Restaurant review: Clay

Clay breaks the mould of standard institution fare by bringing high-quality seasonal cuisine to one of Yorkville’s leading museums.

What’s the vibe

While the Gardiner Museum has earned acclaim for their vast collection of ceramics – housing approximately 4,000 artifacts from around the world – we came for the food (surprise, surprise).

Launched in collaboration with the Food Dudes (the team behind SARA, Rasa and Omaw), Clay offers a spacious, airy dining room, with high ceilings and toned down, earthy hues. Located on the third floor of the Gardiner Museum, the space is composed and refined while maintaining a calm, undemanding atmosphere.

When you first walk in, you may be taken aback by just how spacious the dining area is. If, like us, you’ve become acclimatized to living in the overcrowded zoo of a city that is Toronto, you know how nice it is to have enough space to comfortably move around.

Consider yourself lucky if you can get a table overlooking the ROM. Since the patio is now officially open, you can sit back and take in the views while savouring your meal.

What to drink

We sampled the Giró Ribot Cava Brut Rosado, a fruit forward sparkling wine with an aroma that includes traces of strawberries and hints of dried fruit, making an excellent meal companion.

If you prefer having lunch with a cocktail instead of wine, look no further than the cucumber rose gin and tonic. Made with Rose Gin from Dillon’s Distillers in Lincoln, Ontario, this light cocktail has a pleasant, refreshing taste. Other drink offerings include mimosas made with your choice of fresh pressed orange or grapefruit juice, or seasonal sangria.

What to eat

Serving a seasonally inspired menu, chef Bianca Azupardo brings back the classics with her simplistic, locally sourced dishes that are perfect for your brunch, lunch or midday snack.

We started with the chopped salad, a local favourite, which offers a mix of seasonal ingredients like cherry goat cheese, fennel and pumpkin seeds. You won’t want to miss the mushroom toast, made with truffle chevre cheese, roasted wild mushrooms and burnt honey – a flavour combination that you didn’t realize you needed in your life.

Moving on to the main event, we recommend ordering the gnudi: the soft texture of this ricotta served in a creamy roasted corn Alfredo sauce has a light taste that is complemented by the pickled fennel and sesame chips. For an upscale take on a classic, try the fish and chips, made with Fogo Island cod, battered in a shell of crunchy Steam Whistle beer batter and garnished with dill and caper aioli.

Don’t leave without treating yourself to the peach crumble. Made with fresh Ontario peaches, this soft, warm treat, served with vanilla ice cream, is undeniably the best way to celebrate the arrival of Canadian summer.

Lunch and drinks for two: about $70

111 Queens Park 3rd Floor, Toronto, 416 586 8086,