Que Tal: Authentic Mexican in HRM

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Being a lover of Mexican food, I’m always on the lookout for authentic offerings in Halifax. Embarrassingly enough I’ve never made it to Que Tal’s booth in the historic brewery market… but when I heard they opened a full-service (and licensed) restaurant on the Dark Side, I knew I’d have to make the trip soon. Yesterday, this finally happened.

Que Tal is located on Portland Hills Drive right off Portland Street. When we got there around 2 p.m. it was entirely empty. The space is small, bright and colourful (decked out in full cantina mode) and the open kitchen allows customers to see what’s going on at all times. We were hoping to catch the brunch menu, but learned that it ended at 1 p.m. The rest of the menu looked so fantastic, we weren’t that disappointed.

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We were hungry and overly excited about the offerings and unbelievable prices, which is why we ended up ordering a silly amount of food. I kicked off the meal with a shaken lime margarita (awesome).

Our starters were: queso fresco, chicken taquitos, jalapeños con queso and sopa azteca. You can’t really find queso fresco anywhere in Halifax as it has almost no shelf life, and we don’t have many Mexican restaurants. It’s a soft, fresh white cheese made on-site. Delicious; a treat for cheese fanatics like ourselves. While the taquitos and stuffed jalapeños were both tasty, it was the sopa azteca that made an impression: tortilla soup garnished with ancho chiles, fresh avocado, queso fresco and sour cream. It was the broth that got me. Not much heat, just an extremely memorable, complex and satisfying flavour that screamed it was made with time, effort and care.

sopa azteca

sopa azteca

My main, the fish tacos, I enjoyed: battered haddock, cabbage salad and roasted tomato salsa. But it was the chile rellenos that really impressed. I hadn’t seen this dish served like this before: the pepper of course stuffed with cheese, battered and deep-fried, but then served actually swimming in a bowl of chunky tomato salsa. Topped with sour cream and cilantro, it almost looked like another soup. So the chile’s batter does lose it’s crunch, but.. this salsa was absolutely incredible. The combination of everything in this dish and the fact it’s all swimming in this amazingly bright, flavourful sauce was wonderful.

Service was fast and friendly, and the owner came out to greet us as well. We complimented her on the authentic dishes, which she claimed to have learned from her grandmother. It shows

Rock the Leftovers: Halibut Edition

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Last weekend I was in my hometown for a short visit. My parents, who regularly read this blog, made a delicious dinner on Friday night including insanely fresh halibut, roasted on the BBQ in tinfoil, and delicious homemade bread from the bakery.

After having read my Rock the Leftovers: Taco Edition post, the big joke was how I’d take remaining food from this meal (if there was any) and turn it into something. Well, the next day, I was craving brunch. So I ventured into the world of fishcakes, using the strange array of products in my mother’s fridge, and came up with a very satisfying meal: lemon-basil halibut fish cakes with makeshift Dijon tartar sauce, served with homemade brown bread toast.

Yum.

Here is what went in my fishcakes:

Cooked halibut, flaked

Finely chopped onion

Finely chopped homemade white bread (or use breadcrumbs)

Two eggs

Very finely chopped fresh garlic

Chopped fresh basil

Dash of chilli powder

Squeeze of fresh lemon

Salt & Pepper

Here is what went in my makeshift tartar sauce:

Coleslaw “dressing” (my mother’s fridge!)

Dijon

Green relish

Dash of hot sauce

Squeeze of fresh lemon

Salt & Pepper

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