Imagine if all the best restaurants around Halifax and Nova Scotia got together in one place, made a crap load of food, and served the best of the best in spirits. Oh wait, it happens every year at Savour Food & Wine Show where I …
Tag: Halifax Travel
I am a sucker for good mood lighting at a restaurant.
I love romantically lit bistros, cozy and dark hole-in-the-walls, and bustling trendy hotspots with that perfect balance of sexy shadow and light. I am always excited when I walk into a restaurant and see a room lit with eclectic fixtures and a lighting scheme that sets the mood for an evening of good food and great wine.
I felt this very excitement when I first walked into Agricola Street Brasserie last week. I had been meaning to eat there since it opened in late fall (shameful really, considering it is located just around the corner from our place), and I was delighted to see a bustling, perfectly lit restaurant when I walked through the beautiful wooden doors.
**I will preface this review with an apology concerning the quality of the photos: Because of said lovely mood lighting, my poor little iPhone had to work hard to get the grainy pics that are presented in the post. (They don’t do the delicious food justice, you should go see for yourself!)**
Adam and I were seated by a friendly server at what seemed like the last open table in the restaurant; a wave of relief washed over me as I patted myself on the back for making a reservation! Even though it was a Thursday night the place was bopping!
The decor of the restaurant is harmoniously trendy: the classic brick walls mix with eclectic and varied light fixtures, and the intricate shelving behind the bar is just stunning. A brilliantly lit backdrop to dozens of coloured bottles, the bar is the centrepiece of the room and showcases the uber-high ceilings of this North End restaurant. It is electric, bustling with people, and I feel like I am being transported to a far off big city.
We ordered drinks (Champagne for me, Propeller IPA for Adam), and immediately decided to start the evening off with oysters. The Nova Scotia oysters were delicious, and at only 2 bucks a shuck, a steal of a deal at a restaurant of this caliber.
The oysters were served with a mignonette and a spicier sauce that complimented each other perfectly. The sauces were delicious, but to be honest, the oysters were so fresh, they barely needed anything at all other than a squeeze of lemon.
We were then served bread and the most deliciously salty whipped butter. It came out in a super cute little jar along with the warm white bread. I love the small touches like the jar, it really sets the tone of a new restaurant; it’s all in the details.
For the appetizers, Adam chose the Classic Beef Tartare. Nestled atop the generous portion was an egg-yolk in a half-shell that was to be poured over the tartare. Oh man it was good! The mustard spread complimented the flavourful tartare perfectly and the toasted bread was the ideal, if not obvious, vessel for a classic dish.
Originally, I had planned to go off the grid and not order the Foie Gras. I swear I wasn’t going to order it. In the name of a new year and in an attempt to expand my horizons, I triumphantly ordered the Goat Cheese Tarte with Field Greens and Smoked Lardons, but alas, they were sold out!
Instead, I went with the dish I always order when I see it on a menu, foie gras. The Foie Gras Terrine with Chutney and Gingerbread was delectable. When the two huge slabs of foie were laid before me, it took all my ladylikeness not to drool on the table. It was served with another cute jar, this time filled with a delicious fruit chutney, and a crispy piece of gingerbread. Turns out, gingerbread and foie gras go swimmingly together, who would have thunk? I was in heaven.
After a refill on drinks, we were on to the mains. Both were served in these huge heavy bowls made of beautiful handmade pottery that presented a rustic ere to the dishes. Another great detail.
Adam had the Lamb Shank with Curried Cauliflower, Yogurt, and Cilantro. The flavours were amazing! The shank was cooked perfectly, but the flavour of the curried cauliflower is what really made the dish pop. It was so freaking good, I instantly got plate envy. The mint yogurt, which was served in a little jug that you poured over the meal was also delicious, and made this dish the star of the evening.
I was less impressed with my main. I chose the Duck Confit Cassoulet with Pork Belly and Sausage. It sounded amazing, and I couldn’t wait to dig in when the server presented me with the steaming dish. However, it wasn’t very flavourful. While the duck leg was prepared impeccably (the meat was falling right off the bone) and I loved the small salad that was served on top of the meal, it just didn’t have that umpf that I was expecting.
For dessert, Adam and I decided to go easy and we ordered the Truffles and Macarons. They were simple, sweet, and the perfect ending to a delicious meal.
