With continuous rays from a bright sun, and endless days with cloudless skies, patio season is in full swing. And this is one of my favourites. An oasis in the middle of the bustling city I love. A lively spot to stop and slow down in, one to take rest at and dine in. A paradise in the middle of the go go go of a bustling cityscape.
The steps of the art gallery lead to the restaurant’s entrance. Steps that allow you to appreciate the grandeur of the building before you, a monument to house all others. A path to your meal that leads you through a maze of patio furniture and shade giving umbrellas. The same sight that was chained up and covered in water only a few months before. Now wire chairs, marble high tops, and even waterproof couches allow guests to lounge, enjoying the outdoors in comfort. This setting was made more lively with various potted plants and tiny flowers in bloom. Even the wild birds found themselves at home on empty tables and discarded chairs. With the sun over head the umbrellas gave shelter to not have to squint, and enough cooling shade to enjoy your food in. We shifted locations several times before committing to one fully covered in shade.
Today I was here for my usual lunch, one of many I have had before and one I have previously written about. As many times before I grab a plastic tray and join the line of others waiting before the counter to order. A wall of refrigerated glass used to house and keep cold pre-made dishes and whole desserts. The menu rotates regularly and you order by reading the tiny signs displayed beside each portion. Pasta entrees, sandwiches and pressed paninis, fresh salads, and a showcase dedicated to just desserts. We selected what we wanted and added it to our tray of growing plates and bowls. With barely enough room left for our self serve cutlery and glasses of water. Service was limited to cleaning up and bussing away empty and used dish wear.
Salmon salad with fresh greens and a side of ranch dressing. The salmon was perfectly cooked, tender and flaky with a hint of lemon. The crisp vegetables underneath were the perfect platform for the flavourful fish. A light meal ideal for the hotter temperature.
Roasted vegetable salad with quinoa. The portion was heaping, enough for lunch and dinner later. Though as a scoop from a larger bowl the presentation wasn’t much to gawk over. Very tasty but the texture was telling through its mashed up appearance.
Whole wheat tortellini stuffed with cheese and served with vegetables in a red sauce. Vegetarian and completely delicious with whole cherry tomatoes, crisp asparagus stalks, and slices of soft eggplant. As a whole, the dish lacked texture with a grainy noodle.
Lemon pistachio cream cake. A slice taken and cut from a whole cake. I had the honour of being the first one to enjoy it. More cream than cake it was a little much for me. I might have gotten this more for look than taste. The candied fig segment and the piece of white chocolate were the best part.
Banana cream pie. Fluffy cream dusted in chocolate cocoa powder, and whipped chocolate mousse layered with whole slices of banana, all on a chocolate crust. Here too I got the first piece and found things too sweet.
The following are dishes I have had during a previous visit, but in the cover of indoors.
Penne mac and cheese with asparagus stalks and cherry tomatoes. A very grown up version of mac and cheese. It could have used some additional seasonings to give this dish a kick, maybe even some spice.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The setting was beautiful and the place full of history and culture, a place I enjoy more for the decor than the food served within. I do find things a little pricy for cafeteria style fare. Pre-made dishes, kept cool behind glass, reheated in a microwave, and presented on a plastic tray. Why was I willing to spend this much for food that wasn’t made fresh? I guess this was my destination for good food served fast. A gourmet meal that fit within a 30 minute lunch time slot. Don’t deny your cravings.