Monday, November 26, 2012
Tempo Food + Drink is truly in the heart of downtown Halifax at 1875 Barrington Street in the Delta Barrington Hotel. It is modern and hip but somehow still maintains a local rustic edge. Suspended pot lights, floor to ceiling windows and lots of banquette seating... There is no other place in the HRM like it.
They had their grand opening on November 6th and my friend Jen and I were going to go together but I was still just too sick to attend. And so very disappointed. The people at Tempo understood and said I was welcome to come check the restaurant out when I was feeling better.
Which I was happy to do this past weekend! I was super impressed with their giant galley kitchen which travels across the entire length of the restaurant.
"In a gleaming, polished chrome kitchen that will serve up many soon-to-be city favourites, award-winning executive chef, Hull leads Tempo’s culinary team at the new, inspired, street-side restaurant, centrally located in the heart of downtown Halifax on the corner of Barrington and Duke Streets adjacent to the Delta Barrington Hotel." ~ November 6, 2012 Press Release
You can see why I had to go when I read the press release. It sounded fascinating! And the space absolutely lived up to its description.
The restaurant is divided up into three sections. To keep things simple I will call the Grab & Go Section "the front." It is where you enter from the hotel and can get a cup of real Starbucks coffee...
... and a bite to eat if you are working downtown and just want to pick up a quick lunch while on the go.
We sat in the main dining area close to the window. It was an oddly warm and wet Saturday afternoon in November. We got there at 2 pm when they were serving brunch.
My fabulous foodie friend Jen came with us. It is always great to get her opinion on food, she is very... particular. I mean that in a good way Jen!
Of course Reg was with us too. We had just been to the market and said no to lots of temptation so we would be good and hungry for brunch.
The Food Experience
OK, you all know how I am about getting real decaf coffee and not only did I get the real deal, I got my own carafe of decaf! Clearly marked and in a stunning stainless steel container.
Chef Leslie Ann Hull put together a plate of goodies to sample before our meal which included energy bites, honeydew melon and carrot cake. Delicious! The energy bites tasted like oatmeal cookie dough, yum. Reg and Jen finally got to try really moist carrot cake for the first time. They were used to horrible dry carrot cake so this was a real eye-opener for them.
I knew better! There is nothing like a really good carrot cake so I am glad they are now converts. I can finally make one and not be scared I will have to eat the whole thing by myself! Thanks Chef Leslie! Yours rocked.
Reg ordered the Tempo Burger and the green salad that is dressed with a red pepper vinaigrette. He said it was the best burger he has had in town and I believe it! He was in hamburger heaven. I had a bite of the salad and now I want to learn how to make that vinaigrette, it was light and delicious.
Jen got the lentil burger which was also huge! She has to smoosh it down to eat it but she liked it as well.
She ordered the spinach salad which came with a "pistachio crumb" which looked fascinating.
Brunch is my favourite meal so I had to get something that said rebellious breakfast. I ordered the Waffle Benedict: 2 poached eggs, crispy prosciutto, white cheddar, lemon hollandaise, savory waffle, hash browns.
One of Chef Leslie Ann Hull's goals is to create "high quality comfort food with fresh and creative flavours" which is exactly what she did with my Waffle Benedict. Each bite kept me guessing, thinking, analyzing... It was savoury but there was some sweetness. Definitely not your traditional Eggs Benedict but I think that was the whole point. It was a fascinating meal that really made me think.
Overall, we all enjoyed our meals and getting to hang out in such a cool spot on a crappy afternoon with carafes of coffee was the perfect way to spend the afternoon downtown.
More of the Restaurant
I discovered that "at the back" of the restaurant (there is an entrance off the street) is a ton of funky seating. I could absolutely see us hanging out there on a Saturday night and apparently they are considering getting some musicians to perform there. Very cool.
I also found out they there is a bar at the back (or front, depending on which entrance you take) and they serve tapas and tinis between 5-7 pm daily. What a fabulous idea! I can not wait to try that too.
My one complaint is the restaurant has no washrooms. You have to use the public washrooms outside the restaurant which felt very, very weird to do.
Tempo Food + Drink is warm and cozy yet hip and trendy at the same time. Which is a very impressive and unusual combination that truly works for downtown Halifax. There were always people coming in and out of the restaurant, already becoming a cool place to visit after opening just a few weeks ago.
It was an honour to be included on the guest list of their grand opening and even sweeter that they treated us to brunch since I could not attend their party. Everyone, including Chef Leslie Ann Hull, came out to greet us and make sure we were having a wonderful meal. We were so spoiled and our server Angela took such good care of us.
I can not rate Tempo Food + Drink as a typical patron since they knew I was coming but it is clear that everyone cares deeply about this new restaurant. I can see why. A lot of work went into designing this place to be comforting for those away from home but trendy enough for locals to want to come and hang out.
Although I do not live in Halifax, the next time I am downtown at night I am going for tapas and maybe, if I am in a wild and crazy mood, get a Tempo Tini too. The people are great, the food is excellent and the atmosphere is fabulous.
Thank you everyone at Tempo Food + Drink for such a splendid afternoon. I wish you much success and happiness in your new perfectly-placed home. I hope to be back soon!