Thursday, July 18, 2019

G-Street Pizza opens next week

Gottingen Street's newest eat-in restaurant focuses on consistent pies and solid ingredients.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 4:12 AM

  • submitted

Childhood friends Moe Alhaj and Paul Jebailey had home on their minds when they dreamt up G-Street Pizza. The pair, who grew up in Dartmouth and have spent most of their adult lives living away—Jebailey on the west coast until recently; Alhaj lives in Dubai—and wanted to make a mark on their community, together. And pizza was the answer.

“We wanted to bring different ingredients and put a little more thought into the process of it all,” says Alhaj of the concept. The restaurant’s design came courtesy of Attica Furnishings. “We wanted to put effort into the design, decor and atmosphere. You’re leaving home and not eating lunch or dinner at home for a reason. We want to give that full experience to people.”

G-Street Pizza, which will make its debut at 2302 Gottingen Street (in the Velo building) next week, brings a tight menu of pizzas, burgers, salads, apps—and donairs, obviously— to the table, zeroing in on consistency. Alhaj and Jebailey brought over chefs from Italy to help create and test the perfect dough, sauce and pizzas of their dreams. “We got it down to a science. We had about two-and-a-half months of practice—cooking food, testing food, inviting family and friends to try it,” says Alhaj. A little menu of beer, cider and wine will complement the quarterly-changing food lineup, which will include halal, gluten-friendly and vegan options.

“It’s simple and creative, that way we can perfect everything we have on our menu,” says Alhaj. “Everything is the way it should be, and the way we would want to eat it.”

G-Street Pizza opens Wednesday, July 24.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

North end institution Smith's Bakery is closing next month

Unless you want to buy it? (Please?)

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 2:24 PM

  • via Facebook

Smith's Bakery & Cafe has been bringing fresh bread, major cakes and a top-notch lineup of squares to Haligonians since 1932.

Let that sink in for a second.

Yesterday, the north end institution and Halifax's oldest indie bakery took to its social media accounts to let the world know that as of August 10 it would be losing its current location at 2525 Agricola Street and therefore closing.

"It’s basically just a leasing issue, that’s the nuts and bolts of it. We can’t stay here and we don't have the money to move," says Dennis Evans, who's been part of the business for the last 15 years. He took over as co-owner with his wife Tara Fleming when the bakery's former owner (his father) retired about five years ago.

The decision to close became a reality after the building's sale was made official last Friday. Evans says the going rate for similar square footage in the neighbourhood is upwards of double what he currently pays. "When I started here 15 years ago, you could pretty much give places away, the neighbourhood is a victim of its own success in a way."

The costs associated with moving and renting a new space aren't the only ones that have made business challenging for Smith's in the last stretch of time. "People are unaware because they don't pay attention when they buy stuff at the grocery store, but we’ve seen a 30 percent increase on basic items," says Evans. "When was the last time you saw someone weigh their fruit and vegetables at a grocery store? We make stuff from scratch. We’re very labour intensive, obviously. If the margin goes up, the rent goes up, the labour goes up...."

The best-case scenario, he says, is if the bakery sells. For anyone interested, Evans is offering a "highly discounted" rate for the business, trade name, beloved recipes and equipment. All that and the rights to the city's best breakfast sandwich.

"Instead of buying a crappy franchise, you could buy a place with 87 years of history," he says. "It’s sad, I feel sad for the longtime customers, but it’s not something we really wanted to do."

Smith's will remain open as normal and baking old favourites until August 10.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

The Watch That Ends The Night has closed

Canada's Best New Bar of 2018 signs off

Posted By on Tue, Jul 9, 2019 at 12:44 PM

  • Alexa Cude
Dartmouth's slick and stylish The Watch That Ends The Night (15 King's Wharf Place) announced today that the bar/restaurant had closed its doors for the last time. Owners Mark Gray and Alissa Maloney took to Facebook to share the news, writing, "It is with an extremely heavy heart that we must say this, but say this we must. The Watch That Ends the Night is officially closed for business. All we can say is thank you all!!! To our absolutely incredible staff, clientele and suppliers for showing us so much love and support in allowing us to do what we could do."

