We started our holidays last night with a culinary bang: dinner at The Bicycle Thief. Now you know we are on a tight budget this staycation but it was our dear friend Jen’s birthday and we had been wanting to go to this super popular restaurant for months.
I was so happy to read the fabulously entertaining restaurant review of The Bicycle Thief by fellow blogger Curtains Are Open. It is true, you really do not want to show up to this restaurant at any time without a reservation. I made ours days in advance, just to be safe.
The restaurant is down along the waterfront in a supreme location and the fun symbolic touches representing the name of the restaurant are everywhere, including old bikes at the front door.
Not only does warm golden lighting welcome you, absolutely everyone who works at the restaurant is warm, friendly and helpful. Seriously, it was impressive. They made you feel right at home.
We had looked at the menu while outside and I will admit, I found it confusing. The all-center alignment drove me crazy (I am a publishing geek) and made the menu very challenging to read.
Dividing the menu into first, second and high gear also did not help. Yes, first gear looked like appetizers but second gear…??? Was it a full-on dinner or more like an appetizer? And what did that make high gear? Other than the large jump in price, did that mean bigger portions? Did side dishes come with high gear meals? I was confused!!!
Yes, this light fixture photo was taken in the beautiful ladies washroom!
I was not the only one who struggled with this. Women in the super-stunning bathrooms were discussing this same issue, unsure as to what to order. They seemed pretty stressed about it and I could see why.
The complimentary focaccia served with roasted red pepper hummus was wonderful. Moist with olive oil and super soft, it had been a long time since I had real focaccia (and now I want to make some).
The restaurant itself is gorgeous without being pretentious. It was very casual in vibe and approach without losing its air of professionalism or sophistication. There were people wearing jeans and others like me wearing summer skirts. All the windows along the restaurant kept it filled with natural light until the sun went down.
I loved the old distressed tables that were a little small but made for very intimate seating so you could easily hear everyone speaking. Which was great considering we were there to celebrate Jen’s birthday and just had to catch up!
Mike ordered the crusted pan seared scallops, smoked chili espagnole sauce and kindly let me have one. The sauce was tangy with a hint of heat. The scallops were nicely cooked and I adored that crunchy top.
Jen and Reg both ordered the peppercorn crusted beef tenderloin Tagliata, ‘carpaccio-style’, drizzled with E.V. olive oil, 12-year old balsamic, vidalia onion, whole mushroom sauté, sea salted hand cut frites. I love how they served it on a wooden board!
Reg let me taste the tenderloin and was it ever so lovely. Beautiful sweetness, lots of acidity, bold beefy flavour finished with the dark spice of black peppercorns. Stunning.
Mike ordered the filet mignon, sauce bordelaise, topped with cognac-laced garlic butter roasted half lobster. I wanted to order that dinner but it did not mention vegetables at all, just meat. Our server said that it did come with potatoes and other vegetables. I could have sworn she said that all dishes in the high gear category did but…
… My handmade ravioloni stuffed with fresh lobster, mascarpone, chives, shelled lobster garnish, Parmigiano fonduta, dusted with crispy crumbs did not. Now maybe I heard incorrectly, that is very plausible. Still, this was not a lot of food for a meal listed in the high gear section.
In fact, my meal came very last after quite a long wait while everyone else had food. When it arrived I did my best to eat as slowly as possible, which I am very good at. Still, I was the first to finish eating by far. The homemade pasta was soft and beautiful. The lobster had so much garlic it was on the verge of being too much, just the way I like it. The dinner was dreamy and luscious.
Yes, it was divine but for $25 I was expecting more. Literally. Mike got half a lobster with a steak and vegetables for only $2 more.
Considering I had been baking Irish Cream Cupcakes (recipe to come) for Jen’s birthday present earlier in the day and I also had a no-bake strawberry-rhubarb cheesecake at home (yes, that recipe to come one day too)… I did not want to spend money on a big dessert. Even though I was far from full, I only got a scoop of their cappuccino gelati for $3. In reality, I would have preferred to have eaten a hearty soup or even a light salad.
The gelati was very refreshing and I ate it slowly, hoping it would help fill me up.
Mike and Jen shared the strawberry shortcake which was very popular last night, filled with local organic strawberries. Nice choice you two!
