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Rockbottom Brew Pub

9 Aug

Local Beer - Rockbottom BreweryI make a habit of checking out restaurants that A. brew their own beer and B. offer sampler trays of said beer.  What the big beer brands have in marketing, microbreweries often make up for in devotion to well-crafted, flavourful beer.  Continue reading

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Active Greenways: Halifax to Tantallon

9 Aug

What do you do with railways that aren’t in use anymore?  Turn them into an active transit greenway that will get you all the way from Halifax to Lunenburg.  It started with a trip to ‘cheap movie night’ at the Bayers Lake Empire Theatres.  The trail not only got us there quickly, but it made our movie night feel like more of an adventure (and helped us excuse all of the movie theatre treats).  Since then, we’ve been taking progressively farther rides.

The first part of the trail, the one that takes you to the park, is the Chain of Lakes Trail.  As indicated by it’s name, it runs along the Chain Lakes  and Bayers Lake.  These lakes are gorgeous but please resist the temptation to dive in as these are the municipality’s back-up water supply.  Chain of Lakes runs parallel to Joseph Howe Drive in the west end of the Halifax core area, before turning west at Springvale Avenue.  You can access the trail here, at the Ashburn Golf Course entrance and at Crown Drive off the St. Margaret’s Bay Road.  The trail is newly paved in some sections and crusher dust in others. Continue reading

Ratinaud Charcuterie – Halifax

7 Aug

Food from Ratinaud CharcuterieA few months back a good friend and fellow foodie brought over duck pate for my birthday.  I am not a fan of pate, but this was different.  It was savory, juicy, and full of flavour, the kind of food you find yourself thinking about weeks later. Continue reading

The Chowder Trail: Saege Bistro – Halifax

6 Aug

A good friend of ours recently relocated from Calgary to Halifax.  As a thank you for letting her crash on our couch for her last night as a non-homeowner, she offered to take us out for dinner. After narrowing down the list to veggie and gluten-free friendly establishments, and cross referencing with The Chowder Trail, we decided on Saege Bistro (@saegebistro).   Saege is located at Spring Garden and Summer between the busy university area and the busy Spring Garden shopping district, making it a comparatively quiet haven to socialize without being overwhelmed by a crowd.  This was my first time in Saege (Drew’s second), and I was immediately impressed with the décor. Continue reading

Bus Route #20 – Herring Cove

30 Jul

Or:  The ‘Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover’ Route

Similar to the #80 bus route, the #20 is a heavily used commuter route for people going to work on the peninsula, but maybe not so well used for heading in the opposite direction to do some exploring.  We even live along the route, and were surprised by some of the great finds we hadn’t known about.

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The Five Fishermen – Halifax

23 Jul

Five Fisherman (@5fishermen) is a mandatory stop if you are a tourist in Halifax.  So it comes as no surprise that my first experience took place during a visit from Drew’s Scottish side of the family.

The building has a lot of history. It was originally built in 1817 as a school house. It was later taken over by Anna Leonowens, who turned the building into an art school (what would later move and come to be known as NSCAD).  It was later purchased by the Snows and became a mortuary, one that was used to house many of the victims of the Titanic and the Halifax Explosion.  This might partially explain some of the ghost stories that are commonplace at the Five Fishermen.

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Garden of Eat’n – Halifax

21 Jul

A few weeks ago we published our post on the #6 Quinpool bus route.  In this post, we discussed how it’s nearly impossible to cover everything on this fantastic Halifax street, so, we’ve visited one of the places we missed.

Garden of Eat’n, formerly 308 South, formerly Rock Island Bistro, and formerly Rock Island Cafe has obviously changed hands many times, so we considered it one of the cursed spots in the Halifax restaurant scene (similar to La Trinidade/Mix/Crown Diner).  Because of this, it could be easy to dismiss the place and figure it’s not worth visiting because it won’t be around long anyway.  However, the new establishment included two words on their sandwich board that appeals to the very core of all Nova Scotians, “Patio open.”  We found this impossible to resist. Continue reading

Dee Dee’s Ice Cream

9 Jul

When I was a kid, I read a lot of Archie Comics.  My causal reading list of Archie, Betty & Veronica & Jughead Double Digests left me with the need to find the ultimate hamburger, the fear of talking to any football player’s girlfriend, and the desire to find an ice cream shop just like Pop Tate’s.

To my knowledge, I don’t know anyone dating a football player and I’m reserving judgment on the best burger until I’ve tried them all, but I have found Dee Dee’s Ice Cream Shop (@DeeDeesIceCream) on Cornwallis Street just across from the Halifax Common.

