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Voyages: Highwayman Restaurant & Bar

Voyages: Highwayman Restaurant & Bar

Barrington street has been lighting up with some pretty interesting bars and restaurants lately, and Highwayman is no exception to that trend – in fact, it’s got to be one of the neatest establishments to set up shop in a while.

Open Tuesday-Sunday from 4PM to midnight (2PM to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays), the restaurant/bar finds itself nestled on the Barrington strip alongside many other notable destinations. Its front signage hanging over the sidewalk features the figure of their mascot – the highwayman (of Alfred Noyes fame). Huge glass windows allow both passersby and patrons to see each other, making for a very visible experience. As you enter, the window panels to either side of you broadcast guarantees of quality such as “Kind, refined service above all” and “Fine eatables and drinkables.” You better believe that you will receive no less than that promise while under their care.

Upon entering, the first thing you’ll notice about the interior is its warmth: temperate lighting, gold-accented ceilings, and a heartfelt reception from the bar staff. It’s a cozy and private spot that seats about 40 people, and that is just what the owners had in mind when they created it.

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Adam, Ceilidh, Dan, and Michael (Field Guide) opened Highwayman’s doors on April 7 with the intention to fill a void; they felt that the Halifax restaurant scene lacked a certain degree of intimacy. With that, they set out to create a friendly space that not only serves great Spanish-inspired dishes, but also emphasizes closeness in the customer-server relationship.

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Today, that relationship begins with Sam, our server, bringing us a platter of three artisanal cocktails with gorgeous presentation.

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The first drink is the Cinzano with Cava. For those who don’t know, Cinzano is an Italian vermouth, and Cava, a sweet and sparkling Spanish wine. It’s a nice start, especially for a refreshing summer drink. I take a sip and right away, the lightness of the drink begs me to take another.

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Cataradi’s Adventure – a signature cocktail, is up next. As I bring the drink up to my lips, a spicy and tropical aroma hits my nose. With Goslings black rum, Amontillado sherry, fresh pineapple, lime, and cinnamon on top, it offers a taste that is fruity but not cloying. The nuttiness of the sherry balances out the sweetness of the rum and you can’t go wrong with the fresh pineapple and lime – this cocktail is a kaleidoscope of flavours. Finally, there’s the cinnamon over the foamy top to complement the rum with a little kick of spice. All this, and I have here a drink that will have me asking for another round (or two or three).

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The last drink is the classic Pimm’s Cup – made with Pimm’s liqueur, house-made ginger syrup, strawberries, lemon, a splash of soda water, mint, cucumber, and fresh flowers for garnish. It’s a real easy-drinking summer beverage that’s light and lemony. At Highwayman, it is served with a metal straw in place of the metal cup it is typically served in.

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With my palate feeling refreshed and my veins swimming with the boozy warmth of premium liquor, Sam brings me a plate of pintxos first – bite-sized combinations of meat, cheese, and other ingredients layered on sourdough bread that Highwayman makes in-house.

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The Manchego and Coppa pintxo is essentially a slice of cheese and a slice of meat – simple, yes, but very effective. A fusion of two strong tastes that anchor each other – the Manchego is firm and nutty, and the coppa salty and fatty.

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The Tuna and Pickles is somehow exactly what it sounds like, but something completely different altogether. Bravo olive, pickled lunchbox pepper, and tuna conserva (oil-cured tuna), come together to produce a rich taste on the first bite, followed by a tangy zing as the lunchbox pepper greets my tongue. What I didn’t expect is the really soft and fine texture of the tuna as I bite into it.

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The Morcilla and Devilled Egg is seared Spanish blood sausage and half a devilled egg, topped with paprika and parsley. I’m speechless at this one. Spanish blood sausage is made with rice to give it a more full-bodied texture, and that’s exactly what comes across in every bite. Throw in the devilled egg for good measure and that happily concludes my pintxo platter. While these simple bar bites may be two-three ingredient recipes, they’ve got the flavor and finesse to please even the most sophisticated palate.

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Next up is Scallop Crudo. In the mix are raw sea scallops splashed with bold olive oil and a pinch of salt, topped with locally foraged wood sorrel. The greens and coarse salt offer an appreciated subtle crunch, especially since it gives my teeth something to hang onto with this melt-in-your-mouth tender dish.

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Last but by no means least comes the Grilled Cauliflower (it’s probably the most, actually). A half-head of cauliflower (we’re talking a little larger than my fist), comes roasted and finished on the grill for a nice smoky char on the outside. On top of that, the Idiazabal cheese has a nice parmesan/old cheddar vibe but it is aged fireside while curing so it has a smokiness to it. To balance everything out, thin slices of peppery radish and a generous serving of pesto come on top. The main flavours of the dish are definitely derived from the trimmings (such as the almonds and the crispy fried capers), but that’s not to say the cauliflower is not a wealth of flavour in itself. It’s a wholesome dish altogether, and let me tell you, the state of my plate denies that there was ever a cauliflower on it to begin with.

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Spending an evening at Highwayman is a swanky experience. Stepping out at the end of the night leaves one feeling enriched, warm, and a little bit buzzed – and what more can you ask for on your night out?

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