On a winter’s night when the wind is in the trees, as foretold a century ago, The Highwayman will come riding (riding, riding) into Halifax. For in early or mid-March—the official date is yet to be announced-—The Highwayman Restaurant will open at 1673 Barrington Street (the former Certainly Cinnamon location).
The Highwayman is a new restaurant venture from Adam MacLeod, Michael Hopper, and Field Guide owners Dan Vorstermans, and Ceilidh Sutherland. MacLeod is head bartender at Field Guide, and Hopper tended bar at La Frasca. The name is inspired by the Alfred Noyes poem, which was first published 100 years ago this August. “It’s a really, really beautiful poem,” says Sutherland. “We’ve been using the imagery as reference for a lot in the design elements on the restaurant. It’s kind of dark and moody, there are lots of textural references and weather references. It’s been a really neat way to be inspired; I’ve never really experienced this before.”
The 40-seat restaurant will have a large food menu with some sharing components along with a traditional menu of appetizers and main courses. “There will be some Spanish inspiration,” says Sutherland, “But other than that, we don’t want to give away too much in terms of what we’re doing with the food. We are going to have a late night menu, though. Stillwell is across the street; we won’t be competing with them, though; we’ll be a companion.”
While Vorstermans will be doing double duty heading up the kitchen at both restaurants, there will, of course, be a beverage program by Hopper and MacLeod as well as a similar devotion to quality front-of-house and back-of-house staffing, you shouldn’t expect a carbon copy of Field Guide. “We already have a great place with a 16 drink cocktail menu, so we don’t really think we need to do that again,” says Sutherland. “This menu will be focused on other spirits, like Sherry and Amaro. And we want to focus on people having a more expansive experience of coming in and ordering a cocktail, having food, drinking wine.”
The foursome has been working on the restaurant for the past few months, and construction is still underway. “It’s a really cool space, a really old building with a lot of really cool components. We’re all really excited about,” says Sutherland. They are also excited to have a space downtown. “I feel like it’s the right time. I think Barrington Street is going to blow up so, again, it feels really good to be on the cusp of something.
“I know that right now in that neighoburhood there are a lot of issues for businesses because of the convention centre being built. My hope always is that opening a new business can only help those other places,” Sutherland says, citing Field Guide’s relationship to EDNA.
“It’s such a good relationship, a good back and forth: you can borrow stuff from each other, our staff is constantly over there eating and drinking and their staff is constantly over here eating and drinking. It creates this culture that’s really important. And hopefully we will see that happen on Barrington Street: people eating at Highwayman and drinking at Stillwell. I hope that’s what will happen. And there are whisperings of other places opening on Barrington Street, so hopefully that’s just going to get better and better.”