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La Palette vs Batifole?

a
AmandaTO Oct 16, 2006 08:48 PM

Hi... I'm going out for a Bday dinner and want a delicious French food experience in a cozy atmosphere. Friends have suggested La Palette or Batifole. Anyone have a preference? I like great food, reasonable prices, and a relaxed setting.

  1. Vise Oct 16, 2006 09:38 PM

    Batifole has the great food and reasonable prices... the setting is pretty relaxed but can be a bit on the loud side. Haven't been to La Palette but heard good things. You might want to consider Le Paradis as well?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Vise
      p
      pimentdespelette Oct 17, 2006 03:43 PM

      You can hardly compare Batifole and Le Paradis. Le P is classic (read: boring, uninspired, good-enough-but-why'd-anybody-bother) bistro fare.

    2. f
      francelonian Oct 16, 2006 10:30 PM

      I went to La Palette years ago and loved it. A friend who went recently was quite ambivalent. So, basically, I have nothing to add. :)

      1. a
        Atahualpa Oct 16, 2006 11:34 PM

        I'm going to say Batifole all the way. But, I haven't been to La Palette in ages (although, one could argue that's because I've been quite satisfied with Batifole).

        1. b
          Bigtigger Oct 17, 2006 02:52 AM

          Batifole is more sophisticated, more comfortable, more welcoming and a better value than La Palette. At Batifole, every appetizer is priced at $8, every dessert at $6 and every main - except steak frites ($28) is $18. And the portions are generous. The home-made bread is served warm. The dining room offers well spaced tables and subdued decor. Service is pleasant, the chef himself often bringing out a course or two and happy to engage in chat. La P, one has the impression, has become a victim of its own success. The prices have skyrocketed while the portions (notably, one tiny slice of foie gras for a king's ransom) are small to average. The tiny dining room is full of rickety tables and chairs, and one is placed jeek to jowl to the next table. Service can be indifferent or slow - seems disorganized at times. Both restaurants offer an eclectic choice of wines, with Batifole having a list of seldom seen Southern French wines. La P still offers good to very good food - but I'd say that for the overall experience, Batifole is where it's at.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Bigtigger
            t
            TwinklyTerrapin Oct 17, 2006 05:16 PM

            I'd say sort of the same things about both restaurants that Bigtigger said, but put a different marketing spin on it. I really enjoy them both for food, but Batifole is a more subdued, grown-up experience, a beige room that is rather loud when it's full (and Bigtigger must be skinnier than I am, 'cause I find getting between the tables to be a tight squeeze) and the servers look a bit stressed on a busy night, like a Friday will be, but the food is excellent(the skate..mmm), and for me, it's a short stagger home. Can't beat that.

            La Pallete, is a lot more laid back and funky, with fun, sassy servers who seem to like the buzz of a busy night. The food is also excellent, and I thought it was very cool that, when my honey was dithering about which glass of wine to have with a course, the server gave him a little of each of the choices, so he could choose the one he liked best -- I've never had that happen before.

            So, I guess the atmosphere you're looking for depends on which birthday this is, and how grown up you're feeling ;-)

            1. re: TwinklyTerrapin
              pinstripeprincess Oct 17, 2006 08:38 PM

              la palette also has an interesting beer menu with a few things you won't see at most restaurants. think belgians...

              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                t
                TwinklyTerrapin Oct 18, 2006 07:13 PM

                Ohhh -- they DO have some awesome beers, and trying more of them was something I didn't get done this summer. My honey and I had planned to plant ourselves on the patio and take a world tour of the beers...and then take a cab home ;-)Ah well, I suppose we could do that inside and there's always next summer...

              2. re: TwinklyTerrapin
                a
                Aardvark Oct 19, 2006 01:31 PM

                I haven't been to La Palette but I must admit I chuckled about Bigtigger's description of Batifole. I couldn't imagine the tables being any closer than they are at Batifole. I found Batifole loud and somewhat intrusive (close tables) and certainly not a sophisticated looking space. I did however enjoy the food (the escargot is superb).

                1. re: Aardvark
                  b
                  Bigtigger Oct 19, 2006 05:10 PM

                  Aardvark, the tables at Batifole sure FEEL much more apart than the jammed in scene at La Palette. Batifole is a taller, somewhat brighter room, and the tables aren't rickety, so these may overcome some of the physical limitations. I think most people would feel that Batifole offers a somewhat more sophisticated, less frenetic scene - whether that is a plus or minus depends on the sort of evening one is seeking !

            2. a
              AmandaTO Oct 17, 2006 03:47 PM

              Thanks for the feedback/advice. I'm leaning otwards Batifole but reservations for Friday night might be the deciding factor. I'll report back next week on the experience. Cheers!