Continue reading

Bus Route #6 – Quinpool

27 Jun

Or: The Route of Bests

So far we’ve covered four routes, the #15, the #60, the #21 and the #80 that will take you in four completely different directions in HRM.  So, for our fifth #LocalTravelHRM post on @hfxtransit bus routes, we decided to cover one of the urban core routes, the #6.

For us, this route isn’t so much the best route, as it’s the route of many things that we consider to be the best.  From beer to diners to sushi to movies, this route has so much greatness packed into such a short distance that you’re almost better off walking to see everything.  However, if you ever want to come back to your favourites, the #6 will get you there.

We begin this route at the Ferry Terminal by Stayner’s Wharf.  If you’re coming from Dartmouth, you can check the ferry schedule here, and the schedule for the #6.  Cyclists, the distances indicated follow the route up Cogswell until it turns into Quinpool.  There are no bike lanes and a lot of traffic along this route, with a couple crazy intersections so be aware of drivers.

Propeller BreweryPropeller Brewery  (0.9km)

Get off either just before or after the Staples and head for the giant Propeller and the “Cold Beer” sign.  Propeller Beer (@propellerbeer) is the darling of North End craft beer lovers, and with good reason.  Their Pilsner is one of my favourite summer beers and their Bitter is good for all seasons.  If you like it hoppy, go for the IPA.  They do $9 refillable Growlers (just shy of a 6-pack!).

Centennial Swimming PoolCentennial Swimming Pool (0.9km)

My wife spent most of her adolescent life at Centennial Pool, first as a competitive synchornized swimmer, and later as a coach.  While she will tell you it isn’t the best pool in the city, it is her favourite.  Not only is it one of only two 50 meter pools in the city, it is the only 10 meter diving tower complex in Nova Scotia.  It is also home to some great groups: Halifax Aqua Nova Synchro, Cygnus Diving Club, The Halifax Trojans, and many more. The best part?  During recent renovations, Centennial decided to add solar panels to the roof to provide part of the building’s electrical needs.

The Halifax CommonsThe Halifax Common & The Pavilion  (1.5km)

In the middle of Halifax’s urban core is a big (mostly) green space called the Halifax Common (thanks to @christinacopp for the correction: singular, not plural, and for the link: Halifax Common).  Here’s the thing about having a space for the common use, you can’t please everyone all the time.  But in my opinion, HRM really isn’t doing too bad a job here (now that we’re done with the concerts).  Whether you’re coming here to play baseball, tennis or Ultimate, skating the skate park or skating the Oval, playing on the playground, lounging on the grass or chilling in the pool, there really is something here that could appeal to everyone.

Commons Skate Park

Halifax Commons Playground

Also in the middle of the Commons is the Pavilion (@halifaxpavilion), Halifax’s famed all-ages club that succeeded the legendary Café Olé.  If you’re a punk band in Halifax, this is where you prove yourself.

Video Difference  (2.0km)

Given how easy it is to stream movies online, there’s a reason why Video Difference (@videodifference) has survived.  Video Difference has an incredible selection of films.  In fact, they even have an incredible selection of selections of films.  The store is well marked throughout its three levels, documentary lovers will be in heaven.  Open 24 hours and they have drop-off locations throughout the city.

Freemans Little New YorkFreeman’s Little New York  (2.0km)

Freeman’s (@freemanspizza) tops several “Best ” lists.  It is the best place to do some people watching while being the best place for late night snacks on Quinpool while enjoying a sampler tray of the best selection of Propeller draft outside of Propeller Brewery itself.  They have gluten-free pizza options and are now doing all local weekly specials!

Freemans Halifax Local Menu

Sweet Hereafter Cheesecake

Sweet Hereafter Cheescakery  (2.1km)

This sweet addition to the Halifax dining scene offers over 60 kinds of cheesecake, including gluten free and dairy free selections.  You can opt for take-out, or relax in their lounge, which is decked out with pink high back velvet chairs, chandeliers, and a photo booth complete with long gloves and cat-eye glasses.  We went with Sweet Hereafter (@sweet_hereafter) for our wedding cake and people are still talking about it.

