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Delectable and charming, Galo grills up Portugal on a platter

Barbara Moser

October, 2009

As many of you know, Irwin and I love to eat… out, especially when the dining establishment reminds us of our trips abroad. So we jumped on the chance to review Restaurant Galo in Town of Mount Royal, not exactly our stomping ground but as we discovered, well worth the taxi ride.

This family-run Portuguese Grill serves up, among other delicacies, grilled sardines, which are few and far between in Montreal. Fresh ones are a staple for me when I travel abroad so it didn’t take me long to decide what I’d order once we walked through the charming white exterior with its bay window into the equally charming interior that holds no more than 12 tables covered in white tablecloths. Our server is the sister of co-owner, Tanya Santos. Tanya explained that her partner Martine Meunier holds the fort in the daytime and she and her mother and sisters work the evening shift. The restaurant quickly filled up on this Thursday evening.

Alexandra was quick to offer us the specialty of the house, which comes either as an appetizer ($7.50) or a main course with home fries or rice and salad ($12.50). They are called Rissois in Portuguese. These are half moon croquettes filled with either cod or shrimp. Both were crispy on the outside. The shrimp variety were larger and stuffed with Bechamel giving them a creamy texture. The cod croquettes were my favorite of the two, with more of a spicy bread crumb consistency. Alexandra told us that her grandmother, Analia Lopes, makes the Rissois. We highly recommend her cooking.

Our salads arrived in glass bowls, very elegant, with tomato slices atop frizzy lettuce, cukes, and a slice of red pepper, drizzled with a light dressing of white wine vinegar and oil. I liked the idea that the salad was its own course, not a side on the plate with the main course.

The mains come with home-made fries or rice and salad but you can substitute grilled veggies for the carbs for $2. I chose Sardines ($14) and Irwin chose the Mixed Meat Grill ($17 for one, $27 for two) both with Grilled Veggies, which was actually an original, a grilled tomato filled to the brim with chopped zucchini, onions, and peppers, topped with a generous slice of Portugese goat cheese. Irwin ordered a glass of what Alexandra described as full-bodied Portuguese red wine ($6.50). While we were waiting for our main courses, we enjoyed the bright, friendly atmosphere with a mix of customers, lots of bubbly conversation and the joyous and lively Portuguese dance music.

Just before our mains were served, Albert and Susan Weiner approached us and asked if it was our first time at Galos. They have been neighbourhood regulars since Galo opened two years ago, September 10, 2006 to be exact, says Albert. Susan loves the chicken and fries. Albert loves the sardines and so did I. There were four big ones, about 8 inches long and quite succulent, grilled and marinated, then basted with the special house sauce, which, we were told by Tanya, includes as one of its ingredients the hot sauce that is on every table. Don’t use this stuff like ketchup though. Take it easy.

Irwin’s plate of mixed grilled meats included two pieces of chicken. a large sausage called chorizo, and a piece of pork filet, all marinated and brushed with two sauces, and all of which Irwin pronounced “delectable.”

The grilled tomatoes were a surprise. They were huge and tasty complementing the fish and meat perfectly. We cheated and ordered an extra plate of the home fries ($2) not wanting to miss out. We both thought they were “dangerously exquisite” – Irwin’s words, but I agree fully. And full I was, even before we were talked into trying the home-made desserts: a chocolate mousse, not too rich or gooey, and homemade cream “beaten by us (the family)” layered on tea biscuits dipped in espresso, and topped with strawberry garnish. The cream was sinfully rich.

Our lattes were perfect, with a light and creamy foam. What better way to end our first experience at Galo, which obviously will not be our last. So friends, if you have a car and can pick us up here in NDG, we’re ready to introduce you to Portugal in TMR.

Galo Portuguese Grill, 1970 Graham, corner Kindersley. Reservations: 514-504-5110.

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