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Sep 7, 2010 12:39 PM

Frank @ AGO - gone downhill?

I went to Frank's for a late night dessert and I was really disappointed. I thought that it would be good, from positive online reviews and the fact that the AGO Cafe's treats also get positive feedback. I've also heard lovely things about their brunch. Unfortunately, the desserts were not fresh at all - way overpriced for what we got. Is it worth returning for a meal?


Summer Berry Pudding
Raspberries, strawberries, red currants, and vanilla whipped cream
While tasty, I think that this would've been better topped on top of a cake rather than being served as a messy slab of pudding. It was more mushy than pudding-y.

Coffee and Donut
Chocolate espresso pot de creme with dulce de leche whipped cream and cinnamon sugared mini donut
Cute presentation - chilled pot de creme had a nice chocolate-espresso flavour, but I wish it was a bit stronger or denser or had bits of chocolate in it.
The donut was quite disappointing. Despite being made in-house, both the twist and the donut were stale and lacked flavour. I would have been happier with a Timbit from Tim Hortons - for 16 cents!

So now I'm craving a tasty donut in the downtown core. I think I'll start with Little Nicky's tomorrow. I'll probably post some pics up on Thursday, if they're good!



FRANK @ The Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5T I4G, CA

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  1. "Summer pudding" is something I just don't like, whoever is making it. It is not like what one typically thinks of as pudding at all, and I think the pudding part just refers to it being a dessert, as the word "pudding" is used this way in Britain.. It is made with bread and berries. Have you had it before and think their version was poorly executed? Or, did you just not like "summer pudding"?

    Here's an article about summer pudding from the G&M:

    7 Replies
    1. re: Full tummy

      i'd agree with full tummy, i saw it on the menu and i know right off the bat that it is just not something that i think is worth eating... i doubt a great version of this dish could ever be executed.

      you missed out on the best dessert - sour cherry tart with pistachio ice cream. it was superb. tender light pastry cooked so nicely and browned, sour cherries balanced beautifully with sweetness and a nice texture, ice cream was quite milky with a nice studding of the nuts... i could try to describe it better but i was enjoying it so much i just gobbled it up without much thought. devoured it even though i had half my main packed up because i stuffed myself with two other courses and breads. i'd readily go back for that dessert alone.

      most people don't go for dinner, but they do seafood very well and in general i've been very happy with the savouries. the one disappointment i've had is a rice pudding they did with a concord jelly... jelly too sweet and rice pudding too mushy and i didn't appreciate the cold temperature they were serving it at.

      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        Hmn. that tart sounds really tasty. Might have to go make a visit soon!

        ...edit: oohhh... they have afternoon cocktails and snacks now! ohoohoh...

        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          :( I wanted to try the sour cherry tart to begin with, but I had a donut craving for some reason and my dining companion wanted the pudding, I love sour cherry pie, so the tart sounded yummy. Maybe I'll try the tart out...but the donut was so stale that it won't be for awhile :P


          1. re: ekim256

            their menu changes very frequently, so i'd head back sooner than later.

        2. re: Full tummy

          I'm in the minority here. I love a good summer pudding or rote gruetze (the Mitteleuropean answer to summer pudding, usually served in a bowl, and often topped with creme anglaise or vanilla sauce). I'll have to try out Frank's version of summer pudding before it's too late. It's rare to find summer pudding offered in Toronto.

          Summer pudding should be a mushy pudding. Nothing like vanilla pudding, banana pudding, rice pudding, bread pudding, black pudding or yorkshire pudding ;-)

          Full tummy is correct, that "pudding" is a a synonym for dessert in Britain, not just the type of dessert that's served in a bowl with a spoon.

          If you were disappointed with Frank's desserts, I don't think you'll be happy with Frank's brunch, lunch or dinner, so it probably isn't worth your time to return for a meal.

          I've been happy with the various desserts I've tried at Frank, but I can see from your post that we don't like the same types of desserts! I'm one of the Chowhounds who has recommended Frank at least a couple times as a good place to have dessert downtown, as well as a good place to brunch. I'm guessing our tastes may be quite different, and maybe you should be avoiding the restaurants I recommend, in order for you to avoid future disappointments ;-)

          Sorry to hear that you were disappointed. I've been disappointed by restaurants other Chowhounds have recommended highly, and it can be a big letdown. I try to keep my expectations low whenever I try a new restaurant, even if it has been recommended by Chowhounds I trust, so I can attempt to avoid disappointment, and be pleasantly surprised when something turns out better than I anticipated.

          1. re: phoenikia

            i'm being a bit harsh on the summer pudding, but i don't know if i'd write Frank off based on what was sampled. they do pastry desserts well. also, if i skipped restaurants based on a dessert sampling i'd eat out even less than i do now.

            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              I don't usually base it off of just dessert. If the pudding was just the bad one, then I'd give it a second chance but the other dessert was even more disappointing. Conversations like these are useful for future CHers who want to know what's good and what's not so I'm glad I started this thread. With so many other places to try, I doubt that I'll slow down my eating-outery anytime soon :-). Long list to be tackled...


        3. I dont know about the lovely things you have heard about their brunch. my brunch there was inedible. literally stinking. even the thought of it makes me feel yucky

          2 Replies
          1. re: shekamoo

            What was wrong? Did you complain or send dishes back?

            1. re: Full tummy

              I reported on in on this board before. pancakes smelled of rotten eggs, omelette was basically inedible. like I said in my post, I have a cultural thing with complaining or sending food back, so I did none of that. too bad, I should have.