Sweet Hereafter interior

Bramoso Pizza Halifax

Bramoso Gourmet Pizza  (2.2km)

This family owned restaurant makes some of the healthiest, freshest slices in the city.  In addition to offering gluten and dairy free options, Bramoso (@bramosopizza) uses almost all local ingredients for their pizza.  They also have a wicked take-and-bake option.  While take and bake is always available, your best bet is to pick it up at the market on Saturdays ($15 for a large).  While you’re there, you can try their Saturday morning special – breakfast pizza made with veggies, bacon, and a free range egg.

The Trail Shop  (2.3km)

The Trail Shop (@trailshop) was another member of the Quinpool business community that played a big part in our wedding.  If you’re looking to do some camping, kayaking, hiking or slacklining, this is the place for you.  The staff are very knowledgeable and friendly and they have tons of information in the store for hiking and kayaking adventures throughout Nova Scotia.

Leicester’s Deli & Cheese Emporium (2.4km)

As much as Quinpool has to offer, it always felt like something was missing.  And then Leicester’s came along.  Every good neighbourhood needs a good deli and cheese emporium.  We’ll let our friend at ourhalifax.com tell you what’s good here.

The Oxford Theatre (2.6km)

2012 marks the 75th anniversary for this cinematic gem.  Transport yourself back to the 1960’s while taking in the newest independent flick.  In addition to offering some of the more unique screenings, The Oxford (@empiretheatres) also plays host to a number of midnight fundraiser showings, usually ones involving costumes.

Wasabi House & The Ikebana Shop (2.6km)

We’ve already covered the fact that Wasabi House (@wasabihouse) is our favourite sushi spot in Halifax.  You can see it here.  If you want some Japanese culture with your sushi, head down just a couple more doors to the Ikebana Shop (@theikebanashop).  Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement.  They are THE place to go for unique, beautiful vases.  You can learn to use these vases during one of their workshops, or, if you’d rather someone else do your floral arranging, they also offer arrangement services. They have an awesome gallery of past corporate arrangements that they have done.  Even if you aren’t into flowers, check out their shop for unique gifts and home goods.

King of Donairs (2.7km)

Argue if you want to, K.O.D. (@kingofdonair) on Quinpool has the best pizza deal in the city.  Note that I’m from New Glasgow and I don’t hold Halifax pizza to the same standard as Pictou County Pizza.  Where else can you get a large pizza with three toppings for $9?  Two things to know, this deal is for pick-up only, and is best if you get pepperoni, bacon and sausage.

The Ardmore Tearoom (2.8km)

The Ardmore (@ArdmoreTeaRoom) is something of an institution among greasy spoons in Halifax.  Rarely will you not find a line of hungover (or not yet hungover) university students leading to a packed house on a weekend morning here.  There’s good reason for that.  Though many say the breakfast aren’t what they used to be (are they ever?), their home fries are still pretty awesome (it’s the seasoning).

While I was doing this route, I got caught in a torrential downpour and sought refuge in the Ardmore.  I couldn’t resist warming up with a hot turkey sandwich ($8.49).  It was well worth it; a huge plate of turkey, bread, gravy, veggies, fries and cole slaw.  However, if you can hold out, you’re only a few stops from what we consider to be the best diner in the city.

Planet Organic & Taishan Asian Grocery (2.8km)

Quinpool is the kind of walkable, livable neighbourhood we love, one where you can find anything.  In case you doubt this, you should pop into Planet Organic and the Taishan Asian Grocery.  It doesn’t matter how obscure or exotic your culinary, domestic or personal hygiene needs are, you’ll be well looked after here.

Planet Organic (@planetorganic) has everything to satisfy your natural, organic, gluten-free or vegan needs.  They also have a wide range of vitamins, supplements and natural hygiene and beauty products.

The Taishan Asian Grocery is legit.  No prices on anything, I can’t read any of the labels and I don’t even know what most of these things are.  I don’t even know if this is the right website for it (based on the phone number I’m thinking it could be).  Simply buying something here is an adventure, let alone cooking it.  The dumplings are top notch.

Horseshoe Park (3.8km)

Ordinarily, Horseshoe Park at the bottom of Quinpool is a great place to lie out, reading a book or basking in the sun.  Not on the day I was out though.  It’s a small, well-kept park along the Northwest Arm with a great view of the passing sailboats.  Since I couldn’t really suntan, I contented myself with some duck-watching.

The Armview  (4.4km)

Finally, you’ve reached our favourite diner and the closest thing we have to a neighbourhood local.  It’s really not fit how much time we spend at the Armview (@armview), but who can blame us?  They have the best smoked meat & rye sandwich east of Montreal and their breakfast burritos with guacamole are amazing.  You can enjoy the casual lounge atmosphere inside (Sunday nights are open mic) or enjoy the view of the Northwest Arm from their patio.

