I’m fortunate to live in Toronto with all of the amazing restaurants we have right here in the city, but when I get out of town I’m always excited to try local food and drink. So I was pretty happy to have a few free nights when I went to Halifax for a conference a couple of months ago where I had the chance to try a number of places that I’d heard great things about!
The Bicycle Thief
After checking into my hotel, I immediately made my way to the Halifax boardwalk for a short walk to The Bicycle Thief. Previously listed in the Top 100 Restaurants in Canada (#56 in 2018), the Bicycle Thief offers “North American food with an Italian soul”. Unfortunately it was still too chilly to sit on the patio, so I settled inside at a table with a view of the harbour.
As many do when they first arrive on the east coast, I started with a lobster dish, their lobster and corn chowder. It was a great choice with lots of flavour and a good amount of lobster – definitely one of the better chowders I’ve come across. Looking like a tourist for sure, I went for even more lobster for my main, ordering a lobster roll that came with fries and a large green salad. It definitely satisfied my craving.. Staying with the local theme, I washed it all down with a refreshing local red ale from Garrison Brewery. Overall, the Bicycle Thief was a great start to my trip.
Highlight: Get the chowder to start. So good!
After a Sunday afternoon getting settled and networking with conference folks, I built up an appetite again so I went off in my free time to try another place on my list. Edna Restaurant is located in the north end of Halifax and was named the #10 Best New Restaurant in Canada by EnRoute Magazine in 2014.
I started with the corn fritters served with citrus aioli, Nova Scotia honey comb and green onions. I couldn’t have been happier with my selection – what a great dish. Everything worked together perfectly! My main was smoked cheddar pierogies with caramelized onions, purple beet puree, crispy brussels sprouts, creme fraiche and horseradish. The plating of this dish was beautiful and it tasted great too. The brussels sprouts were fantastic. As good as the food was, the service were also top notch and the interior warm and rustic, with walls and ceiling wrapped in wooden planks salvaged from a nearby town.
Highlight: The corn fritters! But honorable mention to the brussels sprouts which were among the best I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot of them). Highly recommended!
After two memorable meals it was Monday and time to get serious about my conference. After spending the day learning, I had another window of free time so I decided to hop on the ferry over to Dartmouth to check out another place I’d heard about before re-joining the conference folks for an evening of networking.
The Watch that Ends the Night is about a 10 minute walk from the ferry dock in Dartmouth. Named Canada’s Best New Bar in 2018 by EnRoute Magazine, I settled in with a Negroni and ordered two small plates: the fish tacos and the risotto. The tacos were made with flash fried Newfoundland cod and were enjoyable. The risotto, however, was my favourite dish of the night, made with a pumpkin seed and arugula pesto, seasonal market veggies including fiddleheads, goat cheese and preserved orange. While it was a good meal, I’m sorry to report that they have closed their doors for good just a few weeks ago. It’s definitely a tough business!
Highlight: The risotto.
NOTE: Unfortunately they are now closed for good.
Tuesday was another full day of conferencing, catching up on urgent emails from the office, networking and learning. Oh, how that makes me hungry. In the gap between my final afternoon s098ession and the evening social, I decided to check out one final restaurant on my list: Bar Kismet.
Bar Kismet is ranked the #15 top restaurant in Canada this year by Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants. It’s a small place and doesn’t take reservations, so you’ll want to get there soon after the doors open at 5:00pm like I did if you want to snag a seat without lining up.
I started with the charred carrots with crab and bearnaise. What a combination! Who knew carrots could be deliciously elevated this way? I ordered a Bulgarian (Soli) Pinot Noir from their small but nicely curated wine list to accompany my main: freshly made gnocchi with morels. The gnocchi were pillowy light and soft and the abundant morels paired perfectly with the pinot. Someone in the kitchen knows what they’re doing – a winning dish for sure! For dessert, I chose the buttermilk panna cotta with poached rhubarb and lemon thyme.
Highlight: Charred carrots with crab and bernaise. But honestly, everything was great including the service.
If you go: