Chowder Week a time to savour
Who wants chowder? Haligonians, apparently, and they're getting their wish downtown this week.
January 28, 2015, 7:15 PM AST
Last updated February 2, 2015, 10:27 AM AST
Burger Week can happen anywhere. Chowder Week, on the other hand, belongs right here on the East Coast.
And so Chowder Week stays on the East Coast — for three more days, anyway, until the province-wide chowder celebration wraps up on Saturday.
In the meantime, go get your fill at any of Halifax’s 10 participating restaurants. From clear and buttery broths to thick and milky stocks, the clams are swimming happily in Nova Scotia chowder.
“New England style?” Maybe.
Nova Scotia’s culinary complement to heavy snow? Definitely.
Here’s a guide to the week’s chowder houses:
2 Doors Down, 1533 Barrington.
The little sister of Chives Canadian Bistro, literally two doors the street, 2 Doors Down is featuring a classic seafood chowder this week. Chef Craig Flinn’s penchant for doing his due diligence with local seafood will reap the benefits of heavy cream and butter. Mussels floating in a pale-yellow broth may be a special this week, but the dish is no stranger to the regular menu.
Chives Canadian Bistro, 1537 Barrington.
No surprise: the big sister is serving big girl chowder, with lobster making an off-season appearance in corn chowder. The result is a corn chowder that can feel good about itself (instead of pouting about being clam chowder’s ugly cousin.) This may be the spiciest true chowder in Halifax this week, as jalapeños and cilantro give some heat to Chives’s chowder. Another featured item from chef Craig Flinn’s everyday menu, Chives isn’t cheap. A bowl will set you back $14.
Brooklyn Warehouse, 2795 Windsor.
Away from the throng of the week’s downtown chowders, the west end’s own Brooklyn Warehouse is serving a special seafood chowder all week long. The addition is a welcome one to the small restaurant with a small menu at the corner of Windsor and Almon, whose head chef, Mark Gray, is also the culinary genius behind Ace Burger Company. Despite its name, Brooklyn Warehouse is taking this week to remind you it resides here in Nova Scotia and not in New York: the seafood chowder is served in a cream-based broth, not the tomato base that distinguishes Manhattan clam chowder.
Elements on Hollis, 1181 Hollis.
A $15 bowl of Maritime seafood chowder, equally balanced with fish and shellfish (salmon, haddock, scallops and mussels) suggests you may as well go all in. If you do, for $59 this week, you’ll get a bowl of chowder, a surf and turf entree and creme brulee dessert. This week is all about chowder and the Maritimes, so don’t feel bad about ordering just the soup. But for the full, “elemental” experience, you may have to spend.
Five Fishermen Restaurant and Five Fishermen Grill, 1740 Argyle.
Two restaurants in one location means double the chowder at one of Halifax’s most recognizable seafood institutions. The parent restaurant is offering two chowders this week — seafood and lobster — while the Grill is sticking to seafood. Cream bases again dominate the fish, but that’s alright when butter, milk and cream are involved. At the Grill, heavy fish — salmon and halibut — take the place of the traditional filet of haddock, making this chowder one of the heavier in the city.
Harbour City Bar and Grill, 1990 Barrington.
Acadian seafood chowder, much like every Acadian soup, stew and bisque I’ve ever tasted, is buttery. That alone lends it to Chowder Week. No mussels or clams, but plenty of bacon at Harbour City, just down the road from Tempo. Shrimp, scallops and haddock are all the seafood you’ll get in this chowder, part of a regular menu built for a Nova Scotia winter. French onion soup and soup du jour are also on the seafood-heavy menu, along with cabbage rolls and a lobster club.
McKelvie’s, 1680 Lower Water Street.
McKelvie’s, formerly known as McKelvie’s Delishes Fishes Dishes, is the star of the week, with four chowders on a special menu this week. You should probably try them all. One New England classic, one Nova Scotia classic, one fish-less chowder and a cream-base alternative give chowder-goers plenty of options. Clam and chorizo chowder is a Portuguese-infused take on the bare bones New England dish, celebrating the (welcome) addition Brazilian immigrants brought with them to New Bedford, Mass., in the steel mill days. There’s also a classic seafood chowder and a bacon and corn chowder with herbs. The diet-friendly option is a saffron fennel soup, in a tomato base with white fish, mussels, shrimp, onions and celery. It may not technically be a chowder, but it’s a nice change of pace that lets you know McKelvie’s is taking this week seriously.
Tempo Food and Drink, 1875 Barrington.
Street-level in the Delta Barrington Hotel is an Acadian bowl of chowder that servers at Tempo tell me has been photographed and celebrated all week long. Snow-white, herb-dotted and with a single pan-seared scallop floating in the bowl, Tempo’s Acadian chowder looks like chowder should look. The sear on the scallop maximizes the flavour of the fish, and makes it the dominant presence — at least to the eyes. Tempo is keeping a bowl simmering all week.
Seasons By Atlantica, 1980 Robie.
Another restaurant in a hotel, another menu staple and another seafood chowder. Chef Luis Clavel’s chowder is made with cream rather than milk, and he keeps it on his regular menu with plenty of potato. Clavel is one of the city’s most recognizable chefs. It isn’t a surprise he has one of the city’s most recognizable dishes on his menu.