dave choose to eat the first meal of his 30s at "janes on the common." he had actually eaten here back in february 2008 when he came to visit halifax to see if he wanted to be a post-doc at dalhousie. he hadnt had a chance to get back there with me since then. as the name implies, janes is located across the street from the halifax common (an open park north of the "downtown"). its a very popular place (even mentioned in a very touristy blurb in the nytimes) with a packed brunch scene. the dinner menu looked intriguing so we thought it was a good time to visit.
(the birthday boy at janes)
the place was pleasantly populated for a tuesday night and we got a nice little corner seat along the window to enjoy the atmosphere in security. first up, drinks. dave got a propeller bitter beer and i tried the "rhubarb cordial." for $2.50, it came spritzed up with soda and lemon and would be a must for rhubarb fans (there were real chunks on the bottom). shortly after drinks arrived, the bread and butter came. one warm, flaky biscuit each, with butter. unfortunately the butter wasnt salted, so it tasted simply like flavorless lard being spread on carbs. plus, the biscuit itself was made with tons of this same butter...so again, it felt worthless to be eating the calories even though the texture and freshness of the biscuit was appealing.
for appetizers, dave had the warm spinach salad with candied walnuts, caramelized shallots, ran-cher goat cheese and lemon poppy seed dressing. while he ended up eating it all, he thought there was an overwhelming presence of shallots that masked all the other flavors. :( and i ordered the cup of moroccan lentil soup. lentils suck me in every time. sadly, they didnt win me over this time. the soup was totally pureed, which could be fine if the spices are right, but for being called "moroccan" i barely caught a hint of anything resembling the region. in fact, it was so bland that it was barely distinguishable from baby food.
so, we were off to a rocky start. we hoped dinner had more in store for us. dave ordered the smoked pork chop stuffed with spinach, sage and aged white cheddar topped with an apple cider and pommery mustard glaze. it looked really nice and ended up being quite tasty. i got a few bites before he finished off his plate and i liked that the pork was cooked well and didnt taste of "farm." for me, i ordered the black bean and sweet potato stew served with roasted red pepper and smoked cheddar polenta. the portion size and ratio of items in the dish were just right. the smokey cheddar polenta was a bit crispy and went well with the black beans. i would have enjoyed sweet potatoes that were a little softer, but it didnt stop me from finishing off the dish.
(daves pork chops; my polenta and stew)
with our solid main courses settling in our bellies, we drooled over the options on the board for dessert. ultimately, dave chose the chocolate peppermint pot de crème for his birthday treat. not too rich (or sweet), it was smooth and creamy. and while i can always stand to have minty things be stronger in the mint flavor department, he definitely had a DElish sweet ending. for me, i chose the lemon pudding cake. uh, yes, it was as good as it sounds. possibly better. a moist yet fluffy/airy/spongy cake supporting a half-inch thick layer of zesty yet light and smooth lemony pudding. not too sweet. with blueberry sauce drizzle. yeah youre jealous. and you should be.
(daves peppermint chocolate pot; my lemon pudding cake)
finally fat and happy we waited for the bill. to my surprise it arrived along with a little plate featuring two warm slices of plain shortbread cookies. love that they were warm. love even more that they were buttery (yet the salt was there this time in correct proportion to enhance the buttery-ness) and slightly gritty as any good shortbread should be. when you are made with something like 3 ingredients, youve got to somehow set yourself apart. i like a little texture to my cookies and these were great.
so, while the meal started out a little questionable, it ended with a memorable oompf! pretty successful for a birthday meal i would say. love you nib. hope you enjoy your thirties. :)