From the moment that Halifax opened in 2016, executive chef Seadon Shouse has focused on building relationships with local farmers to create unique dishes that highlight the area’s best produce, meat, and seafood.
The relationships that Shouse has formed with local suppliers has resulted in a menu that changes with the seasons. Now that spring is in full gear, Halifax — which focuses on coastal cuisine from Delaware to Nova Scotia — has introduced its new spring menu.
Jersey City Upfront was invited to preview the menu and talk with chef Shouse and pastry chef Stuart Marx.
Halifax has always focused on local and sustainable dishes, but you also like to spotlight underutilized ingredients. Is it more challenging to work with these ingredients?
Shouse: I don’t think that it’s more challenging to use underutilized ingredients, but it’s possibly more challenging to sell underutilized ingredients to customers. Sometimes customers don’t recognize the items and may order something they’re more familiar with instead.
What are some underutilized ingredients that diners will find in the spring menu?
Shouse: Some items are porgy (Sea Bream), pollock (Blue Cod), and Dogfish (Cape Shark).
Halifax will celebrate its 1-year anniversary in May. What was the most satisfying moment of 2016 and what do you look forward to in 2017 and beyond?
Shouse: The most satisfying moment of 2016 was at the end of the first month when the staff were well-trained and the restaurant was running smoothly. For 2017, I look forward to further growing our following and introducing more locals to what Halifax has to offer.
How is Halifax’s spring dessert menu different than a traditional spring dessert menu at a modern American restaurant?
Marx: The main difference is that I morph my style — which is classic with a twist — to fit Halifax’s concept. The restaurant is very much in the culinary style of New Jersey, New York, and New England, where desserts are fruit-focused with a lot of cobblers.
“I like to create desserts that evoke childhood memories. And of course, showcase ingredients and flavors that represent the season.”
So for example, I make apple fritters (pictured above), but serve them with three different dipping sauces: this spring we’re serving spicy chocolate, strawberry rhubarb, and honey lavender anglaise.
I’m also making a strawberry shortcake, but one that fits both my style and Halifax’s concept, served with roasted pistachio ice cream. I want the desserts to reflect that Halifax’s food is based on the Northeast Atlantic region, spanning New Jersey to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and to complement Executive Chef Seadon Shouse’s menus.
When creating desserts for the spring menu, what flavors did you want to spotlight and which did you want to avoid?
Marx: Whenever I think spring, right away I think strawberry, rhubarb, light cakes, and ice cream. The pistachio ice cream with strawberry shortcake reminds me of spring and summer as a kid. I like to create desserts that evoke childhood memories. And of course, showcase ingredients and flavors that represent the season like berries, lavender, honey, even edible flowers.
In a few weeks, we’ll introduce a blueberry dessert — blueberry buckle, similar to a cobbler and served in a cast-iron pan with blue cornmeal cobbler and buttermilk ice cream. At Halifax, I try to stay away from the tropical flavors I first embraced while at Jean Georges’ Vong. Ingredients like passion fruit don’t fit with Halifax’s concept. At Halifax, I try to incorporate regional and sustainable ingredients.
The Spring Menu
Cured Meats & Pate: NJ prosciutto, pork lomo, lamb mortadella, country terrine, duck liver pate
Cured & Smoke Fish: Maple smoked wild salmon, smoked rainbow trout, smoked mussels, smoked pollock rillettes, marinated seafood salad
We Loved: This sharable plate lets you mix and match between cured meats and smoked seafood. Personal favorites include the maple smoked wild salmon, which has a sweet, crystallized surface that locks in the salmon’s flavor. The salmon strips are addictive and like a seafood lover’s version of bacon. The smoked mussels — which are first steamed and then smoked — have a soft woodsy flavor. Lastly, the smoked rainbow trout is sweet and a must for fish lovers.
We Loved: The crouton-shaped gnocchi are tender, pillowy, and unlike most gnochhi — they’re airy rather than heavy. They’re made with Parmesan, Gorgonzola, and Ricotta cheese, which ensures each bite is bursting with a sharp, cheesy flavor.
We Loved: The nduja-based broth (which is a spicy, spreadable pork salumi) gives this plate a wonderfully hot finish. The clams are plump and the perfect companion to the cod.
We Loved: Halifax isn’t just about seafood and this dish proves it. The fresh chicken is smoked, roasted, and served in all its juicy glory. It’s paired with mixed greens, toasted chunks of bread, and pine nuts — which give the plate a sweet, nutty flavor.
We Loved: The strawberry shortcake is as close as you’ll get to summer on a plate. The fluffy cake is topped with plump, sweet strawberries and paired with pistachio ice cream and edible flowers. Light, delicious, and perfect for any spring or summer day.
Halifax at the W Hotel
225 River Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Disclaimer: Jersey City Upfront was provided with the opportunity to dine at this restaurant at no cost, but was under no obligation to write about it. Opinions expressed are solely my own.