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Restaurants & Bars Atlantic Canada

Halifax: Fiasco

Greg B | | Dec 22, 2006 12:34 AM

Today I had the good fortune to dine at Fiasco, on Brenton St. just off Spring Garden Road in Halifax. Fiasco is run by owners Mary Beth (front of house) and Martin (chef) Keyzlar, who work hard at ensuring a good experience.

The restaurant is fairly small, and is rather dark inside, with red walls, subdued lighting, and elegant settings. The chairs are upholstered in white fabric to match the high-quality linens used on the tables. The only jarring point in the decor is the original art on the walls (some of which appears to be for sale by the artist), which really wasn't to my taste, but that hardly matters.

Fiasco has a very good wine list and a fairly extensive menu. Today's food was, without exception, outstanding. Our party of six was unanimous in praising the quality of the dishes presented to us. My appetizer of cheese tortellini with prosciutto was supurb, with a sauce that demanded to be finished with the excellent bread served. Chef Martin seems to have a real knack with sauces, as several of our group had either appetizers or mains with sauces that were just fabulous. My main was a selection of seafood -- scallops (incredibly creamy and flavorful), mussels, and salmon presented simply with a light sauce, served with rice topped with mango salsa and brussels sprouts that I actually liked, possibly a first for me. It was really good, but I wished I had ordered what another in our group had, the seared bigeye tuna which looked fabulous. But no complaints -- every dish was enjoyed by all. Service was professional and friendly without being intrusive. All in all, a most enjoyable visit.

The only downside was the price. Fiasco is, not surprisingly, not inexpensive. Appetizers were $9 to $14, mains $22 to $34. That places it in the range of places like DaMaurizio, Gio, and Fid. Where would it rank in that group? I can't judge Fid until I pay a return visit, so I need to leave that off any list. Of the remaining 3, Fiasco is more like DaMaurizio than Gio. In both, the food is richer and more heavily sauced, and the atmosphere is more opulent in an Old-World kind of way, than Gio's modernist approach. Neither is better, just different. I find Fiasco a more easygoing and comfortable experience than DaM, with the food perhaps just a fraction below DaM if that place has Maurizio himself in the kitchen that night. Most of the time you will find Chef Martin at Fiasco, and on nights where Maurizio is not in the kitchen at DaM, I'll take Fiasco. But either way, you can't go wrong for an excellent high-end dining experience in Halifax.

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