Mic Mac tavern's a classic beauty

The ramshackle building, the threadworn carpet and the old school service add up to a great meal.

Mega Pig Dowdy Mic Mac Bar and Grill offers heaping portions of delicious. photo Julé Malet-Veale

There's nothing pretty about the Mic Mac Bar and Grill---an old building, just off the road, with additions cobbled on over the years (none seeming to match), the landscaping consisting of cars parked haphazardly all around the restaurant.

Inside, the decor looks like it hasn't changed since the place opened in 1963, an unbelievable 45 years ago.

Carpet worn threadbare from countless pairs of shoes treading over it, tables wiped with a lick and a promise because the turnover is so high, there's no time to shine the old wood.

There's an old number board on one wall, which once used to indicate when meals were ready for pick-up, and it's a place where women bring the food and men take the drink orders, old school. A creaky set of steps goes up half a level to a long bar and the former smoking area.

The Mic Mac is a blue-collar-type place. It started life as a tavern for men, with the owner's wife doing all the cooking. Home-style food continues to be what draws the crowds and it's what keeps patrons lined up out of the door and along the walls on busy nights (of which there are many---it's rare to see the parking lot empty).

It isn't pretty, but true beauty lies within, they say, and they meant the Mic Mac kitchen. Because the food---plainly plated and heaped high---is wonderfully delicious.

I've never had a bad meal here. The consistency is amazing and no doubt a large part of what keeps people coming back. The menu is meat and fish, with ribs, steaks, chicken and haddock playing starring roles.

The brunch is always packed; you have to come early for a seat, but it's well worth the wait if you're not lucky enough to get a table straight away.

Fish cakes with chow, eggs and baked beans ($9.49) will cure whatever ails you from the night before and if you're really hungry and need a grease fix, try the "Hungry Breakfast."

For 16 bucks you get steak, bacon, ham, sausage, two eggs, toast and home fries (I once watched as a tiny woman packed away this plate of food while her husband justhad toast).

The steak is thin, typical pub-style steak, but seasoned well and cooked expertly. More than half of the breakfast is relegated to a take-out container---I think that must happen a lot.

I'd guess the ribs are the most popular item, though. It seems as though every second table has an order or two. A full rack of barbeque pork ribs ($15.99) must come from bigger pigs than anywhere else, because it's huge. Under the ribs is a mountain of handcut fries (increasingly hard to find elsewhere), cooked perfectly. The ribs are tender and my only quibble is that there are never enough napkins.

Fish is done just as nicely: The haddock dinner ($10.99) comes with potato and garden salad. It's a big filet, moist and flaky, with a light covering of lemon pepper.

The deep-fried fish is very good, due to the light, crispy batter (1pc $5.99) and once again, handcut fries elevate it to fabulous.

The service here is fast and friendly and the casual ease with which the servers deal with their guests contributes to the homey atmosphere.

No indeed, there's nothing pretty about the Mic Mac at first glance, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and for hungry eyes, the Mic Mac is gorgeous.

See pretty pictures of Liz Feltham's restaurant reviews at foodcritic.ca.

Support The Coast

At a time when the city needs local coverage more than ever, we’re asking for your help to support independent journalism. We are committed as always to providing free access to readers, particularly as we confront the impact of COVID-19 in Halifax and beyond.

Read more about the work we do here, or consider making a donation. Thank you for your support!

Comments (5)

Add a comment

Add a Comment

Get more Halifax

The Coast Daily email newsletter is your extra dose of the city Monday through Friday. Sign up and go deep on Halifax.

Recent Comments