|Visited On:||May 4, 2012|
|Gluten Free Menu:||Included with regular menu|
|Variety of Gluten-Free Options:||1/2|
|Overall Gluten-Friendly Rating:||1/2|
|Price Range:||$25-$35 per person (plus drinks, tax, and tip)|
Chives Canadian Bistro has long been on our list of places to visit, and we finally made our way there early in May. Before I get into talking about our experience, be aware that their menu changes with the season. However, it is visible online here. Gluten-free and vegetarian offerings are marked on the online version and in-house version.
I had checked out the online menu before making a reservation, and what I saw made my mouth water. In addition, five of the six appetizers are gluten-free or can be made gluten free. Four of the seven entrées are also gluten-free or can be made that way.
Because I’d done some research, I was well-prepared, starving, and ready to order as soon as we were seated. We started off with some beverages and the pan-roasted sea scallops ($12). Now, I am not an adventurous eater, but we really enjoyed the mix of things on the plate: three large scallops, goat cheese, greens, spiced pecans, and heirloom beets. We also enjoyed the buttermilk biscuits that our server delivered. Mine was the tastiest gluten-free biscuit I’d ever had; I immediately understood why the price for extras was included in the menu. (There is no extra charge for the gluten-free biscuits, which is nice. There’s also a funny story that goes with the biscuits, and the gluten version of the recipe, here.)
Can you tell the gluten-free and gluten version biscuits apart?
Chives can because each biscuit is placed in its own stamped paper bag, and gluten-free versions are marked as such. Thank goodness because you’d never be able to tell the difference by sight or even weight!
For our main course, I ordered the special, which was roast halibut with vegetables ($35). Mike chose the braised cardamom curried lamb ($29). We chatted and enjoyed the view of Barrington Street, and were surprised at how quickly our meals arrived.
Mine wasn’t what I expected, as the vegetables were in a clear broth with the fish balanced on top. As I am sure you all know, I am not a big fan of vegetables, and I couldn’t even identify half of what was in the dish. Despite that, the fish was amazing: delicately seasoned, perfectly cooked, and wonderfully fresh. The broth had a light seasoning as well, with spices that I couldn’t identify, but it gave the vegetables a nice flavor that enhanced their natural taste. I was absolutely stuffed about three quarters of the way through it; it was far more filling than it looked!
Mike’s lamb was incredibly tender and perfectly cooked. Lamb can easily become tough, and sauces and seasonings can overwhelm it, but this dish was done flawlessly. We both cleaned our plates pretty quickly and declared there was no way we could stuff dessert in.
However, we had to look at the dessert menu so that we could report back on it, and we couldn’t resist what we saw. All three of their regular dessert items can be done gluten-free, including an apple pie-style dessert and a chocolate biscuit cake! (They also have a special that varies daily.) We decided after some hesitation to split the honey vanilla crème brulée ($7). It was a wonderful ending to an excellent meal: a bit thinner than other crème brulées that I have had (probably due to the honey) but really excellent, with a nice torched sugar crust and just the right hint of sweetness.
Chives is a great place for Celiacs and vegetarians to enjoy an extraordinary casual meal, especially if you’re the kind of person who prefers sustainable, local food choices. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for their summer menu!
Chives Canadian Bistro
1537 Barrington Street (Downtown Halifax)