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Halifax


rgruby
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Hi,

Heading to Halifax to show off our one year old to his great aunties.

Looking for recommendations on restaurants that would be good for taking a small child (in stroller) into. Hoping to avoid the chains and fast food.

We're probably staying in the center of town (any recommendations on a hotel would also be welcome) and would prefer stuff within walking distance (not sure whether we're renting a car or not). But we're walkers - a half hour walk is fine with us (or even more if the weather is decent).

Thanks,

Geoff Ruby

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Cambridge Suites (I think that's the name - I'll try and double check) is nice and is in a good downtown location - just below Citadel Hill. Not a restaurant recommendation per se, but I'm quite partial to Uncommon Grounds for coffee, snacks, or a light lunch.

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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I can suggest "My Other Brother Darrell's"

It's on Fenwick st., right across from Fenwick Tower. You can't miss Fenwick Tower, it's one of the tallest buildings in town. Your hotel will be able to give you directions, if you're staying on the peninsula. It's actually a university hangout, but really friendly service. I strongly recommend the pita sub club, and the peanut butter burger. They make great shakes as well. Reasonably priced. Seating is booths, not sure if they have any high chairs. Downstairs is a laundromat, so they don't really stand on ceremony, though.

The Ardmore, on Quinpool st, is a classic diner. Great pancakes.

There's a lot of really good high-end dining in Halifax, I can't recommend any, since I was a poor student when I lived there. :raz:

Don't miss the Saturday market at the brewery - the Mary's Breadbasket cinnamon bun is a must try. Go early, as the line gets long. try and score a cup of "Just Us" fair trade coffee from one of the vendors. It's fresh roasted and some of the best coffee in a town awash with Tim Hortons.

Where do your aunties live? It's hard to get around Halifax without a car. If they live on the peninsula, it's mostly walkable. If she lives in Dartmouth or Clayton Park, however, you'll want a car to get around.

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Where do your aunties live? It's hard to get around Halifax without a car. If they live on the peninsula, it's mostly walkable. If she lives in Dartmouth or Clayton Park, however, you'll want a car to get around.

This is a good point - even getting from the airport to downtown is a long drive, and it's made easier if you have your own car. Also, the actual downtown isn't very big and you'll need transport to explore the rest of Halifax and Dartmouth. For example, if you're staying downtown and want to visit Point Pleasant Park, it would be either a half-hour walk or you'd need to hop on a bus or hire a cab.

I'm not sure how child-friendly this place is, but my cousin worked as a dishwasher at Bish and he said the food was very good.

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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Where do your aunties live? It's hard to get around Halifax without a car. If they live on the peninsula, it's mostly walkable. If she lives in Dartmouth or Clayton Park, however, you'll want a car to get around.

They're near the cemetary with the Titanic victims. (Bayers Rd maybe?) I remember it being a bit of a hike from the center, but a short car ride. Last time we were in town we stayed at the Holiday Inn, which was a bit outside the city center (the other side of Citadel Hill if I remember correctly) and had a vehicle.

Thanks for the suggestions so far.

Geoff Ruby

Edited to correct something really stupid.

Edited by rgruby (log)
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I'll second the suggestion of a stay at Cambridge Suites. We stayed there this summer. It's a fantastic location- you can easily walk to any number of good restaurants. As well, I think it would be especially good when travelling with a little one - the room comes equipped with microwave and fridge and, although not a "suite" there's plenty of room to spread out. As a bonus "Bud the Spud" sets up just around the corner - fantastic fries.

I don't have any suggestions for kid friendly restaurants, that not being something I have to seek out. However, if the great aunties can be persuaded to babysit for an evening both Fid and Chives Bistro made us happy, very happy.

Cheers,

Kathy

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Hmm. If they're up by that cemetary, it's a long haul from Cambridge Suites to Bayers road. Maybe 40 minutes walking? At least? With nothing particularly interesting along the way, I'd say. Taxis would be fairly expensive - probably 8 or 9 dollars one way for that distance. Buses....well, the Number 1 goes straight up Spring Garden road, and would take you to Halifax Shopping Centre, which would probably be about 10 minutes walk from your Aunties. Doable, as long as you don't mind hauling a stroller onto the bus. And unlike most of the buses in Halifax, that bus runs at fairly decent intervals - maybe every ten or 15 minutes.

