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Voyages: Bistro Le Coq

Teeming with a lively collection of bars, boutiques, and the acclaimed Neptune Theatre, locals know Argyle St. to be one of Halifax’s most popular entertainment hubs. The four-block stretch lays claim to a dense assortment of stops and shops that are distinctively unique to Halifax – perhaps one of the finest examples coming in the form of the authentic French eatery, Bistro Le Coq.

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As you step off the infamously painted Argyle Street and through the glass doors of the bistro, you are graciously welcomed into the city’s private piece of Parisian paradise. Every detail of the quaint restaurant, from the bilingual wait staff to the hearty French menu has been thoughtfully executed to convey a sense of European ambiance. The main dining area is home to a vast collection of handmade rooster figurines and artwork that ring true to the “le coq” concept.

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With such an intricate eye for detailed décor, it doesn’t come as any surprise that the menu has been equally crafted to uphold the ideals of the French dining experience. As the manager Emma Tysick explains, the bistro creates a monthly table d’ hôte menu –with options for 2 or 3 course meals in addition to their extensive house menu. Some of the most recent features include a smoky eggplant, shiitake mushroom, and goat cheese risotto, as well as the French favourite pot-au-feu (beef stew).

For my own sampling of the bistro’s range of comfort food, I choose to go with some of the house menu classics. My feast begins with an essential to any Parisian table – an assorted charcuterie board. Besides the wholesome homestyle presentation of this platter, what sets Bistro Le Coq’s spread apart from wannabes is their admirable dedication to preserving all of their own meats. Head chef Matthew Kelly has mindfully adopted the craft of curing into his repertoire, one of the many ways that this bistro goes the extra mile to ensure every customer is treated with true French hospitality. For a reasonable $15, my house-crafted charcuterie selection boasts the exquisite flavours of goose rillettes, pork belly rillettes, pork ancho sausage, duck prosciutto, blueberry shallot jam, rhubarb jam, and an ensemble of delicious garnishes.

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Thankfully, my sampling indulgences continue as Tysick presents me with two more crowd-pleasing dishes from the kitchen. The first is moules à la normande et frites, a succulent batch of fresh PEI mussels steamed in white wine, leek cream, and applewood smoked bacon that comes accompanied by a generous portion of duck fat fries and a house-made truffle aioli. At $12, this dish offers the luxuries of European gastronomy at an affordable price.

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Although goodbyes are always bittersweet, my meal comes to a satisfying conclusion with a delectable tuna tartare ($13). The plate is seasoned to perfection with lightly salted greens and fresh olive oil to ensure the impeccably fresh tuna’s flavour is the focus of the dish. Served with a garnish of crispy capers and garlic toast, this plate is the undeniable star of the show.

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This bistro is a standout choice in terms of its comforting ambiance and true devotion to French cuisine. It’s the ideal restaurant for a date night, a casual luncheon or a pre-show meal before catching a live performance next door at the Neptune. To the gratification of all those who take part in the art of brunching, the bistro also offers a weekend menu complete with gourmet cocktails. When it comes to French fare in Halifax, the question is not whether to dine at Bistro Le Coq, but rather what to order once you arrive.

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