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Halifax Recommendations


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Will be touring Nova Scotia in early July and would appreciate any dining recommendations for Halifax and anywhere else in Nova Scotia. Any and all types of restaurants and price ranges are OK. I did a search and came up with Chives and Maple, but heard elsewhere that Maple closed. Thanks.

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This is something I wrote about Halifax last summer. You'll definitely want to try Chives for upscale dining (though it's quite casual by international standards). Bud the Spud's truck is obligatory for fries -- terrific fries from PEI potatoes. And Fries & Co. has some of the best fish-and-chips anywhere.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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You mention two spots that call themselves "fine dining".

If that's what you're looking for there are more than a dozen, and most of them have a web presence:

Try halifaxrestaurants.com for three. Another group of them can be found on eatingHalifax.ca/cat/fine.shtml.

There is a heavy presence of "Northern Italy".

I seldom go to town without getting the haddock and fries in the Lower Deck, or if I'm really hungry the mousaka at the Bluenose II, but these can't claim "fine dining" status. For dessert, try Dio Mio Gelato Desserts Cafe on Brenton Street, just off Spring Garden (if the weather is fine and you want to walk about with your cone).



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Yes, fidopodia is a great website, and I'm told fid is a great restaurant (what's the word - intimate or small?), although I've never been.

Earlier I suggested you go to halifaxrestaurants.com to see about bish, Il Mercato and Da Maurizio.(the Northern Italian presence, along with La Perla over on the waterfront in Dartmouth, and Cafe Chianti - all with good reps)

I should have said halifaxrestaurants.ca


And I just remembered the last time I was in town I went to Ginger's Tavern and had the maple salmon, I think that's what they called it.

It was very enjoyable.


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My brother went to Dalhousie, so 'fine dining' doesn't usually enter into the vernacular when you're going out to eat with five or ten degenerates. :laugh: However, I did manage to stumble into some of the better cheaper spots...

Momoya on Barrington Street is fresh, wonderful sushi, and the best barbeque pork udon I've ever had in my (admittedly short) life. Not that expensive, either.

If you're into pub food, Your Father's Moustache is good (Skin Gar...er, Spring Garden Road); so is the food at Tom's Little Havana (underneath Planet Pool on Spring Garden). Of course, whenever I wander into Tom's, I usually end up drinking my lunch...30-40 different single malts will do that to a lowly little drunkard like myself.

Definitely grab the fries at Bud the Spud's wagon; Fat Guy is right on. If that's the chip van I'm thinkin' of, he's usually in front of the library at the foot of Spring Garden (a block from Tom's and two or three from Your Father's). If it's after midnight, though, and you require a salt-and-spud hit, the guy to look for is usually a block from Pizza Corner, in front of the church on your left if you're lookin' up the Hill. Which Hill? You'll know it. :) There's a guy with a fryer cart who spiral-cuts PEI potatoes right in front of you and then drops 'em in the frier...I swear it's got medicinal hangover prevention properties. And if you're up that late, the best slice in town is nowhere *near* Pizza Corner - it's at Freeman's on Quinpool Road. They're open until five am 4 days a week, I think. Walk *around* the Citadel, no matter how good of an idea going straight over is. :smile:

Oh, and another thing Fat Guy's right on about - Ozzie's Lunch on Highway 1 south of Saint John...I grew up in SJ, and we used to sneak down the coast every now and again to eat there. The other killer seafood place down there is King's in Black's Harbour...I seriously don't know which one is better, which says a lot about how good they are. And Suwana is an absolutely *lovely* Thai restaraunt in Saint John (give absolutely fresh seafood to some Thai cooks? Sounds like a good idea to me! :biggrin: )

Todd McGillivray

"I still throw a few back, talk a little smack, when I'm feelin' bulletproof..."

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I was out there about three weeks ago. I ate at momoya and thaught it was pretty good. Lobster sushi, hello !

I was there only for a few hours but noticed that momoya also opened a steak house around the next corner, apparently it is very good.

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Most of Halifax has been covered so I'll let ya in on a few other spots that are worth trippin around for. If you get up to Acton's in Wolfville try the lobster souffle. Over in Digby at The Pines Resort try thr Sunday brunch, usually agreat assortment of seafood, veg terrines and pates and alot of local seafood, and French pastry. In Mahone bat try Mimi's for lunch or in Lunenberg Magnolias. Up in Cape Breton there's the Duncreigan Inn in Mabou and over in Margaree there's The Normaway Inn. Most of these places are not fine dinning but culturally the trippin and food is above average.

