Kitchen Galerie versus Restaurant Laloux
I will be in Montreal over the Easter Weekend and have a finite number of dining opportunities. For my last blowout meal I am dithering between Kitchen Galerie and Laloux. The lamb tartare at Laloux sounds TO DIE FOR and since Galerie posts not even a sample menu online, it's hard to compare. Any thoughts as to which I should pick? Or, given that "odd" tartares are my thing (whether meat or fish), is there somewhere else entirely that I should consider? My travelling companion/partner in crime and I will already be hitting up APDC and L'Express since she has not been to Montreal before so I will have fair opportunity for raw goodies but more (and different kinds) is always better :)
Also: Side note, where are good spots for lunch that are open on Saturday? After a lot of searching I came up with Kitchenette only to see that they only serve lunch during the week. Sad. Should I just go to Schwartz's or something?
I like both places but can't fathom how KG wins hands down. That's like comparing apples and oranges -- or, more to the point, a tasty vin de pays and a racy Burgundy.
KG's a neighbourhood bistro in both vibe and menu. The cooking's spur of the moment and the style tends to rustic. The food's well turned out but not particularly original (especially the desserts) and sometimes a little heavy. The best that can be said about the wine list is that it's short and serviceable. The clientele is largely 20- and 30-somethings. The relatively low-ceilinged room is dominated by the open kitchen; the overall effect is warm and bustling.
Laloux may style itself as a bistro de luxe but it's really a semi-upscale restaurant in one of the city's great spaces -- high-ceilinged, spacious and, due to the mirrors, windows and lighting, airy and bright. Table settings are fancier (tablecloths, fine china, etc.). The wine list is much longer and full of private imports from "natural" producers that make the heart of many an oenophile beat a little faster. The patrons tend to be better heeled and, as a group, older. The cooking is more considered and better balanced, the ingredients often more expensive or recherché, the presentation far more elegant. (I'm basing this on recent reports and on the one meal I've had to date from the new chef, though that meal wasn't exactly typicial, since it was designed and executed with the assitance of his former mentor, Racha Bassoul of the late, lamented Anise). The desserts -- made by a pastry chef Michelle Marek -- are imaginative and often delightful.
Since your other two meals will be at bistros, in your shoes I'd probably opt for Laloux. But, really, it depends on what you're in the mood for.
For lunch, if the smoked meat thing appeals, you won't do better than Schwartz's. If it doesn't, consider Le Petit Alep (which you can combine with a tour of the Jean Talon Market) or Kaza Maza on Parc Ave. (which you can combine with a visit to Cocoa Locale). While Montreal's reputation is built on French food, some of the Middle Eastern cooking here is world-class, and these are two of the best places.
Downtown, the Concordia University ghetto -- aka Chinatown 2 -- is full of great and affordable lunch spots. There are lots of threads that discuss the overall neighbourhood and individual restaurants (Qing Hua, Antep Kabab, Cuisine Szechuan, Kazu, Maison du Nord, Tapioca Thé, Roi du Won-ton, Avesta, etc., etc.). Just poke around the thread listing or use the search engine.