Twitter can connect people from all over the world. Recently on Twitter, I was contacted by George Davis, the General Manager of Chives Canadian Bistro in Halifax, Nova Scotia. George was making plans to visiting Boston in September and wanted some recommendations. This was days before I was to leave for a visit to Nova Scotia. I checked out the website for his restaurant and was intrigued by its philosophy and menu. I had been seeking a place to dine in Halifax and had not previously checked out this place. In the end, I made reservations to dine there during my trip.
Chef Craig Flinn opened Chives in December 2001 and since then it has gained quite an excellent reputation. For example, the Coast City Guide: Best of Halifax 2012, an annual guide, awarded Chives a Gold as Best Fine Dining, a Gold to Chef Flinn as Best Chef, and a Gold to Chives for Best Use of Local Ingredients. The Chives website states: "The restaurant menus are based on seasonal produce from local farmers, artisan cheese and meat producers, and sustainable seafood with the core menu changing every 6 to 8 weeks. The bistro’s clientele enjoy contemporary Canadian bistro dishes rooted in European culinary history."
We decided to stick to Nova Scotia wines, to get a small sense of the current state of their wine industry. I have had Nova Scotia wines before, and even visited a few of their wineries, but it has been a number of years since my last experience. Since then, new wineries have opened and I figured that the overall quality of their wines had likely improved as well. Based on the five wines we tasted, I was impressed and think a deeper exploration of their wines is warranted.
My favorite of the wines was the 2011 Blomidon Estate Rose, of which I have previously raved. It was an excellent food wine and something I could easily enjoy on its own as well. The Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 was a pleasant apertif, a sparkling wine made from New York Muscat and Pearl of Csaba grapes. It has intense aromatics, reminiscent of Muscat, with delightful green apple, orange and melon flavors. Crisp acidity, hints of sweetness and a light effervescence make this a fun and delicious wine.
The Avondale Sky The Landing is made from the Leon Millot grape and is an opaque red, almost purple, in color. It is easy drinking with intense cherry flavors and hints of spice, especially on the finish. Not too complex, but a very pleasant wine. The Jost Vineyard Cote St. George is made from the Marechal Foch grape and was light and smoky with subtle red fruit flavors. This would be delicious with some BBQ or a hearty pasta dish.
And if you don't like wine, they have a fully stocked bar with a list of special cocktails ($8.25) and martinis ($10).
Dragon's Breath Blue Cheese (from Nova Scotia), almonds, and topped by a balsamic dressing. The ingredients were quite fresh and meshed well together. The blue cheese was on the mild side yet flavorful and the peaches were lush and juicy. A refreshing and tasty beginning.
We were fairly full by the end of dinner so decided to split a simple dessert, some Peach Sorbet, accompanied by whipped cream and a fruit sauce. The sorbet is made on premises and was refreshing, with a rich and fresh peach flavor. The restaurant also provided us complimentary glasses of a Jost Vidal Ice Wine, which had plenty of good acidity that balanced the mild sweetness, and flavors of apricot, dried fruit and honey.
Our server was George, and the service was excellent. The restaurant was fairly busy for a Monday night and everyone else seemed to be quite satisfied with their service and food. The quality and quantity of the food is well worth their reasonable prices, and the wine list is interesting and affordable. It was an impressive dinner and I give Chives my highest recommendation. They have a great culinary philosophy, serving local, seasonable ingredients, and the cuisine, though often familiar in many respects, has plenty of excellent creative touches as well. I will return here again the next time I visit Nova Scotia.