Overall, I really liked the interactive nature of the dishes; the act of pouring the egg yolk over the tartare and the yogurt over the lamb is sensuous, exciting, and adds to the overall experience of the meal. I loved the presentation of all the dishes, and though I was less than impressed about the flavours of my main, I would recommend this restaurant to anyone. It is a great place for date night, a meal with friends, and especially a place to bring those out-of-towners if you want to show them what the North End is all about! This restaurant represents all that is new and exciting in North End Halifax and I suggest, no demand, that you Explore. Eat. Repeat. your way up to Agricola Street Brasserie in the very near future.
How about right now?
THINGS WORTH MENTIONING…
Cost: For all that delicious food and numerous alcoholic beverages the total was $125 before tip. Mains range from $14-36 at dinner so there is something delicious for every budget here!
Things I liked: The lighting (duh), the service, the atmosphere, and the awesome open kitchen that you can’t help but stare at on your way to the bathroom:
Things I didn’t: The undercooked beans in my cassoulet and the semi-flat Champagne.
Best Place to Sit: Anywhere really, but especially along one of the banquets; they are leathery, so comfy, and feel like they have been around for 50 years.
What To Order Next Time: The Goat Cheese Tarte that I missed out on, and BRUNCH. They serve it until 4pm on weekends, crazy awesome!
I finally had dinner at 2 Doors Down! For months, I have been peering longingly into the windows of the Barrington Street location two doors down (get it?) from its older sibling Chives and drooling over the menu online. So, when my dear friend and former classmate …
Mother’s Pizza has been open for just over a week now but I have been itching to go there for ages. Located on the corner of Agricola and Young, I impatiently watched this building develop from the ground up, wondering what the structure would be. Finally, once the lovely black and white tile went up, I just knew it was going to be a restaurant. After doing a little research, I found out that the restaurant was going to be Mother’s Pizza, the second location of the pizza joint, the first of which is located in Turks and Caicos! Owner Tyson Wachter opened the doors to Mother’s in Halifax last Friday evening to an eager crowd of hungry Haligonians.
With great anticipation, Adam and I finally got the opportunity to try Mother’s Pizza last night. Even though it was 8pm on Sunday evening, the 40 seat restaurant was full, and we had to wait about 20 minutes or so for a table. I didn’t mind much because I got to soak in the decor and notice some of the awesome nic nacs I probably wouldn’t have seen had I been concentrating what to order. From the friendly green gnomes and mason jar planters on the tables to the locally made wooden furniture, the aesthetic of Mother’s is fresh and cool. A lot of the antique looking lighting and building materials are refurbished: the big chandelier in the centre of the room is made of giant pizza whisks!
Once we were seated by our very friendly server, we ordered drinks. I was disappointed to learn that Mothers Brew, the ale brewed for the restaurant by Garrison, was all gone, so I ordered a pint of Bridge Brewery Summer Ale. It was my first time trying Bridge Brewery beer and I don’t know why I waited so long; it was yummy. Super wheaty and fresh, I’m sad I only tried the summer brew in September!
Adam ordered a Garrison Cannonball Root Beer, and we waited for our food to arrive.
It didn’t take too long for our salad to appear. We ordered a Spinach Salad to share as an appetizer and the flavours were delicious. The baby spinach was covered in a maple dijon vinaigrette and tossed with blueberry, pear, crushed walnuts and feta cheese. My favourite component was the pickled onions; the pinky hued veggie added a great punch to the salad. I was impressed, it’s hard to make me this excited about a salad.
We finished the salad in like 5 seconds, and then waited what seemed like an eternity for our pizza to arrive. We were just starting to get impatient when the manager came over and informed us that it was going to take a little longer for our pizzas; the crust had come out a little too brown for her liking so they were being remade. I have to say, I really appreciated this for two reasons: 1) I really like when servers come over and calmly tell you why your order is taking so long, it shows respect for the customer; and 2) I am always impressed when restaurants take such pride in their food that they won’t send out a meal that doesn’t look right. I commend Mother’s Pizza for really trying to get it right.
The pizzas finally arrived. Adam chose the White pizza which was served with local chorizo sausage from Peasant’s Pantry. The pizza of walnut, mozzarella, and smoked gouda was drizzled with honey and balsamic reduction and then topped with fresh arugula.
