On a rainy Sunday eve, the crowd at Battery Park beer bar in downtown Dartmouth is sparse, but you get the impression the guest are from the neighbourhood; they look relaxed, like they have sat on those stools before. It’s my fourth time visiting Battery Park, and the only time I haven’t seen it packed.
As you walk in, the guy working the North Brewing store, a growler filling station from the Halifax brewery that fills the entrance, gives a greeting. Upstairs, is the bar and restaurant, with a modern tavern vibe, lots of wood, and wrought iron, with a mishmash of signs, vintage and new, on the walls for décor. Chef Mark Gray gives us a warm welcome. Most of the room is communal seating, and bar style with mostly high-tops. Some 90s hip-hop plays at an appropriate but audible level.
Towards the back is the partially covered patio. The seven picnic table seating area, with a few two seaters, is nestled between the downtown buildings. An outdoor bar area with a take-out window lists all the taps on chalkboards along the side.
The beer list has nice variety of styles, and lists breweries from all over the province, with 16 taps to choose from plus a few at the outside bar, and one cask (hand pumped beer) selection. They had cider on tap as well, and even sparkling mead (fermented honey drink) from Planters Ridge.
Our server, a handsome guy with a smattering of tattoos, was really well informed, and answered all my questions about the menu items we ordered.
Charcuterie Board: Near-perfect charcuterie board with terrine, bacon wrapped pork pate, beef carpaccio and chicken liver mousse. The terrine was layered with New Brunswick ash covered goat cheese and dates; sweet and salty with nice varying texture. Beef was covered in shaved cured egg yolk and capers. The liver was so smooth, slightly sweet and perfectly seasoned. This all came with a mixture of house made bread and crostini, and the preserved fruits and compote, like bright hascap and rhubarb jam which complimented all the salty goodies on the board. Worth the $18 for all the preparation that seemingly goes into something this good.
Pickle Jar: The little finger-food snack jar of a variety of pickled and fermented vegetables was good. Asparagus, daikon, carrot, Brussel sprouts, and beet were garnished with a few fresh samphire greens (sea asparagus.) Although I enjoyed the varying degrees of pickle, with some vegetables more firm than others, the carrots could have used more time in vinegar. $6.
Green Beans: This is the kind of plate or, rather, jar that’s great to order when you just want a snack but don’t want to load up on something heavy. The beans were perfectly cooked as they still had some crunch, and are covered in a garlic, chili and lemon butter, although the lemon got a bit lost and I was craving that acidity for balance with the salty butter. Although $6 seems a bit much for the size and nature of this dish, I still liked it. Simplicity is usually a winner; can’t mess with some good beans.
Calamari: These little strips of lightly breaded, tender and well-seasoned squid are served with a pepper sofrito (like a thick vegetable and oil sauce with some heat,) scallion and lime. Good portion for the price, and the lime really brought it all together. $11.
The DeLuxe Burger Platter: At a place like this you’ve got to order the burger, it’s what most people will be coming in to eat, I’d assume, and with Ace Burger Company (take out burger in Halifax’s North End) fame on their side you expect as much. All the toppings are good, but it left me wanting ketchup. I am by no means that person who needs ketchup, but if you’re doing this classic, pub-style burger, it almost begs for it. The patty was well seasoned and cooked, but the consistency and flavour was a bit off. It just wasn’t beefy enough, and tasted more like the filler, or breading, or the seasoning, than the beef. Fries were piping hot, crunchy, and salty, and served with Sriracha mayo; on point. At $16 the portion and presentation are good.
Fried Chicken: Although I was expecting, perhaps foolishly, a crispy breaded, Southern style fried chicken, this leg had perfectly crispy skin with heat and sweetness from the honey. The meat was fall off the bone, perhaps from being cooked in it’s own fat. The bacon potato salad was an unusual style, with a mix of coleslaw or cabbage throughout. It needed more salt. The biscuit served on the side was perfect, layers of it peeled away like paper, and the rich saltiness and buttermilky sweetness were in perfect balance.
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich: This is a nice end treat; a simple pleasure. Ice cream was good, and not overly sweet, which is totally what I’m into. The cookie was the ideal texture, with a firm, crackled outside and a softer gooey inside.
The bar and food as a whole are a really enjoyable experience, and I’ll without a doubt be back. It’s worth crossing over the bridge to visit, and if I was in the area, I’m sure this would be my local. Dartmouth is all the better for having a fun, and laid-back spot like this to call their own. And, yeah, I can’t think of a place I’d rather be on a sunny day in Dartmouth than that relaxed, well-stocked patio.