Thursday, October 22, 2020

Burger Week is on now

The pandemic-postponed patty party is back, October 22 through October 31.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 12:57 PM

The giant burger was at Grand Parade to kick off Burger Week 2020. Look for it around town the rest of the week. - THE COAST
  • The giant burger was at Grand Parade to kick off Burger Week 2020. Look for it around town the rest of the week.
  • The Coast
Despite delays of pandemic proportions, Halifax's most delicious foodie fest is back. The eighth annual Halifax Burger Week runs October 22 to October 31.

During this year’s extended 10-day Burger Week, there are 146 restaurants offering a burger special. Some are at the tasty price of $6, others cost more but include a donation to Feed Nova Scotia—either way you win. This year, flavours range from gooey peanut butter to gochujang; there are some sweet treats and some gluten-free; and protein options from duck to vegan.

The Coast started Burger Week in March 2013, in order to drum up business for local restaurants during one of the slowest times of the year. It grew to become one of the best weeks on the restaurant calendar, and the single biggest fundraising event anyone does for Feed Nova Scotia (raising more money than even Walmart’s FeedNS campaign). Haligonians embraced the temporary shift to an all-burger diet, while burg fans travelled from other provinces to join in the fun.

Burger Week 2020 was supposed to happen in March, however COVID-19 had other ideas. We postponed Burger Week and restaurants were forced to shut down as part of the province’s efforts to fight the virus. Those efforts worked, and since the end of June restaurants have been allowed to open safely. But with dining rooms at reduced capacity due to distancing rules, and Nova Scotians still getting used to the idea of eating out again, local restaurants need your support during Burger Week this year especially.

Of course, C19 doesn’t need anyone’s support. All the standard, useful practises like mandatory masking and physical distancing that allow restaurants to be open are 100 percent still in place during Burger Week. And we’ve made a few changes to Burger Week for C19 safety.

The popular-but-high-touch Burger Week passport is not being used this year—instead the website or the guide in the newspaper Coast that’s out now are great sources for listings of all the burgers. We turned the week into 10 days in order to take some pressure off crowding and lines; your must-try burgers will be available longer, so no need to panic if a restaurant is full the first time you go.

Also in 2020, takeout burgers are a big consideration. Not every restaurant can handle takeout, but over 100 burgers ARE available to go, way more than past Burger Weeks. And some restaurants are ONLY doing takeout. Take that, COVID-19!

Check out all the burgers at And don't forget your mask.
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A transformation for Truly Tasty

The larger space next door will allow for more dine-in customers at Halifax’s longest-running ramen shop.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 22, 2020 at 10:16 AM

Shanshan Liu and Jian Li stand outside their new, bigger Truly Tasty, which is set to open Oct 23. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • Shanshan Liu and Jian Li stand outside their new, bigger Truly Tasty, which is set to open Oct 23.
  • Victoria Walton
When Truly Tasty opened in 2012, the city of Halifax barely knew what ramen was, let alone the different styles, flavours and iterations served.

“To be honest we were the first ones to be open in the city, and I feel proud because my husband make the standard of the ramen in Halifax higher,” says co-owner Shanshan Liu.

Soon, Truly Tasty will raise the standard yet again, moving their operation into a newly renovated building with more space.

Along with her husband Jian Li, Liu has run the small shop for almost nine years on Quinpool Road with just 12 tables. Since the pandemic, there’s only been room for four tables.

“In May and June we just did takeout, so nobody came and eat here. Start from July we start slowly after the government say, like, yes you guys are 100 percent capacity you can open,” Liu tells The Coast. But when the province relaxed the gathering restrictions to allow full capacity in restaurants, it meant full capacity of the space with physical distancing between tables, not the pre-pandemic maximum of a crowded restaurant. “With limited space we cannot, definitely cannot have a hundred percent.”

The first few years in business, there was a steady stream of customers, but by the time Halifax’s ramen scene exploded around 2017 with the birth of Buta Ramen and recently closed Water & Bone, the line at Truly Tasty was out the door every day. “We’re always going to have daily fresh and homemade everything, house-made everything, so that will take time for preparation for sure,” Liu says, sitting beside Li at the sole table at the front of the restaurant looking onto the sidewalk.

Open since 2012, Truly Tasty is the longest-running ramen shop on the peninsula. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • Open since 2012, Truly Tasty is the longest-running ramen shop on the peninsula.
  • victoria walton
Truly Tasty’s hours—open noon to 3:30pm, and again from 4:30 to 8:30 or whenever they sell out—reflect the immense amount of work put into creating ramen from scratch. “Operating hours is six to seven hours, but we spend every day more than nine to 10 hours for preparing,” says Liu.

While both Liu and her husband have commerce degrees from Saint Mary’s University, he focuses on the cooking while she’s head of the business side of things. “My experience is mostly for the front part, for the servers and managing and for connection with the kitchen and the front,” she says. “But he has so much passion and talent with the kitchen part.”

Over the course of the pandemic, Truly Tasty had to cut back on operations and do something they’d never done before—takeout.

“Before, all my customers know we don’t do any takeout, we only want to make sure the quality is good. But the thing is we have to, we had to,” says Li. Putting broth and ingredients in three or four separate containers for customers to combine at home was something that worried the owners, but it was the only option. Thankfully, it was a hit.

“We kept asking all our regular customers feedback about the takeout. They love it, so we can continue,” says Liu.

Li and Liu purchased the new location more than a year ago—back in June 2019— and it was originally set to open in April, but of course, things changed.