I liked how the cheese got really baked into the crust because of the lack of sauce, essentially making the pizza glorified garlic fingers. Let me back up this statement by saying that this is not a slight and confessing something: I actually prefer garlic fingers to pizza. Crazy I know, but that’s just the way I am, so calling anything by the name ‘garlic finger’ is a huge compliment from me. The White pizza was amazing. I was happy Adam ordered the 16 inch size pizza so we could have some for lunch today, and for 16$ it was quite the bargain!
I chose to go simpler and got the Margherita pizza, which was…whelming. The pizza didn’t impress me, nor did it disappoint me…it was just okay. The fresh basil atop the pizza was awesome, and I really liked the crust, it was the perfect balance of chewy and crispy. But I was slightly depressed about the lack of mozzarella, and though I am aware that Margherita pizzas do not traditionally contain a significant amount of cheese, Mother’s could have put a touch more on their Marg.
For dessert there are several delicious sounding options at Mother’s including Grapefruit Brulee and Mother’s Bumbleberry Pie. But there are also some endearing additions to the menu including Abba Zabbas and Charleston Chews. Being super full from all the pizza, we went for the nostalgia and ordered the chews. Of course, they were delightful!
Overall Mother’s Pizza was a hit. Though their Margherita lacked cheese, they make up for it in spades with the service. We were greeted immediately at the door, and their attention to detail and pride in the food they serve give this restaurant great bones to succeed. The food was great, well priced, and it is a great place for date night or a casual meal with friends. I hope to you all will Explore.Eat.Repeat. your way up to the North End and try Mother’s Pizza sometime very soon!
Things Worth Mentioning…
Cost: 52$ for a salad, a 16inch pizza, a 9inch pizza, two drinks and two chews…a great deal!
Things I liked: The amazing friendly service and the chewy, cripsy pizza crust.
Things I didn’t: Running out of food items, but they’re new, this will go away.
Best Place to Sit: With a big group of friends at the gorgeous wooden table in the centre of the restaurant.
What To Order Next Time: The four cheese pizza…I need more cheese!
Halifax, say hello to EDNA, the north end’s newest restaurant! Opened last week by Jenna Mooers, daughter of Jane Wright from janes on the common, EDNA, which stands for “eat, drink, nourish, always” was buzzing with activity last night when I went for dinner. My first experience was amazing and definitely won’t be my last!
Named after famed poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, the restaurant is located right next door to the newly relocated jane’s next door, across the street from Ratinaud French Cuisine, and sits in the newest food destination in the north end. My friend Erin and I entered the restaurant this past evening and were seated immediately by the window. EDNA is not taking reservations for the time being, so we were lucky to get a table: By the time we had our drinks, there was a line at the door!
The restaurant is cheerful and trendy. The menus are all printed on different sheets of pretty patterned paper, and the clean lines of the cutlery and glassware compliment the decor. The juxtaposition of raw wood ceilings, painted board, and industrial shelving and lighting creates a unique and comfortable atmosphere that feels metropolitan and local at the same time. The furniture is eclectic, yet modern and clean with rich wooden tables and metal chairs. The bar is constructed with painted black pipes, dark wood, and white subway tile. Across from the bar is a long high wooden table that seats at least 25 people and sits underneath a long geometric chandelier. The bathrooms were probably my favourite part with dark blue ceilings, peacock floral wallpaper, and antique light switches that make me nostalgic for my grandparent’s old house. Every detail has been considered, and contributes to the awesome atmosphere of EDNA.
We were greeted by our awesome server Moriah, who took our drink order. Erin and I both chose the French 77, which contains Elderflower liqueur, lemon, and sparkling wine. It was delicious! The drink list contains classic cocktails, awesome local wine and beer, and even cider on tap, which I always appreciate.
After ordering our food, we were brought fluffy, thick bread that was served with creamy butter. Normally, I wouldn’t mention such a simple amuse-bouche, but the butter is worth talking about. The saltiness was prominent in a good way, I am talking crunchy bits of salt that made it more decadent and yummy than your run-of-the-mill table butter. The bread was homemade, fresh, and oh-so-soft.
To start, Erin chose the Soft Shell Crab Taco. It looked amazing! They had fried the whole crab and served it upon the taco in the most awesome presentation. At first, Erin wasn’t sure how to eat the taco, but Moriah instructed her to just dig in and eat the crab whole! Erin loved the avocado mousse that accompanied the taco, and raved about the spicy salsa that topped the creative crustacean.
