprinkled with granular salt, created a masterpiece of flavour. Truly, art you can eat!


courtesy of Edward Pond © 2008 ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO

courtesy of Edward Pond © 2008 ART GALLERY OF ONTARIO

Note: Materials within the gallery are sensitive to photography! Pics kindly provided by AGO.

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