Field Guide. Photo: Submitted
By Brooklyn Connolly 1 February 2022 Share this story
Our annual celebration of love often falls short of the hype, but you can make sure your stomach is happy
I don’t know much about St. Valentine, but I bet he was hungry.
He was born in the Roman Empire around 226 AD, a time when food supplies could be precarious, but it was not a hunger for food that lead to his death; it was hunger for love.
That yearning ultimately left him decapitated — martyred for the crime of facilitating Christian marriages at a time when practising the religion was punishable by death.
Perhaps it is fitting, then, that today so many of us find ourselves searching for love in the pages of a menu on a dinner date, yet often leave unsated.
Maybe I’m nothing but a realist. A hungry, lovesick, realist. This year, I’m going to make better choices, and they start on the plate. Here’s my take on the restaurants screaming “Pick me” this Feb. 14.
LAFRASCA CIBI + VINI
5650 Spring Garden Rd.
Whether your love is new or old, LaFrasca Cibi + Vini is there to feed it as it grows. Authentically Italian, there’s no doubt the food is made with care. Share a bottle of red and lose yourself in the fresh quality carbs (on Valentine’s Day, there’s lots of ways to burn them off, anyway).
The Northeast Italian menu emphasizes authentic, rustic flavours. Must try: Brome Lake duck two ways with cherry jus, polenta, and brussels sprouts.
2733 Agricola St.
If you get your reservation for Bar Kismet early enough, you won’t need to give Valentine’s Day another thought until it’s time to arrive.
The family-owned and operated restaurant will do that for you. Serving carefully curated dishes that are updated weekly, love is not only on the menu, but in the meal. Make sure to call in advance, though. With that much class, it’s no wonder that Bar Kismet is reservation-only.
1446 Queen St.
Romantic and playful, the Garden is the perfect place for love to blossom. It offers a unique drink and dining experience that embraces presentation and wow factor — as Instagramworthy as it is enjoyable.
Take your date higher on their unique swing-sets or dine it down and get intimate over their locally built hardwood tables and chairs. Either or, the menu is sure to leave you satisfied. Must try: pork belly with coconut parsnip purée, apple raisin chutney, and heirloom carrots.
2076 Gottingen St.
Straddling the fine line between casual and classy, this small North End restaurant is another option you’ll want to book early. Its emphasis on being “a place to gather” welcomes every date to the table — first-dates, third-wheels, or singles alike.
Its open concept kitchen gives room to breathe, chat, and relieves some pressure from the one date that none of us can escape: Feb. 14. Must try: cauliflower tacos on house-made flour tortillas.
22 Wentworth St., Dartmouth
If intimacy is what you’re after, consider Oxalis restaurant for your bite-to-be. The seasonal menus offer a European twist on Nova Scotian farm flavours.
The options may be slim, but they’re authentically German and Austrian, reflecting the owners’ origins. A great way to take you and your partner away to Mitteleuropa this Valentine’s Day, even if it’s just your taste buds making the trip.
Brooklyn Connolly is a freelance journalist based in Halifax. She’s the 2021 recipient of the Investintech – CAJ data journalism scholarship, and has written for the CBC, the Guardian (U.S.), the Chronicle Herald, and the Nova Scotia Advocate, among others.
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