I am re-discovering my own city. The markets, the new best places for lunch, brunch, coffee and a drink. And of course the ol’faithfuls that I never got a chance to try. One of these such places was Chives Bistro. Locally sourced Nova Scotian Food with a twist. My father did photography for them years ago and I remember looking at the photographs as a child and thinking mmmm that looks really good. Well yesterday evening I got to experience Chives and it didn’t disappoint.
For the month of February some of Nova Scotia’s top restaurants are participating in Dine Around. Each of the 34 participating restaurants offer a three course menu for less than what it would normally cost and have the same. It’s an amazing opportunity for the restaurants to pull in customers that might not normally go there, win future clients, great word of mouth and also to perhaps have a busier February than normal. For the foodie, it’s the chance to check out places you might not be able to try normally or were wary of trying, taste some delicious food and because there is a variety of prices perhaps even test multiple venues.
My two friends and I trawled through all the menus and finally landed on Chives as our choice. With a $40 set menu, each course giving you a few options including a steak ($10 supplement) which Niall tried and can attest to, the menu covered everyone’s pallets. We ordered our starter and main, a lovely bottle of Malbec and sat back and relaxed.
My evening was instantly made by our waiter arriving with a little brown bag to our table with molasses and butter. Devon seeing my confusion and excitement quickly explained that inside were freshly made warm tea biscuits! I was instantly transported to my family dinner table where tea biscuits and molasses were a regular occurrence. You couldn’t have soup without this combination. It’s about as Nova Scotia as you can get. They had won me over even before our first plates arrived!
The meal just continued on the same plain. Each course was delicious, we weren’t rushed to move to the next course; feeling as if we were allowed to linger over our food and had all the time in the world. It was wonderful and the way dining out should be. As with most of the world at the moment Kale is the current super food and as it is also a winter vegetable it was incorporated into both my dishes. However, saying that I love Kale so throw it in as much as you wish. My starter was a kale, apple and blue cheese salad with roast squash, pumpkin seeds and an apple miso vinaigrette. The blue cheese was Dragons Breath, a local delicacy and true to its name. It has a bite but a scrumptious one.
I went for the vegetarian option as the main. I am a sucker for mushroom ravioli and this was an Fried Oyster mushroom ravioli with a walnut sauce. Rich, creamy and bursting with flavour, it hit the mark on the nose! On the side was a lentil and green salad topped with Halumi. The dressing for that was equally as delicious as the walnut sauce. The only thing is that I felt like I had two main courses. Probably a ridiculous remark but it did feel like the chef thought well I have two great vegetarian dishes, as there is no meat, they might not be that filling so let’s put them both on the plate together. And they complemented each other perfectly. It was just a lot.
Finally it was onto dessert. We were all bursting at the seams and thankfully our waiter also understood this as he allowed us to leisurely decide on the dessert. Niall went for their cheesecake and Devon and I both went for their house dessert, the Peanut Buster. A fudgey chocolate cake topped with whip cream, peanut butter ice cream, caramel sauce and Virginia peanuts. We didn’t realise Virginia peanuts were a thing but they obviously are and quite tasty. We sipped tea and attempted to kid ourselves that we could eat the last course.
It was a great tick off my restaurant list in Halifax and something I probably wouldn’t have gotten to do for a while if Dine Around Nova Scotia wasn’t on. Chives exceeded my childhood expectations from the remembered photographs and I definitely left feeling festively plump and in a happy self induced foodie daze.