Farm-fresh food and springtime seem to go hand in hand. Ingredients are literally popping up everywhere we look and at Halifax in Hoboken, they’re taking full advantage by scouring both land and sea. In celebration of the change of season, Chef Seadon Shouse has drafted up 10 new dishes that reflect his coastal Nova Scotian upbringing, as well as feature the offerings of local farmers and suppliers in and around New Jersey. The Digest was invited to preview Chef Shouse’s new spring-inspired menu and let us just say, we suggest you do the same.
Before we even get to the food, let’s start this off with a cocktail (or two). When I think spring I envision fresh herbs, light-colored spirits and some sort of refreshing mixer. At Halifax, their specialty cocktail menu features just that. Along with our meal, we tried the highly-recommended “Rosemary’s Baby” made with Bombay Sapphire gin, rosemary syrup and grapefruit juice and “La Bamba” made with Patron Silver, lime juice, cucumber and Fresno chili. Both we’re perfectly balanced—not too sweet, not too spicy—and exactly the kind of drink you’d want to sip on come springtime.
As every meal at Halifax starts, we began by snacking on some of their smoked seaweed and horseradish popcorn, along with fresh-baked Parker House rolls served with a side of salted butter. Did we mention that Chef Shouse personally forages for the salt himself? Don’t worry, these two must-try offerings are available year-round and come to the table complimentary. What is worth the splurge, however, is their charcuterie board—a mix of cured meats, fish, or cheese—whatever you like. Just make sure you try the maple smoked salmon which is truly the bacon of the sea.
Where our journey into seasonal specialties began was with the clam flatbread and a plate of white and green asparagus that was tossed in a spring onion vinaigrette with ribbons of duck prosciutto, parmesan cheese and a deep fried egg on top. And we’re pleased to report that yes, the yolk was still intact. Overall, the dish hit all the high notes—saltiness from the meat, creaminess from the egg, the crunch of the asparagus—needless to say, we would’ve been fine if this is all we had tasted.
Next, we were presented with a pasta course, which I don’t think anyone has complained about ever. Halifax’s house-made toasted semolina tagliatelle featured fresh mushrooms, fava beans, Fresno chilis, asparagus and was finished with a dollop of lemon ricotta cream. Instead of a traditional red sauce, the pasta was dressed with a silky coating of butter and pasta water. We couldn’t help but think this would make the best vegetarian option for those who partake, and also for those who don’t. It’s filling enough for a main course but, if you’re like us, you’ll manage to save room for more.
With impressive explanations to match, we tried Halifax’s grilled beef short ribs as well as the Atlantic blue cod for our mains—the first being marinated for 72 hours then sous vide and finished on the grill; the latter being Chef Shouse’s favorite item on the menu. The beef was perfectly tender and charred on the outside, and sat on top of a bed of spring pea puree, snap peas, sunchokes and radishes. The fish, on the other hand, was sauced tableside with a smoked seafood broth and was garnished with what Chef Shouse calls “ocean chicharron.” In reality, it’s deep fried phytoplankton but very much mimics the look and mouthfeel of pork cracklins. It’s addictive.
And what’s a meal without dessert? Halifax also incorporated some spring flare into their pastry menu with the white chocolate and raspberry napoleon (upon other offerings). Layers of puff pastry were stuffed with a white chocolate mousse, fresh raspberry sauce (almost jam-like) and a sprinkling of toasted almonds. On the side, their passionfruit ice cream was a tart and sweet treat all on its own. Of course, their warm apple fritters aren’t to be missed either, served with trio of seasonal sauces including an apricot coulis, gianduja (hazelnut) ganache and cherry vanilla anglaise.
With the weather finally clearing up and warmer temperatures on their way, we can imagine sipping cocktails on Halifax’s outdoor patio and munching on any of their springtime staples. For more on Halifax, check out their website or Instagram.