“We don’t rush anyone, I say yeah OK, this happens, those things happen, we have to wait,” says Li. Adds Liu, “We just say we forgot about the timeline and the guidelines already, so let’s continue with it. Like, when we’re finished, we’re finished.”

Getting the furniture ready inside Truly Tasty's modern and spacious new location. - SUBMITTED
  • Getting the furniture ready inside Truly Tasty's modern and spacious new location.
  • submitted
But Liu and Li say their loyal customers have stuck with them throughout the long lineups and months-long closure of the dining room brought by the pandemic.

“We can try our best to make the best quality to our customers, especially to our local community,” Li says, before dashing away to the kitchen to keep an eye on broth that’s already simmering before 11am on a Friday morning.

True fans of Truly Tasty will soon be able to experience the next iteration of the restaurant, just next door.

“I think over there, our plan is to keep what we have right now, and expand like much much more fun stuff,“ Liu says, alluding to weekend brunches and an expanding appetizer menu. “I think this time maybe is challenging and like difficult for most people, and we take this challenge and we have fun with it and we play with it, to create more stuff.”

The new Truly Tasty spot next door is set to open Friday, October 23, and will have room for about three times the tables currently in the restaurant. “Total space is 3,000 square feet,” says Li. “Right now maybe 10 tables, 12 tables so far, and if everything goes well maybe we can have more tables for then.”

The restaurant's current location only fits four tables with COVID-19 physical distancing. - VICTORIA WALTON
  • The restaurant's current location only fits four tables with COVID-19 physical distancing.
  • victoria walton
Over the years, the couple says the restaurant has evolved to fit Halifax’s tastes. “It’s not the exact regional taste of Japan, because it has the regional taste and the feeling of the local market too,” Liu says. “If you really have the chance to go through like nine years menu, it has changed. And also the changes is based on the diet of, the feedback of the customers. Because each day we have the record of the ordering, so you know which dish is popular.”

Li says he’s excited about what the expansion means in terms of the continuously evolving menu.

“I know that a restaurant running our way is now very normal in Halifax, but I want all my customers know, maybe take a little bit of time, you can come try some high-quality food, that’s what we want people know,” he says. “We don’t want our loyal customers to be disappointed in our food, so that’s why we try our best.”

Li’s fondness for infusing local flavours even means he has a donair-inspired ramen on his list.

“He has so much creation in his mind already, and he write down, now he’s working on that. Even right now we have poutine on the menu already,” says Liu. “We use our chicken broth, homemade chicken broth and duck fat to make the flavour like that. So when you taste it, it’s Truly Tasty taste.”
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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hop Scotch has a new home

Chef Stephanie Ogilvie and Brock Unger’s brainchild isn’t just a pop-up anymore

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 10:30 AM

Hop Scotch Dinner Club is coming soon to a permanent location on Barrington Street - INSTAGRAM
  • Hop Scotch Dinner Club is coming soon to a permanent location on Barrington Street
  • Instagram
Pop up restaurant Hop Scotch Dinner Club is taking over Chives Canadian Bistro’s 19-year-old location at 1537 Barrington St.

Co-owners Stephanie Ogilvie and Brock Unger say owning a restaurant is a dream come true. “It’s been both of our dreams for a really long time to have our own restaurant,” Ogilvie says. “It’s actually really happening,” Unger adds.

The couple started Hop Scotch in their home in the fall of 2018, where they would cook eight-to-12-course meals for friends and colleagues to taste. “We had a little table that sat about six to eight people,” says Unger. “We just wanted to have like a sort of creative outlet that maybe we weren’t getting to explore as much as at our jobs.”

Ogilvie said the positive feedback they received encouraged them to take their pop-up to other restaurants.
Hop Scotch owners Stephanie Ogilvie and Brock Unger are a powerful duo in and out of the kitchen - PHOTOTYPEHFX
  • Hop Scotch owners Stephanie Ogilvie and Brock Unger are a powerful duo in and out of the kitchen
  • PhototypeHfx

Ogilvie, who was the Chef de Cuisine at Chives Canadian Bistro, said owner Craig Flinn thought their successful pop-up restaurant should have a bigger space. “He really wanted to give us that opportunity to be able to have our own restaurant,” she says.

What started as a hobby and a side business for the couple is expanding into a bigger space in July, and they hope to keep offering their multi-course tasting menu once or twice a month.

The menu at Hop Scotch is focused on local ingredients. “It’s about using what’s around us here on the east coast and just trying to find new and interesting combinations of those flavours,” says Unger. “It could be like a fish and chips or a chowder or something that on paper you’re familiar with it, but then when you taste it it’s something new altogether.”

Ogilvie says even though the duo gets inventive with their cuisines, they try to educate people during their dinners. “The roots of it is always going to be eat local, support local,” she says. “We want to be able to share that with our diners when it was just little Hop Scotch pop up and what will be the restaurant itself.”

They have not yet decided on who the head chef will be. Ogilvie says both of them deserve the title, but Unger thinks otherwise. “Stephanie is without a doubt like more skilled than I am,” he says. “But I think we both definitely bring different things to the table.”
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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Feed your soul at R&B Kitchen

From oxtail to rasta pasta to sweet chili shrimp, the Caribbean spot dishes up daily delights.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 5:00 PM

The team at R&B kitchen gets ready to serve up their daily special. - PAUL ADAMS
  • The team at R&B kitchen gets ready to serve up their daily special.

R&B Kitchen
Order via Instagram @rnbkitchen902, 760 a Main Street, Dartmouth

The simple idea of "let's sell plates" is what's behind R&B Kitchen, a soul food restaurant in Dartmouth with just one main dish per day.

