For our 11th wedding anniversary Reg asked around for some suggestions for us to celebrate without breaking the bank but still have a fabulous meal. People kept recommending Chives Canadian Bistro in downtown Halifax on Barrington Street. I asked for people’s opinions on the restaurant via Facebook and Twitter and heard the same thing: fabulous fresh food and wonderful service. Perfect!
The hard part? Getting a reservation! The day of our anniversary I tried to make an online reservation but they were already booked solid until 8 pm which, considering we do not actually live in Halifax, was just too late for us. So we went last night instead!
Everything about Chives is warm and inviting. I loved the earthy colours, the homey touches around the restaurant which has a young modern but casual vibe.
They had just switched over to their fall menu which was a tad heartbreaking for me. I had already investigated their online menu and knew that I wanted the scallop dinner but it was no longer there! As curious as I was about the “lobster crusted haddock” (I mean how on earth would you make that?) I was completely seduced into getting the special: eight-hour-braised PEI beef short ribs.
You start off the meal with their buttermilk biscuits that were so delicious. Along with the biscuits they bring whipped butter and molasses. Apparently this is a Newfoundland-style for having biscuits which Reg’s mom loves. It was stunning! The molasses they served with the biscuits was so sweet, light yet rich, I would have been happy eating those biscuits that way all night.
Reg and I both ordered the opening night salad. I absolutely love the locally made Dragon’s Breath blue cheese that was sprinkled generously over the top. Despite the name, it is actually quite mild (it has to be for Reg to like it) and went perfectly with the greens, walnuts and apple slices. I personally would have enjoyed more acidity in the dressing but for most people this salad would be perfectly dressed. You know me and my bold flavours! Not for everyone, I know.
Reg ordered the roast chicken and mushroom pasta and we had a bit of a wait for our dinner. Our server (who was wonderfully attentive all evening) apologized for the wait and assured us the meal was worth waiting for. We were not there for fast food so it really was fine with us. We were in no rush.
It gave us a chance to appreciate the art which decorated each wall. We were seated in the alcove above the entrance, away from the main restaurant. I found it quite chilly but they did have an area heater working which Reg sat near. I really should have changed seats with him but once we started to eat I really did not want to move.
Because it took a while I did lose all natural light to shoot by but these beautiful rock candle holders were everywhere, providing lots of warm mood lighting.
Our food came and it was beautiful. Reg adored his dinner and had a hard time figuring out what cheese they added. It was gouda and I had a bite, it was delicious. Nothing better than egg yolk pasta!
My dish was superb. The meat fell off the bone. The sauce was delicate but rich. The mashed potatoes were probably stuffed with butter (so good!) and the roasted vegetables were divine and as fresh as you can get. I have never tasted sweeter beets in my life. The two onion rings topping off the dish were a touch of foodie whimsy that appealed to my heart.
The only problem is we were stuffed when we were done eating dinner! Sorry, no dessert to write about. I could not eat another bite. We ordered coffee and the decaf was delightful and surprisingly complex.
This table was empty for just a moment. People were coming in and out all night long. For a Sunday night, this was so impressive. It really showed just how much people love this restaurant and I can see why.
I must point out that for those with mobility issues, even if you can get upstairs into the restaurant the washrooms will also be a huge challenge. You have to go downstairs to find them and the women’s washroom is all the way around at the end of the basement by the backdoor which made me uncomfortable. That said, the basement is beautifully decorated like the rest of the restaurant to make you feel safe and at home.
I know, this is a pretty silly photograph of me but for the first time going out I think I may have been recognized. I had connected with the restaurant via FB when I was getting people’s opinions on the food which of course tipped them off. At first I thought I was just being paranoid but as soon as we left the restaurant Reg said, “Do you think they knew who you were?” So it wasn’t just me!
Outside the restaurant you can watch the kitchen prepare the food via this TV screen. When thinking about our evening at Chives I came to some conclusions. Number one, they did not have issues with me photographing the food which meant a lot to me. Number two, Reg and I have been through hell this last week and we really just wanted a beautiful evening out together with fantastic food to get our mind off our troubles.
A restaurant that is professional, courteous, warm and inviting that also celebrates wild mixed media art like these bizarre pointing pantyhose is alright by me. I listened and watched the whole night, everyone was treated beautiful and all the food looked magnificent.
For us, it was the perfect evening and just what we needed. I give Chives Canadian Bistro five out of five wooden spoons.