The Watch (called after the Hugh MacLennan novel of the same name) was originally opened by Joe and Bethany Gurba in fall 2017; Gray (former executive chef at Brooklyn Warehouse, Battery Park Beer Bar) took over ownership of the restaurant in May 2018. Last year, it was named Canada's Best New Bar of 2018 by enRoute magazine.

"It is crazy, in a way, that you can be number one on a national stage and nine months later shut your doors. It goes to show the uncertainty and variability of this industry," says Gray. "It's crazy to go through that high-high and that low-low, but it comes with the territory."

Gray says in the end, the closure came down to finances.

"It's not ever the way people want their business to end. Those are the cards we were dealt, and we couldn’t keep up," he says. "You can speculate all day long about what went wrong but there’s just so many moving parts, I have no idea what happened really."

The Watch That Ends The Night's closure will also signify the end of a chapter in Gray's life—his culinary career. He is currently studying to be an addictions counsellor and has plans to focus his lens on the restaurant industry.

"With my personal struggles with addiction and the process of recovery thus far—it has been an incredible process—I want to give back the gift of sobriety and recovery I was given." Gray, an addict in recovery, is nine months sober. "I want to help others who are in the shoes I was in when I was 20, 22 or 25. I can’t help but think if there was something for me then it might have prevented a few things."

Gray says The Watch's journey was a fantastic one from day one, and that despite its ending he looks back on it with pride and gratitude—for the staff, suppliers, partons and supporters.

"We’ve learned a lot and made tons of great memories there. We achieved great things and tried to push the envelope, and we had an incredible team—now, people who’ve come and gone and people who remained until the end. It’s been a wild ride, for sure, but a great one nonetheless."
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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Mind the brain freeze: Glory Pops gearing up for summer

Just a modern day Dickie Dee

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2019 at 1:49 PM

  • submitted

You’re either old enough to remember chasing the sound of the Dickie Dee through your neighbourhood, or you’re young enough that a bicycle selling frozen treats is totally novel. For Jacqui Keseluk, either option works. The pastry chef-turned-entrepreneur is ringing in her first summer on wheels, selling hand-crafted popsicles under her newly launched business (run with longtime friend Brian Larter) Glory Pops and sums up her early success simply: “People like fun things.”

Keseluk bought the bike and popsicle-making gear earlier this spring, stoked on the idea of being her own boss and having a creative culinary outlet. “It’s interactive and it’s easy to eat,” she says of the appeal of her handheld snacks. “You see food trends every year—right now it’s all about doughnuts and tacos, before it was macarons, there was the burger craze, but no one in the city is really doing gourmet popsicles. They’re very big in New York and LA and I hope I’m ahead of something.” So far she’s been experimenting with straight-ahead options like raspberry-mango, strawberry—“that’s what the kids want”—as well as flavours like peanut butter banana and cucumber lime. “As long as I have a solid inventory of the basics, I get to play,” she says.

Apart from selling her treats at The Atomic Cafe (6451 Quinpool Road), Local Source (2530 Agricola Street) and Raven Espresso  (14 St. Michael’s Avenue), Keseluk will be peddling (and pedalling) her pops all over central Halifax, around the Common and at special events. “I plan to be out on the bike any time it’s sunny and hot out,” she says.

Glory Pops won’t melt away with the short-and-sweet summer—she’s got plans to partner with Halifax bars in the name of boozy popsicles (think prosecco and mixed berries) as well as venturing into protein popsicles for the fitness-focused community. But for now, the best bet for finding Keseluk’s bike is to find her on Instagram. “The ’90s seem to be repeating themselves as far as fashion trends,” she says, “so maybe it’s going the same way with food.”
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

DRINK THIS: Eileanan Brèagha's rosé

With a soft start and dry finish, this summer drink reps Cape Breton grown grapes.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2019 at 1:00 AM


Nothing decorates a deck party better than glasses of pink wine glinting in the sunlight. And no wine checks all the boxes of refreshment, food-friendliness and affordability like Nova Scotian rosé.