"The main thing we focus on is one, that we love R&B music and two, that we love food and soul food," says co-owner Nevell Provo.

The idea behind the daily menu is to keep people excited and guessing, like how Provo always had to guess what his mom was going to make for dinner when growing up. "I never knew what she was making that day. I just had to kind of wait and hope," he says.

Provo runs the business with his family and girlfriend, Raemiah Dorrington, who is the head chef.

Dorrington says she enjoys the liberty of being creative with her menu. "We can pretty much use our imagination and just make anything that we come up with," she says. One ingredient she often relies on is onions: "I love them," says Dorrington. "They're so versatile so you can do so much with them."

The kitchen opened in February, only one month before COVID-19 hit Nova Scotia. But it was able to keep things moving during the pandemic. "We hired more delivery drivers and really got our messaging out to social media," says Provo. "We actually grew during COVID."

Part of that growth is thanks to one meal customers can't get enough of. "Oxtail Friday is our busiest day. We didn't know if it was because it was Friday or because it was the oxtail." , Provo says they don't want to risk finding out.

Provo, who also manages R&B Kitchen's social media, says customers ask to bring back some menus. "We're hearing what people like and what they don't like," he says, adding that a lot of planning goes into making the menu. It's planned one or sometimes two weeks ahead of time.

When R&B Kitchen first started out, they expected to sell about 20 to 30 plates in a day, but now are serving up to 150 plates daily.

Provo says running this type of business is busy and stressful but he's not complaining. "That piece of excitement and really giving people that spark is worth that extra work that we have to do on our end."

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New cone on the block

Halifax’s newest ice cream spot offers soft serve and good vibes.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Saints co-owner Heather Stephen serves up a Celebration cone. - RACHEL MCGRATH
  • Saints co-owner Heather Stephen serves up a Celebration cone.

Saints Supreme Soft Serve is a new pop-up from the folks at Apartment 3 Coffee in Lower Sackville (833 Sackville Drive). Co-owners Alex and Heather Stephen had been churning over the ice cream idea for a while, but the pandemic convinced them it was finally time to make it a reality.

"Because of all this crazy crazy time, we were thinking of a way that we could encourage the community, bring a little brightness and just create like a light atmosphere to kind of hang out in the summer evening," says Alex. Built right into the back of their coffee shop, Saints will be serving up specialty cones until early fall.

"Sackville deserves great and fun things, and deserves the best," Alex says. "So we try and do our part to help encourage that and offer that, and create our Sackville culture."

The cotton candy cloud keeps with the millennial pink decor found at Saints. - RACHEL MCGRATH
  • The cotton candy cloud keeps with the millennial pink decor found at Saints.
  • Rachel McGrath
The couple has "very exciting" plans for expanding the menu at Saints, says Heather, including a couple different flavours of soft serve, plus dairy-free and vegan options. But the experienced entrepreneurs also know the value of getting off to a solid, sustainable start. That's why the shop only had one flavour— vanilla—when it opened in early July, the white ice cream flowing from the new soft-serve machine a bright compliment to the store's millennial-pink walls.

By the time you read this, the chocolate will probably be ready. But it might not even matter, because the ice cream base is only part of the Saints experience. Feast on the Celebration cone: vanilla soft serve topped with birthday cake crumble and surrounded by cotton candy. It's like a cloud in the heavens where the ice cream gods play.

Joining the Celebration cone at launch are the Koko Krunch (with salted caramel brownie topping) strawberry shortcake cone, and a rumoured "secret" menu item using coffee from Apartment 3 for an affogato-style treat. "We've created our own recipes with different kinds of flavours, crumbles," says Alex. "We're going to do some crazy posts on Instagram."

Saints is open for take-out noon-9pm daily, and the Stephens are building a patio for customers. They're also serving up positivity with their slogan, "You can be anything, be good."

"It really came from our heart as an idea of stirring up good within the community," says Heather. "This momentum that the city's been kind of feeling lately, this giving back and encouraging each other, being kind to one another, stirring up hope."

And the new shop is making sure to pay it forward. "Five percent of profits will go to a local charity," says Alex. "Saints is inspiring the good in all of us. Like, just being good to one another, that's what it's about."

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Get your fix of frozen treats

Nine drool-worthy ice cream spots in HRM

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2020 at 5:00 PM

Fun & Shakes ice cream is basically a full meal. - ALEXA CUDE
  • Fun & Shakes ice cream is basically a full meal.

Now that you've indulged in the cotton-candy-coated cones at Saints Supreme Soft Serve, check out all the other cool places in town you can get brain freeze this summer.

Fun & Shakes
1365 Hollis Street

Head to this new spot for extra AF ice cream treats while you're down on the waterfront.

Mastic is the ingredient that makes Syrian ice cream so creamy. - IAN SELIG
  • Mastic is the ingredient that makes Syrian ice cream so creamy.

Booza Emessa
819 Bedford Highway

The first Syrian ice cream shop in HRM opened in 2019. Try a unique flavour like pomegranate.

Manual Dairy Bar
5688 Spring Garden Road

Cone or cup, Manual Co's Dairy Bar is overflowingly good. - THE COAST
  • Cone or cup, Manual Co's Dairy Bar is overflowingly good.
  • The Coast

See and be seen at this summer hotspot with rotating flavours and crunchy add-ons.

Humani-T Cafe, north end
5755 Young Street

Enjoy delish gelato and lots of vegan options. (Downtown location currently closed.)

