Grille 58

Grille 58 from the street - photo by Richmond Talbot

Grille 58 at 284 Monponsett Street in Halifax is a place I’d never have come to but for word of mouth. It’s set in a strip mall of the sort you’d pass without a sidewise glance if you weren't in the know. I had recommendations from Frank who works at the garage where I get my car fixed, and from Annette’s aunt Valerie, who knits sweaters for our grandchildren. The praise was so effusive Annette and I ventured into the countryside to see what the excitement was about.

Where some cafés have jukeboxes, Grille 58 provides a tableside television into which you’re invited to feed coins. I was disposed to make snide comments about the poor man’s dinner and a movie, forgetting that in the privacy of my home I've been known to sup before the flickering screen. I suppose the invention is useful for families in which the children haven’t learned restaurant manners and need an electronic drug to prevent them from running amok betwixt the tables. There were no children when I was there, and none of the TVs was on.

You are also invited to play Lotto, but all electronic amenities faded from mind when the waiter served my fried scallops, which turned out to be absolutely the most outstanding delicacy I’ve ever eaten from a plastic basket. They were incredibly fresh, tender, sweet, and perfectly fried. Annette got the same scallops breaded, buttered, and served broiled with mashed potatoes. As we ate, we began planning what we’d get on our next visit.

My scallops came with fried onion rings. This side dish can be wretched when mishandled, but these rings were well-nigh perfect. There were also French fries, which I was going to rate as ordinary, but on a second taste I noticed they had a nice potato flavor and were lightly fried so they weren’t greasy. Neither were they crisped with the sweet coating that has become just about ubiquitous. My daughter tells me it’s scientifically developed so the combination of fat, sugar, and salt will deaden the messages sent to your brain which tell it you’re full.

On the second visit, Annette and I split an order of cheeseburger sliders. I warn you these are so juicy they squirt when you bite into them. You get a choice of cheeses. We chose cheddar, and got the real thing, not processed American cheese. They came with tomatoes, lettuce, and more of those great onion rings. The buns were much better than the standard hamburger rolls and they were grill toasted to a crisp buttery finish. We ordered the burgers medium rare, and mine was slightly pink inside. I give Grille 58 high marks for this. Often when a wait person asks you how you want a burger cooked, it comes to you brown and dry, no matter what you say.

Grill 58’s fish chowder had a silky mouth-feel that was rich with cream, not pasty with thickener. The fish was fresh and perfectly done. There were bits of quahog in the chowder. (Be warned if you’re allergic to shellfish.) I think they took their clam chowder and put in generous pieces of delicate cod. I give it top marks for restaurant chowder. I was beginning to see a pattern in which everything you order gets a little tweak that makes it better than expected. With the fish it’s perfect freshness.

We weren’t really hungry when it was time for dessert, but we split an order of gingerbread. The generous portion was the extra in this order. It was moist, slightly chewy, dark with molasses, and spicy with ginger and clove. The whipped cream was our first disappointment. It was the aerosol kind that melts into a thin white liquid on the plate. I wish they’d whip their own. The gingerbread also came with a small scoop of ice cream.

Fried clams, photo by Richmond Talbot

Once again we left contemplating another visit. On that occasion my fried clams were fresh-tasting and not at all greasy. The lunch basket didn’t have a mountain of them, but the quantity was all a person my age ought to cram into his antiquated digestive system, and it was a good deal for $9.95. The clams came with the same onion rings and fries.

Annette’s chicken supreme was tender and juicy. Everything I’ve eaten at Grille 58 has been carefully cooked. I remembered how many tough slabs of boneless chicken breast I’ve eaten at forlorn cafes. Annette complained that the supreme sauce lacked the flecks of tarragon she enjoys when she orders the dish at the Mile Post in Duxbury, but it was a lovely gravy that tasted of chicken.

I haven’t dined at Grille 58 in the evening, which means there are things on the regular menu I haven’t tried. I hear the pizza is good, and I expect the steaks are as delectable as the sliders. I haven’t tested the bar. Of the things I ate, the fried scallops were the most outstanding, but I’m ready to recommend that you begin your own exploration.