My bistro-stravaganza began in earnest last night. Since my Dad shot down Rebel House, I decided to get where the going is good and head to Batifole. Thank God I made reservations, the place was packed! I knew we were going to be in for a treat when I saw how busy and buzzing the place was on a Wednesday night.
First glance at the menu from budget-conscious father-type was very positive...a table d'hote for $25? That's a typo right? We were both shocked at the reasonable prices, and ordered quickly before they changed their minds.
Bread (baguette) and unsalted butter set the tone, delivered by the friendly waitstaff.
We both had the escargot cassoulet, which was a rich creamy broth of spring onions, peppers and tender escargot. Simply delicious. Almost the same as a clam chowder, with delicate herbs.
Frites with tarragon mayonnaise accompanied the cornish hen with lemon thyme sauce, which we also both had. The frite were thick, crisp, hot, and fluffy inside...absolutely perfect! The tarragon mayonnaise was very, very good also. The cornish hen was cooked to a perfect crispy skin, with a tart and zesty lemon taste. Tender and juicy, but the breast portion was just a snick overcooked.
Dessert was the Cognac Creme Brule which, of course, we both had. The burnt sugar top had a strong cognac flavour that I really enjoyed. Served lukewarm, it was really very good (I have had better, but only just).
All in, an extremely pleasant and satisfying experience. The ultimate compliment came from my Dad, who ended the meal saying "perhaps we'll come here another time"...strong words from someone who is notoriously hard to please!
Estimated bill: $80 for two plus wine (it was a Tavel...I can't even guess how much)
i usually don't like to resurrect old posts... but this seemed appropriate rather than starting a new one.
had my first experience at batifole last night and i would definitely put it on my list of restaurants to recommend.
we arrived just on time for our reservation at 7pm to a restaurant about 1/3 full. the decor was minimalist contemporary with taupe walls and square swatches of colour masking images of traditional windmills. the space feels open with high ceilings and the tables were well spaced although i can see how someone would feel they are tight. i also did appreciate the well lit space as i often find restaurants are now dimming their lights to the point where it's difficult to see my own food!
anyhow, we sat down and scanned their menu (seasonal change as of last week to include heartier items) for a while and were offered help where we might have questions. the service was great in that they were highly attentive and offered water promptly with a question about cocktails shortly following.
after some queries regarding a few dishes, we opted for their escargot fricassee in father's sauce and beef tripe to start. after hearing of our main choices the server helped pick out a bottle of wine within our price range and offered a sample from the bar (it was one that they sold by the glass as well). the wine was ok, something about it seemed tangy with a greater emphasis of light fruit. i wasn't too keen on it but could see that it might match the mains. she offered another choice that was richer in flavour but i opted out. the new bottle that arrived was a vast difference, it was a nice cotes de rhone for $40 and she offered that it sitting out for so long can change the flavour. i was happy with the final result.
anyhow, the escargot were perfect. they were wonderfully tender and tasty with just enough spring in the bite. the sauce was obviously complex and studded with bites of shallots, bacon, garlic chives, herbs.. etc. it came with two toast points which we greedily piled the sauce on. the beef tripe was fantastic. reminiscent of tripe as i've known it... it was nearly meltingly soft and soaked up the sauce it was bathed in. bits of the stewed meat found it's way into the dish and provided a nice toothier contrast. i don't know how to describe the sauce beyond it being beef broth based with hits of tomato and savoury richness. each plate was wiped clean with the delicious pieces of warm crispy crusted bread.
