Review: McKelvies, Halifax
1680 Lower Water St. – 902.421.6161 – Website
Date of Visit: July 9, 2014
My most recent visit to Halifax was my first time in Nova Scotia in over 7 years and, accordingly, a good, Maritime Provinces lobster dinner was very much a priority for the trip. I had been told that McKelvies down the near the water-front was good albeit very expensive but, in fact, I found it to be quite reasonably priced and I enjoyed a very decent meal… [READ MORE]
Ambience and Service
I arrived at McKelvies at a little after 6:30pm during the early dinner seating. The restaurant can manage about 100 guests or so and it was half-full when I was seated. It is quite comfortable, and not too crowded, and is of a generally plain décor except for a somewhat garish aquarium mural taking up the whole of one wall. A series of huge windows make it quite bright and airy inside but, as with the cozy little outdoor patio at the back, there is not much of a view.
The service during my entire meal was very satisfactory. I was seated immediately and a waitress came to take my drink order within a very few minutes. She was helpful with menu suggestions and managed to be attentive without hovering or being too pushy.
Oysters Rockefeller – These were described in the menu as being served with spinach and bacon but I could detect neither in the final dish. There were a few flecks of green here and there but not so much as a hint of bacon, save for a faint smoky taste somewhere in the blend. In the end, these turned out to be oysters grilled with cheese and something I took to be parsley. In actual fact, the dish was pretty good but it was definitely not Oysters Rockefeller, as far as I am concerned, nor, for that matter, was it even really as advertised. Rating: 3 out of 5.
Steamed Lobster – McKelvies has its own live lobster tank and I selected a 2lb specimen. This is about my favorite size as lobster can start to get a bit coarse above the three pound size and are fiddly to eat when less than two unless one consumes only the tail and claws and wastes the rest. Generally, I only eat boiled lobster with a bit of bread and maybe some coleslaw but here at McKelvies I was offered the daily vegetable and garlic mashed potato or fries. The idea of potato, especially mashed, really didn’t appeal to me for this sort of supper but I did ask to try the veggies along with some baguette slices and butter.
The quality of a boiled lobster meal depends quite heavily on the quality of the live lobster and it is quite hard to go wrong boiling them unless one is exceptionally careless. Here, I was served a plump, female lobster (generally regarded as better than males) that was cooked as well as I would wish it to be. The vegetable turned out to be carrots and green beans sautéed in butter and these were fine if not very interesting. My only complaint about the whole meal was that the drawn butter for dipping the lobster meat had a rather unpleasant taste that may have been a hint of rancidity or was, perhaps, just an inherent characteristic of the source dairy. In any event, aside from the butter issue, I really enjoyed my lobster dinner. Rating: 4 out of 5.
McKelvies Signature Ovation Pie – I don’t usually eat desert when dining out but this, described on the menu as ‘French mint ice cream, Oreo Cookie crust, and Chocolate Ganache’, was more than I could resist. The menu description actually sounded very much like a frozen supermarket desert my wife and I enjoy from time to time but, while that product is indeed similar, McKelvies version is a good deal more decadent with a whopping thick layer of mint ice cream, and, instead of a mere drizzle of chocolate, a solid layer like armor-plating across the top. It was sinfully delicious and well worth the guilt. Rating: 5 out of 5.
There is nothing wildly spectacular about McKelvies by any means but, for all that, it is a very nice restaurant with decent food at a decent price. Though I went for the seafood, it has a generally eclectic menu with something to appeal to almost anyone. It is, I would say, a very good place for a family-outing and, during my visit at least, the service was excellent. I would be happy to return. Rating: 4 out of 5.