earching for a really great restaurant to review, I receive an email from my credit card company announcing “fine dining” in Montreal earning me bonus Aeroplan points. The timing is just right, it is a day full of thunderstorms, but during a break between acts 2 and 3, I leave the office at 4:00 and walk downtown to find this hidden gem of fine dining.
Galiano’s is an Italian restaurant located half a block from rue Saint-Paul. Their website says the original space is over 200 years old and that they’ve been the tenants for over 8 years. Inside, it has a nice feeling, with wooden floors and barn-wooden walls pained pale yellow, iron light fixtures and exposed beams across the ceiling.
At 4 in the afternoon, I can assure you that I get undivided attention from the waitress. I sit outside under the canopy where I can see what's going on. After 20 minutes, two men in ties pull up plastic chairs nearby and order calamari. We're the only people on the patio this afternoon.
I start with a glass of cabernet sauvignon from Chile that is pretty great, and the waitress brings me a bowl of bread. I’m still reading the menu but have to stop to try this interesting concoction. The bread is covered in an oil and garlic combo with fresh rosemary that is quite outstanding even though the bread is cold and a bit stale.
The menu has a wide range of Italian dishes from pasta to veal, salads, and pizza. There’s Veal Scaloppine alla Marsala (with mushrooms and shallots) for $20, hot Italian sausage pizza for $16 and the most expensive item on the menu is a seafood pasta with shrimp, mussels, scallops, scampi and fillet of sole for $32.
My dinner was $16.85 and included salad, pasta and dessert. The salad was a tossed in a vinegar/garlic sauce with fresh thyme, and again is quite outstanding, nothing shy about these flavours. My pasta is penne with chicken, green and yellow zucchini, in a sambuca rose sauce with feta cheese. The waitress grates me some fresh parmesan.
chicken and penne with feta and sambuca rose sauce
I look at my dinner, look at the view, and sigh. This is what restaurant reviewing is supposed to be like all the time! Fresh air after a rain storm, room temperature red wine, cobblestone streets and tourists everywhere (some are menu shopping; I want to reach up, touch their arm and say, “What are you looking for? Hot fresh food served with thought? Eat here.”)
My pasta is sweet and creamy with a lot of not-too-salty feta and noodles that are properly cooked. The portion size is too large for this girl, so I do my best to eat half of it. The chicken is the only slight downfall as it’s overcooked and is too perfectly cut up so it feels prefabricated. On the other hand, the blend of red onion, cream and sambuca is surprisingly wonderful and the meal is not lessened by the sub-par chicken.
view from the outdoor patio
When you go to Galiano's, I would recommend the outside tables if the weather cooperates. The view is that eclectic mix that makes Old Montreal so fabulous: ice cream boutique straight ahead, souvenir store selling rude t-shirts (“Make yourself useful and wipe my butt”), a fancy Auberge with people dragging suitcases down the pedestrian-only street. The buildings are stone faced, the upstairs lofts not yet renovated as evidenced by paint peeling from window frames and boxes piled up against the windows. This Girl From Vancouver orders a second glass of wine, leans back, and enjoys the view, feeling lucky for an email from Aeroplan. -- Reviewed by Shelley MacDonald