          2. My experiences have only ever been positive @ Frank. Had a wonderful lunch there 2 wks ago. Started w the Smoked Whitefish Rillette which was delicious. Next up was the Cioppino - fish and seafood were perfectly cooked and the broth was surprisingly rich and so flavourful. Finally, the Lemon pudding was absolutely scrumptious. The pudding itself was a light steamed sponge with a tangy, perfect, warm lemon curd centre. Service was attentive and friendly. Our table of six left happy and keen to return.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              I have never ordered dessert at Frank, but have had several very good Dinners there.
              However, last week I took my 8 yr.old Granddaughter there for Lunch and it was a big mistake.
              She is the only "foodie"of all of my Grandkids, so I thought Frank was appropriate preceding a visit to the Gallery.
              The least Child friendly menu I could ever imagine.
              She ordered the Octopus Salad, to start which was just O.K...barely.
              Left most of it.
              We both ordered the Cioppino which was very good.
              It seems that they don't want kids at Frank.

              1. re: erly

                I had a wonderful meal at Frank this past summer. Perhaps the best liver and onions I have ever had in a restaurant. I would go back for that alone.

                1. re: erly

                  Burgers, steak, grilled chicken salad and frites don't seem child unfriendly.

                  Depends on the children, of course.

                  I realize some Canadian children don't like duck, but there are plenty of Canadian children, especially those with Asian, French or Central European backgrounds who like to eat duck, and would choose the duck confit on that menu.

                  Re: the tempura mushrooms on the current menu. As far as I remember, children either love mushrooms or hate mushrooms. I would guess they're divdided 50/50. But if the mushrooms are battered and deep-fried, I'm guessing the chance of a child eating the mushrooms goes up.

                  The only dishes on the menu that seem to be blatantly child unfriendly are the octopus confit, the shaved rainbow radishes and the calf's liver, which MargieEv says was the best she's had in a restaurant.

                  Since the adults generally are the ones paying the bills at Frank, I think Frank should keep the calf's liver on the menu.

                  Maybe someone at Frank will read this, and the next menu will include chicken fingers and grilled cheese sandwiches,

                  If anyone is looking for a child unfriendly menu, I'd suggest the Black Hoof for everything offal, and Zorba's for their patsa/tripe soup, and occasional specials of lamb's heads and kokkoretsi.

                  1. re: phoenikia

                    Don't recall a Burger on the menu, but Steak is not particularly appealing at Lunch for a kid.
                    I really didn't mean Cafeteria food as I would have gone to the Cafeteria for that.
                    Shrimp, , Chicken, Pasta (always a pleaser) .
                    I ordered the Mushrooms, and they were lightly battered whole Mushrooms. O.K. only
                    DH also enjoys the Calfs Liver at Frank.
                    I think that they should rethink the Lunch Menu, as I am not tempted to go back for Lunch in the near future.

                    1. re: erly

                      when i was last in, the dessert menu was much shorter than what was posted online but the savouries were all the same. was your lunch menu shorter than this?:

                      otherwise i see a chicken caesar salad, sausages, burger, and potentially the vegetarian special that could appeal to a child. they might be larger portions but you could split it with them.

                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        almost the same, but fewer choices.
                        The Short Ribs would probably been appealing to her.
                        The Veggies were not on the Menu, but she wouldn't have wanted them anyway.

                        1. re: pinstripeprincess

                          I find that sometimes restaurants are willing to make up something for a child--a grilled cheese sandwich, a simple pasta--though it might not be on the menu, and it might be worth asking for at a place like Frank where a children's menu is not presented to guests.

                2. I must say, that i am a regular foodie. I have only been to FRANK twice, and both times i have dined on the perfectly balanced, hearty summer cioppino. The fish was cooked to perfection. I cannot stress that further. For a starter i had the smoked whitefish rillette. My friends indulged in the beef brisket burger, grilled cumbrae farms skirt steak, which looked delish. I had a nibble off their plates. YUM YUM all around. Our tabled skipped dessert, so I cannnot comment on that. So far my fave dish has been consistent.

                  1. The last two visits to Frank for brunch have seriously gone downhill. The brisket hash read well, but the potato on the dish was shredded and then fried, rather than cubes of potato. The brisket was generous but tasted tangy rather than beefy. The other listed ingredients appeared, but only just. The overall portion was smallish. For comfort food this wasn't comforting. Dessert was the worst culprit. It was listed as a chocolate gateau but tasted like someone took oreo crumbles, added butter, and pressed it into a puck. It was both dry and crumbly. Unlike any cake I've ever had and the portion was minuscule.

                    Service was fine and no issues, but it was clear that our table was not in the server's sight lines, it was around a corner. Every time she appeared, she looked flustered because she had little sense when we arrived or when things were taking place at the table. The server next to her had perfect sight of our table and another from her section, and had two tables in his section that could have have been traded with hers so she would have had them in her sight. Maybe I don't know all the angles, but it struck me as poor planning, or at least it should not been something I was aware of.

                    Some changes have taken place with staff. Van di Lam, the pastry chef, left, I have no idea where. Martha Wright, the chef, left a couple of years ago as did Janet Hoediono, the sous chef, who is now at Patria. It was around the time that these changes happened that we started to notice the change.

                    We are AGO members and enjoy having the restaurant right there, but we have firmly decided to go somewhere else.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: dubchild

                      I planned a family outing there a few months ago and noticed the same - I can't recall the details, unfortunately, but I remember being extremely underwhelmed - it was one of my go-to's for a higher-end brunch.

                      1. re: dubchild

                        Too bad.
                        And too bad Nota Bene doesn't do weekend brunch.

                        1. re: dubchild

                          I concur. Two recent lunches there ( Colville andColville, what can I say?) and both were awful. Especially for the price. Never again, and I too am a member.