To take home, hit the farmer's market on Saturday morning, EARLY and you'll get a great sample of the hidden coast!You'll better get some double smoked bacon from The Austrian Smoke House , sausage from Sweet Williams, some cheese from the Dutchman. Or hit the road and do a tour. Check out the Halifax farmers market website. Email if ya want ideas on travellin around for food and wine. Freddychef

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Rickster and all:

Just joined the list and spied your request for Nova Scotia recommendations.

My wife and I were in Halifax last year at the end of June and we dined very well indeed. Some have already been mentioned and will be repeated but here are my choices for Halifax in no particular order:


-good food, wine list and very friendly and accomodating service

-off Bishop's Landing with a view of the harbour including patio

-we had lunch here several times, dinner once and dropped in for drinks late at night on a couple of other occasions

-same owners as da Maurizio and Il Mercato

-interesting cuisine and wine list

da Maurizio

-northern Italian - located in the old Keith's Brewery bldg.

-outstanding food - expensive

-I lived in Hlfx until '80 and every time we return for a visit we go here and we have yet to be disappointed

Il Mercato

-more casual trattoria style - tiled floor - large antipasti selection

-provides a nice respite from the summer heat and bustle on Spring Garden Rd.


-a little hard to find but well worth the "looking" -off Spring Garden Rd up toward the Halifax Gardens

-small menu - changes often I expect as well as limited, but well chosen wine list

-chef/owner and wife/partner works the front

-had a spectacular piece of halibut - simple - but excellent


-on Barrington Street -funky/eclectic dining room

-limited menu - changes daily - same with wine as I recollect

-instead of bread a biscuit was served in its own brown paper bag

-very good food relying on fresh, local, available ingredients


-it was alive and well when we visited last year - however, I think that it had just reopened and they were in the process of opening the main floor wine bar for lunches

-multi-storied restaurant in restored old building - lovely decor

-excellent food - again emphasis on fresh, regional cuisine


-the fine dining room in the Casino

-black tie service but they are there to cater to the tourist and gambler - not at all stuffy despite the initial impression that they might be - I definitely was dressed casually

-best wine list [da Maurizio would be the next best] - good prices - many by the glass

-very good food indeed - it was one of the few spots open when we arrived late on a Wednesday and we had a number of appetizers with some wine and no one was rushing us to get out and we were the only table there at that time

-busy the next time when we returned for dinner

On past visits we have tried and can recommend:

The Bistro

-main floor of apartment bldg. across from the Hlfx Gardens

Ryan Duffy's

-steakhouse - cut to order filet/sirloin

-not usually my type of dining especially at the coast but this was during a Cdn Thanksgiving visit years ago and we were 'fished out"

On another trip we tried the Blomidon Inn in Wolfville in the Annapolis Valley and enjoyed a lunch.

In Annapolis Royal itself we had a fabulous meal at Neuman's <?>. Not sure if it is still open as we did not get there this year.

If you venture into Evangeline Country the restaurant at the Grand Pre Winery is worth a visit. It is expensive however we did enjoy some of the smoked meats and cheese that were available with some of the wine produced on site.

I wish we were going again. Perhaps next year.


Edmonton, AB

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I should have mentioned that I will be in Halifax on a Sunday. Little did I realize that many of the higher end places recommended on this thread will be closed (Chives, Da Maurizio, Il Mercato, Bish).

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Not necessarily as a result of a process of elimination given the "Sunday factor", I would recommend FID www.fidopia.com

They are open on Sundays and to quote Ian who I just spoke to, "one of the few in Halifax" as you have already found out, are.

Get instructions as to how to get there as although the address off Spring Garden Rd. is easy enough, they are tucked away in a building that you might not otherwise think, especially on week-ends, houses them.



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  • 3 months later...

We'll be travelling to Halifax, Pictou and Cape Breton in 2 weeks. There's plenty of Halifax recommendations above, thank you. [didn't notice a mention of Fries & Co. though - anyone been?] The guide books tout the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish. Is it THAT good? We'll probably be staying in Baddeck in Cape Breton. We're also going to the music festival in Sydney... any recommendations there? Any particular places for lobster? Thanks.

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The guide books tout the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish.  Is it THAT good? 

Glenn, Earlier in this thread, I posted this:

...[W]e stayed at the Keltic Lodge....  It was a wonderful place, and the food was delicious.

