Editor’s Note: This is the first post in Halifax Magazine’s “Culinary Experiences” blog series. These aren’t traditional restaurant reviews and we aren’t food critics. However, we are fortunate to get to explore all kinds of different restaurants and dining experiences. In these posts, we’ll share those experiences. Today, Halifax Magazine publisher Patty Baxter joins me for a February lunch at Seasons by Atlantica, in the Atlantica Hotel on Robie Street.
The management at Seasons tell us they consider their restaurant to be one of Halifax’s best-kept lunch secrets. We see what they mean: on the dreary February Thursday we visit, at about 11:45 a.m., the large dining room only holds three other customers. And the longer I’m here, the more this mystifies me. It’s a beautiful stylish space with entrancing views of the Willow Tree Intersection and Halifax Common. The service is attentive and professional. (Bonus: free parking for lunch customers in Atlantica’s underground garage). I like the experience before I even order.
As we ponder the menu, Executive Chef Luis Clavel sends a Portobello mushroom and Brie amuse-bouche to get us started. This gives me a moment’s pause, as I really don’t like mushrooms much. But I also know that Clavel is one of my favourite chefs at the Savour Food & Wine Show pretty well every year, so I tuck in. I like it far more than I’d expected. The Brie is creamy and rich, complementing the earthy (but not overpowering) flavours of the Portobello. Patty likes it too; we do a little fork fencing for the final piece and return to studying the menus.
The crunchy-fried haddock leads us to a brief impasse. We both want it, but we agree we should order different things. As rank hath its privileges, Patty gets the haddock and I turn to Sonya, our server, for advice. She emphatically recommends the curried-chicken flatbread, so I order that.
It’s not long before our food comes, and we’re immediately pleased with our choices. The flatbread is light but satisfying, boasting big curry flavours without overwhelming the palate. Patty’s haddock, accompanied with fries and fennel slaw, is fresh and fried to perfection, with a light but crispy batter that complements the haddock rather than burying it (which is a common problem with fried fish).
I’m not a big dessert fan, especially with lunch, but I am a fiend for peanut butter. After 2.5 seconds of arguing, I convince Patty to share a piece of peanut-butter cheesecake. It is, as you’d expect, a nice smack of peanut-buttery goodness, but again, not overwhelmingly rich. It’s a nice sweet cap to a very tasty lunch.
With the level of service, quality of the food and convenient location, I’m still surprised that Seasons is so quiet at lunchtime, but I suspect that’s going to change soon. PS: Seasons also hosts live entertainment from 6–9 p.m. on Fridays. It strikes me as the perfect location for a glass of wine and some after-work jazz, so I’ll be checking that out soon.
Have you tried Seasons? What did you think? Post a comment and share your thoughts.