When Frederic Tandy, owner of Ratinaud French Cuisine on Gottingen Street in Halifax moved to Nova Scotia from France, he brought the French dining concept along with him. Ratinaud started as a shop filled with imported French cheese, sausages galore and fresh bread, has evolved to include “The Kitchen Table”. It’s a name that truly encompasses the exceptional dining experience.
The notion that the French love to eat is nothing new. Even the word for dining table in French has “manger”, which means, “to eat” in it. It literally translates to eating table. For them, dining at the table is like an art form that lasts hours, not a rushed dinner that is so often indicative of the Western world. It’s a slow, savoury journey filled with family, friends, and laughter and, of course, good wine.
The Ratinaud Experience
Four times a week The Kitchen Table serves an eight-course menu accommodating 20 guests. Each dish is filled with a concoction of local ingredients and executed with gourmet precision in an open concept kitchen by Nova Scotia native Chef Joe MacLellan. For MacLellen, utilizing local ingredients goes back to the life of his grandparents. They used to harvest and preserve the bulk of the summer to get through the winter months.
Although focusing on local items can at times be challenging, MacLellan looks at it as an opportunity to try and be more creative. That is clearly evident in each dish that arrives plated in front of me. It’s a truly interactive culinary experience.
It is hard not to become intoxicated with the distinct aromas that permeate the air, lingering above the tin ceiling of the 18th century building that now houses The Kitchen Table.
Cape Breton snow crab with kale and fennel presents itself to me, and with one bite I am transported. I watch as Chef MacLellan uses a paintbrush and in an almost artistic frenzy, he brushes a flare of black current onto the next dish.
From oysters, to fresh halibut and leeks in foie gras sauce, I am stupefied by the food variance. I pair each dish with the suggested wines from Italy to Nova Scotia, each tannin fitting perfectly along side the courses.
I come to learn that the menu changes every week, no small feat considering this level of culinary excellence. In spite of the gourmet fine dining experience at The Kitchen Table, there is no formality here; no pretension. It’s exactly what Frederic Tandy envisioned – “fine dining in a relaxing environment”. A group of people, some that know one another and others that do not, all gathered together around the table sharing a superb meal.
It’s a unique Halifax experience and one that I won’t soon forget.
The superb eight course dinner is $85 per person.
Wine pairing is an additional $45 if you would like to bring your own wine – feel free! The corkage fee is $10.
Find the Kitchen Table online at http://ratinaud.ca.