Halifax: giant thumbs up for 2 Doors Down, mixed thumbs for Chives
I'm surprised that there are no mentions of 2 Doors Down on this board, as it is both excellent and clearly very popular. We had dinner there on our first night in Halifax and loved it so much we went back for lunch the next day. (There were more items on the menu that we needed to try!) For dinner, I had a special spinach-broccoli soup, which pleased me very much because it was NOT a cream base, but puree, with great flavor coming through from the veggies. I then had the lobster bruschetta, which was stunning--a goodly heap of butter-poached lobster (hard to go wrong there!), pea shoots, and a ricotta-herb base, on focaccia. It was in the starter section, but definitely big enough for a main course for me. My dining companion had the fish burger, which was just OK, but he was eyeballing the Korean kimchi cheese fries--so that's what he had when we went back for lunch the following day. At that point I had the seafood chowder, which absolutely ranks as one of the top ten bowls of soup I've ever had. Absolutely perfect, and again, not too starchy or thick, which is the usual downfall of restaurant cream soups. The cheese fries (which I did not taste) were reported as very nice although not life-changing. We both had market vegetable salads, which turned out to be spinach with blueberries and caramelized pecans--really good.
We ate our second Halifax dinner down the block at Chives, since the menu there looked great too and it was so well reviewed. We started with the charcuterie plate, which was solid. My dining companion had the pork chop, which in his mind WAS life-changing--he was blown away by the smoked tenderness. Unfortunately, my main course was a real misfire--that day's fish special, it was a piece of pan-roasted halibut with dill sauce, accompanied by three panko-crusted scallops, all piled on a base of sauteed potatoes, cabbage, and kielbasa as well as some patty-pan squash, carrots, etc. Each element of the dish was executed competently, but the whole added up to rather less than the sum of the parts--pretty much nothing on the plate agreed with anything else. It was not a good experience, and I ended up eating the seafood but leaving most of the rest of it. I mentioned this to the waiter, and I hope the word got back to the kitchen. We were very happy with our wine choices, though--there are quite good options by the glass.
That was my exact impression of Chives - too many mis-matched, though well-executed, parts per plate. The plates as I recall looked like those of the greedy at a luncheon buffet. Simple is hard to beat but more difficult to compose.
Loved 2doors down. Thanks for the rec. went twice during our visit to halifax. Loved the lobster bruschetta, calamari with addictive hot sauce, cheeseburger (pink!), fried chicken, and kale salad. Desserts were a little cutesy-odd in little mason jars but my family was happy with them. Nice cocktails and wine.