Fine food + fine art = the latest recession restaurant trend

Fine food + fine art = the latest recession restaurant trend

Pear-hazelnut ginger cake at Frank (Photo by Jen Chan via the Toronto Life Flickr pool)

Today’s New York Times puts Toronto at the forefront of an evolving trend in restaurants: “fine dining to go with fine art.” Writer Larry Rohter observes that the recession has forced cultural centres to get creative about making money (the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Arts and Design and the Whitney Museum all have sophisticated new menus), and high-end restaurants—much like Frank, at the Art Gallery of Ontario—are financially viable while “enhancing the museum experience.”

“More and more over the past five years, that is what museums, libraries and even botanical gardens have been demanding,” says Dick Cattani, the chief executive officer of Restaurant Associates. If this is anything to go by, we could be looking at restaurants like Mark McEwan at the Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat and Marc Thuet’s Reference Library Buffet.

Toronto gets only a passing mention in the article (along with Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, L.A., D.C. and Minneapolis), but restaurateurs looking to get in on the art ’n’ food craze may want to look beyond Frank to Jamie Kennedy at the Gardiner. The oft-praised but ultimately failed restaurant could be a lesson in how not to proceed.

After the Putti, the Baby Calamari [New York Times]