Rosé suffers the unfortunate misconception that it is cheap, sweet wine, a rap left over from the '80s when white wine was more fashionable than red, and producers in the US were trying to find a market for their red grapes. "White" Zinfandel was crafted into an off-pink, off-dry guzzler from red Zinfandel grapes, a massive success for its producer and a massive disservice to those who would like rosé to be considered serious wine in North America.

The French take rosé seriously and have perfected the dry rosé, especially in Provence and the Loire, where rosé is drunk merrily as a thirst-quencher and heartily as a food wine. Rosé is traditionally made by crushing and immediately pressing red grapes, separating juice from skin, giving the juice little opportunity to absorb the skin's purple pigments (and flavours and textures). The result, pink wine, is technically a blush, or vin gris.

Nova Scotian rosé tends to be intense magenta and cranberry rather than the delicate pink and salmon hues of European rosés. This is because our thick hybrid grape skins have more pigment, so even immediately pressing skins off juice leaves it deeply stained. (As Nova Scotians grow more European varieties of grapes, you will see more lighter-coloured rosés on the market.)

But this deep pink colour does not signal a syrupy wine, I promise! Nova Scotian rosés are beautifully dry, and if the winemaker does leave a little residual sugar, it is usually just enough to balance the acidity that makes these wines so good with food.

Eileanan Brèagha's 2018 rosé ($19, NSLC) is made primarily from Marechal Foch and Marechal Joffre, two hybrid red grapes grown at the Cape Breton winery's estate vineyard in Marble Mountain on the Bras d'Or Lakes. The wine comes across with softness on the first sip but finishes dry, acidity and bitterness in just the right amounts washing the mouth clean. This crisp rosé tastes like sour cherry and cranberry, buoyed by a hint of tannic texture that is the mark of rosé for me: just mouth filling enough to remind me that wine, too, is food.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Holey shit, it’s a doughnut crawl

Nine local bakeries encourage a day of delicacy

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 6:37 PM


For many, National Doughnut Day will just be any other day, but this year nine cafes and bakeries in Halifax are hoping it will be busier than usual. The first Halifax Doughnut Crawl will start and end on June 7, to coincide with and celebrate the legacy of deep-fried dough covered in icing. Organized by Scanway Catering and Grafton Street Cafe (1567 Grafton Street) the hope is to get more people out and about to their favourite local spot and to "highlight the growing foodie culture in Halifax."

Die-hard apple fritter and Dutchie purists may feel like there is no need to reinvent the wheel, but hate it or love it, doughnuts have now become experiments in design and flavour combinations. Although it is safe to say that Tim Hortons enjoys its steady dynasty, doughnuts are gaining popularity with smaller coffee shops, becoming more Instagrammable as the topping combinations get more artistic.

All participating businesses will try to outdo each other via the creation of one specialty doughnut for the crawl—and half of the proceeds from the sales of these speciality doughnuts will be donated to the Phoenix House.

Competitive local foodies know the drill: There will be a passport and stamps to be collected. One location, one doughnut, one stamp. The most ambitious and adventurous of stomachs who can knock off each location, and collect all nine stamps will be entered to win a $500 goodie bag. Completed passports can be handed in to the Grafton Street Cafe by June 10 for the draw. For a full list of participating spots (from Rinaldo's to LF Bakery) find the event on Facebook.

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Evelyn Chick's shaking up the cocktail culture

The Toronto bar-star says a healthy food and beverage scene starts with communication.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 4:00 PM

“Uplifting the female bartending community is something I didn’t know I was doing,” says Chick. - SUBMITTED
  • “Uplifting the female bartending community is something I didn’t know I was doing,” says Chick.

