Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chives Bistro, Halifax: My Big Day Downtown Part II

This is Part II of my Big Day Downtown. The Big Day Downtown promotion is sponsored by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission as a way to draw visitors to the downtown area of Halifax. This year's theme is Try Something New, so last week when I was chosen by the DHBC for my very own Big Day Downtown I jumped at the chance to visit Spirit Urban Spa and dine at Chives Canadian Bistro. To read Part I of my Big Day Downtown at Spirit Spa, go here

big day downtown halifax ns

Every city has one of those well known, upscale restaurants that everyone knows is just good. Chives is one of those restaurants. You might even call it a foodie's food place. It's located on Barrington Street, one of the main streets in Halifax.

The head chef at Chives is well-known local chef Craig Flinn. Flinn apprenticed with Chef Michael Smith in PEI (yes, Michael Smith the dreamboat from the Food Network). He has also apprenticed in Europe, Canada & the U.S., and published three cook books based on local, fresh and seasonal cooking.

If Michael Smith is a dreamboat (and he most certainly is) Flinn looks like the kind of guy you'd want to share a drink and a story with, and then make him like you and be your friend so he would let you taste test all his new creations. Add a trip to Morocco with Michael Smith, and a tour of Florence with David Rocco, and these are my foodie dreams, guys. I dream big.

Flinn opened Chives in 2001.The restaurant's menus are based on seasonal produce from local farmers, artisan cheese and meat producers, and sustainable seafood. The core menu changes every 6 to 8 weeks, so you can expect fresh and innovative dishes all year long.

I booked my table for two online through the Open Table booking service. A twitter-er recommended that I book 'The Vault' for my meal. Unfortunately, it was already booked for Saturday evening, but we were promised the second-best seats in the house: a lovely table for two near the window that looks onto Barrington Street. But I would still love to try The Vault someday. It's a leftover from the 1950's when this space was occupied by the Bank of Nova Scotia. This former money vault now stores Chives' wines, and is also a totally unique dining space for 2-4 people. If dining in a bank vault turned wine cellar isn't fabulously romantic, please tell me what is.

chives canadian bistro halifax big day downtown

Chives doesn't do boring old bread rolls, so to start you are presented with the most melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits with whipped butter and (the best part) molasses, in a quirky paper bag. Read the sweet story about these buttermilk biscuits (and other Chives recipes) here.

For our mains Mike ordered the pork and polenta (Westphalen ham wrapped pork tenderloin, fennel barbeque pulled pork, creamy parmesan polenta, sweet corn and edamame succotash) and I had the daily special - PEI scallops, roasted root vegetables wrapped in cabbage, purréed potatoe and some kind of amazing cream sauce. We also ordered the New Zealand Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, which was an excellent accompaniment. For dessert we split the Swiss style apple tart, which I forgot to take a photo of before we devoured. But really, it's a compliment to the chef when the food looks too good to photograph.

This was perhaps one of the best meals we've ever had in Halifax. I have never had vegetables like those root vegetables, wrapped in a cabbage leaf like a gift from the vegetable gods. Mike loved his polenta and pork - polenta is often mediocre at restaurants but this one was perfect. And my scallops were beautiful - excellent texture, perfectly seared.

Chives is pricey, but worth every penny. Our meal came to around $100. Our service was superb, and we were well looked after all evening. But be warned, the photos on Chives' website are deceiving - they recently renovated and the restaurant is even prettier than it used to be, with a much more updated look. Plus they appear to have partnered with Argyle Fine Art and all of the art on their walls is by local artists and is available to purchase. Local food, local art, local talent. A great way to end my Big Day Downtown.

Thank you again to the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, Spirit Urban Spa & Chives Canadian Bistro.

- Jess

In the interest of full disclosure: The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own. I was not directly compensated for this blog post. Meal was paid for in part by DHBC as part of the Big Day Downtown contest promotion. Consider yourself fully disclosed.

1 comment :

  1. Ooh, that place looks amazing! I's sure you had a blast :)



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