Few makeovers happen as precipitously as Roncesvalles’, where stolid pierogi houses gave way to happening restaurants. The best on the strip is Geoff Hopgood’s Maritime-themed spot, his first solo gig after running the kitchen at the Hoof Café. He’s one of a handful of chefs in the city making a case for regional Canadian cooking, elevating his mom’s ’80s recipe for a mayo-heavy party dip with sweet P.E.I. rock crab and a panko-Parmesan crust, or perfecting the donair—the Halifax version of a gyro, traditionally scarfed after a night at the bar—by baking his own pitas and smothering tender shredded beef and pork with a tangy, evaporated milk sauce. There’s Canadiana kitsch at work (the donairs are cheekily served on paper bags), but it’s done lovingly. The rest of dinner is a procession of seafood marvels: a Jenga tower of sweet Cape Breton snow crab; oysters with a princely helping of bone marrow (a clever variation on surf-and-turf); and puck-sized Digby scallops perched on discs of house-made sausage in a pool of buttery celery root purée. Jam jars of beer and stacks of molasses bread complete the sea shanty vignette.
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