Drink Atlantic

"Even if you're the best bartender in the world, if you're a shitty human, no one wants to sit at your bar," says Evelyn Chick, frankly, over the phone from Toronto. The decorated bartender and boss behind Pretty Ugly (a "chill Parkdale gem" that was recently named number four on Canada's 100 Best Bars list) is gearing up to head to Halifax for Drink Atlantic (presented by The Coast, if you didn't know) where she'll share her expertise at industry seminars on cooperative, safe workplaces and booze-less cocktails.

From the drinks she makes to the atmosphere she fosters, Chick's end goal is making sure every person in her bar feels supported, comfortable and heard. ("We have a ton of female clientele come in to Pretty Ugly alone because they feel safe in that space," she says.) A groundbreaker, boundary-pusher and inspired leader, her creativity behind the bar goes well beyond flavour profiles and garnish. Take Pretty Ugly's placebo cocktail menu—a much better name for a mocktail—for instance.

"It all stems from wanting to make the space really inclusive. A lot of bars are missing that, so we created a menu that's not only for people for who are nerdy about cocktails but anyone who comes in," says Chick, who plays with texture and complexity to create non-alcoholic drinks with depth. "Why should someone who isn't imbibing sacrifice the experience? It's also stigmatizing when you order a mocktail."

She says keeping inclusivity top of mind makes her bar strive to be better—it's not just a watering hole where people get drunk. Providing that supportive culture isn't a stretch for Chick, who's inadvertently become a mentor for women in the industry, working with Speed Rack (a female-only cocktail competition) and alongside bartender Christina Veira (a fellow Drink Atlantic presenter) to help push women further in a fairly dude-dominated industry.

"Uplifting the female bartending community is something I didn't know I was doing, but now I have the responsibility to really be listening and really find out what the the issues the community faces are. I'm socially responsible to make sure everyone's voices get heard," she says. "I think it's just opening the line of communication and getting people talking is a great start."

This weekend, she and Veira will dig into the importance of having real conversations about the realities of the bar biz via Cultural Mise-en-Place, a seminar on building a progressive hospitality community.

"Christina and I—we just really need people to be woke," says Chick with a laugh. "Everyone can hone in on their craft—yes it's your job, yes it's your career—but you are still just people. You need to be good, functioning people in society."

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Syd Delicious is hot and ready

The farmers’ market baker takes the basic, straight oughta the oven cinnamon bun and nails it.

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 3:27 PM

“I have something to offer that isn’t being done,” says Daoust of her treats. - SYD DAOUST
  • “I have something to offer that isn’t being done,” says Daoust of her treats.

Syd Delicious
Alderney Farmers' Market
2 Ochterloney Street
Saturdays, 8am-1pm

Few things can match the comforting goodness of a warm cinnamon bun, fresh out of the oven. But finding this thrill outside of your own kitchen can prove a challenge. Syd Delicious, the Alderney Farmers' Market's newest vendor, is filling that void.

"I have something to offer that isn't being done—cinnamon buns right out of the oven. I have my own oven and takes 20 minutes to make a batch," says Syd Daoust, the brains, namesake and magic baking hands behind Syd Delicious. "I know why people don't do it—it's time-consuming, you need to make them the night before to double rise, it's tricky keeping them cold at the market—this is why people aren't doing it, but it's great and worth it."

Daoust's first market day was last Saturday, and business was booming—the stall sold out of most items by 9:30am. In addition to hot cinnamon buns, Syd Delicious also sells vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies and brownies. It's a compact little menu.

There's something else setting Syd Delicious apart from other treat stalls, but Daoust doesn't really advertise it while she's selling: All the items are vegan. "There's been a growing need for vegan food, it's popping up all over the place," she says. "I have no vegan friends. My whole family, we aren't activists in any way, we just enjoy it, we aren't judgemental. On our table we don't have it listed as vegan, it's not a secret, but from my own experience, when I say I made vegan cupcakes, some people steered away," she says. "I want the food to be good—not just good for being vegan. Some vegan groups came on Saturday to support me, but some people were just walking through and got a cookie and I didn't say a word."

