Today, we were killing some time at the art gallery, checking out their latest exhibit on its last legs. Cindy Sherman’s collection of self portraits in costume, over the decades of her career. An exhibition well timed for International Women’s Day.

Our leisurely stroll through the echo-y art gallery halls found us at the threshold of their redone restaurant. Once simply the “Gallery Bistro”, now renamed and rebranded as “1931 Gallery Bistro”. Spotted tiles, new furnishings, a different configuration, and a fresh coat of paint left the space feeling renewed. Though pretty facade aside, the food was as I remembered it to be.

We began with a couple of drinks, my girl friend especially liking the idea of being able to drink at the gallery. She was in disbelief that she didn’t know that she could have done so sooner. A light rose for her, and the “Triumphs of caesar for me. 1oz nutrl vodka, Clamato, Worcestershire, tobacco, and steak spice. It felted watered down and flat, something uninspired that you would get from a food court kiosk. I didn’t taste much more than tomato juice, hot sauce, and ground pepper. It was a basic as far as caesars go, especially as it didn’t have a garnish. I should have stuck with the $4.95 house red or white, from off of the happy hour menu.

The food was not that much different. Where as the previous concept had pre-made plates at the ready, displayed in refrigerated units for the customer to take and pay for, and then to be microwaved at the back. They were now more than just a salad and sandwiches cafe. Now they totted restaurant quality appetizers and small bites, baked up relatively quick in the kitchen.

I was intrigued by the small list of $3.95 to $7.95 happy hour small plates. Beans, tortilla, and bruschetta; their descriptions all sounded lovely enough, making ordering challenging.

The “Miso-sake cauliflower bites” was probably the best out of the three plates we shared. Cauliflower florets marinated in a white miso and sake glaze. It was salty, but had no depth from either miso or sake. It wasn’t bad, but I would have liked the vegetable crispier and the flavour not so monotone.

The “Potato croquettes” were best on its first bite. Pressed with duck fat and served with a dollop of truffle and garlic mayo each, it was a little much by the last block. Crispy cubes with a hot smashed potatoey centre. There was no missing the musky characteristic of the duck fat, or the saltiness of the truffle. But I needed something tangy, and was looking for some ketchup to help with that.

I was the most disappointed by the “Pineapple tuna poke”, it was bland and therefore the first poke I had that I didn’t like. Ocean wise ahi tuna, soy, sesame, pineapple salsa, edamame, and rye crisps. There was no seasoning or marinade on the fish, you barely got any pineapple despite the title. And the hearty cracker added nothing to the taste, leaving me wanting a lighter crisp for crunch. Disappointing and small for $8

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
If you like the novel ideal of drinking at the gallery, I suggest coming down for a glass of wine. The view isn’t bad and the setting is relaxing. I just can’t recommend the food in good faith. Don’t deny your cravings.

1931 Gallery Bistro
Inside the Vancouver Art Gallery
750 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2H7
1931gallerybistro.com