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Wolfville, Digby, etc. suggestions?

in Shelburne it is definitely Charlotte's Lane. Haven't been there for the food yet but lots of people rave about the lunch at Pete Luckett's Vineyard in Gaspereau Valley outside of Wolfville (the view is amazing). Tempest provides a fairly cosmopolitan choice in Wolfville (avoid Acton's which is not the restaurant it used to be). Lunenburg has two fantastic restaurants - Fleur de Sel for a formal dinner - have the tasting menu. French trained (Lyon de Lyon -3 star Michelin) chef who does excellent job with local ingredients. Trattoria Donna Nonna if you want very good , moderately upscale trattoria. Service is usually fantastic.

Mar 04, 2012
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

press gang

Press Gang is by far the worst of Halifax's fine dining establishments. Awful service and overpriced and uninteresting food. For the crowd that wants to be seen and willing to spend big money for it regardless of quality of dining experience. Concur on Stories...Halifax's best kept dining secret. Recommend GIO and FID as well. Not into molecular gastronomy (well, might try Farrian Adria if had change and $) so would pass on Bear.

Jul 30, 2009
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

"Stories" Any one been lately?

I was there about a year ago. Chef Scott created for us a 6 course tasting menu that was fantastic. 5 of the 6 courses were right on, with only the foie not terribly well executed. Keep in mind its a very small dining room which has the benefit of intimacy but if you like a lot of action in the restaurant don't expect to find it at Stories. Scallops are fantastic. We had a bottle of Sangrantino di Montefalco that was excellent.

Mar 18, 2009
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Fresh Fine Dining

In an era when we are more conscious about where are food comes from, it probably shouldn't be surprising that some of the best new restos in the Atlantic Canada are emerging in locations that are either in fishing villages or in the heart of agriculture land. Fleur de Sel & Trattoria Donna Nonna in Lunenburg, Charlotte's Lane in Shelburne are few in Nova Scotia and Rossmount Inn in St. Andrews fits bill in New Brunswick. Tempest in Wolfville, NS at times represents this. Some inconsistency issues and at least pre-fire cleanliness in dining room was an issue for me.

I searching for any 'foodies' that have visited Fresh Fine Dining in Bristol New Brunswick for an upcoming article. If anyone has been there and wants to share their impressions please let me know.

Are there other restaurants in Atlantic Canada that any chowhounders feel represent this philosophy of from the farm/dock to the plate in small towns in Atlantic Canada.

Feb 11, 2009
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Halifax - In search of pad thai

Memories of my childhood...I grew up in the 70s/80s on Brussels Street...a couple blocks away from the Oriental. It was the best "cheap" North American style Chinese in town. Unfortunately, it closed 3 or 4 years ago and the space now occupied by a pasta place which I haven't been to...opened by same chef as Vines in Dartmouth. I forgot about Fid...it definitely has great pad thai and spring rolls...will check it out again

Jan 05, 2009
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Perfect Pint in Calgary

Does anyone have comments on Belgo? Have read a lot of negative comments with regards to price and service but there are alot of positive comments as well on sites such as beer advocate. Any opinions out there?

Jan 03, 2009
WINEWOLF in Prairie Provinces

Halifax - In search of pad thai

I am in search of Halifax's best spring rolls, pad thai and hot sour soup for an upcoming magazine article. Any fellow chowhounder assistance would be appreciated. I was recently at Talay Thai for spring rolls - had both fresh and fried - were okay but lacked that a little flavour (duck curry on other hand was delicious - seconded by my food loving four year old). Diddo for Gingergrass across the street, spring rolls were okay but lacked a little flavour. I liked Pad Thai from Gingergrass but again a little lacking in a je ne sais quoi and also in fire (although the owner advised me that next time to ask for Asian spicy rather than North American spicy). I count on China Classic for much of my Chinese takeout but their hot sour isn't top notch - I used to love Vietnames rendition made by the former restaurant located at the current Gingergrass location but haven't found the Gingergrass version to live up to the old restaurant's but apparently their coconut milk soup is awesome.

Admittedly, I have a soft spot for Baan Thai as instead of having my wedding at a banquet facility, restaurant or catered by a traditional company, my wife and I decided to order in Baan Thai and serve copious amounts of Clare Valley Riesling at our wedding. Any assistance on best place to get spring rolls, pad thai and hot and sour in the city would be appreciated.

