I want to start by stating publicly that I have NEVER had a meal that wasn’t absolutely wonderful at the Armview. Good. Now that I’ve got that off my chest I can talk about my first ever instance of bad service at one of my absolute favourite local joints. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been there for such a late supper – it was around 8:30 in the evening – or maybe the fact that open mic was taking place on the bar-side of the restaurant had something to do with it. Either way, Dave and I left shaking our heads and wondering what had happened to the Armview we loved so dearly.
We sat down and our server promptly arrived and asked if we wanted drinks. I ordered a Garrison Nut Brown and water. After five minutes or so, she came back with the water and asked if we were ready to order. The special was intriguing, an Avocado Banana Beef Burger so I ordered that with a side salad of mixed greens. Dave ordered his usual, the Avocado Delight wrap with fries. I didn’t say anything about the beer which was still missing in action, and figured it would come with my meal. Our supper arrived about ten minutes later and as the server went to set Dave’s food down in front of him, the vast majority of his fries slid off the plate and onto the table. She was apologetic and seemed a bit frazzled, but assured us that she’d get more fries and they’d be right up. She made no effort however, to clean up her mess and rather left Dave to pick up the fries. I could see his internal struggle to not eat them off the table, poor guy.
At this point I asked for the beer again and it came soon after. The Avocado Banana Beef burger was tasty, but not mind-blowing. The avocado did nothing for the flavour, and was indiscernible through the rich and sticky peanut butter. I’m a huge fan of peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and also of peanut butter on a burger, but had never thought to combine the three. They didn’t skimp on the banana either, which was great for both flavour and texture. If there was such a thing as a burger that tasted like summer, this one did. The banana really gave it that lightness and sweetness that go so well in the warm months. The burger itself was a little on the dry side and was served very well-done. Dave commented that the Avocado Delight seemed to now come with couscous on it and although he does enjoy couscous, didn’t care for it so much on his already perfect wrap. His fries came eventually, but only after he’d finished his wrap and the few fries that had avoided running onto the table.
As for the Garrison Nut Brown, it had a much more prominent nuttiness than I’d expected. It was strong enough in flavour that I had to sip it gingerly, and in all honesty I made Dave finish it. It wasn’t my favourite of the Garrison brews but that’s purely a case of personal preference. I do appreciate it for its depth of flavour and richness.
As we walked away, Dave made a valid point; one bad experience is often enough. If that had been our first time there, I’m not sure if I’d love the Armview as much as I do. I’ll be back for sure as it’s one of my favourite local spots, but I’ll make sure to continue my trend of daytime visits and avoidance of open mic night.
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!