I could not have been more off the mark. East Side Social is the product of two former Halifax natives who were also responsible for Ruby Watchco, so I can't explain why I avoided eating here until now. The Maritime influence is everywhere but the menu moves beyond Nova Scotia, brimming with excellently executed comfort foods like a lamb hamburger helper, perfect clam chowder with double smoked bacon served with a lovely, flaky little chive biscuit, devilled eggs that would make your grandma swoon and one of the nicest chunks of house smoked trout that I have had in ages. The portion size of the delicious scallop ceviche was the only dish that I felt could have been a bit more generous but it was so good that we were fork fighting over the last little morsel. Word to the wise- if you are not a salt lover, and I am, some of the dishes were just this side of too salty, so go in knowing that but the only dish that was even too salty for us was the gravy on the yorkshire pudding poutine - a great idea and it would be perfection if the salt was dialed back a bit.
Upon entering, you have to walk through the bar to get to the dining room in the back and the spaces were like night and day. The bar enjoys the large front window so it was bright and warm while the dining room was dark and cosy, with twinkly lights and nautical bits and bobs everywhere. I didn't get any great photos because it was really quite dark back there, so bad for photos but lovely for atmosphere and restaurants are not catering to my photography needs, are they? I think the next time we go back, we will sit at the bar and have a couple of cocktails, share some smoked trout and the delicious homemade molasses bread with butter and settle in for some good people watching.
All five of us licked our plates clean and agreed that this could be our new, favourite neighbourhood spot of the summer.
It was The Kid's 16th birthday so we took him to Ki for a special dinner. We have eaten at Ki quite a few times with work colleagues and that is the only reason that we have never been able to bring The Kid with us. Every time we leave feeling vaguely guilty because we know how much he would love it so we were excited to finally treat him to dinner here. As always, the service was impeccable, our waiter was there just enough. You know you have a good waiter when he just seems to appear at the moment you were thinking that you needed him but keeps his distance otherwise. We ordered quite a few things and of all of the dishes we ordered, the only one I wouldn't get again was the Japanese style ceviche. At $19 for four little soup spoons with a bit of ceviche in each, I would rather get another order of the delectable black cod or more rolls or something.
The only other thing that was new to me was the Creamy Miso Chowder that The Kid ordered. Shack insisted he didn't want one because he says he hates truffle and the chowder has a drizzle of truffle oil. As soon as the bowl was set down, Shack was wrinkling his nose at the scent of truffle and only agreed to taste it after watching the two of us swoon over it as we shared the bowl. It's creamy and surprisingly rich, dotted with seafood and a smattering of wakame. After a sip, he ended up loving it so much that the waiter brought him out a small bowl of his own so that he could sample a bit without committing to a big bowl of the stuff. See? That's a great waiter.
The Ki Sunomono Salad is chock full of ice cold, shredded crab meat and big enough to share and the Ika Roll, squid with more truffle oil, beets, arugula, crispy shallots and served with a balsamic reduction was probably our favourite of all the rolls, although they really are all delicious. An extensive sake list, beautiful teas and some really nice wines by the glass will also all nudge the bill skyward so go in knowing that this place isn't cheap. It's a great choice to go with friends, share a few dishes and one of my favourite gin based cocktail, the Ginjun Therapy Session ($13) and that way it won't make as big of a dent in your wallet. After the meal, we decided against dessert as we were expected home to do cake with The Neighbours so, instead, the hostess came to the table with a lovely box containing three dark chocolates and a hand written birthday card, which really made my kid's night. Again, just like in real estate it's location, location, location, in a restaurant it's often service, service, service. The delicious food doesn't hurt either.
Apart from our two nights out, we ate at home all week and I really had my Anova working overtime. I did some jerk chicken to see if it could really turn a boring boneless, skinless chicken breast into something delicious and it did just that. I marinated the chicken breasts overnight and then cooked them at 145.5F/63C for just over an hour and turned them into a Jamaican burrito with rice and peas, pepper jack cheese and a tomato/scallion salsa. The chicken was soft and tender and I am pretty sure I could cut it with a spoon. The days of boring, dried out boneless chicken boobs are over.
Speaking of jerk chicken, I got a huge box of jerk products from Grace Foods this week, along with some really nice BBQ tools and an apron so look out because I will be jerking everything that isn't nailed down for the next while.
This was also a big spiralizer week and I have to tell you, I replaced my udon noodles with those spiralized zucchini and carrot "noodles" and it was not only really tasty but I didn't really miss the noodles all that much. I haven't tried this on the boys yet but, so far, I have replaced the pasta with these with sauce and that went okay too. I'm not saying that I am never going to eat pasta or noodles again but it certainly can't hurt to cut down a bit and I just love spiralizing things.
After the successful chicken breast experiment, I decided to use the sous vide to cook the pork for the souvlaki (the birthday BBQ was a Greek mezes feast) and then I whipped up those Chicken Souvlaki Meatballs as well. Gonna marry that thing and change my name to Nelson Brown Anova. Shout out to The Neighbour for her ridonkulous chocolate brownie/Kailua/chocolate pudding/Crispy Crunch birthday trifle.
Instagram of the week: Her feed will make you want to eat your phone
Facebook share of the week:
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— The Yum Yum Factor (@SMmamashack) April 20, 2015