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La Palette - Suited for special occasion?

Heard mixed reviews, but generally good.

My question is, we will be in semi-formal attire, will we be over-dressed for this quaint little restaurant?

I'm welcome to other suggestions as well. Wanted to do Celestin and Auberge du Pommier initially, but she kill me for spending that much!...not to mention the portions seem really small (she's a tiny gal, but man can she pack it in! <3 lol). So mid-range, value, atmosphere and French is what I'm looking for (Yes, I know it's a lot to ask for).

To save her sanity, I'm looking at $150 ish.

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  1. La Palette isn't a fancy place, and most patrons when I've dined there are in jeans. I suppose it depends on your own comfort level with dressing up/down.

    How about Niagara Street Cafe? I've been a couple of times, it's definitely more refined in its setting, the food is local and delicious. I wouldn't feel out of place in a dress. Otherwise, Nota Bene might actually fit the bill well - I'm fairly certain you can dine well for that amount of money (although not with much / any alcohol). Cheers!

    Niagara Street Cafe
    169 Niagara St, Toronto, ON M5V1C9, CA

    La Palette
    256 Augusta Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2L9, CA

    Nota Bene
    180 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5V 2A1, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: Yum2MyTum

      If La Palette's atmosphere is close to..say Weezie's, I think we can get away with suit/ cocktail dress.

      I heard good things about Niagara Street Cafe and I've been to Nota Bene a few times (I know it gets tons of raves on Chow) but other then the Crisp Duck Salad (yum!) the rest of the menu and atmosphere never did much for me.

      Also, I guess I should be more specific when I say "French". I'm looking for a place with a Fench menu because my s/o's a French teacher and it would make it more fun for her/us to school me on pronounciations.

      Other options I looked at is Amuse bouche and Le Select, though reviews here are not favourable..agree?


      1. re: eclone

        I've worn a dress to La Palette and felt perfectly comfortable. I think it depends on your temperament, and your standard of semi-formality. Personally, for a special occasion, I'm fairly oblivious to anyone aside from my companion, and dress up if I want to dress up because darn it, it's a special day for me. I could care less if everyone else in the room is in jeans - nothing about the space demands that. It's a cozy, fun little place...not the neighborhood dive bar. :) However, I can only speak for myself - my attitude may not reflect that of your sweetie. :)

    2. I like la Palette, but it is way less casual than semi-formal. I think it is cozy romantic in a hole-in-the-wall type of way.

      A French menu in your price range? try Tati on Harbord or le Select. How about Bifs? Anyone been recently?

      Don't let anyone talk you into Papillon or Batifole (used to be good).

      1. I really love La Palette -- the atmosphere is great and the food is good. You will be fine in semi-formal attire.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Arcadiaseeker

          True that. Nothing wrong with lookin' sharp!

        2. La Palette's pretty cozy and candle lit. If you're used to eating w/ a jacket on and not dipping your sleeves in your food, or dropping things on your tie, you'll be fine. Le Select is bigger w/ more elbow room and brighter lit. People seem to dress up a bit more since it's easier to see and be seen. In summary:

          La Palette: loosen the tie and unbotton the top button.
          Le Select: button up and straighten your tie.

          1. i haven't been for a couple years, so forgive me if i'm wrong and they've renovated or changed things.... but do they not have checked oil cloth tablecloths and a mismatched selection of chairs? this to me should indicate it's level of casualness....

            that aside, in the past it has been quite dark and candle lit as well as very cozy and condusive to a nice date out. i agree with what wahooty said though, that if you're out on a special night the rest often doesn't matter and if it does, well you just have to be confidently comfortable and it won't ever matter.

            also, if either of you are into beer, i recall they have an impressive list of non-local options.

            3 Replies
            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              La P:

              Mismatched chairs and rickety tables, YES. Extremely close quarters, YES. Waiting area for 'flexibly" honoured res times ? NO Smooth service ? NO Occasionally snooty service ? YES Inexpensive ? NO Small portions for cost and atmosphere ? YES Do I go any more ? NO !

              1. re: Bigtigger

                Unfortunately, I'm on tigger's team. I used to really like La Palette but some ruinous service issues soured me. Granted it's been a while and there had been some very nice meals before the fall. It really is a sweet spot and perhaps they've cleaned up their act??

                Also, as previously mentioned, it is not inexpensive. But this is in part because they offer some unusual meats which ratchet up pricing (well prepared, to my experience, and worth it on that count, but not budget-friendly).

                As for the dressing-up... La Palette is casual, but in that kind of boho way where if you breezed in wearing a tux and you're owning it then nobody's going to bat an eye. But if you're self-conscious, well, you are probably going to be the only ones dressed to the nines.

                I do like Le Select. A lot. But I only like it at the bar. It loses all atmosphere for me seated at a table.

                1. re: Rabbit

                  Hi Rabbit, I like the bar at Le Select as well - but I also like the booths. Mainly I love the idea of not being seated across from your dining partner, if you're out for romance.

                  I would feel much more comfortable dressed up at Weezie's than I would at La Palette. Also like the food more at Weezie's and the service too!

            2. i like La Palette; but, i think of it as casual. how about Le Select?

              1. I recommend Loire on Harbord. Elegant room, great food.

                4 Replies
                1. re: jenCH

                  Thanks for all your suggestions and inputs. I think I will just save La Palette for a regular dinner because I do want it to be special but I definitely want to try their quack and track and check out their beer list one day!

                  I really do want to give Le Select a chance, but the reviews of inconsistency and bad services is scaring me away. Maybe save it for a summer brunch on the patio..

                  I'm probably just going to scrap the whole French thing because there aren't many options where there's 1. French menu 2. reasonably priced 3. decent/filling portions.

                  So I'm just going to go with plan B. Globe...great food, good price, and private/romantic. Can't go wrong =D

                  Thanks again everyone!

                  1. re: eclone

                    Oooh, if the original choice had been La Palette or Globe I definitely would have chosen Globe. Great spot!

                    1. re: eclone

                      Globe is definitely a nice place to go and would be my top pick of all mentioned so far.

                      124 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON M4K1N1, CA

                      1. re: eclone

                        You might also consider adding Batifole to your "regular dinner" list...the food has been getting spotty reviews lately, but when I was there a year ago, we were extremely well taken care of once my companion started speaking to the waiter in French. :)

                    2. Looks like we will be doing Le Select after all...I showed her the website because we're trying to pick a place for xmas dinner with our friends and her eyes lit up like a xmas tree and started busting out the French lol Let's hope for good service and experience.

                      For our friends, they chose Nota Bene since they can accomodate large groups and more acceptable to being loud. Crisp Duck Salad, we meet again =P

                      Thanks again all and apologies for being all over the place..

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: eclone

                        Hi eclone. I hope you enjoy Le Select. I was there recently and really enjoyed the booth setting (uber romantic!) and the leg of lamb. Delicious. The bouillabaisse wasn't to my taste, as the soup base was very thick and _very_ herby, (I like mine thin, closer to a consomee, and light). Also tried the escargot and terrine - both very serviceable.

                        1. re: Yum2MyTum

                          I've always loved the steak frites there. If you go on Thursdays they do sweetbreads (très francais!) well.

                          1. re: Sui_Mai

                            be aware that the sweetbreads come in the exact same sauce as the cock's combs... and it is a very intense sauce. if you don't like, well obviously this will be a bad combination meal to have.

                            1. re: pinstripeprincess

                              we were once able to order the sauce on the side. I am not sure they do that anymore.