Although it was a number of years ago, I would hope that my critique is still valid. :smile:

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  • 8 months later...

Thanks for taking the time to post the above recommendations. Wish we'd been part of the eGullet group on our first trip to the Maritimes a couple of years ago.

We'll be heading back again this fall for our second trip, & wonder if there are any updates we should know about.....

Was Bish damaged in the hurricane, & if so, is it up & operating again?

What about the new restaurant (don't know the name), operated by the owners of Bish & Da Maurizio, is it recommended?

Any suggestions for PEI? Also Newfoundland, in case we get that far?

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I had hoped to "scoop" a conference in Halifax later in July this summer but alas, looks like I'll have to be content with an extended upcoming week-end in Burnaby and a few days in Red Deer...does not seem like an adequate culinary trade-off :rolleyes:

I am not sure if Bish was damaged or not during the Juan fiasco but it is up and running if it was. That was our favourite overall spot during our last trip to Hlfx.

On the Juan issue, I see that Point Pleasant Park just opened after being closed. 70 to 80 % of the trees were destroyed or damaged. I can hardly fathom that type of devastation of what was such a beautiful green oasis in south Hlfx.

The new place that Maurizio and Stephanie Bertossi have opened in also named Il Mercato apparently and is located in the Sunnyvale Mall in Bedford. So there is the original Il Mercato on Spring Garden Road now joined by another in more suburban Bedford. Looks very nice from its web-site and the person I spoke to in Hlfx last week about it, said that it had received good reviews.

Another "newcomer" to Hlfx is Seven. I found it via Google search. Looks quite upscale and trendy. Mixed reviews are what I read.

It joins all those other good spots in Hlfx. like da Maurizio, Bish, Il Mercato, Chives, Bacchus, Maple, which I would arbitrarily describe as being in the the top tier and others like the Bistro, Fiasco, The Press Gang, O'Carroll's, Sweet Basil [or is that Purple Basil? I am forever getting that mixed up], Ryan Duffy's a notch below.

If you get down to Lunenburg to tour the old town and visit the fishing museum, Magnolia's is one of our favourites. There are a couple en route in Mahone Bay and Chester that serve good food. I think that the name of the one in the latter is The Rope Loft but it has been a few years.

In the Valley, the winery at Grande Pre is supposed to have a good restaurant. It had stopped serving lunch the day we were there but we were able to get some smoked meats and cheeses and salads and dined al fresco under their pergola.

I have not heard anything about Tempest in Wolfville after it was featured in Opening Soon. Maybe someone else on the list can update.

Neuman's or Newman's in Annapolis Royal was a "god send" one year with its varied food and wine list...we were "Jost'ed" out after a tour of Cape Breton [if you are up to the Pictou/Northumberland area drop in at the Jost Winery in Malagash...they make better wine than one might think...it just isn't carried in many restaurants apart from their "jug" white and red house-type offerings].

If you get to PEI I can recommend the Merchantman Pub across the street from the Prince Edward Hotel in Charlottetown. A varied menu covering standard pub fare as well as more creative dishes that one might not otherwise expect.

Less successful for us was Kim's Bistro. It had been written up in Gourmet or Food & Wine magazine but we were disappointed. Kim however does make fabulous smoked fish.

We also enjoyed On Broadway or Off Broadway, something to that effect and the locally brewed ales at the Gahan House in "downtown" Charlottetown. Our favourite was a spot called "McAsseys'" in the Confederation interpretative centre. Very good, interestsing food done with a flair. However, I do not think that it was well received by the locals and understand it went out of business.

Sirenella near the Prince Edward Hotel was also quite good Italian. Does not look like much from the sidewalk but the food was nice.

One place we missed is the Water-Prince Store. I hope I got the name correct this time. It is at the corner of those streets just off the waterfront. I am sure that we walked right by it as it looks just like a convenience store. Good seafood I am told.

We stayed at the Inn at Bay Fortune for a few days and had terrific dinners there.

In Montague we had a nice lunch in Windows On The Water.

The Inn at St. Peters provided a terrific lunch when we were travelling en route back to Charlottetown.

Dalvray By The Sea was well worth the short drive north to the red dunes of Prince Edward Island National Park. Nice menu, good wine list, typically friendly Maritime service.

Have not been able to get over to "the Rock" for years and years so cannot offer any insights there.