              1. d
                dombort Oct 18, 2006 04:54 AM

                I have not been to Batifole, but I can highly recommend La Pallete.

                Shamez (spelling?) is a wonderful host and is more than happy to bring you samples of wine before you buy.. engage him or your server and be treated like family. Great beers. These people love their food and drinks.

                It's noisy, packed good fun. Great apps, beautifully grilled meats, superb cheese plate to finish off.. It's my 'go-to' place during the week or for a fun friday night out.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dombort
                  d
                  dombort Mar 15, 2007 10:36 PM

                  I went to Batifole for Winterlicious. This post is over a month late...sorry.

                  Very friendly and attentive service despite the hustle and bustle of a busy Friday night.
                  We had surprisingly light (but very tasty) bistro fare. A very fresh salad with endives and mixed greens. A lovely fish en Papillote (baked in a parchment paper bag) in herbs and white wine.
                  In general the dishes were properly portioned; if are hungry you should have an appetizer and main and you won't be uncomfortably full when you leave (which I take as a very good thing).

                  A very reasonably priced winelist which made up for its lack of range - I'm pretty sure we had a Marconnets 1er Cru (a nice white Burgundy ) for $65 which is a very low markup ($20 approx).

                  The decor at Batifole was modern, quite comfortabel, perhaps a bit bare, but certainly clean, pleasant and giving the air of a professional kitchen that is not fooling around.

                  La Palette has the edge on atmosphere in my mind, but right now I'd give the edge to Batifole for cuisine.

                2. a
                  AmandaTO Oct 18, 2006 09:24 PM

                  Twinkly Terrapin.. I loved the way you described La Palette so much that I cancelled my reservations at Batifole and switched to La Palette! I am really looking forward to it. And hey... I do love going out, I'm sure to hit Batifole sometime soon. Thanks!!!!

                  1. t
                    torontogirly Jan 8, 2007 08:05 PM

                    Don't bother going to La Palette. Yes, it's cute and boho but the service is DREADFUL. The co-owner/maitre d' (not sure if he's one and the same) was so rude to me and my family last Saturday evening. I know we all have our bad days, but I don't appreciate having my mom's 65th birthday ruined because guy in question is freaked out that it's so busy and he and his staff can't figure out how to get mains to the customers in under 45 minutes. He made this big scene about being rushed and needing our table, then took another 10 minutes to process the bill. Truly unbelievable. Do yourself a favour: spend your hard-earned dollars at Batifole, which is a much better choice. Better food, better service by far! And they are actually French -- ie. authentic.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: torontogirly
                      k
                      Kasia Jan 8, 2007 11:36 PM

                      do you know that shamez is not french?

                      that aside, i have waited for dinner long time at both restaurants. both are small and popular and that's the price i'm prepared to pay for that.

                    2. m
                      Minimalist Jan 9, 2007 04:27 AM

                      I have been to both restaurants (La P numerous times, Batifole once) so feel a need to add my $0.02 to this comparison.

                      Both restaurants:
                      -Serve very good quality French cuisine, although I believe Batifole focuses more on foods from the Brittany region of France (if that was indeed the Brittany flag displayed outside the restaurant).
                      -Are both busy, and sometimes quite loud. If you are looking at discussing things of a confidential nature, I would recommend not dining at either restaurant as there is a good chance you will be seated within 'listening' distance of another table. For me, this creates a bit of a 'buzz' in the air and can make for a fun/exciting night.

                      Where the restaurants differ:
                      -La P is decorated in a Bohemian style- different chairs and more of an 'artsy' feel, whereas Batifole is decorated more like you would expect a typical French bistro to be decorated. Both designs actually work quite well.
                      -La P definitely has a bit of a specialty beer menu, as well as a selection of relatively exotic meats (caribou, etc) available, whereas Batifole does seem to keep its menu confined to more 'traditional' French cuisine. This isn't a positive or negative point for either restaurant; just a contrast.
                      -Washrooms: I admit, I have a bit of a cleanliness issue, and La P's men's washroom was dingy and not very well kept. It was not particularly dirty, but certainly far from clean, and could use a modernization. Batifole's men's washroom was clean, and modern.
                      -Attitude- this is where the restaurants differed significantly. I have been at both restaurants when it was extremely busy, and in fact had to wait at Batifole for a table to come available, after having phoned ahead and told that space would come available shortly. The waitress (who I believe to be (co-)owner) of Batifole was sincerely apologetic and very nice. At La P, the waiter (who I believe to be the owner) was indeed quite 'sassy', although this was taken as rudeness by 2 members of my party.

