Like both Dublin and Melbourne, Halifax and Dartmouth are divided by a body of water, that since the birth of the two sister cities created a friendly rivalry between the two sides. North vs. South in Dublin and Melbourne, and here its the city of lakes vs. the city of trees. When I was growing up, Haligonians used to joke that the best part of Dartmouth was the view of Halifax. I remember walking up Ochterloney to Dartmouth Players when I was a teenager from the ferry terminal and thinking it’s not that bad but I don’t particularly want to tarry especially around the house that had the “beware of dog” sign with the dog sitting out in the middle of the sidewalk every time I walked by. However, these days Dartmouth is the new up and coming neighbourhood. It’s grown into a trendy, forward thinking community with a downtown core that has a brilliant weekend market, a fantastic local art gallery called the Dark Side, a veterinarian’s decorated with wild animals, lots of new cafes, boutique shops, a brewery and one of the latest additions, Battery Park.
Battery Park, The Christako’s latest baby, opened up about 6 months ago and is the latest addition to their family owned establishment, Brooklyn Warehouse and Ace Burger. Both are equally well known and loved establishments in Halifax. Battery Park is part bar, part restaurant and is more relaxed than Brooklyn and a little more upstreet than Ace and they have hit it right on the mark. When we went the evening was too nice to sit indoors so we took advantage of their beer garden out the back. Music, charm, cool, compact and cozy, it would be easy to camp there for an evening, which is exactly what we did. If you’ve been, it reminded me of Mr Scruff’s in Fitzroy, Melbourne, a hipster foodie haven, where half of Melbourne used to go for their Wednesday night half price burgers.
The next question was what to get both drink and food wise? I have begun a foray into local craft beers so I decided that as Battery Park hosts a wide variety of local brews I would be adventurous. It’s amazing the number of small or boutique breweries there are in Nova Scotia. When I worked at the Craft Beer Cottage Party this past March it was a huge eye opener. I couldn’t believe the size and vibrancy of the craft beer industry in the Maritimes and the seriousness of which people have embraced it. A bit like Melbourne and it’s coffee. Our two servers and George helped me along the way, describing and pointing out the ones I should try as I explained what I liked. North Brewery, Propeller, Nine Locks, UpStreet, Big Struce all featured on their taps. I first tried Meander River’s Dustry Road Cider and then moved to North’s Summer Saison and finished with George’s suggestion of a partnership beer between North & Stillwell called Juniper Gose. Salty and sweet at the same time with a citrus summery taste; it was very different but an enjoyably interesting conglomeration of flavours.
Food was a difficult decision. Their menu is a variety of shared platters, appetisers and a selection of pub style finger hearty main meals, which includes their famous burgers. In the end because we wanted everything we decided to share a few items; Starting with their Kale Caesar and Pork Belly Taco’s followed by a local and East Coast charcuterie and cheeseboard. The taco’s only lasted moments after arriving at the table. Flavoursome, fresh with a bit of a bite they were delicious and the Caesar salad didn’t last much longer. My new favourite salad I think. I was really excited about the boards. Not only because they are one my favourite things but that everything was local or house made. The Cheese Board featured Asiago sprinkled with a reduced balsalmic, a smoked cheddar and an Urban Blue, whose maker, Devon informed me, is based in the North End, used to work with the UN and is a delightful friendly lady. She also makes fantastic cheese. There was so much on the Charcuterie Board it was brilliant and they were all house cured, smoked or raw meats. There was pork loin, a country paté wrapped in prosciutto, chicken and haskap roulade that were all delicious but my favourite, and the one I waited till last to eat was their house made Fois Gras. I haven’t had Fois Gras since Adrien, a friend and French chef, made some for New Years dinner in Australia and before that I don’t remember. They made theirs with Goose liver opposed to Duck but it was still very yummy and had the creamy melt in your mouth texture that a good fois gras has. All of this was served with a selection of breads from local bakeries- stout, soda bread and a scone that tasted like Ireland.
The sun dipped below the horizon and the temperature dropped and soon enough it was time to finish the evening with another trip across the harbour on the Ferry. Another highlight for a trip to Dartmouth and one that I will be making more frequently so as to broaden my Dartmouth horizons and more of what Battery Park has to offer.