There are no secretly healthy ingredients in Syd Delicious' roster, no hidden veggies or tofu. It's just an indulgence, and if you can't clock it as vegan, then all the better. "We had a test market at our house and it was great, a lot of people didn't know it was vegan. I'd tell them and they'd say, 'No way!'' says Daoust. "I just want people to enjoy my food."

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Last call–Pacifico is closing its current location

End of an era, for now.

Posted By on Wed, May 29, 2019 at 4:55 PM

  • Riley Smith

For 25 years Haligonians have been shaking what their mamas gave them, vodka and crans in hand, underneath Pacifico’s ceiling of glimmering of disco balls. But now, thanks to the refreshing of Barrington Street monster monolith, the Maritime Centre, the party is over. At least for now.

Last week the downtown nightclub shared that Saturday, June 1 would be its last hurrah on Barrington and Salter. No more DJ nights, no more bottle service, no more wobbly weaving your way from dance floor to dance floor. But before you start playing that montage of sweaty memories in your brain (to the tune of Darude’s “Sandstorm”)—hold, please. Pacifico promises it will be back “better than ever” somewhere downtown later into the summer season.

With that ominous promise in mind, dig out your dancing shoes and prepare for them to stick to the floor of 1505 Barrington Street once last time this weekend.
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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Almonak opens at Almon and Isleville

A new north end hangout for ya

Posted By on Wed, May 8, 2019 at 5:40 AM

There’s a little something for everyone at Almonak (5659 Almon Street). The north end eatery—which opens today—aims to blend together its kitchen, coffee and bakery into one welcoming space.

“Our unofficial motto for Almonak is: We're here for you wherever you are in your day,” says Kandace Homer, one of four owners. “Whether you want a coffee in the morning, you need a snack, you want to go out with your mom for lunch, you want to go out for a date at night, you want to go for a cocktail–Almonak’s here for you for whatever you're feeling in the day or even the evening.”

Floor to ceiling windows fill the space with natural lighting, plug-ins line the walls and the seating plan is designed to accommodate everyone from the solo person working on their laptop with a coffee to a group of pals laughing over dinner. The kitchen is focused on healthy, homemade lunches from Wednesday to Fridays, brunch on the weekends and dinner service with cocktails Wednesday to Sunday.

“It’s a small drink menu but it’s an eclectic menu,” says Almonak GM, Megan Kaufman. Compass Distillers is providing all of its liquors and is supplying kegged cocktails to serve on-tap, alongside Goodmore Kombucha and Planters Ridge bubbly for mimosas.

Homer says they’re trying to source as much as they can from local businesses–even some of their furniture comes from Project 9 on Agricola Street–and they’re passionate about the restaurant being as waste-free as possible. (There’s a water bottle refill station open to the public, people will be encouraged to stay and enjoy their coffee or bring a reusable mug next time they get a cup to go.)

The dinners will be large, family-style, shareable plates for families and groups, and bringing your own reusable containers to take home leftovers is encouraged. “For lunch hour, our real focus is hearty and healthy,” says Kaufman, describing the colourful bowls and salads designed to be keto-friendly, gluten-free and vegan inspired. The brunch menu will hone in on a big eggs Benny selection and healthy twists on classics, like swapping out Clamato juice with in-house beet juice in a Caesar.

When people come into the restaurant, they're spending their time, their money and their appetite, “so we don't want anyone to ever leave here regretting any decision,” says Homer.  “We want to be that place in the north end that still creates community, where everyone can come and gather." 
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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Cafe Fest comes to town because, coffee

The Quebec-based celebration heads east, bringing hot stuff to coffee shops across the HRM.

Posted By on Wed, May 1, 2019 at 4:19 PM

  • daniel dominic

Cafe Lara is calling all coffee geeks to its launch party of Cafe Fest, a week-long celebration of all things coffee, local and independent from May 5-11. "I like bringing the community together," says Lara Cusson. "I've been trying to get the coffee community together as much as possible—I think it's important that we all support each other."

Cafe owner (and namesake) Cusson reached out to fellow coffee people in the HRM to participate. Nineteen coffee shops got on board, all of which will be handing out coffee passports to their more adventurous patrons.