Let us know what you tried. Enjoy your trip.

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Once in a while this thread comes up and every time I see it, Ossie's takeout is mentioned and praised. I take no issue with the general quality of the food (good), but I do take issue with the prices. As a long time former resident of Charlotte Co. in NB, let me tell one and all that "THE" place to eat deep fried seafoods is COMEAU's a few miles/kms east of Ossie's. Their fried clams (and everything else) would kick some serious culinary butt anytime, anywhere. Oh, be sure to fast for a day or two before darkening their door. :rolleyes:

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Thanks Merlin, for the recommendations. I'm making notes, & getting excited about the trip!

Ben, we ate at Ossie's last time, so this time we'll give COMEAU'S a try...thanks.

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Things have been covered pretty thoroughly here, but as a native Haligonian I'll throw in a few words of amplification/clarification/etc.

First, the restaurants owned by the Bertossis...

Da Maurizio is the lynchpin of their chain, and their flagship. This is straight Northern Italian food, done well and consistently. Bish is less geographically-oriented, having some Italian food but also delving into other cuisines. Their Il Mercato outlets (the Bedford one opened since I left a year ago) are more of a trattoria sort of thing.

I do not believe that La Perla, across the harbour in Dartmouth, is owned by the Bertossis but I could be wrong. It is easy to get to...just take the ferry across from downtown Halifax, and when you walk out the front doors of the ferry terminal look across the street and a half-block to your right. I had truly wonderful lamb there a few years ago.

Bacchus, at the Sheraton, has revitalized the hotel-food scene in Halifax. Before chef Raj Gupta arrived at the Sheraton the hotels were content to turn out decent but pedestrian food for those who didn't want to go off-site for their meals. Bacchus was more adventurous, and was successful enough to inspire the city's other major hotels to revamp their menus.

Bud the Spud rocks.

You'll find a lot of very decent Lebanese places downtown; Lebanese food being Halifax's preferred finger food (the donair is locally considered to be a Lebanese thing). Ray's, in the food court at the Scotia Square Mall downtown, makes a better-than-average falafel; frequently voted best in the city by the readers of the local free weekly.

Everything FG said about Fries & Company is justified, and an understatement. If you like fish and chips, eat there.

Unfortunately, the city's most legendary bowl of chowder is no more. "Mama Camille" held court for decades across the street from the naval base in Halifax, but when she retired and sold out the new owners decided to build a chain and conquer the world. Their business sense falling short of their ambitions, they went belly-up several years ago.

The Five Fishermen, across the street from the Grand Parade, is generally conceded (among my acquaintance, anyway) to be the best of the downtown's plentiful seafood restaurants. When I left they'd just opened a "faster food" outlet in the same building, called Little Fish. Both establishments are located in a block of heritage buildings which have been transformed into a complex of bars and restaurants. The proprietors refer to this site as "the Entertainment Dome," but to everyone else in the city it's the "LiquorDome."

Either way, ask anyone you meet to point you to "the Dome" and you'll get there.

Economy Shoe Shop is not far from there, and is reputed to serve better than average food and drink.

Fid is by all accounts superlative, Dennis Johnson being one of those self-taught people who make the rest of us feel talent-deficient.

Maple is gone. They stood on the reputation of Michael Smith, and after he left they failed rapidly, despite the experience and prior success of the new owners. The chef/owners of Chives are his proteges, and he has a financial interest in the restaurant.

If you enjoy the Food Network show "Food Hunter" you may wish to visit Pete Luckett's store, Pete's Frootique, in suburban Bedford. Pete is exactly as you see him on TV. If he's in the province at all, you'll probably see him in the store sorting over his produce and explaining things to passersby. If you don't see him, ask...he's seldom too busy for an out-of-town visitor.

Hmmm...what else...

At Citadel Hill, students dressed in the historic uniforms of the 78th Highlanders stand sentry and fire the noonday gun. They also host evenings of single-malt tasting in the centuries-old barracks. Worth checking out, if you like whisky. Maxwell's Plum, just a few blocks from anywhere downtown, has the city's best single-malt selection and also lots of cigars, if your taste runs that way. They also have a large selection of draft beers. So does the Halifax Alehouse, a new bar in a pseudo-18th century style. Not that there's anything wrong with busty barmaids in period garb, mind you.