Dee Dee's Ice Cream
5668 Cornwallis Street

Dee Dee's mint chocolate chip, mid-melt. - SUBMITTED
  • Dee Dee's mint chocolate chip, mid-melt.

You can't go wrong with a classic cone from this spot just off the Halifax Common.

The Bread Lounge
5880 Demone Street

Vegans rejoice: Bread Lounge now has one of the first dairy-free soft serves in the city.

Black Harbour Creamery
419 Highway 329, Hubbards

The deep-fried ice cream is worth the drive.

Sugar Fix
5490 Spring Garden Road

The Daily Grind Cafe's ice cream-obsessed sibling is a great place to cool off downtown.

This distinctly aquatic cone is perfect for the 'gram. - LENNY MULLINS
  • This distinctly aquatic cone is perfect for the 'gram.
  • Lenny Mullins

Cafe Taiyaki 52
2009 Brunswick Street

Insta-worthy fish-shaped cones with lots of fun flavours like mango and matcha.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Bedford Highway getting a beer garden this month

Posted By on Tue, Jun 9, 2020 at 10:30 AM

The view from Birch & Anchor, the new beer garden set to open later in June. - BIRCH & ANCHOR INSTAGRAM
  • The view from Birch & Anchor, the new beer garden set to open later in June.
  • Birch & Anchor Instagram
Tucked away under the rail bridge, the former Chinatown restaurant location on the Bedford Highway is a prime space that has somehow sat empty for more than three years.

Don't be deceived, this rail bridge will soon lead you to a boozy outdoor oasis. - GOOGLE MAPS
  • Don't be deceived, this rail bridge will soon lead you to a boozy outdoor oasis.
  • google maps
But later this month, a new beer garden called Birch & Anchor will open its doors to the public for the first time, taking over the 15,000 square foot waterfront space.

“We kind of brought it back to life, we brightened it up, we kind of put our own touch on things. It’s amazing what you can do with a little landscaping,” says owner of the new spot Mike Yould, who also runs catering business Asado Wood Fired Grill.

The beer garden will be their first brick-and-mortar restaurant, and Yould has spent the past several weeks documenting the revival of the space over on the beer garden’s Instagram page.

“There’ll be lots of room for lawn games, we’re putting a fire pit in, there’s going to be Adirondack chairs, the nice cute little double Adirondack chairs with the table in the middle for date night,” Yould tells The Coast.

The spacious outdoor venue isn’t something you’d typically find so close to heart of the city, but Yould wanted to create a hidden oasis that still provides easy access to hotels and downtown amenities.

“Here’s a beautiful waterfront location, it’s secluded, you can’t get any better. We have water access…it’s outdoors, we cook everything in front of you,” he says.

Chef Trevor Penney will be leading up the food side of things, and Yould has imported both a pizza oven and a Santa Maria grill for rotisserie-style cooking.

Plans for the site of the former Chinatown restaurant. - BIRCH & ANCHOR INSTAGRAM
  • Plans for the site of the former Chinatown restaurant.
  • Birch & Anchor Instagram
The drinks will flow at both the indoor main restaurant and a second concession stand in the yard that will feature 12 beer taps and a handful of other options.

“We’re going to have all local wines, we’re going to have import wines as well,” Yould says. “We’re going to have all local Nova Scotia beer on tap, cider, everything you can think of we’ll have here, not just a few beers to choose from.”

Although large events are cancelled this summer, Yould envisions the event as a wedding space (2021 is already almost fully booked) and is installing a dock to attract the watercraft that travel through the harbour.

“We’re putting in quite a large dock and we plan to have that available to people so they can kind of raft up if they have to or just pull in, come in for a bite to eat, or even just get some takeout on the way out of the harbour for the day,” he says.

Before the pandemic hit, Yould’s opening date was set for June 1. All things considered, he’s not too far behind and plans to open later this month.

“I come down here every day, we’re trying to get the last little final touches here,” he says. “We’re trying to open in about two to three weeks.”

With such a large space to work with, Birch & Anchor isn’t too worried about social distancing and re-opening regulations.

“Our half capacity is still going to be 100 or more. We have plenty of space to separate tables, and I think people will be really comfortable here,” says Yould.

They will have hand sanitizer and space tables two meters apart, but Yould says he hopes to be able to provide a space for people to let their hair down and relax, even as COVID restrictions remain in place.

“I think it’s going to be a really comfortable space for people to come and just hang out,” he says. “We’ve already had such a fantastic reception from the online crowd and everyone in the area, so we’re pretty pumped.”
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Thursday, May 7, 2020

New take-out joints open despite challenges COVID brings

Get your dumplings, your pasta and your halal food at these start-up spots.

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2020 at 3:32 PM

Gama by Lee dumplings, left, and Loner Pasta Co.
  • Gama by Lee dumplings, left, and Loner Pasta Co.
Opening a new restaurant is never easy, and the public health order that shut down dining rooms isn't making that any better. But even in the time of COVID, local food entrepreneurs are still starting businesses. These vendors have been limited to operating solely online, getting their goods to customers via either curbside pickup or delivery service.

“Many people don’t want to make a line in front of grocery stores, so a lot of people order food and order groceries,” says Eungsub Lee, owner and chef at Gama by Lee, which operates out of the Halifax Brewery Market.

After immigrating from South Korea almost three years ago, Lee got food experience working with other vendors at the Halifax Seaport Market, and fell in love with the market atmosphere. “I like other vendors who help me a lot, and it’s a very good place for me to practice my English,” he says.