for mains i had the fresh on the menu cassoulet (duck confit, lamb sausage, crispy pork belly, and usual white beans) and my dining partner the pork shank with emmenthal. both items come nearly ready to serve in cassoulet dishes, therefore any substiutions or mixing of dishes cannot be done. arriving piping hot (everything arrived quite hot) there was a mix-up between the pork and beef cheeks in red wine sauce. it was quickly rectified but the beef cheeks smelled amazing... definitely next on my list to try. anyhow, we also got a side order of fries. they were large/handcut meaty fries with a thick outter crust. the inside was similar to a baked out mashed potato and would squish it's way out of the shell into my mouth. with it was served a tarragon mayo that had a thick consistency, perfect for the size of these fries. i personally quite enjoyed them but i'm a crisp fry kinda gal. the cassoulet was not quite what i expected, a tomato based stew rather than meat broth based it was a little overpowering and i found lacked the depth of flavour that a cassoulet should represent. the pork belly was perfectly crisp on the outside and the lamb sausage was very nice. the duck confit was crispy on the outside as well with some good melty fat. the beans were a perfect consistency and the tomato gradually grew on me. trying a bite of the pork, i found the emmenthal to be rather overpowering.. more so than usual and it made the pork a supporting role in the dish. in fact the pork was so mildly flavoured that a depth and richness was obviously missing. thin sliced potatoes lined the bottom of the dish and soaked up much of the sauce. they were still both tasty mind you, but could have gone the extra mile in flavouring.
we were stuffed at this point and only able to consume half of our mains. the exec chef/owner (i'm making assumptions here) noticed and came over to us specifically twice to ensure that we were happy with our meals, we explained we just could simply not eat any more and had them packaged up to let the flavours meld even longer in our fridge.
as we were discussing dessert, opted out simply because i was reaching the point of painfully full... the server/hostess who assisted us with our wine choice (which was working quite beautifully for us at this point) came to the table to tell me that i was quite right about the wine being a bit odd... turns out it was a bit off from her own opinion and what we were drinking was more representative of the bottle. i appreciated the news.
not at all rushed with the bill, we spent about 2 hours in the restaurant enjoying ourselves and watching it fill up quickly. i can't recall pricing for the apps, but it'd be safe to place them around $8 or so. les faims were $16 but came with nothing else additional so the plate of frites were about $6. my cassoulet was $24 and desserts were $6.50.
delightful and tasty, definitely a toronto gem. i know the recent comparison between la palette and batifole has come up.. i wouldn't treat them the same in a heartbeat. french but different focuses in the kitchen, atmosphere, service style... i'd go to each for very different reasons.
Ooops, forgot to mention the wine. Hubby had a glass of the cabernet sauvignon which he found to be very palatable. I had the sauvignon blanc, which was very nice and smooth. But when I asked for another glass, it was chardonnay so next time, I'll make sure to specify what exact type of wine I was drinking. I drank the chardonnay, anyway ;-)
The bill, with tax and tip came to $96. Well worth it, I think.
Hubby and I finally made it to Batifole last night. When we arrived, there were just a few tables occupied and by the time we left, it was a full house and the noise was really quite loud.
Since we were there for Leslielicious, we both ordered the table d'hote.
For starters, I had the lobster bisque, which was really delightful. The aioli mixed in with it added a nice richness. Hubby had the escargot, and I have to say it was the best escargot dish I've eaten in Toronto! Plump, cooked perfectly, and not a trace of grit. The "secret sauce" with it was divine, IMO!
For mains, I order the dory filet and was just swooning about the yummy goodness! The fish was cooked to just right, and the fennel and tomatoes went perfectly together. However, hubby's cornish hen was a big disappointment. (Poultry is his thing, so he's very fussy when it comes to that.) He did eat the whole dish though. He just thought it was a little dry and overcooked. The salad and frites that came with the meals were very nice. I liked the arugula and julienned endive very much, the dressing was pleasant. And the fries...let's just say I couldn't stop nibbling on them! The tarragon mayo was good. Not great, but good.
For dessert, my creme brulee was terrible! Way too eggy and creamy (I like my creme brulee just a touch firm) and the sugar was burnt just a bit too long. Hubby was surprised when I didn't even eat half of it, but after a taste, he agreed that it was too eggy. But his mousse au chocolat was very good.
Overall, it was a very pleasant experience with friendly, helpful servers. BUT. We both agreed that dining at Bibiche Bistro was much better (and tastier).
Just came back from Batifole. Four of us had the Leslielicious menu, trying all items out. We all were totally happy with our meal.
Went right at 6:00 PM and got served promptly. Place was full by 7:00 and stayed that way.
One couple had never been before and were knocked out at the value for $25. My wife and I had been many times before and were happy to get the same quality food at a bargain price.
It's a great place, no doubt about it.