For those who long to experience Nova Scotia, but haven’t yet found their way there—Halifax has arrived. The new, creative collaboration of owner Michael Barry and Executive Chef Seadon Shouse, Halifax is a taste of the Northeastern Coast—but with stunning riverside views of the Manhattan skyline. At Halifax, land and sea come together: not just outside your window but right on your table—with farm and coastal cuisine from the Mid-Atlantic to New England and further north to Nova Scotia where chef Shouse grew up. Barry and Shouse liken the menu to what you would have found in any coastal village restaurant a century ago, featuring locally sourced meat, fish, produce, and dairy.
Working within the lofty structure designed by Gwathmey Siegel, architect and designer Peter Bentel of Bentel & Bentel (whose restaurant design projects include Le Bernardin, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison Park and Craft) created a dining room that captures the essence of Shouse’s menu. The décor evokes the sea, sky and coastal farmland, with light blues, light greens, whites and grays. Bleached white oak tables and chairs, with a splash of color; walls covered with moss, fern and bark; a beautiful, curved, live edge oak bar and white washed floors create a casual, comfortable yet elegant setting.
Shouse’s culinary influences include French, Italian and American, but Halifax takes him back to his earlier years along the North Atlantic coast. He is passionate when it comes to seafood and sustainability (only Marine Stewardship Council Certified seafood is served at Halifax) as well as foraging, and is unmatched in the skills of dry curing and smoking. Shouse comes to Halifax with 15 years of culinary experience in restaurants from Nantucket to Florida. He was one of the opening chefs at the award-winning Proof on Main in Louisville, Kentucky. He also served as Executive Chef at Glenmere Mansion in Chester, New York, named one of the ‘Top 40 Hotels for Food Lovers’ by Bon Appétit Magazine. Most recently Chef Shouse was the Executive Chef of the renowned French seafood brasserie Millesime inside the Carlton Hotel in midtown New York.
The experience at Halifax is warm and welcoming with small, meaningful touches: popcorn dusted with smoked seaweed and horseradish and warm, house baked Parker House rolls, served with butter topped with sea salt personally harvested by Shouse from the Atlantic Ocean, are brought to the table while you review the menu.
But here’s a tip: the ideal meal at Halifax begins with smoked fish, charcuterie and cheese boards for the table. Cured and smoked fish includes Seadon’s childhood favorite—maple-glazed smoked wild salmon and smoked pollock rillettes (an underutilized fish). Meats include thinly sliced pork lomo; garlic salami and duck liver paté. The changing selection of artisan cheese are sourced locally—currently Slyboro Goat from New York, Baley Hazen Blue from Vermont. You can build a plate from one category or select from among all three. Each item on the plate is a standout bursting with flavor; together they form a symphony.
Next it’s on to the raw bar selections: East and West coast oysters, Long Island littleneck clams, poached Florida shrimp, Seadon’s house-smoked mussels (a revelation). There’s also a changing selection of crudo—currently it’s Montauk fluke with a squeeze of lime, Fresno chilies, radish and sunchokes. Plates to share include deviled eggs—topped with house smoked herring, scallions and garlic chips, and lightly battered quenelles of gluten-free salt cod and Florida shrimp fritters. Starters (these you should keep to yourself) include clam chowder, chocked full of freshly shucked clam, potato, topped with shaved Kentucky double smoked ham and served with house made rye oyster crackers.
For entrees, dive into the ocean or stay put on dry land. From the water, there’s Long Island black sea bass with sun chokes, tomato confit; Barnegat sea scallops with cauliflower, golden raisins, capers and beurre blanc; and Maine lobster rigatoni with trumpet mushrooms and lemon. From the farms, there is smoked Amish chicken, brined and lightly smoked in-house, then roasted, served with warm salad of toasted bread and local greens, with currants, pine nuts, and scallions, and NJ Lamb Ragout (using lamb from Barry’s father’s farm) with ricotta cavatelli, tomato confit, and chanterelles.
Pastry chef Stuart Marx, who also worked with Chef David Burke at Fromagerie and with Dominic Filoni at Avenue, has created brilliant desserts with Northeastern inspirations: Boston cream pie; maple crème brulée; strawberry rhubarb and white chocolate parfait, apple fritters with caramel sauce that not only transcend, but transform expectations. Finally, and most notably, Seadon’s own personal stash of house made vermouth along with cookies baked by Stuart are brought to the table at the end of each meal.
An enviable selection of well-crafted specialty and classic cocktails created by General Manager Katherine Teodosic (formerly with Michael White and the Altamarea Group) complement the flavors and ingredients of Shouse’s menu. They are composed with seasonal fruits and vegetables, local herbs and botanical—and a selection of locally distilled spirits. Only fresh squeezed juices, with flavors like cranberry and raspberry, cucumber and watermelon, thyme and mint, are mixed into Halifax cocktails. Wines come from upstate New York, LI, and other places along the coast, with the list mapped by grape. For example, Pinot Noirs from California, Oregon, New Zealand, France; Cabernet from California, France and Italy. Beers on tap come from Departed Soles (Jersey City, New Jersey), Singlecut Beersmiths from Queens, and other local breweries.