Top 10 fine dining restaurants in Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia. one of Canada’s most popular Maritime Provinces, is a carefree place with a thriving restaurant scene that is growing and developing with every day. Once specialising in fresh fish and seafood, local restaurants are now seeking inspiration from places other than their ocean-scented air and are taking full advantage of the region’s superb farms and craft breweries.
From Mediterranean-inspired restaurants serving up far-off flavours from Europe to traditional pub-style eateries taking simple fast food to whole new levels, here are the top 10 fine dining restaurants in Halifax, Nova Scotia you can’t miss.
The Auction House
Where: 1726 Argyle Street
The scene: The ultimate destination when you’re craving an awesome burger with all the toppings, the Auction House delivers a chef-inspired menu bursting with unique twists on classic pub grub. From thick, juicy beef burgers topped with caramelised onions, Sriracha peppered relish and ‘everything’ mayonnaise to heart-healthy veggie burgers made from oats and topped with goat cheese, there’s really no place in Halifax that does gourmet fast food like the Auction House. As well as burgers, the dining hot spot also serves up plates piled high with chicken wings, loaded nachos, fish ‘n’ chips and fried chicken sandwiches – everything you’d expect from your usual pub, but better. Consistently buzzing with an eclectic, energetic atmosphere, the dining room offers a top end pub feel, with comfy red booths, stained glass windows and low lighting making it a relaxing place to hang out at any time.
Signature dish: Brewer’s burger – a beef burger topped with sautéed mushrooms, bacon, smoked gouda cheese and Auction sauce, served with hand-cut chips.
Where: 2795 Windsor Street
The scene: An unpretentious bistro that specialises in New Canadian cuisine, Brooklyn Warehouse is a quirky, low-lit space characterised kitschy décor and bright colours. From the exposed brickwork behind the bar and the hastily written specials on the blackboard to the off-the-wall contemporary artwork and the Ikea-like seating in yellow and orange, nothing about this restaurant suggests fine dining…until you take a look at the menu. Offering up a new selection of epicurean eats on a nightly basis, the cuisine is as fresh, seasonal and local as possible every evening. Despite the small selection available (the menu usually only features four starters, six mains and three desserts) everything at Brooklyn Warehouse is excellently executed and sounds utterly divine. From confit of pork belly with Nova Scotia scallops to pretzel-crusted pork schnitzel with smoked squash puree and chocolate mousse torte smothered with salted caramel, the menu is brimming with so many enticing choices that you could easily spend all evening just choosing your starter.
Signature dish: Because the menu changes nightly, there’s no signature dish.
The Wooden Monkey
Where: 1707 Grafton Street
The scene: A harmonious hangout for carnivores, fish lovers, vegetarians and vegans, The Wooden Monkey is one of the few sophisticated restaurants in Halifax where a vegetable curry is perfectly at home tucked in between a roast chicken dinner and a scallop pasta dish. Premier organic and locally-sourced produce features in every dish on the vast contemporary Canadian menu which offers up a little bit of everything, from pizzas and burgers to salads and grilled fish. The massive selection of locally-brewed beers, creative fruity cocktails and wines produced from responsibly-grown organic grapes provide the ideal accompaniment to every dish, while the heavenly selection of indulgent desserts (you’ve got to try the blueberry crisp, made with organic oats and Nova Scotia blueberries!) offer the perfect sweet ending to a fabulous dining experience you’ll never want to end.
Signature dish: Chocolate tofu pie – a non-dairy chocolate and organic silken tofu filling in an almond walnut crust, served with maple whipped cream.
Agricola Street Brasserie
Where: 2540 Agricola Street
The scene: Nestled into Halifax’s up and coming North End, Agricola Street Brasserie is a laid-back place where foodies can take it easy and enjoy a happy, communal atmosphere while tucking into some of the best food you’ll find on the East Coast. The urban bar and restaurant serves up seasonal home-style cooking with a distinct French influence, resulting in robust, earthy dishes and delicately slow-cooked specials. Long banquettes and standalone tables make the main dining room equally perfect for a romantic dinner for two or a jovial party of 12, while the long butcher block-style bar with 18 individual seats provides the perfect setting to sip a pre-dinner glass of wine or locally crafted beer and soak up the buzz of the dining room. The menu changes often according to which seasonal ingredients are at their finest and covers everything from tempting snacks of seafood towers and charcuterie platters to hearty mains of seared duck breast with wild mushrooms and grilled sirloin with shallot butter.
Signature dish: Grilled rack of lamb with a sweet pea puree, turnip, carrots, beans and basil, drizzled in a mild curry yoghurt.
The Press Gang Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Where: 5218 Prince Street
The scene: Another wonderful restaurant set inside one of the oldest buildings in Halifax, every inch of the Press Gang Restaurant & Oyster Bar has been influenced by the history of seafaring in the city. Boasting a unique formal dining experience and a menu overflowing with exquisite seafood, meat, poultry and game guaranteed to satisfy every palate, this distinguished venue offers a graceful main dining room, as well as one of the best stocked oyster bars in the city. To complement the incredibly fresh ingredients that go into making each dish, the Press Gang Restaurant & Bar also showcases a huge selection of fine wines, single malt whiskies and signature cocktails. Whether you choose to travel the Canadian Maritimes by savouring the decadent selection of raw and baked oysters which changes daily or sit back and treat yourself to a luxury feast of salmon, lobster, duck or lamb, your visit to the Press Gang Restaurant & Oyster Bar will undoubtedly be one filled with just the atmosphere, menu and bar you’ve been searching for.
