Chives Canadian Bistro
This is just a quick note on a good restaurant very deserving of quick notes and more. Chives Canadian Bistro was a delightful find and served us well on a dark and stormy night in Halifax.
When I say dark and stormy, I really do mean it. The gusts of wind coming up the street from the port were staggering. Frozen rain and snow were whipping around violently obscuring vision and stinging the skin. So it was ideal that Chives was located not even a full block away from the Four Points Sheraton in downtown Halifax. So we braved the shin deep slush, harsh winds and stinging ice for dinner.
Our time and effort were well spent, the dinner was excellent and for the quality, very reasonably priced.
We had been hoping to try the Chef's Tasting Menu, featured on their Seasonal Menu. Unfortunately, we arrived right in that lull around the holidays where they change over from one seasonal menu to another, so they had an interim menu of limited choices. None the less, we were able to find items on the menu that sounded great to us and proved to be better than they sounded.
We started with a nice seared Foie Gras resting atop crostini, served with a fig reduction and a small microgreen salad. The Foie Gras was perfectly prepared and the generous 2 oz. portion made for an ideal appetizer. The sweetness in the fig and saltiness in the crostini cut through the rich fat of the Foie Gras to make every bite a delight.
Julia enjoyed their version of a surf and turf, which consisted of a AAA Tenderloin (USDA Choice equivalent, I believe). It had been cooked a perfect medium rare. It was resting atop a bed of gnocchi which themselves were floating in a brandy-peppercorn cream sauce, similar to what you might expect from a Steak Au Poivre. And to finish off the surf part of the surf and turf, the plate was loaded with large, plump, succulent scallops -- precisely the quality one would expect in Nova Scotia.
Meanwhile, I went with their Best of Nova Scotia Seafood Risotto. The risotto itself was dense, creamy, robust and flavorful -- with the perfect texture. But that's not the best part, the best part was that every single bite from the tiniest nibble to the largest spoonful was completely infused with the fresh, undeniable - sea air flavor of great local seafood.
Resting atop the risotto was a giant diver scallop and a firm, tasty jumbo shrimp, mixed within the risotto were more pieces of scallop, shrimp, lobster, mussels and clams -- all local, all great.
We paired this all with a pleasantly inexpensive Temperanillo. They had it to offer by the glass, so I was able to try a sample before we had even ordered our food. The sample was enough to confirm that, with the wine decanted and the tannins softened, it would open up nicely and compliment our food without overpowering it.
If you'd have asked me to pick a wine to pair with those two dishes, I'm not sure what I would have said. Seafood risotto normally makes me think Pinot Grigio maybe, or a Chenin Blanc. Throw in the surf and turf and I'm leaning towards a lighter Pinot Noir, but I don't think I would have been Temperanillo for either. I'm glad I gave it a chance though, it was a delight.
We each saved a half-glass of wine to finish of our meal with, complimenting the cheese plate we ordered. I wish I knew more about the cheeses, this was the only place where I was let down. The waitstaff wasn't aware of the minute details of the cheese plate and didn't take the hint to produce someone from the kitchen who was. Setting that aside though, it was an excellent ending to an excellent meal, featuring 4 thin bread sticks, quince jam, apple slices, nuts and -- at my best guess -- smoked gouda, creamy bleu cheese, a semi-firm, creamy, nutty cheese (similar to Osau Iraty) and mild brie.
If you find yourself in Halifax, regardless the weather, check out Chives. It's worth your time, effort and money.