Bud the Spud is a great place to stop and have a coke and fries! I second that recommendation. If Steve-o-Reno's cafe is still there, they make some decent coffee, although the food is hippie-ish. Lots of granola and whole grains, not a lot of taste.

I forgot to mention Opa!, a slightly upscale Greek place on Argyle. Especially good for lunch, they have a sunny glassed-in patio.

On Quinpool, the King Wah has been serving solid Cantonese and Szechuan style food for as long as I can remember. Not a place to find soup dumplings and the like, but pretty good for Halifax.

Avoid "pizza corner" for their pizza, but their Lebanese dishes were usually fresh and good.

Bish, Fid, and Chives all have really good reputations - of them, I've only eaten at Chives, and it was fantastic! Not sure how kid friendly they are, though.

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If you're looking for a relatively quick casual family meal, I'd recommend taking a walk down Quinpool. There are a number of small restaurants packed into a small space, many of them recent and serving good food (Dodo's, Nail and Kneecap, Ethiopia, China Classic, Ardmoore, Athens, etc...)

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Hotel-wise I've always had exceptional service at the Prince George, but haven't stayed there for a couple years. Halifax is a really nice, casual city. You should have no problem dining with a little one wherever you go. I've always found the people, the service and the province as a whole to be filled with the nicest, most accomodating people. (6 visits per year for 10 years!)

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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There are lots of cool places in and around central Halifax, that's for sure. On North St, just a couple of blocks from the Commons (a great place for a stroll with a stroller) is my favourite Halifax coffee place, Java Blend. They're a family-owned (since 1937!) shop that roasts their own coffee, and (being close to the universities) they have both organic and fairly-traded coffees. You may not care about that, but it's absolutely outstanding coffee and most coffee drinkers will care about that part.

On the way there, you'd also pass by Jane's on the Common, a highly-regarded "upscale casual" place which was one of En Route's 10 best new restaurants in Canada just a couple of years ago.

The waterfront has lots of great spots for strolling, as well. Black Bear Ice Cream will probably have closed their waterfront kiosk by now, but their indoor store on Granville St is just off the waterfront (behind the Delta Barrington).

Quinpool Rd does indeed have lots of neat stuff, that's where the Holiday Inn is that you stayed in last time. You may want to check out Scanway Catering on Quinpool, for some Scandinavian baking and pastries. The chef there, Gerd Simondsen (sp?) was pastrychef on Culinary Team Canada for while.

If you go to the Saturday market at the old Keith's brewery, be sure to buy some bread from Boulangerie la Vendeenne, which is absolutely outstanding. The owner is a French boulanger with the full-bore classical apprenticeship behind him. Another is Didier Julien of Julien's, with two locations in central Halifax. The one at Hydrostone is a bit out of the way for you, but there's also one on (I believe) Dresden Row, just off Spring Garden Rd.

Two other places you may want to check out: on Spring Garden itself, Il Mercato. This is run by the same people who own Bish's and da Maurizio, but it's more of a casual trattoria-style place. Just off Spring Garden Rd (I don't remember the street) is Woozles, which does not have food but which is an outstanding independent book store dedicated entirely to children's books.

“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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Thanks for the input.

On the hotel front, Cambridge Suites was full, the Marriott was likewise booked, and the Prince George was $500 a night - a wee bit out of our ideal budget. Apparently every parent of first year students at Dal are escorting their offspring and taking up all the rooms at the time we are visiting. (Just as an aside, hotel rooms in Halifax are surprisingly pricey for a smaller centre). We've booked the Lord Nelson. Looks ok on the web.

Ok, on to food. We're going down the south shore on Fri night and Sat, so we're out of town on market day at the brewery. Which sounds like we're missing something pretty good. Is there an existing thread on that market? If not - I'd like to hear more about it!

Where is the place that the guy who had a show on the food network (not the tall chef guy, but the tropical produce guy) located. Is it worth checking out? (We're renting a car after all)

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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Hey Geoff Ruby, this is Rubyred!

(God, I crack myself up!)

I just wanted to let you know what when I ate at Chives last summer (we dined early... 6pm or so), the chef's(?) kids were there too and seemed not to be too out of place. I'd give them a call first to ask if they have highchairs; if so I say go for it...

The food there is fantastic, but the atmosphere is very laid back. I think you'll enjoy it very much -- with or without Junior!