Haligonian coffee enthusiasts will be traveling from the Cottage Cafe in Dartmouth, to the Raven Espresso Boutique Coffee in Spryfield, Dilly Dally on Quinpool and Trident Booksellers in the south end, collecting stamps for a chance to win "highly caffeinated prizes." The goal is to get people talking about—and hopefully walking into—their local coffee shop. Maybe even inspire them to wander into a new coffee shop, in a new neighbourhood.

The idea originated with small batch coffee roasters Barista Microtorréfacteur in Montreal. They wanted to support other independent coffee shops, but also wanted to have a little fun, and thought festivals were the best way to get people involved in a little bit of both.

  • daniel dominic

The festival has been gaining traction for the past four years in Quebec and has expanded in number of participating shops, special events and now, thanks to Cusson (who's originally from Montreal), its first east coast appearance.

The fest's closing party will coincide with Open City on May 11 and be dedicated to hardworking baristas. Cusson encourages loyal customers to come out and support their favourite barista for some "very silly, very friendly" competitions, including a blindfolded late art challenge and announcing the winner of the photo competition to win a full year's worth of coffee.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Coastal Cook House offers Fisherman's Cove a new feed

Gourmet takeout by the ocean

Posted By on Wed, Apr 10, 2019 at 4:35 PM


Kale Boucher and Jeff Lucas want to make their mark at Fisherman’s Cove.  The pair of restaurant vets share 23 years’ experience between them—Boucher as a Red Seal chef, Lucas in both the front- and back-of-house—and have teamed up open Coastal Cook House (16 Government Wharf), a gourmet take-out restaurant on the scenic waterfront strip.

“We’ve had so many ideas at different restaurants we worked at and couldn’t implement them,” says Lucas. “So when the opening came up at Fisherman’s Cove, we decided to pursue it.” Boucher says the menu will be small but diverse. They’ll be flexible to change it based on customer desires but are hopeful diners will find favourites that they’ll come back for. “The idea we came up with is come out with a small menu we can execute to perfection. When people ask what the best dish is, we want to be able to tell them everything is great.”

The debut line-up features sandwiches (like chicken and waffle), burgers, lobster and bacon mac and cheese and a couple of rice dishes. Lucas, who calls the Eastern Passage neighbourhood a “mini-Lunenburg,” is excited about the potential of their business’ new home. “This place is like an untapped market,” adds Boucher. “There are not many restaurants around and we wanted to add something new to the area. It’s developing and growing, and we wanted to make it boom.”

Coastal Cookhouse aims to open on May 1.
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Wednesday, April 3, 2019

DRINK THIS: Petite Riviere Vineyards’ Mighty Maroon

A Port-style wine that invites coziness with its sweet, strong balance.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2019 at 4:29 PM


This Nova Scotian wine perfectly expresses our spring. Its rich, velvety, dark red berry flavours are the soft wool scarf you still need to wind around your throat to bury your chin before stepping outside. Its sweet heat is the wood fire that has been going since November, eating up your now dwindling supply in the woodshed. Its fresh acid kick is the bite of winds reminding us that cold, in these parts, is king.

Get cozy with Petite Riviere Vineyards' 2016 Mighty Maroon because this wine is all about skin contact. The grapes Leon Millot and Lucie Kuhlmann are fermented in their own skins, in a process called carbonic maceration. In this process, grapes are not in contact with oxygen during fermentation, but carbon dioxide instead, resulting in a fresh, fruity style of wine. After alcoholic fermentation, the wine—still on its skins!—went through malolactic fermentation, which converts astringent malic acid into softer lactic acid.

This delicious south shore wine is then fortified with the winery's own grape spirits (distilled by Ironworks Distillery), resulting in a velvety, mouth-filling, sweet, strong and beautifully balanced Port-style wine. The Mighty Maroon—available at Petite Riviere's winery, the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market (1209 Marginal Road) and Alderney Landing Farmers' Market (2 Ochterloney Street)—will ease you into spring. After all, winter is in no hurry to leave.

