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Review: Batifole

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  • cardamom Jun 5, 2004 10:23 PM

Went to Batifole for the first time. I live nearby, and was encouraged by the good reviews it's been getting. Don't know if I'll go back. The service was very iffy -- my salad came first, then my bread took a long time to arrive after that, followed immediately by the main dish. This was the saving grace of the meal: braised sweetbreads with bacon and pearl onions. The sweetbreads were pure texture and the sauce was smoky and delicious. However, the way they do things at Batifole, the main dish does not come with vegetables or potatoes etc. I kept looking at my 3 modestly-sized sweetbreads thinking, "I paid $15 for this?" Granted, there are much more expensive restaurants in the city, but the overall effect was disappointing. It is still a new restaurant, so things will improve, but for some reason, I didn't leave wanting to go back even though I live in the neighbourhood.

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  1. I went to Batifole with a group of friends last night, and we were very happy with our experience. Everyone enjoyed the appetizers: crab soup was very crabby, the crostini came with a generous portion of nicely flavoured olives, the duck terrine was tasty and garnished with gherkins.

    We had most of the mains on the menu (there were 12 of us). Two dishes stood out: the sweetbreads and the skate. As the earlier post says, the sweetbreads were very well done, not overcooked. The skate was served with a caper sauce and my friend enjoyed it very much. The one disappointment was the steak: it was a bit overcooked at the edges. For desert, we had an assortment of sweet crepes and the cherry clafouti: you must have the clafouti, it is quite perfectly served.

    In terms of the value, I think the food is well priced. All the mains are $15, and the sides are $5 each (we either had frites with mayo, or veggies - the frites were actually not french frites, but big hand cut fries). That means that you could get an entree for $20. In comparison to other resutaurants, I think that is a good price, especially for the typically more expensive items like sweetbreads, steak or tuna. Just for a comparison, I had dinner at EAT in the west end few days ago, and paid $17 for a fairly mediocre linguine in cream sauce with asparagus tips, where the asparagus was negligable.

    I agree that the service could improve - they are very friendly, but not well organized as yet, although I think that does take a while. We found the atmosphere very comfortable and inviting. I will definitely go back, and I would encourage others to try it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kasia

      I have eaten at Batifole twice and enjoyed in both times. The beef cheeks are fabulous and the duck confit also got good reviews. I have sent friends there and they were very impressed. The service is a bit patchy...it was much improved the 2nd time from the 1st. I think it is quite reasonably priced for the quality. Best of all it is just around the corner from my house so no need for cabs or cars.

    2. I went to Batifole for a friend's birthday dinner on Monday night, and we had a delightful time. (The place was hopping for a Monday night). Service was charming and efficient. Food was excellent and very reasonable. The chef came out to wish our friend a Happy Birthday and to offer a complimentary dessert. We will definitely be back, and we will recommend this place to our friends. An outstanding value. We were very well fed for the money we paid.

      1. Eeek. Batifole has gotten such good reviews. It smells delicious in there. We sat down and realized we couldn't eat one entre. How embarassing. Not very adventursome in the "game" department. I should have known with all the talk of glands and stingray and baby cows. Not mocking it. I'm a proud meat eater too. I kinda wish I wasn't so grossed out by it. There where other things on the menu like carrot squash soup and nice looking salads. Just a warning to all other chow hounds. Don't go there unless you are up for extreme meats. Definately not mainstream bistro fare. I wish I would have picked up on this before the tedious street car ride out to the east end!

        16 Replies
        1. re: deelicious

          They got a good review in the Star this past weekend.

          1. re: millygirl

            actually, it was Gina Mallet in the National Post ... a favourable review indeed -
            http://www.nationalpost.com/todays_pa...

            http://blog.ginamallet.com/blog/_arch...

            -----
            Batifole
            744 Gerrard St E, Toronto, ON M4M1Y3, CA

            1. re: JamieK

              Right, sorry folks and thanks Jamie

          2. re: food face

            I haven't been to Batifole in a while but I wouldn't classify it as "extreme meats". Steak frites, cassoulet, snapper, skate, fich soup. I wouldn't look at beef cheeks as extreme nor sweetbreads. Perhaps some things like tripe might fit in that category for some. I know their Winterlicious menu includes chiken which is as unextreme as it gets.