I took a lot of advice from this board with me and never went wrong.

Have a great trip!

ruby

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Chives is incredible. The restaurant is located right across from my old work place. The chef/owner came in and introduced himself before starting up. I remember we all thought the location was a bit dodgy, because we'd seen a couple of places fail in the same place. I'm so glad he's made a go of it! He's such a nice guy. My coworkers gave my husband and I a gift certificate to go there as one of our last meals in Halifax before moving to Asia. It was a real treat.

It's a shame you'll miss the market, but if you're in Chester at all (you're going down the South Shore, right?), there's a Julien's bakery there, too, I recall. The ones with the apricots are yummy.

The Lord Nelson has a great location - right across from the Public Gardens. And then went through an extensive reno a few years ago, I think.

If you have a car, I also suggest hitting Pete's Frootique (I think that's the tropical fruit guy to whom you refer). It's in Bedford, in the Sunnyside Mall and it's (gasp!) open on Sundays. Lots of great produce and imported cheeses and other things. Great sausages and proper bacon, and a lot of things like dips, salsas, olives that you could pack up for a picnic.

Edited by nakji (log)
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One more question. Is there anything food-related that is particularly Nova Scotian that I should be on the lookout for (other than lobster) and that I might not be able to find back home (Toronto)?

Thanks again,

Geoff Ruby

PS - are there any local cookbooks that are worth picking up? I guess that makes two questions.

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One thing that we brought home with us from NS (actually we had them shipped) was a selection of condiments - jams, salsa, chutney, mustard etc - from the Tangled Garden in Grand Pre. I'm not sure whether or not she has a distributer in Halifax but she was at a Halifax craft show on the waterfront when we were there.

The garden itself is well worth a visit. The owner is a true artist of the garden. The preserves etc are made with ingredients harvested from the garden. Think Strawberry Lavender jam, Cherry Anise Hyssop Jam, Lemon Horseradish Jelly, Hot Peach Salsa etc. Interesting and well-balanced flavour combinations.

My plan was to use them for gift giving but I suspect that very few of them will actually leave my grasp.

Cheers,

Kathy

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One more question. Is there anything food-related that is particularly Nova Scotian that I should be on the lookout for (other than lobster) and that I might not be able to find back home (Toronto)?

Thanks again,

Geoff Ruby

PS - are there any local cookbooks that are worth picking up? I guess that makes two questions.

Not things that aren't available in the rest of Canada, but things I think are particularly good in Nova Scotia: wild blueberries, and maple products (especially maple butter). And of course seafood.

At some point someone in my family bought a Nova Scotia cookbook called Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens. I've never actually cooked anything out of there but it's a pretty interesting look at pioneer cooking, and at the mix of different immigrant groups that ended up in Nova Scotia.

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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  • 2 weeks later...

We're back.

A quick rundown of the food-related stuff we did.

Had pizza at Il Mercato our first night in town. Not bad, but a bit frenzied/busy for bringing along a little dude (or dudette) in a stroller. Also, they ignored us for at least 10 minutes after we were seated. Almost bolted, but, in the end, turned out ok.

Next day - Bud the Spud's for, uh, late breakfast (hey - I'm on holiday), Opa for lunch (quite good - I had the meat pie, and the missus the lamb burger, on the patio. The little dude slept through the whole thing.) North 44 (in the Marriot) for dinner with family. Many lobsters were sacrificied - I'm told they were good. I had a bacon-wrapped scalloped app that was pretty good, actually. Oh, and ice cream on the waterfront in the afternoon- the place was still open. A high calorie day.

The next day we had lunch at the Turkish place off Spring Garden. Again, pretty good (although some minor service issues) and made me wish for more (any?) decent Turkish places in the TO core.

Then off down the south shore for a couple of days and some home cooked meals in Bridgeport, and a couple of meals not worth noting in Lockeport. And White's point, or something like that - there were bunnies everywhere (well, not on the menu). My wife had a salmon club that she proclaimed "amazing" - it was gigantic at least. I had fish and chips - fish ok, chips, less so.

I will mention that Pete's Frootique has a location on Dresden Row just off Spring Garden, and it was our friend. The produce section, in particular, was spectacular, and the prices were competetive with, to say the least, what I see here in Toronto grocery stores. Quite impressive, especially for the size of the city and its geographic remoteness from other large centres. And Courtney, our favourite cashier, is remarkably perky in the morning, especially before you've had your initial caffeine fix. But not annoyingly so. Can anyone comment on how this location compares to the other one mentioned? Regardless, it rocks. In a polite kind of way with a guy in a top hat playing the piano.