Lee was planning to open his Korean dumpling restaurant on April 1. But when COVID-19 hit Halifax, he was forced to change his opening plan, shifting to a website created by his wife who’s a graphic designer. Lee also called upon his experience as a part-time Skip the Dishes driver get his food to customers. “Through the Skip the Dishes experience I know how to deliver food without contact,” he says in a phone call. "I know how to sanitize my car and stuff.”

He’s planning on expanding to more food soon, like rice bowls and bibimpap, but for now, Gama by Lee sells two types of mandu dumplings: one vegan and one pork. They come in pre-made, vacuum-sealed bags.

When COVID subsides and the world returns to a new normal, Lee hopes to follow through with his opening plans for Gama.

“After everything becomes normal, I’m wanting to come back to the marketplace and open my food stand,” says Lee. “I like delivery without contact, but I more like to sell food face to face. I want to talk [to] people and I need to practice English more.”

But in the meantime, he’s filling dumpling orders as fast as he can and there is no shortage of customers. “I can say I’m busy, all the orders for this week are full,” Lee says.

Some of Country Foodstuff's Halal food offerings for takeout in Bedford. - COUNTRY FOODSTUFF & VOGUE
  • Some of Country Foodstuff's Halal food offerings for takeout in Bedford.
  • Country Foodstuff & Vogue
Over in Bedford, Halal food is being cooked up for delivery during the month of Ramadan by Country Foodstuff & Vogue.

The owner has been cooking in small batches, helping to bring people together through food during Ramadan while masjid (mosques) are closed. They’re excited to put their “cultural foods in front of the Nova Scotia people.” Dishes range from Indian khichuri rice to Bangladeshi roast chicken.

Other restaurateurs have built a local following on Instagram, using the social media platform for take-out sales. This includes north end Halifax’s Loner Pasta Co., which started its delivery services toward the end of April.

“It started out with just making a lot of pasta at home over the quarantine,” says owner Joe Martin in an email. Typically, Martin works as a chef at Stillwell, which is doing limited service during the pandemic, so he’s had a lot of extra time on his hands.

Martin’s pasta is small-batch and handmade, and so far Loner Pasta has featured rigatoni, spinach pappardelle and even lasagna noodles. They’ve also added Roma cheese from local cheesemaker Ciro Comencini to the delivery list, along with your pasta.

“Every Monday at 1pm on our Instagram we announce the menu for the week that consists of 5 different shapes,” explains Martin.

Along with up to 50 orders per week for the public—which sold out this week in 24 hours—Loner is also giving five free meals to front-line health care workers, who can email them to get their hands on some yummy pasta (first come, first served).

“The world is pretty glum right now and if we can make a few people smile I’m happy,” Martin says.

Although the small pasta operation is keeping Martin busy during COVID-19, he doesn’t know if it has legs long-term once he’s back at his regular gig.

“I’ll likely dial back to 1-2 orders a month to see where this could go,” he says. “It just currently occupies a lot of time and it would be difficult to balance that much pasta and work full-time running a kitchen.”
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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Friday, March 27 COVID-19 in NS news update

More booze delivery, more time away from schools and 17 more cases.

Posted By on Sat, Mar 28, 2020 at 10:00 PM

Key points as of March 27, 8pm
  • 17 new cases for a total of 90 COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia
  • None are connected to the St. Patrick’s Day Party in Lake Echo, but…
  • …there was potential exposure at an Antigonish hockey tournament
  • Restaurants will be able to deliver booze
  • Remote learning may be coming for public schools
  • Robert Strang is more than a meme

  There are many ways to show respect. A good firm handshake is one—or at least it used to be, until handshaking was cancelled. Salutes have a distinguished history, although currently they're risky because you might touch your face. Tipping your hat always works, if you have a hat. And the dexterity during the doffing not to touch your face. Or any part of the hat that might later touch your face/head region. Actually, let’s just say the hat thing probably doesn’t work, either.

Luckily in our society where it’s getting hard and harder to offer a sign of respect, we will always have Photoshop. There’s nothing like a well-meaning bit of image manipulation to show a public display of deference. Witness this take on Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, Robert Strang.

Strang and premier Stephen McNeil have kept up reassuring webcast news briefings every day for almost two straight weeks, becoming a pandemic duo that has earned comparisons to superheroes (not just Marvel’s, either), Muppets and enhanced lab mice. It’s gotten to the point where Strang addressed the issue at yesterday's briefing, held as usual in the media room on the ground floor of a government office building across the street from Province House.

"I get the humorous memes, and it's good to get a laugh once in a while. I thank you for that," said Strang. "But I'm here representing hundreds and hundreds of people in the health-care system—in public health, primary care, acute care, continuing care—who are working extremely long hours to do what needs to be done to help all of us stay safe. So when you're thanking me you're thanking all of those people.

The briefing had another bit of fun, well suited to a Friday afternoon. With governments at all levels and in many countries turning to extreme measures in hopes of maintaining economies through the COVID-19 doldrums—for example, prime minister Justin Trudeau today announced the government will cover 75 percent of salaries at qualifying small and medium-sized businesses to forestall closures—McNeil offered a lifeline to local eateries.

"There are a number of restaurants trying to stay open by doing take-out and delivery," the premier said. "We will now allow them to include alcohol with take-out and delivery orders." This change takes effect Monday, and the only hitch is that the alcohol in the order can’t cost more than three times as much as the food. Skol!

In the more serious parts of the briefing, Strang said there are 17 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, for a total of 90 cases diagnosed in Nova Scotia so far. The spectre of community spread raised at Thursday’s briefing was neither confirmed nor denied today.

