I received an invite to sample Eliot & Vine’s new menu and to show off their chef, Lachlan Culjak. I am always grateful when a request like this comes my way. The restaurant is tucked in a residential area of the north end of Halifax – a stone’s throw away from the Halifax Common. Johanna Eliot (owner) opened Eliot & Vine in April of this year and said she had a vision for her restaurant to be part of the neighborhood. She describes her menu as local with a European flair. The space is open and flooded with natural light all thanks to the floor to ceiling windows. The 55-seat restaurant offers banquette and bar seating (even around the kitchen to watch the chef and sous chef), as well as a private room featuring a massive mural from artist Jean Bradbury.
With a glass of prosecco in hand, we gathered around the kitchen table to watch chef Lachlan Culjak and sous chef Aaron Doolin introduce the new menu.
ev toss – chia seed crisps, crème fraîche, heirloom tomatoes, baby carrots, roasted pistachios, local greens, shallot vinaigrette (tasting note: fresh, light, crunchy texture especially with the chia seed crisp)
salmon – slow cooked, pickled and salt-roasted beets, cucumber, buttermilk horseradish emulsion, dill (tasting note: delicious tender salmon enhanced by the flavors of the emulsion and sweetness from the beets)
atlantic beef – blue dot roast rib-eye, slow-cooked rib cap, urban blue cheese potato, beef jus (tasting note: PEI AAA beef was so tender and the urban blue cheese made locally in the north end of Halifax was an additional treat for the taste buds)
chicken – poached in jus, smoked potato puree, rainbow carrots, cipollini onions, wild apples, topped with crispy skin (tasting note: when I first saw this I thought it was a tofu dish! One piece of chicken is rolled giving it a silky texture which was something I hadn’t expected. I still don’t quite understand the technique but it does make the chicken super tender).
calamari – grilled Humboldt squid, house-made chorizo, black beans, red pepper (tasting note: have never had squid presented this way and was pleasantly surprised with the smokey tones from the chorizo – the squid was tender and fresh)
blueberry cheesecake – house made blueberry glazed cheesecake, elderberry compote, crème fraîche, with Oxford NS blueberries (tasting note: NY-style cheesecake brought to life with the elderberry and crème fraîche)
pineapple & wild apple tart – NS wild apples, pineapple, sour cream mousse, crème anglaise, vanilla caramel (tasting note: did not sample this but looked and sounded good)
The Culinary Chase’s Note: The new menu is varied with 14 items allowing chef Lachlan and his team to fully focus on each dish. What I liked the most, apart from their food, is their sense of embracing the ‘localness’, if you will, of what’s in their own backyard. Chef Lachlan worked in Amsterdam for a bit and had the opportunity to cook with unusual native food and it’s this creativity that shines through his food. Enjoy!