It is a classic cold evening in downtown Halifax we scurry into a toasty low lit dinning room, and we are promptly asked for our coats then seated at a snug table.
We cozy up to the couple sitting next to us, the tables are not far apart, as Chives is a small restaurant, but close proximity contributes to warm inviting atmosphere. I don’t need a menu, but I take one any way I already know what I want; I checked out the menu online. Decisive for once, I order the Sungold Tomato and Spinach Risotto. Happy with my choice I peruse the drink menu while Mac orders the same and desperately attempts to order a spinach salad appetizer. The waiter stumbles into a thick fog, and some how my order has gotten wrapped into this confusion. Stressed he asks questions after questions and I fail to realize the complexity of ordering a salad before a meal. “Just send two risottos and a spinach salad please”. Geez Louise. We look at each other and our eyes widen; there is no need to say anything because we know exactly what each other is thinking —what just happened?
After that I need a drink— “martini please”. The restaurant is loud, but alive with conversations; people seem to be enjoying themselves. When the risottos come they look delightful, it is clear that this chef appreciates the presentation of his dishes as much as the carefully picked locally grown food he uses to prepare them. I take a bite of the portabella mushroom and everything slows down it is as if the flavor gradually fills my entire body. The herb salad elegantly placed on top is both art and food; it adds a punch that is refreshing and balances everything. The risotto is the bottom layer, and it is the foundation of the dish lying underneath supporting it all. Packed with crunchy spinach and havarti cheese the risotto is cooked to the perfect texture. Finding large clumps of cheese I push them aside, and attempt to eat the delicious risotto around the cheese. I mean I like cheese, but seriously? For some people there is no such thing as too much cheese, and I could see how this is appealing, but I think light on the cheese and heavy on the veg would make this dish a ten.
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If I were on death row and had one last meal request it would be Chives Bistro Steak!