In our household, it’s a pretty common occurrence for me to pick the mister up from work and for us to grab a bite somewhere before heading home. It’s not that we don’t love to cook, we just love other people’s cooking more. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing; it meant that I recently got to hit up It’s All Greek to Me on Quinpool Road for an early supper. We waltzed in at around 4:30 and were surprised that the place was empty. We stood there for a minute wondering if they were in fact open or if they’d just left the door unlocked, when a really lovely server greeted us. We took a table by the window and got right down to business ordering a starter of skordalia. Skordalia is such a comfort food; the potatoes, the abundance of garlic and the richness of the olive oil make it a winner when served with pita bread, but we opted to have it served with Kolokithia, thick slices of zucchini breaded and deep fried to perfection. The brightness and warm, soft texture of the zucchini were made that much more delicious by the crunchy batter. I could eat this spread all day. I don’t care if it means I’ll have garlic emanating from my pores for the next twenty-four hours, because it’s worth it.
I’d really had my heart set on Moussaka, but was told the kitchen was out which surprised me since the supper rush had not yet begun. I opted instead for Pastichio, a close substituition for Moussaka with its similar meat sauce, and béchamel but with the addition of long macaroni noodles. For $14 it was served with roasted potatoes and a Greek salad. The béchamel held its form wonderfully and although delicious there wasn’t a chance of me being able to finish because of how rich it was. The meat was a consistent texture, moist and flavourful with a delicious blend of spices which had me savouring every bite. The noodles were slightly dry but it didn’t take away from the flavour of the dish.
I hereby profess my love of Greek roasted potatoes. With their lemony aroma and flavour they entice with a zesty lightness that has me coming back for more. As far as Greek salads go, they were generous with both the feta and the Kalamata olives (yay!) and it thankfully wasn’t drowning in dressing like so many Greek salads that have come across my plate.
I think my favourite part of the meal though was when I realized in a moment of panic that I didn’t have my wallet (nor did my dinner partner as I’d said this would be my treat) and I had to frantically drive home in rush hour traffic to retrieve it while he picked at the last bites on our plates for a solid twenty minutes. Hey, there’s a first time for everything. Let’s hope that never happens again though…
Still reeling from Thursday night’s Arcade Fire concert, I decided to solidify this weekend as a stellar one and hit up a couple of new spots on Friday evening. Dave and I had been moving from the apartment to the house in Bedford all afternoon and opted for a late supper at the Rockbottom Brewpub on Spring Garden since we’d never been. On our way down, I checked my iPhone to verify the address on their website and realized they recommended calling to make a reservation at least two hours in advance of arrival. This seemed a bit excessive to me, and I started to wonder if Rockbottom was more popular than I’d originally thought. We decided we were better off feigning ignorance and showing up optimistic that we’d get a table. It turned out we had nothing to worry about; we got a table just fine as there were only two other groups of people in the restaurant. The restaurant/bar has a great atmosphere. It’s comfortable while maintaining a certain level of sophisticated relaxation. You could get dressed up to go for drinks and dinner, or walk in with jeans and a t-shirt on and not feel horribly out of place.
I’ve been saying for awhile now that Halifax needs a good brewpub akin to Big Tide in St. John. We grabbed a booth close to the bar and ordered the sampler of their six brews for $6. Unfortunately they were out of their Citadel Ale and McNabs Nut Brown, so we were only able to sample the IPA, Stout, Wheat and Red. I’m not a fan of IPA in general, so it was not my favourite. The stout, although much too “hoppy” for my taste had a nice balance of richness and bitter coffee flavour which was surprising. I enjoyed the Red Ale which was smooth, full of hops and full-bodied but my preference was for the Wheat which had a very subtle raspberry note. Dave opted for an 18 oz. Red and I ordered an 18 oz. Wheat, each under $7.
We started with the quesadilla ($9.95) because I can’t resist the promise of anything with pico de gallo. Although tasty, it didn’t have the lime and cilantro that I’ve grown accustomed to, but was good as a salsa. Our food was quick and service was good even though we were lacking utensils for our starter and the first few minutes of our meal. I tried the turkey avocado burger ($12.45) with side butternut squash soup for an added $2.00 and Dave ordered the Veggie Panini with a Caesar salad for $11.25. I’ve got to say that as much as I love turkey there is something seriously off-putting about ground turkey. I want to love it but then I smell it and I remember why I don’t (love it, that is). On its own, the turkey burger was quite tasteless, so it’s no surprise that the burger comes stacked with tasty, crispy bacon and chunky slices of avocado that add that saltiness and buttery depth of flavour that the burger needs. I couldn’t really pick up the cranberry flavour from the mayo but the sautéed onions were a nice textural surprise on top of the burger. The butternut squash soup was delicious, and really highlighted the squash as the star of the show. That said, it was slightly under seasoned, but I almost forgot about it because of the creamy, smoky flavour of the soup.
Dave’s panini was excellent; I might have stolen a couple of bites, but just enough to know how nicely the veggies were complemented by the goat cheese and sundried tomatoes. The bread was nice and crispy and not at all overly buttery or greasy like so many panini’s can be. We opted to skip dessert this time, and left impressed with what Rockbottom had to offer. We will certainly be back!