Jan 02, 2009
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Perfect Pint in Calgary

Are there any restos/bars in Calgary that specialize in cuisine a la biere? Any recommended spots to have a pint of good brew - craft or otherwise? I am researching an article on beer bars in Calgary and would love a local perspective.

Jan 02, 2009
WINEWOLF in Prairie Provinces

Halifax Restaurants

Maurizio and Fiasco rank high for consistency - the standbys for consistent quality
Gio has gotten better since change over to Ted Grant as Chef - now the food tastes as it should instead of like someone trying to replicate other's genius to varying degrees of success
Can't understand why anyone would go to Piccolo Mondo - bad service, bad food and it smells odd
Morris East is good but needs some more wine choices to become a true dining experience - hopefully more restaurants in the city take on the philosophy that great dining experiences don't require white linen
Mezza has impressive cuisine - not your average lebanese food - ingredients are impeccable and wine list and cocktail list are good
Chives ranks high for food quality and commitment to local both on food and wine front - some good wine selections with Clos Jordanne and Thirty Bench ranking high in my books - ambience could stand a major improvement
Haven't dined yet at Bear but earlier indications are that this could be a short-lived restaurant. Its hype seemed to fizzle before the doors even opened. Keep driving by and no one is in the restaurant.
Press Gang has always been the high end resto I lhave east respected in downtown - inconsistent often extremely bad service, often mediocre food, snotty attitude - hopefully management change in last year has led to positive changes - there a couple times recently at bar for snacks and wine and major improvement over past

Dec 20, 2008
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Romantic dining in Halifax

Agreed...Fleur de Sel is best restaurant in Nova Scotia. I was limiting myself to Halifax but if you have vehicle drive to Lunenburg.

Aug 24, 2007
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Wine pricing in Nova Scotia [split from Canada]

I think one problem with wine prices at restaurants in NS has been uneducated Nova Scotia diners. Hopefully as the clientele becomes more sophisticated wine consumers, restaurants will be forced to become more sophisticated in how they retail wine. The smart restaurants will source unique products that have good quality/price ratios. Often these would be bought from Private Wine Stores, who are smart enough to put out some lost leaders for their restaurant clientele or the restauranteurs will buy product via off the shelf methods (agent stocking programs). That is, at least until agents can sell directly to restaurants like they can in Ontario. Ultimately its in the consumers hands. Nova Scotia consumers have to stop paying $45 for Wolf Blass Yellow Label at restaurants. Until they stop restaurants will continue to overcharge. They also have to recognize paying 100% markup at Seven, Onyx, Gio etc. where they invest in glasses, linen and service is less offensive than the Shoe Shop which invests in none of that.

Aug 24, 2007
WINEWOLF in Not About Food

Halifax: Gio

If you are willing to drive about an hour out of the city. I would recommend Fleur de Sel in Lunenburg. I think Martin Ruiz Salvadors Franco-Spanish cuisine is the best food in the province. Service is also excellent. The owners pay the expenses for waiters living in Halifax to drive to there on a nightly basis to ensure the quality of the staff. That's impressive.

Aug 23, 2007
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Romantic dining in Halifax

Best bets are Maurizio's and Fiasco. Some might argue the Press Gang for its ambience, but you if you like food and service than it needs to be avoided at all costs. I would argue Gio has the best desserts, but for me the main menu is a little like it wants to be like Ferran Adria but as the sake of forgetting about how the food tastes. Fid lacks the romance. Good food, nice and small but too open and cold for a romantic evening.

Aug 23, 2007
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Whatever Happened to Maple in Hlfx?

Exactly. I think had the owners had the money to put in a wine program they would have I can't think of a more supportive owner than Cathy LeVangie. There isn't a harder working person in the business in Halifax. I hope some day Cathy and Maria (who works in the kitchen at the Cellar) open a Spanish restaurant. Maria who once worked at Paloma - a restaurant ahead of its time - could produce a great tapas/wine bar. An authentic alternative to the ones now available in the city.

Aug 23, 2007
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Whatever Happened to Maple in Hlfx?