                      In summary, they are both very good restaurants, though I would consider Batifole superior in terms of the service. From an overall perspective, the attitude/ambiance of the restaurant is probably just as important as the food itself, and I would definitely choose Batifole.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Minimalist
                        b
                        balthazar Jan 9, 2007 04:41 PM

                        Have been to both and like both, but would choose Batifole over La P for similar reasons as in Minamalist's excellent post. Again it depends on what you're looking for. Batifole is a bigger (though it can get crowded) more modern space, La P. is more intimate/bohemian/older space.

                      2. b
                        Bigtigger Jan 9, 2007 06:33 PM

                        Minimalist has nailed it - thank you !

                        1. aser Jan 10, 2007 02:16 PM

                          batifole's menu tends to have seasonal variations, whereas la palette's remains constant, with the odd special thrown in.

                          I think batifole brings more excitement to the table. Both are good restaurants though, so you should try both and see for yourself.

                          1. w
                            wordsworth Mar 16, 2007 04:04 AM

                            I found Batifole to be good, but it is certainly to most overrated and overhyped restaurant on Chowhound. $24 for a small plate of cassoulet that was most beans is hardly good value either.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: wordsworth
                              pinstripeprincess Mar 16, 2007 08:25 AM

                              i think that there are a number of excellent dishes at batifole that are very reasonably priced but the majority tend to lie within the appetizer section. the cassoulet thus far has been the most underwhelming dish with a lack of depth and a simple plus obvious tomato flavour that didn't blend with the other dried out meats.

                              escargots, tripe (stewed, so i don't know why the cassoulet didn't stand up), bread, rillettes, steak marrow, and salads were lovely.

                              1. re: wordsworth
                                m
                                musard Mar 16, 2007 09:34 AM

                                yes i do agree with you here on all points wordsworth overrated and overhyped .

                              2. a
                                A Train Mar 16, 2007 09:40 AM

                                Just to weigh in because I don't think anyone's mentioned this:

                                La Palette is far too inconsistent for its current price point. Have had their steak frites several times now (mostly because my SO works nearby and is a fan) and it's anyone's guess what will arrive at the table: How much steak will be on the plate? Will it be topped with shallot butter this time? Will I be getting mayo with my fries? If so, will it be lemony and smooth or a scoop of chilly Hellmans?

                                Come ON! You can't raise prices and be too cool for school at the same time. And yeah: fix those damn tables!

                                1. b
                                  Bigtigger Mar 16, 2007 04:02 PM

                                  A Train, you are 100% right on !!!

                                  1. c
                                    cream Mar 18, 2007 12:23 PM

                                    My hubby and I love Batifole. We have been to La Palette a couple of times and for us there is no comparison. We went last weekend to Batifole. We had reservations, but our table was not ready. They seated us with complimentary drinks and many apologies while our table was prepared. For the price and consistency of the food you cannot go wrong! We had already chosen what we wanted to eat while we waited, but the appetizer special of house smoked trout with French lentils sounded so good we ended up sharing it on top of our previous selections. The wine list is a great deal and with very little mark up. The service sets it apart from La Palette. No choice in my book, Batifole wins!

                                    1. Finnegan Mar 19, 2007 11:54 AM

                                      Batifole is the place to go if you want a middle of the road dining experience. A place to sit and eat decent food at a decent price. For me La P. is more of a dining experience. It has charm and character. The owner can be funny and "sassy". Last time I was there he pulled up a chair and discussed the menu at our table. When deciding the wine, they poured us sips from several bottles. Like Batifole, the food is very good, but it's the ambience that tips the balance in favour of La. Palette.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Finnegan
                                        b
                                        bluesbreaker1969 Mar 20, 2007 10:50 AM

                                        They're both overrated. Quite simply, I've had more reasonably priced, and equally tasty, 'french' food at Merlot in Royal York/Bloor.

                                      2. a
                                        arugula Apr 18, 2008 06:04 PM

                                        These are two of the coziest restaurants in Toronto, but I have reservations about both. La Palette is hands down adorable, and much of the food is very well prepared, but there are a few clunkers. They had a great wine menu, which has mostly disappeared. The owners will steer you to the real winners on the menu (not the vegetarian option), and these are great values. Skip the brunch and anything that looks safe and dull. But do go. It's bohemian and fun, and not a bad deal for the money.

                                        I like the food at Batifole more, but have had a few bad experiences. I had to return a badly spoiled skate cooked in rancid butter. But the chef apologized to me in person (it really was that bad) and brought me another serving, which was great and bought me a fascinating apple drink I never would have ordered. It's very traditional, and cozy in a different way from La Palette. The vegetables are a terrible deal, but still, yummy. It's warm, welcoming and attractive and has a few really stellar dishes. I go for the stellar dishes and the atmosphere.

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