The Bicycle Thief Stole My Heart!

Visited On: September 21, 2011
Gluten Free Menu: No
Server Knowledge:
Server Attitude: 1/2
Variety of Gluten-Free Options:
Overall Gluten-Friendly Rating: 1/2
Price Range: $20-$30 per person (plus drinks, tax, and tip)

On my birthday, Michael took me to a surprise location for supper: The Bicycle Thief at Bishop’s Landing. Located in Bish’s old space (but still run by the Bertossi group), it’s evident that The Bicycle Thief is just as big of a success. Even though it was Wednesday night and Michael had called a week ahead, he got his third choice of reservation times (7:15 p.m.) and the place was packed the entire time we were there. (There were even people out on the patio, despite it being a chilly night.)

Our first stop was the drink menu. The Bicycle Thief features a long list of cocktails, both standard offerings and some really neat creations. Their wine list is huge – a full three pages with various sizes. We ordered a delicious bottle of Aglianico (an Italian red), and it was delicious.

I asked our server what appetizers and entrées were gluten free as we perused the one-page menu. He had to ask the chef about the appetizers, and came back with a recommendation of a jumbo shrimp dish or a salad. I declined – I don’t like shrimp and to me, a salad isn’t an appetizer. He felt really badly and went over the menu again with me. He suggested that they could do the scallops ($12) minus the breading. I love scallops so we had a deal! Mike and I both mentioned afterwards that we were really pleased by his extra effort; he was determined to find something that we were happy with.

Additionally, he told me that they didn’t have gluten-free bread, and he asked Michael if he still wanted regular bread. Michael said yes, and received a bread board with gorgeous, fresh bread, accompanied by fresh, handmade hummus. I think he was glad that he didn’t have to share!

We then ordered our entrees. Again, I had few choices as many of their dishes are pasta-based and most of their sauces have gluten in them. He suggested the ribs or beef tenderloin Tagliata ($27). I had been eyeing the tenderloin, done carpaccio-style (thinly sliced) and cooked with a Balsamic-olive oil mixture, so I ordered that. I originally asked for it medium-well, but changed that to medium on our server’s suggestion. Mike ordered the local rabbit ($25) braised in red wine with seared polenta.

We enjoyed some wine (and Mike ate some bread) while we waited for our appetizer. It arrived quite quickly and was beautifully presented – six scallops laid out in a smoked chili espagnole sauce. The server described how they had altered the recipe by omitting the bread crumbs and a demi-glaze. He seemed quite excited by what they had done and happy with the results, so we were quick to dig in.

They were the best scallops that I have ever had. They were perfectly cooked – warm but still very, very tender. The sauce gave it a nice bit of flavour, and how much you ate with each scallop controlled the heat. This was perfect as I am terrified of spicy food and Mike loves it! We cleared up the scallops in no time.

Our entrees weren’t far behind and we quickly dug in. Needless to say, we received exactly what we had ordered, and I felt really confident about it being gluten-free. I was initially concerned about the hand-cut fries that accompanied my meal as they seemed to have some kind of coating, but I quickly realized that it was Parmesan cheese. (This is stated in the menu, too.) The tenderloin Tagliata was one of the most delightful things that I had ever eaten. It was closer to medium-rare than medium, but I was so glad I had taken the server’s suggestion and didn’t mind it mooing at me a little bit. Melt-in-your-mouth, thinly sliced, and delightfully seasoned, it was simply to die for. Mike’s rabbit was delicious also (according to him; I didn’t taste as it wasn’t gluten-free) but the tagliata completely overshadowed it.

Needless to say, we were both pretty full after our meals, but we were determined to have dessert! There were not many options for me on there – gelati or crème brulée was about it. (The server actually didn’t recommend the crème brulée ($10), but confirmed that it was gluten-free when I asked about it. “I always forget about it – I’m glad you reminded me!,” he said.) Mike had a tougher time ordering – at first glance, he said, “I want to order $60 of dessert!” After discussion with the server, he opted for the carrot cake with roasted coconut ($10) and also ordered a cappuccino ($4.50).

Just as with the rest of the meal, the dessert and the cappuccino that followed was superb. The crème brulée was perfect; a beautiful crust on the top, with the custard cool but not cold. Mike’s carrot cake was equally spectacular.

I don’t know the final total for dinner, as Mike snarfed the bill as soon as it came, but in my opinion it was worth every penny. Although they don’t have a lot of gluten-free options, they are very willing to work with you to find a solution. I can’t wait for an excuse to go back to The Bicycle Thief!

The Bicycle Thief
1475 Lower Water Street (Bishop’s Landing, Halifax)
Web Site:


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