"With some of our cases, investigation is still ongoing, and it remains too early to say if there may be community spread. I can say that none of the new cases are connected to the St. Patrick's Day gathering in Lake Echo which we talked about yesterday," said Strang. "All of the attendees at that event have been contacted and testing has been done on those individuals and results are pending."

The Nova Scotia Health Authority put out an alert today "advising of potential public exposures to COVID-19." Two specific dates and places were mentioned: March 11 at Highland Eye Care in New Glasgow, and March 12 at the Bantam AAA provincial hockey championship in Antigonish. If you were there, then, and otherwise have been living under a rock, we have some disturbing news: You need to join the rest of the world in watching yourself for a new cough and/or fever and/or breathing difficulties. Call 811 if you develop those symptoms.

When the province started bringing out changes to prepare for COVID-19—last week, in other words, although it feels more like a month ago—the decision to close public school temporarily wasn’t that big a deal. Because March Break was happening anyway, tacking on an extra two weeks without school seemed more like an extension of the holiday than a hint that society was grinding to a halt. Now, however, reality has set in. Today was the end of the first extra week off, and there had been no indication of what comes next. No extension of the closure, no talk of re-opening schools, no plan for distance learning, know nothing. But today McNeil broke the silence.

"I think it's fair to say that the closure of schools will be longer than the next week," the premier said.

Grade 12 students in particular may be concerned about things like grades and university applications, assuming there is something like the old normal waiting on the other side of the coronavirus crisis. "Our main focus is following the advice of Public Health to keep our children safe, to keep our students safe," said McNeil. "And then focus on making sure that we can salvage the year for them so they can go off to university." He also talked about "an ongoing conversation" that’s happening around ways the province can deliver education online, promising "we’ll have further announcements to make about the public education system."

No sooner did McNeil speak it, than some parents saw action. Less than two hours after the briefing ended, Citadel High School parents received an email. "In preparation for a provincial plan for learning at home, we are gathering information about the possible needs of students and families to be able to complete work at home," the email reads. "We would like to know if you are set up adequately to do some work at home through technology…namely if you have a computer with the internet."

Students don’t all have the same access to online tools, so the education department can’t just roll out a webcast curriculum. Today’s briefing introduced a provincial plan with Telus to get 100 phones to vulnerable Nova Scotians who may be self-isolated without any other way to communicate. The premier also said the province is buying up to 800 iPads for distribution at long-term care facilities in April, "to make it easier for the elders to stay in touch." Similarly, there will be students whose learning experience would be transformed by iPads or laptops or free internet from Telus. Hopefully, they'll be addressed in a briefing sooner rather than later.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

From Hangzhou to Halifax

A celebration of our favourite authentic Canadian cuisine

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 4:35 PM

Jean’s Chinese Restaurant. - LENNY MULLINS
  • Jean’s Chinese Restaurant.

If you're looking for a quintessentially Canadian dish, you could do a lot worse than Albertan ginger beef or Newfoundland-style chow mein (cabbage, not noodles). Just about every small town from coast to coast boasts at least one thriving Chinese restaurant, and Chinese food has become a culinary backbone of Canadian culture. But in the past month, coronavirus panic has elicited a flurry of fear and discrimination affecting Chinese restaurants. The Globe and Mail reported last week that some Toronto restaurants are seeing drops in business between 30 and 80 percent. In Vancouver, business has declined similarly for some restaurants.

We wanted to know how Halifax's 60-plus Chinese restaurants are faring. We're happy to report none of those we spoke to have noted any decline in sales. We hope it stays that way. So consider this a celebration of the most Canadian cuisine of all. Whether you never outgrew sweet-and-sour chicken, or gravitate to peking duck with steamed pancakes, there's bound to be a nearby restaurant that makes your gastronomic dreams come true. Here are five of Halifax's favourite Chinese-owned restaurants, and why we love them:

Chinatown Restaurant
213 Bedford Highway
Jane Chen, owner of Chinatown Restaurant, is constantly busy these days thanks to Chinatown's new location, which boasts crystal light fixtures and a seaside view of the Bedford Basin. Yet, perhaps the most breathtaking thing is hidden from sight: "We have so many authentic dishes that aren't on the menu," Chen says. "When people come and they're looking for something more authentic, I have so many recipes in the back of my mind that I can make."

A few of these dishes include XO sauce with seafood, and black pepper beef with king mushroom. Chinatown also provides homemade dim sum, including options otherwise hard to find in Halifax, such as their durian puff, egg yolk cream bun and sesame ball with salted egg yolk.

Fan's Chinese Restaurant
451 Windmill Road
Fan's Chinese Restaurant on Windmill Road has earned plenty of awards over the years. There are many mouth-watering favourites on the menu, including northern dumplings, Dan Dan noodle soup, Ma Po tofu and three-course peking duck. The restaurant also boasts a lengthy dim sum menu, and a sizable gluten-free menu that covers noodle dishes, seafood, beef and pork and chef specials.

On top of the food, Fan's provides a cozy, family-friendly atmosphere filled with dark-wood accents, warm lighting and an aquarium that houses several glorious specimens.

Jean's Chinese Restaurant
5972 Spring Garden Road
Jean's Chinese Restaurant has been downtown 17 years, and owner Kong On Jean has long watched his customers' preferences evolve. "In the past couple years, people seem to like healthier options, vegetables and spicy foods," he says. "A lot of people are looking for gluten-free noodles, so we sell a lot of those every day."

The restaurant also makes homemade hot sauce and soup stock, two ingredients that both pack a flavourful punch. But says Jean, sweet-and-sour chicken remains the bestseller, followed closely by beef and broccoli and fried rice.