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Friday, March 29, 2019

Who's behind the mysterious Beverley Taco Service?


Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 5:21 PM


Have you seen this poster? If so, between scratching your head and wiping the drool from your chin you may have wondered who Beverley is and why she wants to feed both your curiosity and your belly.

Turns out mysterious masa-loving taco maker, Beverley Taco Service (which has plastered telephone poles as of Friday), comes to us from Highwayman chef Blair Clarke and his beer buds at Stillwell. A longtime taco fanatic, Clarke has been researching the handheld Mexican meal for years and after a trip to Oaxaca this winter with Stillwell's Chris Reynolds, he's ready to debut his own.

"It was pretty eye-opening. You can read and research all you want but going and experiencing—it kind of re-instated that simple is always better," says Clarke, who says his tacos will be all about freshness and flavour, but its the tortilla itself that will be the star.

That's because Beverley Taco Service has its own custom-built corn mill. The
 beloved contraption means Clarke's taking heirloom corn from Oaxaca and grinding fresh masa on the daily at a downtown prep kitchen he and Reynolds affectionately call The Masaplex. "Once you’ve had a tortilla made with fresh masa, it kind of sets the bar," says Clarke. "It did take some leg work"—or a couple of years of searching—"but 600 pounds later here we are."

If you haven't already called the poster's taco hotline and are wondering when/where/how you can taste the "life-giving salsas," Stillwell-quality drink selection and those fresher-than-you corn tortillas—we're here to tell you BTS will make its entrance via pop-up.

The first appearance is slated for Friday, April 12 at Cafe Good Luck (145 Portland Street) from 6pm to 10pm and the second goes down Saturday, May 4 at the Mayflower Curling Club (3000 Monaghan Drive) from 7pm-11pm. But you should still give that number a call. It's a treat.

The pop-ups will continue through the summer as Clarke and the Stillwell gang nail down a permanent location for their soon-to-be restaurant (which will be downtown). And even better? BTS will spend the summer serving up its best stuff at the Stillwell Beer Garden (5688 Spring Garden Road).
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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Tako Loko takes the north end by storm

Life is but a dream for Vicky Ruiz, who opened her Mexican restaurant to a surge of hungry Haligonians.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2019 at 1:18 AM


Tako Loko (3248 Isleville Street) opened its doors last Wednesday to a hungry crowd of north enders. Keeping the menu simple, the 20-seat restaurant offers seven types of tacos: Chicken, carne asada (grilled steak), chorizo, carnitas de Puerco, suadero (brisket), fish and veggie. Customers can also choose between beans, rice, quesadilla and guacamole and chips.

"This is my language, my meat, my flavours, my colours," owner Vicky Ruiz says.

Tako Loko has labelled itself an authentic Mexican restaurant in order to let people know they won't find Tex-Mex tacos—you know, the ground beef, cheese, lettuce and sour cream kind—here. In Mexico, a taco is a soft corn tortilla with meat, onions, cilantro, lime and salsa.

Ruiz and her children, José, Daniela and Enrique, moved to Halifax from Mexico more than 15 years ago. Minus a few exceptions, like Mexico Lindo in Fairview, they were hard-pressed to find restaurants that served the food they loved and missed.

In an effort to make sure Tako Loko had a look as representative of Mexico as possible, she chose all of the restaurant’s vibrant colours and decorations. Green and yellow walls are adorned with a chalkboard menu and yellow coat hangers that look like garden spigots. Four lights are suspended from the ceiling with knotted hemp rope. On a shelf behind the cash, a rainbow donkey piñata relaxes – just out of reach.

As we sit in the restaurant, four separate groups of people knock on the door. Each time, José tells them politely, "We open at five tonight."

Apparently, this has become a common occurrence. Ruiz isn't sure how word has spread so quickly—she's already gone through 1,500 tortillas. She says several people have been by twice, and often stay for more than one round of food.

Luckily, service is fast-paced as tacos are easy to prepare and quick to disappear.

"This has been my dream for many, many years," Ruiz says.

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