Annabelle Goodman –
The Gallery Grill is only open for lunch and for brunch on Sunday. It is a most unique ambiance. The restaurant has the appearance of an old English castle. The dark wood and high ceilings are magnificent. The gallery overlooks the Great Hall of Hart House. A collection of antique string instruments is on the wall of the outer lobby. The large fireplace warms up the outer area. Several tables and a beautiful large wooden bar make this a charming waiting room or a quieter lunch dining spot. It is all so authentic and inviting. The service is excellent. It is not a large menu but everything is beautifully plated and perfectly prepared. The menu is creative and offers different choices from the ‘local dining spots’.
There are several Smaller Plates listed that could serve as a light lunch or an appetizer. I was actually tempted to order two and make that my gourmet lunch. Tarragon Fiddlehead was the soup of the day. Smoked Nova Scotia Cod Rillette is served with lemon chive oil toast. I was tempted with the House Salad composed of bourbon-glazed pears, herbes sales nuts, with roasted nut vinaigrette. The Simple Salad is enhanced with preserved lemon vinaigrette.
Bigger Plates offers more substantial dining. My dining companion was delighted with the room and her meal. Her Charred Octopus was meaty and a fair size portion. The plate was graced with grapefruit, sunchoke, white bean salad and a spicy tapenade. Bison Bourguignon is a hearty meal fitting a castle like ambiance. On my last visit I enjoyed the Grilled New Brunswick Salmon Trout with chickpea hash browns, watercress ranch and nori salad. I opted for the Mushroom Strozzapreti Pasta. Many creamy sautéed mushrooms gave a rich flavor to this spectacular dish. I loved the addition of roasted cauliflower. Pecorino Romano was generously sprinkled. What flavor! Spectacular! It was so filling I couldn’t eat dinner until late in the evening.
We were both completely satisfied with our lunches. We did peak at the dessert menu but only read about the delicious choices. Salted Caramel Peanut Tart with spiced rum cream sounds mighty delicious to me. Maple Syrup Crème Brule is always a favorite. My choice would have been Warm Apple Sticky Toffee Pudding or maybe the Warm Bittersweet Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. Ice Creams and Sorbets are always available.
Gallery Grill is a unique gourmet dining spot in the midst of the University of Toronto. What a great place to entertain. I always love the feeling of being in an old English castle dining on superb food. The room was filled but the noise level was most acceptable.