The Gardiner Bistro is a bit of a surprising find … like the crisp $10 bill I found in the back pocket of my jeans while doing laundry last week. Both brought me much satisfaction.

Tucked away on the first floor of the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, the Bistro is an unassuming resto that doubles up as very stylish event space. And this makes it a fitting venue for the museum’s new series of Friday night cultural experiences entitled “Doors at 6PM“.

Launched this summer, the weekly event aims to celebrate the diversity of Toronto’s cultural scene with a series of evenings that spotlights homegrown artists working in art, music, film, food, theatre, and literature. Attending a Friday event also means half-price gallery admission.

As guests of a La Carte at the Gardiner, fellow blogger Gastroworld and I recently had the opportunity to sample the restaurant’s new summer menu, and get a taste of these new event nights (see what I did there?). On this particular evening, we were treated to book readings by emerging LGBT writers being honoured by The Writer’s Trust of Canada, followed by a musical performance by a young, jazz quartet.

Listening to the readings left me pretty inspired to write a book of my own. But, since it would probably be a diatribe on the uselessness of cats, perhaps I’m not ready to be a literary genius as yet.

As for the meal, it was impressive, and Gastro does her usual fantastic job describing our dining experience.

My favourite course had to be Tuna Niçoise salad – the dense flakiness of the tuna, with the crunchiness of the haricot greens, to the smokiness of the olives and dressing – this salad deserved a second helping. And that’s something you won’t hear me say very often.

Gardiner Bistro
Tuna Nicoise with olive oil poached tuna, baby potatoes, haricots vert, egg, olives and baby greens
Gardiner Bistro
Petit Pain Ciabatta with Braised Brisket in Belgian Ale, Roasted Pork with Caramelized Onion and Roasted Lamb with Fig and Walnut Pesto

While my main of the Petit Pain Ciabatta was perfect to appease my protein fix (brisket, pork and lamb), the sliders would have hit home if they were served warm, rather than the intended cold meats.

Gastro’s sweet corn risotto, however, topped with a pan seared chicken breast, was creamy and incredibly flavorful … and made me want to punch her in the face for picking so wisely.

Gardiner Bistro
Pan seared chicken breast with sweet corn risotto, whipped goat cheese, and sauteed seasonal vegetables, topped with grana padano parmesan

Sufficiently full by the end, a plate of petit fours was the perfect way to finish up the evening.

Gardiner Bistro
A delectable plate of petit fours

As we made our way out, we couldn’t help but photograph the lineup across the street for the ROM’s FNL (post coming soon!). While it may be a different kind of museum event, that was one line we were thankful not to be standing in.



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