First of all, apologies to Royal Ontario Museum CEO William Thorsell, architect Daniel Libeskind and Michael Lee-Chin whose name is on the place, but I just can’t bring myself to like the new Crystal addition. I’m one of those silly people who really like old buildings, and standing both outside and inside the lobby of the addition, I get an odd sense of uneasiness and vertigo, and feel very much like I’m in some sort of 1960s spy movie. I kept expecting Bond villain Ernst Blofeld and that cat to come strolling around a corner.
Maybe it’s just the close proximity to food, but the only part of the Crystal where I actually feel comfortable is in the restaurants. The angles of the Crystal 5 (C5) Restaurant Lounge feel lofty and inspirational, with awe-inspiring views of the downtown skyline and Philosopher’s Walk, as well as a roof garden that is currently being built. This is where all the angles and glass really work – and the space is modern but with an air of history about it as well. The soaring ceiling and low white furniture by Toronto design team II by IV (the space seats 120) create an uninterrupted view of the nearby UofT rooftops, or for those more interested in food than treetops, of Chef Ted Corrado’s partially open kitchen.
Corrado has been in the industry for over ten years, and can list some of Toronto’s top restaurants such as rain, George and Luce on his resume. With signature dishes that include Quebec squab and Hokkaido scallop salad, Chef Corrado takes inspiration from local markets and Toronto’s multicultural mix, and focuses on fresh Ontario ingredients whenever possible.
The menu changes daily, so while the delightful bits we got to try at a recent media preview reflected the menu that day, the smoky gazpacho, tangy ceviche or fois gras paired with chocolate might not be available the next time we visit. With all bread, charcuterie, pasta and desserts made in house, the quality of whatever is available is sure to be outstanding.
C5 offers lunch daily, with the average entrée running about $25. Dinner is on offer from Thursday to Saturday with entrées in the $28 range. Desserts are $11 and cocktails average at around $12.
For more casual fare, The Food Studio a few floors down is also open to the public (admission to the ROM is not required to visit either restaurant). Dedicated to an environmentally-friendly mandate, the Food Studio provides biodegradable containers and plates and sources organic seasonal produce from local producers whenever possible. Under the direction of Chef Lauren Boyington, the Food Studio whips up pizzas, pasta and sandwiches as well as dishes inspired by current ROM exhibitions.
Situated at ground level with a picturesque view of Philosopher’s Walk, The Food Studio seats 350 guests, and is a bright airy space, with artistically arranged displays of fruit, cookies and of course, the many menu items. The Food Studio is open daily from 11am.
So while I might not be a fan of the whole concept of the Crystal, I am definitely a fan of C5, and can happily imagine lunch on a crisp fall day with a view of the changing leaves and three courses of whatever gorgeously splendid dishes Chef Corrado is offering.
That’s if I can make it through the lobby without getting caught by Blofeld and his cat.
Reservations can be made at C5 by calling 416-586-7928. The Food Studio can be reached at 416-586-7926.