It’s really pretty overwhelming how many great places are packed into such a short distance.  It’s easy to understand why we think Quinpool is one of the best streets in the city.  We barely scratched the surface, especially when it comes to places to eat.  If you feel like we’re missing something that must be included, let us know!

@DrewMooreNS

Bus Route #80 – Sackville

20 Jun

Welcome to the fourth installment of day trips and vacation spots in HRM accessible by bus (and bike!). Today we’ll take you on the #80, or what could be easily called ‘The Seafood Route”. The 80 starts at the Scotia Square terminal and takes you past some awesome spots in the downtown core, but for the purpose of this post we’re going to start the trip at the Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive. There are many excellent routes for downtown adventures (try the #1 for downtown and the #42 for Robie Street), and the #80’s best bits are further along.

Note for cyclists:  Cycling distances begin at the Superstore on Joseph Howe Drive.  Take care merging onto the Bedford Highway as there are many lanes and traffic tends to be heavy here.  Also, from Hatchery Park to Fultz House, follow the walking route rather than going on Hwy 101 (it’s prohibited for cyclists).  The #80 does not have a bike rack so if you’re cycling out, you’ll be cycling back.

Jim’s Family Seafood Restaurant  (2.9km)
There is a LOT of great food on the #80 route, starting with Jim’s. It offers home style cooking (if your hometown was made up of a group of fishermen, Greek, and Italian residents) for a good price and an even better view. They have awesome deals on seafood, with most entrees ringing in between $10 and $15. The patio overlooking the Bedford Basin isn’t open yet, but we’ve been assured that it won’t be much longer.  If you like fried fish, get the seafood platter.

Tomaso’s Pizza (2.9km)
Also in this area is Tomaso’s Pizza (@tomasospizza). Opened in 1969, Tomosa’s claims to be the oldest pizzaria in Halifax. The owner is originally from Italy, and while we didn’t have the chance to stop in for a slice, the pizza looks pretty good. We were especially interested in the Pesto Sopresa and the Spinaci and Galo Arrostito.

Nature’s Cove General Store (3.9km)
When I first discovered that I couldn’t eat wheat, I had a really hard time finding some decent bread. That is, until a kindly stranger heard my laments and suggested Nature’s Cove. Nature’s Cove is an awesome little shop chock full of local, organic, natural and all around good for you products. Over the weekend, we also learned that they are currently installing the means to offer fresh-scooped ice cream, and some cooking gear to be able to make more in-house creations.

Prince’s Lodge (The Rotunda) (5.7km)
I was really looking forward to covering this route specifically for the Rotunda. For years, I have driven by this funny little round building and wondered what on earth it could be. Thanks to @1_car_guy, @anthonymartinNS and @Steamwrksdesign, our questions were finally answered.

As it turns out, this whole area once played host to Prince Edward and his French mistress Julie St. Laurent. What was once a huge estate fell into disrepair in the late 1800’s, and was broken up and sold into lots. The circular building that can be seen from the road (the Rotunda) is an old music room. If you go into the park you will also see the ‘Heart Shaped Lake’, which Edward built for his mistress.

It seems that Hemlock Ravine was a bit of a lovers playground for the pair.  What all of this taught me is that being a king’s mistress is the way to go.

Hemlock Ravine (5.9km)
@aldelory suggested we check this one out, and we’re glad we did. You could easily spend the whole day here. The park is huge with a network of well-groomed trails (@halifaxtrails).  This is a great spot for couples to go for a walk (or for kids to pretend they’re Robin Hood).  We’ve added a few pictures but you really have to see this one for yourself.


Fisherman’s Market (5.8km)
From this point on, you really start to hit the seafood portion of this adventure. Fisherman’s Market (@fishermanshfx) is a great stop if you plan to bring some lobster home for dinner. When we were there, they also had some samples of their spicy smoked salmon. ☺

Clearwater (7km)
Down the road from the Fisherman’s Market is another fish market at Clearwater (@clearwatersea). As soon as you enter you are stopped short by their starfish display of live lobster. The proximity of the two markets makes it easy to compare options and prices so we suggest visiting both. One thing that we liked about Clearwater is that they have stocked the store with tons of seafood trimmings (butter, cornbread, spices, cream) making it a one-stop-shop for a lobster dinner.