            1. re: Aardvark

              Last time I was there they had horsemeat on the menu....perhaps not extreme but I couldn't get my head around it and I'm pretty good with most other things. In fact love sweetbreads.

              1. re: millygirl

                If you can get your mind around it, I highly recommend the horse tartar. I think it's the best thing on the menu. If you like/eat steak tartar, this is even better! :)

                1. re: Tara9000

                  Yes I love steak tartar and like I say, I don't have many food issues and I'm sure it's good BUT for me, it's just one of those things I don't think I could manage. I think it goes back to my childhood :)

                  1. re: millygirl

                    Lol... my mother has a similar 'mental' thing. She can't eat goat cheese, because to her it tastes like the barn-y 'smell' of goats.

              2. re: Aardvark

                Yea, horsemeat's not extreme.

                1. re: food face

                  lol

              3. re: food face

                Very thankful for your post food face. My partner was trying to drag a large group here. Several of them including myself don't go for "off beat" meats..he kept saying "it's a bistro there will be steak and frites!" So pulled this up in a search and most have raved about dishes are fear factor material for me. I'll try anything once but generally prefer the taste and texture of mainstream chicken, beef, or pork the best for a full meal.

                1. re: abigllama

                  Batifole does have steak and frites! Last time I was there, I ordered just that; I believe it was a flank steak (though I'm not sure), and it was served with a delicious porcini mushroom cream sauce. The frites are always excellent at Batifole. I, too, am pretty squeamish when it comes to such things -- sweetbreads, etc. are not an option for me -- but I have never had any trouble ordering at Batifole.

                  1. re: Full tummy

                    I wouldn't necessarily choose Batifole for a large group where the *majority* are looking for standards though. Just seems kinda beside the point of the place, especially if they coming from outside the neighbourhood.

                    1. re: julesrules

                      for sureness.

                      1. re: julesrules

                        True enough.

                    2. re: abigllama

                      My Pleasure Abigllama. Not enough selection for us mainstream meat eaters that have no other main options other than our beloved steak frites. Glad to have saved you the awkward moment I had of walking out ashamed.

                  2. I am dragging a party of 12 there tomorrow night and hoping for the best as it's a birthday celebration!
                    For an adventurous eater (me), what do you think are the best dishes on the latest menu?
                    For picky (let's see, there's non-pork, general allergies, non-tomato, non-dairy...yes, my friends are high maintenance!) which dishes do you think could work?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Food Tourist

                      I was there a couple weeks ago and the duck two ways (not the most adventurous) was great. The maigret was very tender. The confit was a little on the dry side, but nice.
                      Other than that, not sure...when's the last time you were there? Other than the duck, the menu was relatively unchanged.

                    2. Is Batifole open on Sunday night? I went to their website but cannot figure it out. It says they are open for brunch. Are they open for dinner as well?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: emq

                        according to this site, they are not...
                        http://dine.to/batifole

                        1. re: emq

                          From my understanding, they canceled brunch quite some time ago.

                          I love Batifole, but I really wish that they'd expand and better update their website.

                        2. Sorry pulling an old thread, but FYI.
                          Batifole finally has a real website with menus, etal.

                          http://www.batifole.ca

                          Even includes a few quotes from Chowhound, LOL.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Mila

                            Finally they've heeded the call after a number of diners had probably called about brunch! For the less adventurous diners, you still won't miss out by just ordering steak frites. It's delicious every time I have it.

                            1. re: syrahc

                              Pardon if this is a dumb question but do they always offer steak frites? I just pulled up the menu and there it is staring right back at me! I swear based on the potential of being dragged there on a couple of occasions I've pulled up the menu online in the past year and there was no sign of steak frites before.

                              Being that it's bistro standard was specifically looking for it after squeeling about horse and sweetbreads.

                              1. re: abigllama

                                Not dumb at all, but steak frites has been on the menu every time I have been. Your shock and awe could be based on the never updated website that I'm now giving some celebration for.

                                The horse isn't actually worth eating at Batifole because of the mass of condiments they mix into it. Sweetbreads are also not easily found on a regular basis at any restaurant. There are usually pork, fish and beef options that are delicious enough to satisfy the unadventurous gourmand.

