I did not know what “semifreddo” meant, although I actually blame that lapse on the two “Billionaires” I drank before we got to the dessert menu. It is a fairly simple word to deduce, after all. But Billionaires have bourbon in them. And pernod. And, when they’re served by a lovely young man with a waxed handlebar mustache, one must be forgiven for lapses in one’s semantology. I blame the mustache.
We arrived, my love and I, at The Bicycle Thief after eight o’clock on a Thursday night. This decision was based entirely on the recommendation of our cab driver who suggested we go, because “that’s where everyone goes”. Being very set upon the notion of being with the “in crowd”, we demurred to the advice of Mr. Cab Driver, who seemed to know what he was talking about.
My love and I went to the city. Halifax. Bright lights, big city. We booked a hotel. We bought new clothes. We went out for dinner. It is vital to note, before I continue, that my love is a connoisseur of all good things. Meat, wine, cheese, grilled vegetables. The man never eats at McDonalds. Never orders fries when salad is an option. Never goes to sleep without kissing me goodnight. The kind of man who knows what he likes, and likes what he knows. The kind of man who is hard to impress.
We were blown away by The Bicycle Thief.
First of all, it’s beautiful. From the flaming torches at the entry, to the funky bar with Mr. Handsome Handlebar Mustache… I was going to ask him if he would marry one of my daughters… to the plethora of black and white vintage photos of people who you can only imagine must be family members of The Bicycle Thief himself… the place is gorgeous. And busy!
We’re from the country. We have one traffic light in our wee town, and a traffic jam means it’s 7am and the Tim Horton’s drive-thru is backed up, so maybe we are easy to impress, but Lordy Lordy, there were beautiful people in that restaurant. Wall-to-wall beautiful people. Wearing beautiful clothes. At nine o’clock at night. In my world, I’m in bed at nine o’clock. And I am not beautiful. I love going to the city to look at all the incredible people who appear like magic after the sun goes down.
We hadn’t made reservations… um… reservations?… so we sat at the bar for about fifteen very entertaining minutes while our drinks were served and we watched the beautiful people ebb and flow. At one point I asked my love if we should leave. If perhaps we were out of our depth. I was wearing skinny jeans and a floofy scarf, and I am not a skinny girl, but we decided to stay because the drinks were so delicious and we were starving. Surely no one would notice us.
We were shown to our table by a beautiful waitress, who handed us enormous menus that we couldn’t read because we’d left our glasses in the hotel room. Try sitting across from your blind lover at a very tiny table when you both have to hold the menus an arm’s length to read them. This does not spell romance. The lovely waitress said “You forgot your glasses?” and promptly offered a basket full of spectacles to choose from. I was thrilled! Unbelievable!
“Are you $%&%#-ing kidding me?” I bellowed. “This place is %#@$#-ing awesome!”
Luckily, I only shared that sentiment with my love, sotto voce, because we were trying to blend in with the beautiful. The beautiful do not swear at the tops of their lungs when offered spectacles, no matter how exciting that offer may seem.
I chose a stunning pair of cats-eye glasses and proceeded to read the menu to my love, since he declined the offer of the specs. I think it was because I have a very sexy Italian accent when I read menus, and he didn’t want to steal my thunder by reading the menu himself. He’s good like that.
I read everything.
Ever delicious, succulent, verbocious word.
We settled on “Icelandic Scampi allaBusara, roasted with Cognac, garlic, fresh herbs, touch of tomato, atop soft Polenta” ($14) for an appetizer, because I rolled all of the r’s most appealingly. “allaBusarrrrrra”. My love’s right eyebrow twitched in anticipation. Having no idea what Polenta was, and expecting it to be a cheese, or a bread, or a small Mediterranean mammal, we were delighted with the softy creamy yummy cornbreadishness of it.
My love is a hunter. Let me qualify that… my lover is the quintessential hunter. We eat deer, moose, goose, duck, pheasant, trout, striped bass, shark, bear… if it wanders this fair land of ours, there’s a good chance my love has killed it and served it to me with a smile and a glass of wine.
The one thing he hasn’t fed me? Rabbit. Insert “The Bicycle Thief” here.
“Local Rabbit braised long and slow with a great Valpolicella, fresh herbs, with seared Polenta” ($25.)
My love nearly flipped his toboggan.
So, obviously, we ordered Thumper, and:
“Veal Scaloppine Limone, fresh lemon, butter, White wine, topped with Crispy Potato nest.” ($27.)
Between the words “Valpolicella” and “Scaloppine” my love’s cheeks flushed an endearing shade of pink. His nostrils flared at “Limone”. The evening was going well.
I had another Billionaire. My love had a Mojito. The rabbit was divine. Rich sauce, fall-off-the-bone tender, perfect vegetables. The veal wasn’t as spectacular, perhaps a tad too dry, but the flavours were marvellous. Polenta is my new favorite side dish.
We watched the people, we pondered who they were and what they were doing, we decided to start a rabbit farm and raise our own Thumpers to tempt the palate.
And then came dessert.
This was when I read the dessert menu… with the accent… and I said “I have no idea what semifreddo means, but is sounds delicious.”
A very tall bald man, who had earlier cleared off our entrée dishes, popped his head around the corner and smiled “It means mostly frozen”. Then he disappeared. Our own personal translator. First the spectacles, then the menu interpreter. I couldn’t have been more impressed if a gondolier had offered to navigate our way home.
Then, the dessert menu.
I rolled every R. I stroked every S. I hummed every M. My love’s eyes bulged out and I’m pretty sure he drooled a little. I wanted to steal a menu to take home for later.
“Housemade Peanut Butter gelato Sundae, Hot fudge sauce, crumbled peanut brittle, fresh Whipped cream” ($10.)
Best. Thing. Ever.
To. Die. For.
We never order dessert when we go out, but everything that came before had been so delicious, so fun, so different and new that we had to increase our caloric consumption by exponential degrees. We were not disappointed.
I have never written a restaurant review before, because I have never gone to a restaurant that serves Rabbit. And reading glasses. And handlebar mustaches.
The Bicycle Thief.
If you’re in Halifax, if you are with a woman who can read a menu with an accent, if you are with a man with a big nose and a hairy chest, if you want to be treated to excellent service and wonderful food in an atmosphere of beauty and vigor and twinkling lights… The Bicycle Thief is the place to be. (Disclaimer: The big nose and hairy chest are not required for enjoyment of this excellent restaurant… I am just incredibly lucky!)
The Bicycle Thief. 1475 Lower Water Street, Halifax, NS 1-902-425-7993
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