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Lot Six sense 

Gorgeous and ambient, Argyle Street hot-spot Lot Six boasts the city’s best bartenders and an ambitious menu, but hasn’t quite nailed it yet.

click to enlarge Lot Six’s atrium is a stunner—equal parts airy, outdoorsy and warm.
  • Lot Six’s atrium is a stunner—equal parts airy, outdoorsy and warm.

Lot Six is a very beautiful restaurant. The upstairs is cozy and sleek, while the downstairs has an airy sense of space with the lofty glass ceiling of the atrium. Lush leafy plants and string lights lend an outdoorsy lightness to the room, while woodsy textures and earthy colours give it warmth.

Once seated, we start with a trio of oysters ($3 each): two tiny, briny teardrops from Malagash and Sober Island and a huge, meaty deep-cupped one from Eel Lake. The oysters are well-shucked, with not a hint of grit and still sloshing with salty liquor. It's a rarity to get a competently shucked oyster in Halifax restaurants, so this is a nice start to the night.

Oysters and cocktails are the main draws at Lot Six. The bar crew is unmatched in Halifax in size and skill. So it's surprising that the cocktail menu is the only place in Halifax where summer is overstaying its welcome. The program on our visit reads like a tropical breeze, with bright, refreshing citrus notes and splashes of rum and tequila. Always one to favour a stiff drink, especially in the fall, I'm hoping for simplicity, autumnal flavours and spirit-forward selections.

I order a Thai Punch ($12), and it's a sugary haymaker, a ground-and-pound to my tastebuds. My friend has the cucumber rickey. He also finds his drink too sweet. Our server, Tom, notes our disappointment and, unbidden, asks the bartender for some suggestions. Tom is fantastic—he's funny and thoughtful, interested in what the restaurant is doing and how you respond to it—this is the type of server that elevates a meal from "eating out" to having a nice dining experience. He's the make in make or break.

I take the bartender's suggestion, a fantastic cocktail that I don't remember outside of it being crisp and balanced, the colour of fallen leaves. A fan of Fernet Branca, my friend enjoys the herbal undertones of a beautifully crafted Hanky Panky. We're secure in off-menu ordering at Lot Six, and that's great.

The food is a disappointment pretty much across the board. With the fried cauliflower ($9), we expect a tender crispness to the florets, but the dish is limp and mushy. The flavour is slightly one-note, relying too heavily on nuttiness, making me wish for a smoky bacon instead of guanciale, or a flavour brighter than preserved lemon for added zest.

Ambition seems unmatched by execution on most dishes. The flat iron steak is cooked well, but criminally over-salted. It's practically bland next to the french fries served with the forgettable Dirty Burger ($16), which have enough salt to make a tongue tingle. The best part of the main course plates is the sweet, earthy confit carrot. The only great dish of the night is the Urban Blue cheesecake ($8), a crumbly cheesecake with a delicate tartness and a twist of mushroomy earthiness.

I later return for a Sunday brunch. This time service is a mess. We're left to linger for long stretches, glasses—water, coffee, mimosa—all empty and unnoticed. Our friendly but obviously harried server later apologizes; they are understaffed. She promises they'll adapt in time for next week.

The brunch food is better than dinner, but again there's that streak of intention that just doesn't quite land. The dishes have fussy lists of ingredients that end up invisible in the final product. The caramelized onion waffles ($15) are good, but there is no hint of onion. And by the time they are served, the chive and pumpkin seed butter has long since melted.

The breakfast sandwich ($14) has a slab of cheese that overpowers the horseradish aioli. The miso-glazed bacon on the BLT benny ($18) may as well be a rasher with the richness of the lobster and the charred tomato hollandaise dominating the dish. The eggs, though, are all perfectly poached.

There are hints of greatness and clear grasps for it at Lot Six. The restaurant isn't quite there yet. But, gosh, is it beautiful.

Lot Six
1685 Argyle Street
Daily, 4pm-2am

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