Harvest Wines & Spirits (7km)
Another very nice feature about Clearwater is that it has a wine and spirits boutique for a next door neighbour. Harvest Wines & Spirits  (@harvestwines) has an impressive collection of Nova Scotian wines. We especially liked all of the artful displays of Benjamin Bridge.

They have a cozy room for hosting wine-tasting events, complete with dishware for food pairings. For bigger events, you can rent the whole store and have two bars going at once. This would make a very unique event space.

Battered Fish (7km)
Across the street from the Fisherman’s Market is a pop-up Battered Fish (@tbf09). We have had battered fish from the Waterfront and Scotia Square locations a few times now, and are big fans. The portions are big and well priced and the fries are a perfect mix between McDonalds and Homecut style fries. In addition to some great food options, they have an impressive array of vinegar options.

Esquire Restaurant (7km)
Since we are well versed in Battered Fish cuisine, we opted for a quick bite to eat at the Esquire Restaurant (@esquirebedford). This place is an old standard in HRM. It is everything you could want in a diner (except for local beers, which is unfortunate).

We tried the lobster chowder upon the recommendation of the two Coast ‘Best Of’ Chowder signs in the doorway (2008 and 2009). While it’s been a few years since they’ve made the best of list, we can see why the chowder has caused some commotion in the past. It is thick, creamy and loaded with lobster.

DeWolf Park (9.1km)
If you’ve ever been to Bedford Days, you’re familiar with DeWolf Park. The Bedford Basin park is named after Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf, arguably Canada’s greatest naval officer. The park features a fair-sized green area, children’s playground, a boardwalk and signs that share historical facts that date back almost as far as the known beginning of the planet. One thing to take note of at DeWolf was the view of the infilling currently taking place in the Bedford Basin. The project is dumping pyritic slate into this unique ecosystem and has been making some pretty alarming changes. To read more about it check out here. You can also follow the citizens’ group on twitter @savebedfordreef

Thai Ivory Cuisine (8.9km)
Just past the street down to DeWolf Park is what may be the best Thai restaurant in HRM, Thai Ivory Cuisine. We have gone out of our way (i.e. to Bedford) to get their red and green curries. The best time to go is over the lunch hour to take advantage of their awesome lunch deals. Well worth the trip here.

Scott Manor House (10.8km)

I never thought that I was all that into old buildings, but Scott Manor House may have changed my sentiment. Built in 1767, it is the only full two and a half storey, gambrel-roofed colonial structure in Nova Scotia, and possibly in Canada. It also has two original mortarless, loose field stone chimney bases. This attraction is free to visit, but only open in July and August (we lucked into a visit during a special event). There is a tea room on-site that offers tea and assorted sweets between 2 pm and 4 pm.

Fish Hatchery Park (10.7km)
Just around the corner from Scott Manor is Fish Hatchery Park. As the name suggests, it was once the site of a large fish hatchery. Considering it’s right next to the main route, it’s a very peaceful little area that would be a great place for a picnic or to read a book. There is a 2 km walking route from here to Fultz House in Sackville. If you are not looking to shop in downtown Bedford, we suggest stopping at Manor House, heading to Fish Hatchery Park, and then taking a hike to Fultz house before bussing home.

Downtown Bedford (11.7km)
If you continue along on the bus, you will come to Downtown Bedford. This little shopping area has a lot to offer.  Most people are familiar with the original Pete’s location (Drew’s parents used to make pilgrimages all the way from New Glasgow to get hard to find British favourites) and the original Chicken Burger. You will also find the Sunnyside Restaurant (a great, deluxe greasy spoon) the Riverside Pub (a popular watering hole), the Freak Lunchbox candy shop and Uncommon Kids.

Fultz House (13.6km)
Fultz House is a small seasonal museum that pays tribute to more than 200 years of Sackville history. The museum wasn’t yet open on this trip (Open July-August), but we took the opportunity to wander the immaculately kept grounds. We had a great time exploring the property, which is filled with old-fashioned gardening tools, an original cooperage and a working replica of A.J. Smeltzer’s Lower Sackville blacksmith shop.

Even though this was our longest post to date, there are tons of cool things we have left out. If you take a #80 day trip, we’d love to hear what you liked the most.

Note: If you’ve been dreaming of an outdoor wedding, a few of these spots (Hemlock Ravine, DeWolf, and Fish Hatchery) can be booked with a Facilities Rental Contract through the city.

Be sure to check out our other #LocalTravelHRM posts on the #15 Purcell’s Cove, the #60 Eastern Passage and the #21 Lakeside!

@GillianWesleyNS & @DrewMooreNS