I had tried this idea a couple of times before and decided to revisit it. I came up with a list of 32 restaurants that I have never eaten at before and decided to let followers determine which ones I tried.
The list of 32 consisted of old established restaurants and ones that relatively new. There were a variety of reasons I hadn’t eaten at them before, some because I chose something else, they never came up in social gatherings and some simply because of geography.
I threw the 32 names in a random elimination bracket generator and took the votes to social media. With a commitment to try all four of the semifinalist, I would judge a winner but would also keep the voting going until a winner was crowned.
The semifinalists end up being Chef Abod vs. R&B Kitchen, and Budapest Bisztro vs. Edible Matters
here are my results. Note: I am pointing out a small difference because this is a competition that I might not mention if it weren’t
Final rank: me: 4 online votes: 1
Where: 1345 Hammonds Plains Rd. in Hammonds Plains (opened 2012)
My preconceptions: “This was worth the drive to Hammonds Plains.” I had looked at the menu a few times over the last couple of years and was intrigued. My wife was also looking to join me for this one as well because she had heard they had lots of vegetarian and gluten-free options. Though I had noticed the menu was getting smaller over the last year or so
What I ordered: Bacon Eggs Benny
My thoughts: I went for brunch, and the menu was small (maybe pandemic related). My wife ultimately passed on joining me as the only thing on the menu for her was a beet salad. It’s also odd that they had three bennys on the menu, and none were ham. The Benny was okay and had good quality ingredients, but it wasn’t anything special. If I live in the area, I might go again, but not worth driving out of my way. Also, I arrived at 10 am and only one other table, my Benny’s was not in front of me until 10:45. The service was overall okay
Final rank: me: 3 online votes: 2
Where: 3217 Kempt Rd in North End Halifax (opened 2011)
My preconceptions: I had heard lots of positive things about Chef Abod over the, but I have other Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern places that I am happy with
What I ordered: Chicken Shish Taawq
My thoughts: Shish Taouk is a dish I often order if it’s the first time visiting a restaurant; it’s a good measurement against others. First off, the rice is impressive. I will rarely praise something like rice, but it’s that delicious. However, the chicken, while cooked well, there are other places I like their chicken slightly better. The house salad was good, though if I had thought about it, I might have tried to sub for a different salad like tabouli. A real bonus for Chef Abod was the 14-year-old son working the front of the house was excellent, he was showing people to tables, handling cash and takeout orders and was the server, he handled like a pro and many other restaurants could learn a ton from watching this kid!
The short of it though is I contemplated making this number one but there is a lot of competition in this style of food and while I definitely will return to Chef Abod and try more of the menu there are others I might choose if I have a similar craving.
Final rank: me: 2 online votes: 3
Where: 760A Main St just past the old Dartmouth borders (opened February 2020)
My preconceptions: continually looking at their Instagram feed to see what is on the menu that day, and quite a few folks had raved about it
What I ordered: Brisket, Pulled Pork, Cole Slaw, Beans, Corn Bread and a Brownie
My thoughts: Overall, the food was delicious. I enjoyed my proteins though one piece of my brisket was kind of tough, the coleslaw was excellent. It is just a takeout/delivery model at the moment, and hard to have a lot to judge the service on, but I came in was greeted and paid, but then they were quickly buried in their phone. The most significant criticism is also one of their charms, they lack of a menu, the dishes are posted the day of, and some dishes are one and done not to return. Some dishes do make a semi-regular appearance, but with no pattern. I had previously planned to go twice before I started this restaurant war. But both times I planned the special was Jerk Salmon, while it might be great, holds little appeal to me, so I ended choosing different meals those evenings. That being said, I do enjoy the notion of not knowing and deciding the day of. I will, for sure, eat there again!
Final rank: me: 1 online votes: 4
Where: 650 Washmill Lake Dr (just off Dunbrack at the top of Fairview) opened September 2019
My preconceptions: There was a lot of praise for this oddly located restaurant, but people had thrown words like “best restaurant” in Halifax. The owners have a good pedigree being the original owners of Cafe Chianti. The only place I know in town that was serving Eastern European fare.
What I ordered: I had the Chicken Paprikash and a Latke.
My thoughts: We were early for dinner at 4:30 but quickly shown to our table, and moments later, our server was there with our waters and menus. We looked over the menu, and the second it was apparent we had put the menus down, the server was there to ask if we had any questions and what we would like. A minute later, she was back with delightful crescent rolls, which we both enjoyed. Minutes later, when we had finished through those, the serving plate was whisked away and in under a minute, our server was back with our Latkes.
The Latkes were perfect with a crispy outside and soft inside with a touch of garlic and perfectly caramelized onions on top and sour cream topped with chives. Again once we had polished those off, our server was ready to clear the plate and bring on the next round of food. A couple of minutes later, our mains arrived, and the Chicken Paprikash was in front of me a delightful traditional Hungarian dish of slow-cooked chicken. It was full of flavour and had a slight bit of heat from the paprika, chilli and cumin, but I wouldn’t call it spicy it was accompanied by brown butter gnocchi, which were excellent little pillows of happiness.
The service was fantastic. She was quick, polite, friendly and purposefully attentive when appropriate. Also, it’s little things that matter but the tableware was great; from the stone plates (which held the heat so well) to the finely crafted glasses and the solid cutlery.
The location is a little odd in the base of a new residential building in a suburban setting (but parking wasn’t a problem). It is a restaurant that would be on the top of people’s lists if it was on the peninsula! The other end of Washmill Lake comes out in Bayers Lake. If I were looking for a sitdown meal, I’d make the drive over the hill. In short, I will go out of my way to visit again.
Final rank: me: 1 online votes: 4
Budapest Bisztro with the win
Overall thoughts this is where popularity contests aren’t always the best way to choose a restaurant, and I feel some of the support for Edible Matters was based on legacy. While I crowned Budapest, the winner, R&B and Chef Abod, were really like 1B and 1C.
These are the results of the first two rounds, so you can see some who were eliminated. Some like
Usta, M&Js, Red Asian Fusion, Martin’s Kitchen, Syrian Meat Shop, The Carleton and The Ostrich Club
didn’t make the semifinals but comments before and during the competition, people threw around words like favourite and best