                                1. re: syrahc

                                  I'll chime in with my concurrence on the horse tartare. I love horse, I love steak tartare, but the iteration at Batifole is criminal. It's so heavily spiced that it's impossible to taste the meat.

                          2. I have been with my wife, and in parties of 4 to Batifole on a number of occasions, and it seems each time the standard of food, service and even the ambience has somehow deteriorated.

                            First, Batifole means "To Frolic, To Lark and Play About" - and this sums up the quality of the food during my most recent visit last week. My starter of endive salad was excessively bitter and looked like it had been dumped on the plate in great haste. My mains of cassoulet royale was dry, and I am convinced it was microwaved. This experience of the other night has been replicated on my half dozen or so visits if not as extreme.

                            The service appeared amateurish, and 2 of my party received wrong orders - the angus steak ordered "rare" was no-where near as red and pink as it should be when cooked to that state.

                            On the plus side - service is cheerful and unpretentious if unpolished, and the wine list okay for a neighbourhood place.

                            All in all - a disappointing experience with cooking that is patchy, and if you know French cuisine at all, and have been to "real" French restaurants not just in Ontario but elsewhere, Batifole just does not measure up - even when comparing French restaurants in the same price band.

                            We won't be back - this time the last straw was reached.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: GlenManor

                              Hello GlenManor,
                              I just wanted to chime in and say you are not the only one wth that opinion of Batifole. It's OK, but nothing special. I've been there twice with different groups and nobody wants to go back! I've eatend there 4 or 5 times in total, but not in the last year or so. I'd like to give it another chance based on the pariase it gets here, but each time I mention it, my wife says there's no way she's going to eat there again. I really like some of the appetisers, especially the crab soup, but the mains have just been "OK". I have always thought that most of the mains are frozen and then microwaved when you order. The reason I think that is the case is that they are extremely hot when served, and have had a bit of "splatter" on the dishes like you get when you microwave food. Even though many mains appear to be microwaved, I want to try it again because if I pick carefully, I can find some food I like.

                            2. Went tonight for dinner, with trepidation after reading recent reports. Amazing meal, from top to bottom, except for the coffee, which was disappointing given the quality of everything else.

                              The one thing that concerned me at the outset was that the menu was the same as I remembered last time I went, which was several months ago, now. We were pleased that there were a couple of tempting specials--brandade, some sort of slow-roasted pork shank dish with potatoes and gruyere, and a duck breast & confit offering. Hubby chose the latter, and I ordered the Angus steak with peppercorn sauce. We both ordered the escargots (we're longtime addicts of Batifole's version) and a brandade to share. Bread, cranberry-dotted water, and other beverages arrived quickly; service was attentive and informative, without being intrusive, throughout the night, and I have to say I was very impressed with the lack of pretension there about bottled water, and the speed with which they refilled my quickly depleted glass. (I'm known for drinking a fair bit of water during my meal, and the waiter kept pace!!!) The escargots were just as good as they've always been; the brandade had obviously just come out of the oven. Delish! Then on to my steak, which was as expected, nothing more nothing less, except for the phenomenal peppercorn sauce. My husband adored every bite of his duck, though I must admit I have eaten more tender duck breast; but there was a lot of oohing and aahhing about the confit and the black cherry reduction/sauce...The fries were very good, as per usual, but I have to say how much I enjoyed the side veggies--an assortment of bok choy, spinach, onion, etc. Cooked with a light hand, flavourful, but not overly dressed, they actually made me feel healthy, and that happens rarely, for me, in a restaurant.

                              For dessert, we shared the chocolate semifreddo; it was fine and a great end to our meals. My husband, who is quite fussy about his coffee, found theirs lacking, which was the only negative point in what proved to be our best meal there.

                              We'd been served by the same waiter before, so I didn't notice any shift in staffing. Also, the place was full, and the atmosphere very upbeat; didn't see any furrowed brows among them.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Full tummy

                                Glad to hear that. What remains discomforting, though is that Batifole had been the only restaurant that we found reliably good in this (our) part of town. Whatever the cuisine, inconsistency rules here in those places not always less than good. It seems that Batifole may have joined the club. I hope to see more reviews such as this one.

                                1. re: embee

                                  We were there at the end of September and had a wonderful dinner , as good as I remembered from other visits.