Mixed Reviews for Chef’s Menu

Visited On: June 15, 2012
Gluten Free Menu: No (Desserts are marked on the main menu)
Server Knowledge:
Server Attitude: 1/2
Variety of Gluten-Free Options: 1/2
Overall Gluten-Friendly Rating: 1/2
Price Range: $15-$30 per person, plus drinks, tax, and tip

We’ve been hearing fantastic things about Chef’s Menu here in Sackville since it opened last November. Since they bill themselves as casual fine dining, it seemed an appropriate choice for a celebratory dinner last month, even though they are in a strip mall. We made a reservation, I donned a skirt, and off we went.

We arrived a few minutes early, but were seated promptly and cheerfully in a booth. Between the booth and the paper napkins, and the fact that everyone else was wearing jeans, I began to doubt the “casual fine dining” claim. A look at the wine menu (where grapes varieties are listed, but not the vineyard or label) deepened my doubts. The menu was a mix, too; everything from nachos and burgers to gourmet entrées.

However, our waitress was very nice and cheerful, and was more than happy to go over the gluten-free options. (Only gluten-free desserts are marked on the menu.) Most of the soups and all of the salads are gluten-free. There is also a good selection of appetizers and gluten-free pasta, as well as most of their entrées.

Mike opted for the special, prime rib with duchesse potato, with a Caesar salad to start ($29). I also ordered a Caesar salad ($9) to start and Coquilles St. Jacques ($19) as my main entrée. Mike’s salad arrived quite quickly and was delicious, but mine never showed up, and our waitress never stopped by the table long enough for me to ask for it.

Our entreés weren’t far behind Mike’s appetizer. My scallops were nicely presented, but the mashed potatoes were quite bland and the scallops were under-seasoned and overcooked, meaning they didn’t taste of the cream sauce at all. Mike’s prime rib was generous, but quite fatty. (He misheard the server when she cited the price and almost died afterwards when he realized how much it was.) Plain steamed vegetables accompanied each plate, and frankly, I could have cooked better at home.

I was still quite hungry after the main course, so we ordered dessert. I chose the white chocolate Bavarian mousse ($7), while Mike ordered the cheesecake, which that day was flavored with Bailey’s ($7). Finally, we saw some fine dining quality. The desserts were beautifully presented and delicious; we cleaned up every bite.

I left Chef’s Menu feeling dissatisfied. I think if they hadn’t marketed themselves as casual fine dining, I would have enjoyed it more. (Chives Canadian Bistro markets themselves the same way and are light years better. Read our review here.)

Is Chef’s Menu gluten-friendly? Definitely. Is it worth a visit? Totally. But is it fine dining? Not so much. Next time I’ll skip the skirt and heels and just go for pasta.

Chef’s Menu
518 Sackville Drive (Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia)
902-252-4002
Web Site: http://chefsmenu.ca

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