Whether customers are searching for something heavy or light, they're in good hands at Jean's.

May Garden
Multiple locations, see
May Garden traces its roots back more than 40 years, to a small take-out spot on Beaverbank Road in Lower Sackville. Owner Eric Yeung bought the business from his relatives in the early '90s, turning the tiny take-out experience into a sit-down restaurant. Now there are four May Gardens across HRM, each with an extensive menu including both authentic and Canadian-Chinese food. Yeung prides himself on paying close attention to customer feedback, often incorporating suggestions into the menu. Several options include a crispy and flavourful barbecue-roasted duck (which has to be ordered 24 hours in advance) and siu mai, a dim sum dumpling stuffed with pork and prawns.

Truly Tasty. - SUBMITTED
  • Truly Tasty.
Truly Tasty
6214 Quinpool Road
Because ramen is a Japanese dish, some might forget that Truly Tasty on Quinpool has Chinese owners. But what's impossible to forget is the flavour of its ramen broth, which boasts an umami-filled balance of sweetness, saltiness, earthiness and richness. There are multiple types to choose from, such as the spicy tan tan ramen with homemade sesame paste and Sichuan black pepper, or the customer-favourite crispy fried chicken ramen. Whatever ends up in your bowl, the noodles are sure to be tender and springy. With warm service and a minimalist atmosphere, Truly Tasty consistently offers a little slurp of heaven.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Eater, know thyself?

Pull up a chair to Megan Dean's talk tonight.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 15, 2020 at 9:08 AM

Megan Dean comes back to King's to talk about such issues as how eating can fight the patriarchy. - HAMILTON COLLEGE
  • Megan Dean comes back to King's to talk about such issues as how eating can fight the patriarchy.
  • Hamilton College

If you’ve ever wondered what exactly a professor of food philosophy thinks about every day, make a date for Wednesday, January 15's homecoming lecture by King’s College grad Megan Dean, now a food-philosophy prof at New York state's Hamilton College. 

While we all know that eating should be about more than shovelling calories down your gullet, Dean goes beyond discussions of healthy vs. unhealthy (ever hear of healthism?). Her work is premised on the idea that eating can be about a lot more: resisting patriarchy, embracing freedom and in general shaping who we perceive ourselves to be. The flip side is that it also shapes who others perceive us to be, making labels like “unhealthy eater” all the more damaging.

So if you’re interested in some heady talk about matters of the gut, get down to King’s for 7 pm January 15

Megan Dean: Why it matters how we eat
Wednesday, January 15
New Academic Building (Archibald Room), University of King's College
6350 Coburg Road
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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Halifax Taco Week is on!

The inaugural celebration of the hand-held meal rolls into restaurants around town.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 14, 2019 at 8:44 AM

Halifax Taco Week is your chance to become a wrap star. - KYLEE NUNN
  • Halifax Taco Week is your chance to become a wrap star.
  • Kylee Nunn
The idea behind the taco is simple—protein, vegetables and condiments in a starch wrapper—but the results are spectacular. We hope the same will be said of Halifax Taco Week. In this event put on by The Coast, restaurants across the city are offerng a taco special from Thursday, November 14 to Wednesday, November 20, giving everybody a great reason to enjoy eating out while raising money for Feed Nova Scotia.

This is the first Taco Week, and 90 restaurants are participating (in comparison, The Coast’s first Halifax Burger Week started with about 20 restaurants, and it’s grown to become the single biggest Feed NS fundraiser in the province). There are beef tacos and vegan tacos and Indian tacos and pork tacos and $5 tacos and tacos with clever names and donair tacos, because Halifax.

Your favourite restaurant probably has a taco special. That place you’ve never been but have been meaning to go DEFINITELY has a taco special. Find out about them all by picking up a Halifax Taco Week passport around town, or click with
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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Shucking right: a Q&A with David Burns

Hamilton's oyster connoisseur shells out some pre-festival wisdom.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 2, 2019 at 1:54 PM


Halifax Oyster Festival
Fri Oct 4, Sat Oct 5
1521 Lower Water Street

D avid Burns is the founder of Maisy's Pearl, an oyster-focussed catering company in Hamilton, Ontario that focuses on education as much as consumption at its pop-ups, parties and private events. (And, cutely enough, is named after his two daughters, Maisy and Pearl.) This year he's bringing his bivalve know-how and shucking skills to Halifax Oyster Festival for the first time. So, naturally, we had some questions.

Do you remember your first oyster?
"I was 15 and out for dinner with a good friend and his family. His dad was like, 'You've gotta try these.' I was like, 'How do I do it?' and he was like 'throw a bunch of Tabasco on! Down the hatch!' I didn't chew it, just swallowed it. It was clearly just a vessel for sauce, I didn't think too much about it. Then, I started working at Rodney's Oyster House around 2011 or 2010—I've always loved seafood and had an appreciation for seafood. I met some really cool people there and they were like 'Have you ever had oysters?' They opened it properly, it was pristine, and said: 'Add a couple of drops of lemon to cut the salinity, chew a few times and swallow.' And it was unreal.

It's funny, I moved to Hamilton and there's nothing really going on in the city. My wife was like, 'start a catering business, educate the people on how they're supposed to be perfectly shucked, how they're supposed to be consumed.' And I did. People have been really receptive. Now I'm educating people from my first experience to my first real experience."

