Restaurant Review: La Frasca on Spring Garden Road

La Frasca is the kind of the restaurant that ruins eating, because nothing else will ever taste good again by comparison. Each dish is so delicious and thoughtful that it makes you want to sell your house and rent an apartment across the street with nothing but a treadmill in it to work off all the food you’ll now eat, exclusively from there. It’s the kind of restaurant that your friends and family will stop calling you regularly over because “all Rebecca talks about is those damn risotto balls”, and good riddance am I right?

I’ve been to this restaurant a couple of times now and haven’t been able to review it because each time I finish eating I sit like Drake at the end of Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda video and have to contemplate my whole way of living because I just experienced something too rich for mortal consumption. Maybe it’s a compliment or a terrible attestation to the quality of food that I consume on the regular. I like to think I’m fairly sensible and eat healthy, I like straightforward foods and fresh vegetables and appreciate home-cooked goods. But I brought my brother to La Frasca over the weekend with a friend and after I ordered the vegetable fettuccine, I said, “Look here boy. You tell me what you see in this dish, taste it, get real intimate with it, learn how it works. What makes it tick. And learn how to recreate this dish at home for me. Because I’m a broke-ass student and can’t afford to spend my rent money here anymore.”

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We have yet to perfect anything like that fettuccine.

But the first time I went to La Frasca, I had just eaten a wedge of lasagna from Pete’s because I was waiting for my friend to get off work and didn’t expect to be eating any dinner anytime soon. So my stomach was pretty comfortably full and I was feeling satisfied with my Italian-adjacent experience. But he was starved and we walked past La Frasca – I didn’t actually know where we were until I was inside, the place is so dark and foreboding from the outside that I assumed it was a dark pub. But walking in the door, it was like we were suddenly in a cool european eatery, maybe something in London like that one restaurant in a cellar I saw on Pinterest. I was far too uncouth in my jeans and tank top to be hanging out here. This is the kind of restaurant where hot people eat. The kind of people that know a lot of cocktails off the top of the head and have opinions about wine pairings. The kind of people who go to the gym before work and have scheduled lunch dates with their friends that they keep organized on an Apple watch. I was already out of my depth.

Suddenly, one of these attractive people was coming up to talk to us. He asked where we wanted to sit, and we meekly indicated into the dining room. We were sat down, given waters, and left with a giant menu of delicacies that took a long, long time to decipher. I was looking for vegetarian options, my friend wanted seafood. But, remember, I ate that (now clearly mediocre) lasagna, so I picked the Arancini balls, thinking it was a lighter option. He had a seafood risotto. I can’t comment on how his risotto was, but the second time we went he ordered the same thing again without even contemplating the idea.

They were so majestic in person that this photo is almost embarrassing.
They were so majestic in person that this photo is almost embarrassing.

So, the arancini balls. The menu describes them as “smoked cherry tomato rice croquettes, fresh mozzarella centre, golden fried, tomato & basil sauce”. What I received was three balls of cheese-filled ambrosia in a sauce that I can only presume was made from a reduction of wine aged in the cellars of Dionysos himself. I took a bite and looked at my friend and said, “dear god, I will be back to this conversation when I am done eating. No words. Mmhmhmkmghfphh–” (That’s the sound of me eating like the Cookie Monster.)

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The second dish I’ve had there was the fettuccine. I wanted the arancini again but thought for the sake of diversity and a full stomach I ought to branch out a little more, plus I was planning on going to Cheers that night and still had a stop at the liquor store to make – my budget cried salty parmesan tears asking me to only pick one thing from the menu to eat. So the fettuccine it was. Here’s how it’s described: “olive oil, smoked tomatoes, fresh asparagus, artichokes, summer peas, parmigiano, basil pesto, fresh ricotta”. Can I get a hell yeah? HELL YEAH!

So this plate arrives and at first I was like, this is not enough food. I could eat two plates of this. But I underestimated how hearty it was. After taking enough photos (yes I am one of those people in restaurants, deal with it) I tucked in, ate the first mouthful, and decided I needed to spread the good word before finishing this meal. “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten,” I told my dining partners. They nodded from where they were going through their own religious experiences. “No, you don’t understand,” I told them, urging them to look up from their plates. I wasn’t successful. “This food is god’s work,” I told the restaurant at large, and went back into the fray.

I'm not going to apologize for my bad camera again, but, uh, yeah.
I’m not going to apologize for my bad camera again, but, uh, yeah.

I was the last one to finish eating. I presume it was because I kept being grateful after every bite. Thorough gratitude like that takes time. We eventually settled up and left, returning to the mean streets of Halifax. My stomach told me I wanted a nap. My brain told me I needed to take up jogging for my health.

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So what did we learn from this adventure in fine dining? I sit here on a Monday night in sweatpants watching Voyage of the Unicorn with a cup of tea. This no longer seems acceptable. Eating at La Frasca has reminded me of the dream life I live via Pinterest boards and study abroad programs. It’s a little taste of luxury that reminds me why I work hard and have spent all these years in grad school. I see you rolling your eyes from across the internet – yes, this is a pretty dorky sentiment after a plate of noodles and some fried rice balls. I don’t care. Go there and order something and you’ll see. YOU’LL ALL SEE!!!

To join my legion of forever-food-ruined patrons of this most excellent establishment, go visit La Frasca at 5650 Spring Garden Road in Halifax. Closed Sundays, don’t let yourself be disappointed. Go forth and feast, friends.

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