Recently had some family in town for a quick overnight trip. On our way to the airport we had a couple of hours to kill before their flight so we decided to grab a little lunch and figured Bay Street at International Plaza would be a good idea due to the proximity. We had planned on just grabbing a table at the Cheesecake Factory but they were slammed even at 2PM on a Saturday afternoon and the wait would have left us cutting it a little close to their flight. After a quick scan of the local establishments we decided to try the Gallery Eclectic Bistro.
I must have walked past this place at least twenty times without giving it a second glance, probably because I’m usually making a beeline right for the Pub, one of my all-time favorite watering holes. I’d read a couple of reviews on Yelp and another in Creative Loafing and everything seemed to insinuate that this place could be a little bit hit-or-miss. Always one to form my own opinions unless a rabid majority is telling me otherwise, I went in with an open mind.
Gallery seemed to be an appropriate name as the entire restaurant looked like one big art gallery. The architecture is art-deco, there’s modern art on the walls of most of the tables and art lamps lighting them up which gives it a true gallery feeling. I have no idea if the art is local or if they switch it out every so often, but it makes for a pretty interesting environment.
I’d heard complaints about the service but found no such problems during our visit. Our server was attentive and took no time at all bringing us our orders. Additionally, I always consider it a huge plus when I ask “what do you like here” and the server doesn’t just rattle off random names but actually conveys personal favorites; our server did so with gusto.
I wound up ordering the Goose Island seasonal brew which I’d never tried before. Goose Island is a midwestern microbrew which is starting to slowly make its way into the bars and restaurants down here and this is a boon as I’ve found most of their other varietals to be rather flavorful. I’m glad the Gallery Bistro decided to carry it.
When it came to the food, “Eclectic” is definitely an apt title. I would consider this contemporary american cuisine with a little twist. Each dish had kind of a cool spin on what would usually be considered normal.
For an appetizer we ordered a plate of fried zucchini and blue cheese stuffed olives. It was quick-fried in a tempura batter rather than your standard flour and egg dredge (typical of pub food), which actually made a huge difference. I’d also never had a fried olive before but the flavors were rather unique. I’d recommend this app to anyone who is a fan of tempura.
Entrée was a caribbean jerk whitefish topped with an amazing pineapple, mango and jalapeno salsa with some raisins thrown in for good measure. These flavors melded together perfectly, with the sweetness of the fruit complimenting the heat of the jalapeno and jerk seasonings, giving an excellent taste to a usually bland type of fish.
My cousin ordered a sesame-honey cedar plank salmon (a bite of which she insisted I try can be seen on my plate) and her husband got the thai-grouper reuben wrap. Both noted that their dishes were excellent, with my cousin especially impressed that the salmon wasn’t dried out which sometimes happens when cooking on a cedar plank.
Portion sizes were spot-on and I left feeling full. If I had one nitpicky complaint it would be that they put a good amount of food on plates that are kind of gigantic which makes the presentation look a little empty. However, I suppose if they did it the other way around, smaller plates would give the illusion of skimping on food and that would probably be worse.
Given that it seems a lot of people pass this place by and the reviews are so hit-or-miss, I have to say I’m a little confused. Gallery Eclectic Bistro was an excellent dining experience and my first visit left me with one hell of a positive impression. If you’re on the fence, give it a shot.
Tried the Gallery Bistro before? What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
And remember… the food abides…