Domaine de Grande Pre, in the Annapolis Valley, has the reputation of doing winery tours as well as anybody in the country. Their owner, chef, and menu are all Swiss. They make very drinkable wines, which can only be purchased onsite. Grand Pre is also the center of Acadian history in Nova Scotia, which makes it a great place to visit in this of all years. The Acadian community is celebrating their 400-year history with a year of special events. If you have the opportunity, you've got to get in on that party!

The Glenora Distillery, in Cape Breton, distills a scotch-style single malt, the only one in North America. They have a restaurant and tasting room. The restaurant is said to be good.

The tourist trap at Peggy's Cove has a restaurant called the Sou' Wester, which offers little but standard truck stop fare. They do offer lobster dinners, of course, but the thing to get there is their hot homemade ginger bread. Even on a summer's day, the wind there can be cold enough to make you glad of it. It's worth eating, for sure.

Anything else? Mmmmm.... ah, yes. Black Bear Ice Cream. They're located in the Historic Properties, but they also have a little hut set up on the Halifax waterfront.

Have fun! Wish I could be there too...<sniffs the the transplanted Easterner...>

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three


"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning


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It occurs to me that I may have left Halifax hotels under-represented in the late-night ransacking of my memory.

The World Trade and Convention Centre, which dominates the downtown (takes up most of the space between City Hall and the Liquordome) boasts chef Cristophe Luzeux, a native of Lille. Cristophe presides over Halifax's highest-volume kitchen, and is a member of Culinary Team Canada (as is Geir Simensen of Scanway Bakery on Quinpool Rd). There are numerous dining establishments within the WTCC, with various themes. Simensen and Luzeux, despite their busy schedules, are "good eggs" who took the time to come out to my school and judge student competitions.

A stone's throw away is the Prince George Hotel. Executive chef Ray Bear is one of the Coast's consensus up-and-comers, as is pastry chef Annaleisa Waito. Bear graduated from the Nova Scotia Community College, my old school, and then went on to the CIA.

Finally, Halliburton House Inn, just south of the downtown core, is generally considered to be the city's top spot for game dishes. The hotel is made up of three 18th century townhouses, and is within easy distance of the Saturday morning Farmer's Market in the old Alexander Keith brewery (where Da Mauritzio is located). Chef Scott Vail avoids the limelight, but does wonderful work. I pulled a few shadow shifts in his kitchen last spring, before moving to Alberta.

My senior instructor at school in Halifax (a man whose job description used to include cooking for the Governor-General and visiting royalty) took his wife there for their anniversary last spring. 'Nuff said.

Halliburton's website

Come to think of it, you may want to visit the Keith's brewery site just on its own merits. The historic waterfront brewery has been restored to a gleaming tourist-friendly version of its 1820 appearance, and still turns out batches of beer. It is pitched (note the careful wording) as "North America's oldest working brewery site."

The Keith's which is sold across Canada is made in the city's North End in a modern brewery, a few blocks from where I lived before moving to Alberta. Keith's turns out four seasonal beers each year, which are of above average quality for a commercial brewery. Well worth sampling.

While I'm free-associating I'll mention the Granite Brewery, which operates two brew pubs downtown (just off the Grand Parade, and the original location in the South End near the Halliburton Inn). They brew a number of fine bitters, and also bake their own bread with brewer's yeast and the spent grain from the brewing process.

Finally, just off Citadel Hill a block or two from Barrington St is the Propellor Brewing Company. They make a number of fine beers, but their pride and joy is their porter, which has been adjudged one of the world's best in international competition. They also make damn fine root beer and ginger beer, incongruously enough.

If you are going to be in Baddeck (I'm assuming you're going to visit the Alexander Graham Bell museum, it's a can't-miss no-brainer); try to ensure that you get to the small nearby town of Iona. I was there three years ago for my cousin's wedding (he married an Iona girl, with flaming red hair and a flaming red temper). While the town has no culinary distinction that I'm aware of, it is the site of the Highland Village "living museum."

Nova Scotia has a very vital Scottish heritage (you can take your university courses in Gaelic at some schools) and the Highland Village attempts to bring that heritage to life. They offer a chronological tour from the old-country "black house" (a stone cottage with a thatched roof) through various 18th and 19th century houses moved there from across Cape Breton and restored. Locals in period garb demonstrate various crafts from spinning to blacksmithing (my kids have a handmade nail from the smithy). It's a fun way to spend a few hours.

Their official site

And with that, I do believe I'm out of ideas again (for now). I'll probably return to this thread again, from time to time.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three


"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning


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