To those who mentioned Woozles - my wallet doesn't thank you, but my kid and a few others as well, will benefit. Great store.

Our last couple of days, lunch at an Irish pub on Barrington (as one might expect - fish and chips pretty good actually), and dinner at an Indian place (Curry something?) near South Park and Spring Garden. Pretty good - just ackward to get the kid and stroller up the 5 or 6 steps at the door. no biggie.

Never did get out to Quinpool to eat (except I did grab a Wendy's burger there on the way out of town) although it was our route from the hotel to the relative's place. Had planned to try the Ethiopean place, but got into town too late.

What else? I quite like Halifax - except the driving part. Confusing, wretched, horrible, abysmal signage is an understatement.

I like the pubs, and the plethora of them, even though I only visited a couple (Maxwell's Plum and the one in the Lord Nelson). Frosh week stopped me from doing much exploring on that front. I'm way too old.

Did the Granite move recently - like in the last 5 years? We tried to go for lunch, but they wouldn't allow us because we had the boy (and it's a smoking bar, whatever that means). As we had our wedding reception at the Granite in Toronto, that annoyed me (and I was looking forward to sampling their dry-hopped best bitter, which I haven't had the opportunity to sample in ages). I thought it'd actually be more convenient to travel several thousand kilometers to sample some of their beers in Halifax within walking distance of where I was staying than to travel the few clicks at home to a part of town I rarely get to, but they didn't seem impressed by my plight. So, no Granite brewery for us. Last time we were there we had lunch - 2001, I think, but I don't think it's the same place on Barrington that we tried this time?

Not sure how kid-friendly Chives or Fid are, but the menus at both looked very tempting. (Bish too. Last time we were in town, Paul Martin was eating there, when his political career was still in its ascendency (sp?), so you know that was a long time ago.) Maybe next time.

And, I'd forgotten about the donairs. Again, maybe next time.

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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Glad you had fun in Halifax!

I would say the Halifax location of Pete's Frootique is just as good as the Bedford one (I would even give it a slight edge), so you definitely didn't miss anything. The Granite Brewery has 2 locations the original one (Henry House) is down Barrington near the VIA rail station and the Superstore, the other one is on Barrington in the downtore core (with Ginger's Tavern above).

lexy, I love that cookbook! I actually use it relatively frequently...

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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And White's point, or something like that - there were bunnies everywhere (well, not on the menu). My wife had a salmon club that she proclaimed "amazing" - it was gigantic at least. I had fish and chips - fish ok, chips, less so.

White Point near Liverpool? I stayed there at the beginning of August - everything on their lunch menu comes in big portions.

… and dinner at an Indian place (Curry something?) near South Park and Spring Garden. Pretty good - just ackward to get the kid and stroller up the 5 or 6 steps at the door. no biggie.

Curry Village?

lexy, I love that cookbook! I actually use it relatively frequently...

What sort of things do you make out of it? I mostly like leafing through it for the entertainment value of recipes for making alcohol out of pine sap and the little anecdotes.

Cutting the lemon/the knife/leaves a little cathedral:/alcoves unguessed by the eye/that open acidulous glass/to the light; topazes/riding the droplets,/altars,/aromatic facades. - Ode to a Lemon, Pablo Neruda

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  • 2 months later...
And White's point, or something like that - there were bunnies everywhere (well, not on the menu). My wife had a salmon club that she proclaimed "amazing" - it was gigantic at least. I had fish and chips - fish ok, chips, less so.

White Point near Liverpool? I stayed there at the beginning of August - everything on their lunch menu comes in big portions.

… and dinner at an Indian place (Curry something?) near South Park and Spring Garden. Pretty good - just ackward to get the kid and stroller up the 5 or 6 steps at the door. no biggie.

Curry Village?

Yes on both counts. White Point near Liverpool, and Curry Village.

Not sure when we'll get back to Halifax. I'm hoping to get to Nfld maybe the year after next. That'll probably be the next time for NS and Halifax as well.

Thanks to all who helped me out here.

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

PS - yes, I realize it took me two months to get around to responding. My apologies.

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  • 3 years later...
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