FOOD AND DRINK
Where to Slurp Oysters in Halifax
Whether you’re in town on business or pleasure, there is no finer way to start an evening in Halifax than with raw oysters and a cold libation. Landlocked visitors used to ubiquitous Malpeques are in for a treat: Nova Scotia produces some of the finest bivalves on the planet, and most places serve them proudly. Here are three terrific spots to enjoy a civilized cinq à sept.
The Press Gang
Perched on a steep slope leading down to the harbour, this dark, cosy, wood-paneled restaurant captures the Maritime vibe so perfectly that you expect to sit beside some salty dog with rum breath and wooden leg. Saddle up to the bar and watch the shucker in action opening an excellent range of oysters including succulent specimens from Bras d’Or in Cape Breton. While the house cocktails are a little on the sweet side, the barkeep has mastered the classics, whether it’s a beautifully balanced Negroni, chilled properly with a single large cube, or a pitch perfect martini served colder than Baffin Bay.
5218 Prince St., 902-423-8816
This new venture from the team behind Press Gang successfully lures in a younger crowd with modern libations, inventive small plates and a playlist heavy on bands like Deerhunter and Spoon. You would do well to order one of the original cocktails, like a stirred-and-boozy Martinez that successfully swaps in tequila for gin. Or get acquainted with the high-acid wines of Nova Scotia from the impressive selection by the glass. The crisp, chalky Tidal Bay from Avondale Sky is the perfect match to an icy tray of Atlantic oysters, which are only $20 per dozen during the 4pm to 6pm happy hour. Served with beguiling smoked tomato mignonette, the selection might include plump Ruisseaus from Eel Lake.
1685 Argyle St., 902-428-7428
Agricola Street Brasserie
This bright, spacious 120-seat bistro in the hip North End is the most ambitious restaurant to open in Halifax in a very long time. The substantial bar area is an excellent spot park yourself for the daily 4pm to 6:30pm happy hour, and dive into the local craft brewing scene with $4 glasses of suds. If it’s on tap, don’t miss the bitter, resin-y and extraordinary Exile on North Street IPA from Unfiltered Brewing. Briny Sober Island oysters are two bucks a shuck, and they’re served with a refreshing watermelon mignonette and homemade cocktail sauce. Or, if you’re more than peckish, take on the $50 seafood tower, a two-level celebration of North Atlantic shellfish, both raw and cooked.
2540 Agricola St., 902-446-7664