Well, the new year has begun, and at Bish World Cuisine on the Halifax Waterfront, 2011 started with a big party. A farewell party, that is, as New Year's Eve marked Bish's last night of operation. I was fortunate enough to be on the ball when making New Year's Eve plans this year, and made a reservation at the beginning of November. I'll never forget NYE in Newfoundland, trying to get in to the city's best resto the day of. I succeeded, but it taught me the valuable lesson to plan ahead.
Well, this year was a different story. What a night, and what a party! By the time we arrived at 8:30 pm, the party was well past being in full swing. There wasn't a seat to be had, and I practically danced my way to my table to the beat of MJ's Billie Jean. Along with the great tunes - we also heard Destiny's Child and Pink to name a few - the buzz in the air was akin to the bubbles in champagne, as everyone knew that this was a special night; one not soon to be forgotten. The servers scurried around, not looking stressed, but with smiles on their faces as though they might actually be enjoying themselves...Imagine that!
As we had already indulged in the drink beforehand, and were planning on more after dinner, we split a btl. of the Nautilus Sauvingnon Blanc; a crisp, zesty white with tons of citrus. The wine's acidity was the perfect level to cut through the richness of our appetizers, yet also balance the hearty seafood entrees. Though not the best pairing to a steak (!), I'm fortunate enough that my dining companion is always willing to indulge me in whatever wine I'd prefer. ;)
Panko-Crusted Scallops in a
Cognac-Curry Cream Sauce
I thought that my appetizer was a bad omen as to how the night's dinner would play out. Thank goodness that I was dead wrong! I wanted to love this dish, and I was almost there, but the disappointing size of the scallops was less than thrilling and left much to be desired.
Panko-crusted, the scallops' flesh was tender. However, as the server had prepared me for "big scallops", I was immediately unimpressed. Thanks to Bish's variety bread basket with raisin, baguette and cornbread, I had several mechanisms to mop up (yeah, that's right - I mopped up sauce in a fine dining establishment) the sweet curry sauce.
Gotta admit, I had food envy for this one. Gorgeous, plump spinach-filled tortellinni were filled with a mix of cheese and spinach, and tossed in a slightly sweet and rich Marscapone cream sauce, accented by strips of salty prosciutto.
Herb-Crusted Sea Bass w/ Chorizo Ratatouille
A savoury tomato broth-based ratatouille of peppers and zucchini, embellished by chunks of spicy chorizo sausage was a beautiful, rustic bed for the hearty bass. The meaty fish's flavour was lightened when coated with a refreshing herb crust.
Filet Mignon, Mashed Potato & Red Wine Demi-Glaze
w/ 1/2 Lobster
This was a beautiful steak, cooked medium...and I prefer my steak rare! I even managed to get a few bites of the succulent lobster with the buttery crust. Although I have always thought of mashed potatoes as a waste of stomach space - I like my potatoes of the fried variety - Bish's were smooth, rich and creamy. When mixed with the decadent demi-glace, I reconsidered my aversion to the traditional side-dish.
Bish Peanut Brittle Sundae
For dessert, we chose the Bish Peanut Brittle Sundae; where a lovely combo of traditional sundae ingredients, vanilla ice cream and yummy fudge, was made gourmet by the addition of luscious chocolate mousse and sweet, yet salty house-made peanut brittle. A couple bites, and our sweet tooths were sated...or so I thought!
After deciding "let's just stay here until midnight and keep drinking", we ordered some specialty coffees to perk us up. It's not very often that I indulge in a specialty coffee, but when it's an 'all out night', I see no need for restraint! The espresso certainly did its job as well.
Well, as we say farewell to Bish, renovations for the Bicycle Thief are well underway. The space has already been gutted, renovations are taking place and the new space is set to open on February 21st. Talk about a turn around!
I was saddened to hear of the loss of Bish for Halifax's dining scene. It was one of the few restaurants where I could count on being blown away just by the combo of simple, quality ingredients. There was no showing off in this restaurant, but the food always managed to make me emit some kind of delighted squeak when placed before me.
I have high hopes for the Bicycle Thief, and with Stephanie and Maurizio Bertossi's prior successes, I have no doubt that the Bicycle Thief will be the place to be in Halifax in 2011, and beyond!
Happy New Year! All the best for 2011!