The Hungry Critic: A Reliable Guide to the Restaurants of Nova Scotia


250 pages
Contains Illustrations, Maps, Index
ISBN 1-55109-432-0
DDC 647.95716





Reviewed by Marie T. Gillis

Marie T. Gillis is a member of the Angus L. Macdonald Library staff at
St. Francis Xavier University.


The act of dining out is greater than the sum of its parts. Good food,
good service, and good company combine to create an experience that
remains memorable long after the event itself. Of course, the reverse is
also true, so we hedge our bets and, before committing time and money to
any particular restaurant, turn to a description of someone else’s
experience to forecast our own. In the absence of knowledgeable friends
or family, we seek out the restaurant reviewer.

Stephen Maher is the restaurant critic for the Halifax Sunday Herald.
His weekly column is written in an engaging, informal style that makes
the reader think she is getting advice from a friend. In The Hungry
Critic, this casual approach continues, with mixed results.

Some things are well done. Outside of metropolitan Halifax, which
comprises the majority of the book, the chosen sites are organized
according to Nova Scotia’s tourism trails. There is also a helpful
alphabetical index of restaurants at the back of the book. In each
restaurant’s listing is information about location, hours, wheelchair
accessibility, and pricing. Many of the reviews are quite thorough, with
commentary about specific dishes.

Unfortunately, Maher’s two favourite descriptive phrases about food
are “pretty good” and “not bad.” Neither is particularly helpful
in determining quality. One assumes that “pretty good” is better
than “not bad,” but really, there are no guarantees. Maher has also
made the baffling choice to include restaurants that he has not visited;
in those cases, he makes recommendations based on speculation.

The most I can say about The Hungry Critic is that it’s not bad. I
guess that’s pretty good.


Maher, Stephen., “The Hungry Critic: A Reliable Guide to the Restaurants of Nova Scotia,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024,