Crimson and golden rays peering through the office buildings of Halifax shimmer against my amber ale. Breathing in the ale’s crisp hop aroma, I take a sip. The smooth maltiness coats the chicken resting against my palate. The two co-mingle to the sheer delight of all my senses. A thought comes to me: “Why haven’t I reviewed The Wooden Monkey yet?”
I’ve enjoyed The Wooden Monkey many times but last week was my first experience in their second location, at Alderney Landing. The Dartmouth location, like the original Halifax location, offers impeccable food along with a high standard of service accented with sublime atmosphere.
The Wooden Monkey, like many of my other favourite restaurants (e.g. Brooklyn Warehouse), is a tantalising case for locally sourced organic food. With partners like local Nova Scotian farms it is too easy for The Wooden Monkey to serve up some of the freshest meals around. They also offer coffee that is roasted a stone’s throw away at Java Blend.
The kitchens of The Wooden Monkey thrive on consistently delivering delicious dishes. If you want a lunch recommendation: get the seitan donair, taking one of Halifax’s flagship wraps and making it vegan in a most satisfying way, even for this omnivore. I would also recommend their specials. I can almost taste the chicken pot pie I had over a year ago. The blending of pastry, meat and veggies is not something that my palate is unaccustomed to but the Wooden Monkey’s version was like trying a pot pie for the first time.
The food is not the only thing that’s consistent at the Wooden Monkey. So too is their service. The staff always strike the best balance between friendliness and professionalism. Also, as a person with allergies, it can be difficult for a server to hide their quality of service. Add to it that for me, walking into a restaurant that prides itself on its vegan and vegetarian fare can often be a ticket to the nearest emergency room (reminder: an EpiPen only give you more time to get to the E.R.) regardless of what the wait staff says. However, The Wooden Monkey staff have always handled that challenge well. If they don’t know the ingredients, they find out and help me to make a safe choice that not only keeps me alive but keeps my taste buds satisfied.
The owners of The Wooden Monkey not only wanted to offer local food in the name of sustainability, they also built their first location with sustainability in mind. Much of the wood used in the building was salvaged after Hurricane Juan uprooted numerous trees in its wrecking path. This use of reclaimed wood adds a creative uniqueness to the Halifax location. Even though the restaurant’s décor is very much its own, the feel of the wooden chairs and tables conjure up feelings of home and familiarity. It’s even worth going just to see their signature painting: a sophisticated primate enjoying wine.
The Dartmouth location had a bit of a different origin story, aesthetically speaking. They moved into the old MacAskill’s location, which sits atop the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal. This means that most of their walls are windows looking out onto the Halifax harbour. Arguably, the only place that has a comparable view is on top of one of the ferries going from one side to the other. The Dartmouth location manages to make the space their own with a décor that resembles the Halifax location but is punctuated by an endless set of windows. Depending on where you are sitting you will lose yourself in contemplating the vastness of the world and the history of this harbour as you look out into the deep view of the harbour’s mouth.
It should be clear by now that I enjoy The Wooden Monkey. I encourage you to go there yourself and try it out as see what your verdict is. If you like it, or even if you don’t, feel free to come back here and add a comment.