Had the chance to visit the new AGO and try Frank, the gallery restaurant, the other day. The gallery itself is spectacular with imposing spiral wood staircases and soft Douglas fir hardwood floors that seemingly stretch forever.
Waltzed into Frank without a reservation (dining room was full) and sat in the bar area which was a little uncomfortable but good for people watching as it's right by the entrance. The brunch menu was being served but contains many of the lunch menu items.
The restaurant space has a casual but design-y feel to it with a wall of wine bottles stacked up in a glass case and a flowing ramp that goes up to a higher level where most of the dining tables are.
Everyone around us was ordering the moules frites which has become such a staple in restaurants of late. Had to resist the urge to follow the crowd and instead settled on the maple dale cheddar souffle and the rosemary chicken pot pie and of course the french fries served in a cone with a dark paper lining and the obligatory aioli and a untomato ketchup.
Two kinds of bread were served, a dark nutty variety and crumbly oatmeal bread. Unsalted goat butter and sea salt was provided, the bland butter desperately in need of the salty kick.
The fries were average and the dipping sauces didn't do much to help unfortunately. Score high on presentation, low on taste.
The souffle was perfectly airy but the aged maple dale cheddar didn't add much flavor - but it's a nice light alternative to a quiche. The accompanying beluga lentils (which are small dark lentils resembling caviar, hence beluga) were tasty, well seasoned and worked well with the souffle. Al dente carrots play a supporting role but seem oddly out of sync with the other elements on the plate.
The chicken pot pie is a solid, comfort food rendition of the classic with a lighter than usual broth and well seasoned chicken and vegetables.
Prices are okay and service relaxed but efficient even during a busy time. Would recommend a lunch here if you're visiting the gallery, not worth a special trip though.