I had the Pork Belly to start and it was also delicious! Served with diced pear and very thinly sliced lemon rind, the sweet and saltiness of the dish was everything I could as for. The pork itself was prepared perfectly, with the soft meat melting in my mouth, I barely needed to use my knife!
When the mains arrived, we oohed and ahhed at the whimsical plating of Erin’s choice, the Arctic Char. The fish was served with root vegetables, edamame, and wild mushrooms. Topping the delectable dish were crispy rice noodles that gave an excellent opposition to the flavours of the meal. Erin loved it!
My choice was no less delicious. I chose the NS Butcher’s Cut of the evening, which was a 6 ounce Sirloin. The meat was prepared to a perfect medium rare, and served with potatoes lyonnaise. The fresh greens and carrots that accompanied were coated in the delicious flavourful sauce; the simplicity of this dish was a true triumph.
Though the dessert menu looked extremely tasty, both Erin and I were just too full of food and drink to order a final treat. But I am looking at this as a reason to go back again very soon! The food at EDNA by Chef Robert Reynolds is fresh, local, and innovative and couldn’t be more delicious. I loved the attention to detail and the delightful simplicity of this place, and the service was amazing. I am excited to see how this restaurant grows and evolves and encourage everyone to take a stroll up Gottingen to Explore. Eat. Repeat (many times) this new restaurant! Bravo Jenna!
Things Worth Mentioning…
Cost: About $140 including tax and tip for 2 apps, 2 mains, and numerous beverages for the both of us. There is a large price range on the menu and it is very reasonably priced, for example, the $5 local cheese and charcuterie prices.
Things I liked: The decor, the attention to detail, the food…pretty much everything!
Things I didn’t: That I didn’t leave room for dessert!
Best place to sit: By the window for date night, or at the big communal table for a night out with a group of friends.
What to order next time: Local charcuterie and cheese, and more cocktails!
If there is one reality that is indisputable about living in Atlantic Canada (or anywhere in Canada for that matter) it is the fact that the winter months are filled with horrible yo-yo weather; snow storms, hail storms, slushy rain, freezing temperatures, and of course, …
Today was my day off, and because I am starting to covet my hump day respite I am really trying to take advantage of it by doing something new every week. On today’s agenda: Two If By Sea in Dartmouth with my lovely friend and co-worker Erin, who also happens to have the day off on Wednesdays.
Despite the impending weather predictions, Erin and I set off walking down Spring Garden as a light snow fall began. We headed to the ferry terminal on the waterfront, and by the time we arrived you could barely see the water. Here is our lovely view of the harbour on our ferry crossing:
I was so delighted to finally arrive at Two If By Sea and get out of the cold and snowy weather. TIBS is a more recent addition to the downtown Dartmouth scene, having opened in the past few years, and has become a staple for many Dartmouth resident coffee drinkers, and those brave Haligonians willing to hop over the pond for the buttery croissants. I actually first heard about them while reading an article in Air Canada’s En Route magazine while en route to Turkey this past summer and was eager to try some of the tasty looking treats and enjoy some good coffee.
The cafe is warm and inviting, located in a cool lofty space on Ochterloney with trendy wooden furniture that is big and comforting and I immediately felt at home while we waited to order. Erin, who was looking forward to the infamous croissants, ordered the provolone and prosciutto croissant and a coffee. I decided to have something sweet and ordered the pain au chocolat and a latte.
The pastries are HUGE, and I am not talking larger than normal, I am talking two meals, don’t know how to take the first bite big. Once I finally strategized the first bite, I was immediately impressed: the chocolate inside my pain au chocolat was amazing! Combined with the buttery pastry and the dusting of icing sugar, it was the perfect treat.
Erin enjoyed her croissant-sandwich hybrid, and was also baffled at its size. Both her and I had to take home doggie bags (which both our boyfriends enjoyed later this evening)! We coveted the food and the awesome water station with Mason jar glassware which you could fill at your leisure.
The bustling coffee shop was full of people the entire time we were there and we settled in for a nice chat at the end of a long table where multiple people were sitting. My latte was also giant and delicious, though near the end it sadly got a little cold because of the wide cup that is was in.
Overall, I think TIBS is most definitely worth the journey to Dartmouth. The staff are friendly and the pastries are worth ten ferry rides without the delicious coffee to accompany them. Though a second location of the enchanting coffee shop has opened in the Historic Properties in Halifax, the atmosphere and the eats of the original TIBS will encourage me to Explore.Eat.Repeat Downtown Dartmouth on another day.