Hi Bob,

As the former sommelier at Maple...I can tell you lots about Maple's downfall. The problem was two-fold., maybe three-fold. Michael is a good chef and great personality, but he and the owners never came to any ownership agreement, so when the financial reality of running the operation came to light after a couple years, tension mounted and the two parted ways. Anytime a celebrate chef leaves a restaurant, its bad news for the restaurant. Michael did some silly things at the beginning as well, such as putting on an Oestra Caviar app for $70. Stuff like that gave us the perception of being too expensive, when in reality, the more expensive restaurant to dine at was Da Maurizio -- but Da's does a much better job of allowing its staff to increase the guest check instead of trying to get the $ by trickery or trying to sell the big ticket food item or big bottle of wine. Next, the sous chef who took over was good at food cost but had zero business being a head chef at this type of restaurant, so inventiveness suffered dramatically after Michael's departure. I love Cathy, the owner, but for whatever reason they tried to turn the downstairs into a wine bar (but giving no $$ to invest in a wine program) and made what begged to be a cosy intimate room open and bistro looking...not good. Finally, the location was awful. No walk by traffic, no parking, and poor street lighting. Better suited to be a hair salon apparently

Aug 17, 2007
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Halifax: Gio

Susur's was very good for food, but I think the quality front of house didn't meet the back. Loved the restaurant atmosphere...a good example of how to create an inviting atmosphere without going overboard on expense. I would gladly repeat the experience for the food and Susur himself was lovely.

I have also had a great experience at Onyx sitting at the bar with the sampler platters but sitting at the back near the kitchen the atmosphere doesn't work and the sauces were inexcusable. Too bad, because the bar can be good and I like what they are trying to with wine flights etc.

Also, went to Mosaic recently and qualified approval based on a few apps/tapas and a couple glasses of wine. Steak tartare was great and good selection by the glass (including a great little Greek white made from Moschofilero grape) and good red (Trapiche Broquel Malbec). Only real problem was the wine glasses...great for margaritas...bad for tasting wine.

Jan 07, 2007
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada

Halifax: Gio

Agreed Gio is in the top-tier of Halifax restaurants. Da is still the best. Fiasco is very good. Of the others at that price level, Seven is hit and miss (although if you are a pretty person, I think the service and attention is exponentially better), the Press Gang is the worst, Bish isn't very good (although its been a while since I tried it), and Onyx dissapointing (see notes at bottom).

As far as Gio, it successfully combines style with great service (the head waiter, Sean, is one of the best waiters in the city) and comfort - the booths are great. They also have a great cocktail list -- and for a confirmed oenophile like myself to mention a cocktail list is saying something. They also have a good, fairly priced wine list.

The only drawback and criticism I had of my experience at Gio was suprisingly the food which was focused more on style than taste. I fear, Ray (whose food I have had many times before and loved) got a little too carried away in trying to create dishes a la Ferran Adria and Susur Lee...thinking more about the science of food than the taste. Hopefully, in the two months since I have been there he has gotten back to tasting his food than playing with it. Knowing Ray, I suspect he has. Desserts there rock, as their pastry chef, whom I worked with at a previous restaurant is the best in the city. Overall, I would recommend Gio but would proceed with slight caution and will certainly be asking for server recommendations next time round. In reference to Susur (King West in Toronto), I ate my first meal there over the XMAS holidays. An enjoyable experience, mostly because my wife and I were celebrating an evening out and it would have been almost impossible for us not to have a good time. Interesting concept of working with strongest flavours and richest food first and ending with lightest and dessert. Made for odd progession of wine, as we started with big reds and worked our way down. Service was surprisingly amateur -- snotty french host, followed by a decent but originally dismissive waiter (until halfway through meal when he determined we knew more about wine and food than he did), and unfortunately food runners that couldn't relate what was on the plate. One was obviously nervous, and two others were unable to effectively communicate in English, which wouldn't be a problem accept the dishes were so detailed not having someone there able to discribe them made it difficult to get the full experience. The wine list while lengthy was only okay, as the by the glass selections while pricey weren't the best, the Pauillac by the glass while nicely structured was a bit green (perhaps a vintage issue -- 2002) and the Amarone we ordered was faulted (tca) and the restaurant refused to admit it as such, so we ordered another one in its place. The rest of the wine list was fine but for a restaurant that offers alot of exotic spicing, I was surprised there weren't more in aromatic whites, there was no NZ Sauvignon, few ripe styles of Pinot (such as Santa Barb. County) or good Aussie (Yarra etc.)

Back to Halifax, one of the more dissapointing experiences I have had recently in Halifax was Onyx. Awful distracting lighting, a bizarre open kitchen concept that doesn't work, bizarre menu (although the sample platters looked interesting)and worse off unacceptable quality of food for the price. The sauces were miserable. My conclusion was they were thickened with way too much corn syrup (as they were bizarrely textured and way too sweet). My wife who has allergies to food dyes swelled up after this meal.

Jan 07, 2007
WINEWOLF in Atlantic Canada