If Obladee is weekly date-night-worthy, Chives is a go-to special occasion destination. Graduation, birthday, reunion with a special friend or long lost luuuurver? Chives offers respectably elegant food worthy of life’s memorable moments in a space that’s quirky, colourful and feels like the attic of a far richer and more eccentric person than I.
We escaped the pounding rain, up a steep and narrow staircase where the orange walls and oak floors gave the room an instant glow. The hostess was considerate, seating the quiet parties of two in one room, away from the raucous birthday party dominating the main dining room.
Martha Stewart, take note: offering your guests goodie bags when they arrive is the new hostess etiquette. Chives serves warm buttermilk biscuits in a brown paper bag with molasses and butter on the side. As we stared down at the torrential conditions on the sidewalk below, the dampness in our shoes began to melt away as we crammed those babies in our faces. I can usually abstain from buttering my carbs but I had no idea the irresistible power of molasses to add a bittersweet edge. Try it sometime—you won’t be disappointed. Yet another hint East Coaster hospitality and openness, Chef Flinn has even shared the recipe. You can see a glimpse of these puppies in the photo below.
We started with the Cajun oysters, which are corn-flour-fried with a dollop of sweet potato puree and drizzled with chorizo barbacue sauce and chipotle aioli.
After seeing another table’s order of the day’s special bruschetta, we had to try it as well. These babies had goat cheese, black olive tapenade, an artichoke and tomato kind of remoulade, and fresh basil with a sweet roasted cherry tomato to top it off.
Overall, Chef Flinn’s presentation is artful without upstaging the flavour combinations he’s put together.
Because I can’t resist anything you wrap in bacon, or anything that’s pig-on-pig, I had the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with grainy mustard mashed potato and red cabbage.Mr. ST had braised short ribs with cheese ravioli, asparagus, mushrooms, and onion rings as a garnish.
While mine was predictably good in its recollection of the basic flavours that make German dishes succeed, Mr. ST’s meal was the kind of dish you desperately want to savour and have to mentally hold yourself back from shovelling in your face. Please tell me I’m not the only one who battles mild anxiety as a dish like this slowly disappears?
Because we had plans to go to Yuk Yuks at the Westin Hotel by the waterfront, we did not sample dessert, which I still regret and promise to rectify next time I am there (we WILL be back!).
Instead, we had this passable cheese plate at the Westin’s cocktail lounge, which I could criticize but, then again, we ordered a cheese plate in a hotel bar so I prefer not to indulge my foolishly high expectations of that decision. At the end of the day, it was still cheese, which remains the best dessert option in the world in our opinion. (But seriously–who serves day-old white baguette and butter crackers with fine cheeses?…..ok, done).
Chives is not blow-your-mind cooking on the edge of the trends—I’ll take you there shortly in my final review of the best of Halifax date nights; Chives is a place you can expect food to be carefully prepared, with guaranteed-to-succeed flavour pairings and just enough flare to make you feel fancy for being there without need for a tie or high heels (unless you want to of course). And isn’t that what the best date nights are about?