Signature dish: Press Gang scallop risotto – tomatoes, corn, coriander, diced green onions, parmesan cheese, U-10 Digby scallops and mixed tobiko.
The Five Fishermen
Where: 1740 Argyle Street
The scene: Set inside the oldest building in Halifax which dates back to 1750, The Five Fishermen is an upmarket restaurant best known for its excellent selection of fresh, local seafood. From classic Nova Scotia seafood chowder, loaded with scallops, clams, prawns mussels and salmon to wood-grilled swordfish steaks served with the restaurant’s amazing signature sauces, the Five Fishermen’s menu reads like a seafood lover’s dream. But don’t worry if creatures of the deep aren’t your thing. The menu also highlights wood-grilled steaks, short ribs, vegetarian dishes and vegan options, making it a fantastic place to go when everyone in your group wants something different. The main dining room is simply stunning, with dark wooden tables elegantly backlit through a magnificent wall of stained glass. If you prefer a more casual feel, you’ll be perfectly at home in the downstairs section of the restaurant which is visually less grandiose, but offers all the same decadent food and wines as the upstairs dining room.
Signature dish: The five fish – scallops, prawns, lobster, salmon and halibut served with an asparagus risotto.
The Bicycle Thief
Where: 1475 Lower Water Street at Bishop’s Landing
The scene: Exuding a chilled out, come-as-you-are feel in an ambiance which blends old school style with new school attitude, The Bicycle Thief serves hungry diners superb North American food with legendary Italian soul. The larger-than-life menu is loaded up with such a huge array of staggeringly tempting dishes that there’s a serious chance you’ll start drooling just by reading the titles. From jumbo prawns sautéed with garlic, cognac, charred grape tomatoes and a splash of cream to the braised beef short rib ragu plated with wild mushrooms San Marzano tomatoes and Grana Padano, and organic chicken breast with an almond crumb crust and summer herb salad, everything on the menu sounds so good you’ll be convinced you’re on the set of a celebrity chef competition programme. If the weather’s fine, bag a table on the bustling patio, where you can soak up the dynamic atmosphere of the picture-perfect waterfront.
Signature dish: Tagliata – peppercorn-crusted beef tenderloin sliced and served rare with E.V. olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar drizzle, whole mushroom and Cipollini onion sauté, and sea-salted chips.
Chives Canadian Bistro
Where: 1537 Barrington Street
The scene: Treating guests to warm and humble environs which capture all the key elements of the gorgeous Canadian landscape, Chives Canadian Bistro blends together traditional French urban bistro cooking with rustic chalkboard menus, vividly painted walls and long banquet seating. The bright and fresh seasonal menu is subject to frequent changes, but is always bursting with a medley of local ingredients and Mediterranean flavours. Start off by tucking into a duck duo of confit rillettes before moving on to the delectable hand-made mushroom tagliatelle. If you’ve still got room, the dessert menu offers a magnificent selection of sweet treats, but the three-piece petit fours are reliably sublime. The wine list is staggeringly exhaustive and offers an international selection of red, white, rose and sparkling wines from the new and old worlds. One of the key characteristics of the restaurant is its vault. Originally a Bank of Nova Scotia leftover from the 1950s, today the vault is used as part wine cellar and part intimate dining space, giving Chives Canadian bistro a unique special touch other restaurants can’t compete with.
Signature dish: Lobster risotto, served with braised leeks, sweet shelling peas, pecorino and a pea tendril salad.
Where: 2053 Gottingen Street
The scene: An acronym for Eat, Drink and Nourish Always, EDNA is the perfect blend of dazzlingly modern and comfortably traditional. A boisterous bar area takes centre stage in the middle of the restaurant, with reclaimed wood that curves up the wall, industrially-inspired pipe work and a vibrant atmosphere that cuts through the quiet, more refined dining rooms on either side in a good way. The food is simple, local and creative, with the modern Canadian menu regularly flaunting fresh Nova Scotia oysters, charcuterie from local farms and salads made from market vegetables. A featured butcher’s cut and daily special depend on seasonal availability and most of the menu rotates on a daily basis, testament to how fresh the food is. Although the evening menu, with delights such as marinated flank steak with garlic scape salsa and grilled Cornish hen with crispy potato latkes, is magnificent, the place really shines when it comes to brunch. Whether you’re a savoury eggs benedict lover or prefer a sweet plate of ricotta pancakes, EDNA’s got the perfect dish to get you out of bed in the morning and a delicious cocktail to accompany it, too.
Signature dish: Crab cakes with grapefruit aioli and a radish slaw.
Where: 1725 Market Street
The scene: The definitive dining experience of downtown Halifax, Gio presents classic fine dining in a fun and approachable way. The restaurant’s diverse and divine menu transforms with the seasons, combining the best in local and international ingredients to create exciting, innovative dishes that will really blow you away. From provoking starters such as tempura cauliflower with black garlic aioli and charred octopus with yoghurt to magnificent mains of fresh lobster with jasmine rice congee and bison tenderloin with bacon confit potatoes, the contemporary Canadian menu encourages you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. The dining room’s décor is just as original as the presentation of the food, with art in rotation from a nearby gallery adorning the walls, stylish yet comfortable seating for couples and parties, and exquisite glassware available to purchase. Open for lunch and dinner, the foodie haven also features an extensive bar and lounge where you can browse a sommelier-selected wine list, inventive cocktail selection and the finest choice of spirits.
Signature dish: Salmon with rhubarb, beetroot, swiss chard, spätzle and mustard seeds.