We had an amazing night and laughed a ton! My cackle of a laugh can draw a lot of unwanted attention but not at this packed and happening restaurant on a Saturday night.
I do want to mention that Jen and Reg are not seafood eaters and love chicken but the only chicken dish came with jumbo shrimp. Including menu items like rabbit are fascinating for a foodie like me but if you have a conservative palette and do not like seafood, you may find ordering a bit challenging.
I really appreciated that there were many vegetarian options that almost enticed me to order one. As a former vegetarian, I am always impressed with restaurants who try and cater to everyone and The Bicycle Thief did an amazing job with their vegetarian options.
Thankfully the dinner was rich enough to last me until I got home but I was ravenous by the time I walked through our door. I am sure that if we had more financial freedom to order what appears to be appetizers and a big dessert I would have been more than full after eating at The Bicycle Thief.
It was a fantastic meal. All the food was top notch and wonderful, I just wanted more. Once we pay off our roof, we will be back and I really can not wait. This is the kind of restaurant you want to indulge in and one day, hopefully soon, I will.
I give The Bicycle Thief four out of five wooden spoons.
I look forward to going there this summer! Probably for lunch:)
I am really looking forward to the Bicycle Thief – it will likely be our one big restaurant treat this summer. You are right about portion size. Often restaurant menus are designed to allow (encourage) you to order three courses. I like this but in your situation…..
If you make focaccia try the recipe from Finecooking.com
Alanna @ Blood, Sweat & Cupcakes says
I’m so glad you posted a review of this restaurant! My boyfriend is living in Halifax right now (I’ll be moving there with him in a little under a year!) and I’m going to be visiting him at the end of the summer and this restaurant was on my ‘night-out’ wish list. I’ll probably pass on the ravioloni however 🙂
Suzie Ridler says
Lunch would be great there too Shelagh!
Anne, that’s what we did, it was our big dinner out on our holiday. I guess you’re right, that maybe you are supposed to get something from each menu but I can’t imagine! Oh, thanks for the focaccia referral, noted, LOL.
Alanna, you are most welcome. This restaurant is wonderful and a great choice for a night out, make sure to make reservations and save up to get more than one thing. That ravioloni was heavenly though but I didn’t like waking up at 3 am with hunger pains. At least I got to write the article nice and early!
Debra She Who Seeks says
The food looks amazing and the portions seem generous — all except for your poor little ravioli! I wonder if there wasn’t a mixup and they served you an appetizer portion instead? What you got is definitely not worth $25.
Suzie Ridler says
Thanks Debra! That makes me feel a bit better and Reg said the same thing this morning, maybe they forgot something. It was so odd mine took so much longer too. It’s hard to say because of their menu which was not clear at all. Oh well, when we have financially recovered we will go back and indulge quite a bit, it was a wonderful evening despite the hunger pains.
Dream With the Fishes says
Oh my God that food all looks so amazingly deeeelicious!! My mouth is watering. You sound like me… I had the same happen to me when I went out for brunch yesterday. There was barely anything to it, as far as I was concerned, and I was just as hungry when I left. Maybe hungrier, as my appetite had been teased. Ha! And it really bugs me when they don’t bring everyones food at the same time! I just find that so wrong. Couldn’t they keep the food warm in the kitchen until it’s all ready, together? Anyway, so glad to hear you had such a good time and I hope you get to go back and really indulge, soon!
Dream With the Fishes says
Ah, I just checked out their menu and the thing with the gears… In Italian restaurants the menu is divided into Antipasti (Appetizers, of course), Primi (the first course dishes: pastas, risottos, minestrone soups, etc) and Secondi (the main course: meat, fish, fowl, and whatnot). The side dishes would be classified as “contorni” and desserts, “Dolci”.
Mmmm, my tummy is rumbling looking at all your scrumptious photos. YUM! What a neat looking place.
Like Dream with Fishes said above, yup it’s definitely appetizers, first course and main. As for your dish, when Italians serve pasta as a main dish, that’s all you get generally, no sides. Usually the veggies and potatoes are served with proteins only, so that’s probably why your plate looked a little bare. As delicious as the pasta sounds, I would have been left wanting as well. They really should’ve at least added a nice chunk of bruschetta and a salad with it. I think it would have made the meal a little more complete.
Happy belated B-day to Jen and happy holidays to you and Reg, what a great way to start…such delicious fun.