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Balos:

Get Her to the Greek

RESTAURANT GREEK WESTMOUNT UPSCALE $60+

The Pitch

Westmount has often been a tough market to crack for higher-end restaurants.  While longtimers such as Taverne sur le Square, Vago and PARK have secured a dependable clientele thanks to their reputation and excellence, others failed to attract the moneyed neighborhood over a prolonged period.

Central Brasserie, Lea, Parm, Kavos and Brasserie Lucille's only lasted a couple of years despite putting forth seriously-solid food.  A more recent entrant is Balos, a Greek restaurant occupying a Sainte-Catherine Street corner, which is nearing the two-year mark.  After a pleasing first dinner here last month, my wife and I decided to return with our kids to celebrate Mother's Day.

tagged:  SUNDAY NIGHT

The Mood

Mood image

A habitually-busy spot, tonight was no exception.  Even the street-side patio in front was nearly packed despite the cool evening weather.  We were quite lucky to nab a table, given we only decided to go out that same morning and called in at the 11th hour it took a little bit of convincing but we were accommodated.

Mood image

Inside, large family gatherings of all ages filled the elegant space, which is highlighted by exposed brick walls and mosaic tiling.  Navy blue accents are sprinkled throughout to add a Mediterranean touch.  Patrons are predominantly Anglophone and well dressed, which comes as no surprise for Westmount.

tagged:  ANGLO CROWD BRING THE KIDS SPECIAL OCCASION

The Food

Food Image

Named after one of Crete's most iconic beaches, Balos pushes forth a menu covering everyone's favourite Hellenic dishes.  From bright salads and mezes to grilled surf and turf paired with Greek and European wines (many available by the glass), the bountiful menu is hard to pick from.

Prices can be viewed as steep $20+ for starters, $40+ for mains but considering the generous portion sizes and going inflation rate, I believe those are acceptable.  Our starters marveled, beginning with a bright Greek salad and giant white beans in a zesty tomato sauce, and ending with the best calamari I have had in a while.

We also had a pile of fried veggie eggplant and zucchini chips, but those were standard grade.  Main dishes follow a simple flavor profile consisting of lemon and oil, but that's all you really need when the main ingredient shrimp, scallop, chicken is tender and grilled to perfection.

If I were to nitpick, I would argue that the banal plate presentations and basic side vegetables do not match the restaurant's refinement.  Finally, for dessert, our loukoumades were commonplace and satisfying, while a baklava cheesecake was creative and splendid.

Horiatiki thumbnail (click to enlarge)

$20

$20

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Horiatiki

Balos Vegetable Chips thumbnail (click to enlarge)

$20

$20

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Balos Vegetable Chips

Gigantes thumbnail (click to enlarge)

$14

$14

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Gigantes

Fried Calamari Rings thumbnail (click to enlarge)

$29

$29

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Fried Calamari Rings

Grilled Shrimp thumbnail (click to enlarge)

$46

$46

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Grilled Shrimp

Seafood Linguine thumbnail (click to enlarge)

$48

$48

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Seafood Linguine

Grilled Chicken Fillets thumbnail (click to enlarge)

$34

$34

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Grilled Chicken Fillets

Loukoumades thumbnail (click to enlarge)
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Loukoumades

Baklava Cheesecake thumbnail (click to enlarge)
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Baklava Cheesecake

tagged:  LOOSEN YOUR BELT WALLET-BUSTER

The Service

For our second go here, we were served by the same waitress again.  We knew we were in for a treat, as we really appreciated her the first time around.  Her caring, motherly nature combined with the flowers we were offered fit perfectly with Mother's Day.  Pacing was done right with our starters arriving fast good when you're hungry while mains and desserts left some breathing room in between.

The Verdict

A word for "on top of the sea" in ancient Greek, Balos sure measures up to its name.  Granted a couple of dishes could use some polishing up and a finishing touch, but the overall experience is excellent.  From the posh background and classy vibe to the authentic Mediterranean food and convivial service, every mother in the house tonight must be more than pleased with the choice of restaurant.

Hopefully this upscale Westmount estiatorio reverses the trend and sticks around for years to come.

tagged:  SOLID

Price per person:  $63.42

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514eats

Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink.  We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.

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