I have mixed feelings about the Royal Ontario Museum‘s redesigned building. From Bloor Street West, Daniel Libeskind’s crystal is aggressively fabulous. It’s an übermodern work of jutting glass and steel, and you can’t miss it, even from a mile away. The interior of the crystal is another story. In spite of its towering ceilings, it lacks the grandeur of the façade and resembles a whitewashed warehouse. This is not to say that the collections aren’t breathtaking. I particularly love the Chinese galleries, which feature an intact Ming tomb as well as the Bishop White Gallery of Chinese Temple Art. The ROM also has wonderful galleries devoted to ancient Egypt and Greece, and its perennially popular dinosaur collection. But the building is disappointing on the inside.
The exception is C5, the Royal Ontario Museum’s beautiful restaurant, which is located on the crystal’s top level. Here the skylights and criss-crossing window segments provide a gorgeous view of the city. The dining room is modern chic: white leather banquettes and chairs for dining, black leather sofas and wing chairs for drinks, and an open kitchen that knows how to pair flavors for maximum impact. This is where I had my most memorable meal on my last visit to Toronto: fresh cod, grilled to perfection and served with a lentil-and-vegetable salad and a tangy mustard sauce. The menu is short, but everything on it is prepared from scratch, and the staff is familiar with celiac disease and food allergies.
Keep in mind, if you visit, that you don’t need to pay admission to the museum to dine here (though I strongly recommend that you visit the collections). Just tell the staff that you’re going to C5, and they’ll point you to an elevator that will whisk you upstairs.
C5 at the Royal Ontario Museum [address] 100 Queen’s Park (at Bloor Street West), Toronto [tel] 416-586-7928 [web] www.C5restaurant.ca