Thursday, February 26, 2009

Durty Nelly's on a Rainy Saturday

Durty Nelly's is the first restaurant venture of hospitality veteran Joe McGuiness and former St. Mary' University football player Kyle Drake. Located on the corner of Sackville and Argyle Streets, Durty Nelly's takes her name from a similar gal; Durty Nelly's pub in Bunratty Co. Claire, Ireland loved for it's food, hospitality and "craic agus ceol", the Irish term for fun and enjoyment.

Durty Nelly's has been the subject of restaurant buzz as it is one of 13 restaurants across Canada selected to star in an episode of Restaurant 101, a new show premiering on the Food Network and Food Network Canada, with host Chef David Adjey. When I spoke with David, he said that this was a great match. Producers of Restaurant 101 were looking for restaurants with a real "story" behind them. When David pitched the story of Durty Nelly's, an unlikely pairing of Hospitality guru and university graduate teaming up to open an authentic Irish pub, the producers jumped on board.

Durty Nelly's isn't your typical Irish pub, or...come to think of it, maybe it really is. Everything in the restaurant was made in Ireland. That's right; from floor to ceiling, everything was built in Ireland by the Irish Pub Company, packaged up, and shipped to Halifax for assembly. You can't get more authentic than that.

The menu, of course, is reminiscent of any Irish fare that comes to mind, but inherently richer, fresher- better. For DN's I use one of my favorite culinary terms, one I don't throw around lightly, but DN's menu is gourmet comfort food. I had the fortunate opportunity to meet with Chef Adjey and chat about the ideals behind this menu.

Now, in general, I view chefs as rock stars and often get heart palpitations whenever I come into contact with one. But, having a Food Network chef in the vicinity almost gave me a heart attack!
It was clear upon meeting with him that Adjey has care and concern for the meals that he designed, The menu items at Durty Nellys were built "from the ground up", with Adjey and the kitchen staff sourcing meats and veg from local farmers and producers.

Later that week, my friend and I check out the food for ourselves. We order two dishes, and share them both: Kilkenny-battered Fish & Chips, and the Nova Scotia Lamb Stew.

Kilkenny-battered Fish & Chips
w/ homemade tartar sauce

I can say with extreme confidence that this is the best F&C that I've had in Hali. Fresh, meaty fish is enclosed within a light batter with mega-crunch. The chips, "fat chips" as they're called in the resto, are crispy wedges of seasoned potato. The F&C is served with a flavourful coleslaw and a house-made tarter sauce- creamy and with a touch of earthiness from smoked paprika.

Nova Scotia Lamb Stew
w/ bread and butter dumplings

The lamb stew is the epitome of what one would want to eat on a cold, rainy (or snowy) day. Tender chunks of meat in a deep, rich broth accompanied by sweet root vegetables and savory dumplings make for a meal that rivals any of mom's cooking- and granny's too, for that matter.

The pub itself offers a great spot to hang out any night of the week. With lots of beers on tap, and fantastic fare from the kitchen, Durty Nelly's has all areas covered. Add to this the sent of peat moss burning on the fire, a variety of comfy seating to choose from and live entertainment several nights of the week, and you're sure to have fun at Durty Nelly's!

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