What was it that made you want to bring oyster culture to Hamilton?
"This city is very communal, they’re very hard working. The nickname for the city is Steel Town, and these people will not spend their money on anything unless they see value in it. Before moving here, I went to different bars and restaurants and tried to sort of what I would do for a job. I’m going to these places and ordering oysters and I thought, this is just a way for restaurants to boost up their cheques, or bills. There’s no real experience involved. I think enjoying oysters is all about experience and its a very social thing. And not that they’re bad restaurants, they just didn’t know what they were doing.

I’m very good at what I do when it comes to opening an oyster and educating people about it. So I was like, 'I’m going to bring that to this amazing city. Quality product the way it’s meant to be.' "

Why is proper shucking important?
"You think about the person on the other end who's put the hard work, time and effort in to making sure this product is alive and well when it gets to us, and then to have someone massacre it? It's almost an insult. I always try to make people aware these people are working hard, that it takes a lot of time for an oyster to get to your table. I'm the last guy to touch the product, so I want it to be perfect."

What's your advice for someone trying an oyster for the first time?
"It's my favourite thing to do. My go-to is: 'Listen, if you've haven't had an oyster, today's your lucky day, and you're going to experience an oyster the way it's meant to be.' And then I show them the gills, the mantle, the belly, the adductor, how it's all been severed properly, the way it's supposed to be. As opposed to if you're drunk at a restaurant with your buddies, feeling daring on a big bold red wine. It's smooth and crisp and exotic and it has a nice mouthfeel, when it's been opened properly. 

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Propeller’s on the level

The Propeller Arcade presents Level Up—a weekend of extra fun/games.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 19, 2019 at 1:00 AM


The closest thing to getting inside Ian Matheson's brain is spending some time at the Propeller Arcade. The Propeller Brewing Company staffer and resident pinball nerd was the champion behind the north end brewery's no-frills, ultra-lax basement bar, which opened about nine months ago. Now he's helping it level up.

"We thought it would be so cool if we could use the brewery floor for something. Fifty percent of the people who come down here are in shock and awe of these games they haven't seen in a long time, but so many others are taken aback by the brewery itself. When people see it, so many want to go down and explore," says Matheson of the idea to expand the Propeller Arcade offerings—and square footage—for one weekend only. After calling up some friends and collectors ("I love to get stoked on this stuff, and so do they," says Matheson) the brewery is ushering in fall by hosting Level Up—three days of maximum fun. Think black lights, disco balls, classic arcade basketball, air hockey, driving games and a claw machine, plus the usual old school classics you can always find at 2015 Gottingen Street.

The XL Propeller Arcade experience takes place Friday, September 20 and Saturday, September 21 (from 4pm to midnight) and again on Sunday, September 22 (from noon to 6pm for all ages, and until 10pm for the 19+ crowd) when Hopyard Beer Bar will join in on the fun, with snacks on hand.

"It's all about having fun really," says Matheson. "I just really wanted to fill a room with fun stuff, and thankfully they let me." 

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Friday, September 6, 2019

A Hurricane Dorian grocery list for procrastinators

Does anyone else get instantly hungry as soon as the power goes out?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 6, 2019 at 5:47 PM

You know times are tough when even the President's Choice brands are dwindling
  • You know times are tough when even the President's Choice brands are dwindling

Hurricane Dorian is coming. Like the worst visitor ever (an uninvited one), that hot mess is going to show up, over-stay his welcome, lock us indoors, knock some stuff over and probably take our electricity with him as he storms his way towards Cape Breton to mess up somebody else's weekend.

If you've seen the fuss online—the closures and cancellations, the warning you'll  need food and supplies for up to 72 hours—yet haven't done anything to Be Prepared just yet, here are 10 things to grab at the grocery store that'll help you get in and GTFO as quickly as possible.

Living through the last-minute pre-storm shopping experience is nearly as bad as accidentally swinging by the Quinpool Superstore on student night, but together we can get through this.

1. Chips
Forever number one on the shopping list, but especially in these stormy times (thank you, Stephanie Domet). Buy food flavoured options—pizza! roast chicken! loaded baked potato!—and make like you're eating a meal or just stock up on your faves. Chip aisle ravaged? Here's a snack hack: Pre-pop a bunch of popcorn, season it and fill a few Ziploc bags.

2. Bread and peanut butter
Go crunchy for maximum protein intake.

3. #stormcharcuterie
Is this an Italian trattoria or your dark-ass, candle-lit apartment? Bouj it up with some crackers or bread, hard cheeses, dry-cured sausage (maybe soppressata salami or a stick of Brother's pepperoni), figs and a jar of pickles. They'll all keep without the power of a fridge.

4. Tuna
Nothing says un-sexy storm preparedness like a can of fish.

5. Trail mix
Nuts and dried fruit will get old fast, but will keep your belly full.

6. Cereal
With non-dairy milk, or by the fistful.

7.  Avocados
When you're eating all of the carrots and cucumber out of your crisper, whip up some guacamole to bring a little bit of good fat to your raw snacks.

7. Fruit
After you've ploughed through your chocolate supply, turn to nature's dessert: Apples, citrus, bananas and other long-lasting, countertop-friendly sweets.

8. Canned beans and legumes
Bean salad, anyone?

9. Gatorade
Electrolytes, baby! If water gets scarce, a neon sports beverage is smart to have on hand and it doubles as a way to combat a day-drinking induced hangover.

10. Good company
Drown your sorrows and your internet-free boredom—yes, no power = no wifi—with some pleasant, invited company. (You're probably not going to find that at the No Frills, but who knows?) Build a puzzle, play a board game, maybe If, like Dido, you're determined to go down with this ship, you might as well do it with a good friend by your side.
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In Print This Week

Vol 28, No 3
November 12, 2020

Cover Gallery »

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