Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Swell at O'Dell's Gluten Free Bakery

Moving on up from the farmers' market to Robie Street

Posted By on Wed, Aug 28, 2013 at 5:33 PM


A pastry chef with a gluten allergy seems like a cruel twist of fate, doesn’t it?

Not for Tony O’Dell. He was working as a barista, baking from his licensed home kitchen and not feeling great when he decided to try cutting gluten-y goodness from his diet. It worked. Then his vision in the kitchen changed (cause who wants to bake things they can’t eat?) and in October 2011 he started experimenting with ingredients and recipes.

“I had spent nearly $3,000 before I made a loaf of bread I could eat,” he laughs. By January 2012 O’Dell’s Gluten Free Bakery was born. Since then, O’Dell’s had been concentrating on its wholesale game, selling its breads, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, birthday cakes and more to local businesses like Cafe Brea, 2 Doors Down and enVie, among others, and spending one day a week at the Historic Farmers’ Market.

But as of August 1 O’Dell’s has souped up its retail operation, moving its kitchen opening a cafe space at 3555 Robie Street above the soon-to-be space for artisan cheese factory Blue Harbour Cheese. Serving Java Blend (and a sweet coffee and muffin deal for $3.75), O’Dell says within the next few weeks the cafe will appeal to your savoury side as well, offering warm entrees, sandwiches and salads as well as more take-away dishes.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

HFX Sports Bar & Grill goes big

The former Palace becomes a sports bar like Halifax has never seen

Posted By on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 9:05 AM

A proposed view from the mezzanine at HFX Sports Bar & Grill
  • A proposed view from the mezzanine at HFX Sports Bar & Grill

Now that hearts have healed from the loss of longtime nightclub The Palace (1721 Brunswick Street), brotherly business partners Michel and Marcel Khoury are ready to reveal what’s been a two million dollar secret. That’d be HFX Sports Bar & Grill, the mammoth sports bar/lounge/restaurant hybrid that’ll move in to the downtown space this fall.

“We noticed that the business has changed quite a bit from the old days,” says Marcel Khoury, who’s family has ran the former Palace and The Alehouse since 1987. “Not as many students coming out, numbers heading downtown not the same. Trends, demographics and even habits have changed.”

The inconsistency of the Palace’s crowd was its demise in the end, forcing it to close suddenly in April. “We want to be in this for the long haul,” says Marcel. “It’s the business we know. We want a seven-nights-a-week business, like The Alehouse.”

And that’s why they’ve invested that two million in HFX Sports Bar & Grill, a bright new space inspired by the place the Khoury brothers have seen in their travels, and their own vision—a softened version of the typical sports bar.

“We’re blessed to have in this location,” says Marcel of the 11,000 square foot space that neighbours the Metro Centre, home of the Halifax Mooseheads and Rainmen. The bar’s main feature will be a wall of in 16 LED panels, flanked by even more LED screens, for maximum sport enjoying. And you’ll barely have the opportunity to miss a point with 90-plus other screens throughout the venue, bathrooms, stairwells and booths included. A curtain wall will also be installed along the Brunswick Street wall, lighting up the long-time dark room and giving patrons a view of the busy stretch below.

While the emphasis is definitely on the sports fans, the Khourys want HFX Sports’ comfortable, welcoming space to appeal to a wider crowd—from families to after-work wine— with its glitzier lounge vibe, upscale but mid-priced pub food, a private lounge for rent and an attached sports apparel shop.

Marcel Khoury says he's not trying to compete with the city's other popular sports pubs, which is why he and his brother have aimed to make HFX Sports something the city hasn't seen.

"A vibrant city needs a vibrant downtown," he says, with high hopes for October for an opening date.

Hello, Brunswick Street
  • Hello, Brunswick Street
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Mother's, may I?

The pizza party starts soon*, ya'll

Posted By on Mon, Aug 19, 2013 at 5:27 PM

Somethings are just worth the wait, aren’t they?

It was about a year about that the first hammer swung at what is now Mother’s Pizza (5710 Young Street, 406-5050), Tyson Wachter’s Canadian iteration of a pizza restaurant he opened in Turks and Caicos five years ago. Soon open for lunch and dinner, the just over 40-seater resto focusses on freshness, local products, and, most importantly, the fine details.

"With a dining experience you're not just going out for the food," says Wachter, "it's an all inclusive experience between atmosphere, presentation and food."

Outfitting Mother's with salvaged materials galore—like old safes found in the original building, a lobby reclaimed from the former Subway on Hollis Street, the famous Robie Food sign, the over 100-year-old barn board used for its sign and way more thoughtful accents—Wachter spent the last year building the building of his dreams.

“Not only is it a place I’m in everyday, it’s something I wanted to contribute to the community,” he says. Wachter even had the building’s brick sandblasted and chose his exterior paint colour to match the rest of the Hydrostone. And trowelled his terrazzo floor by hand. “I want the neighbourhood to be proud of who we are. All the little details, 90 percent of people won’t notice half of them, but they might make a difference to someone.”

The little things matter when it comes to the food, too. Mother's will offer a small menu of three appies, three desserts and eight pizzas that showcase local ingredients and are pressed by hand.

“One of the big reasons the menu is so small is to keep consistency high and the focus on detail," says Wachter, who'll cook alongside chef Darrick Mailman in the open kitchen. "It's taken time, but its definitely worth it."

And if the waiting was the hardest part, the eating (and enjoying) should be mighty easy.

*** Editors note: this blog post DID say that Mother's would be open to all you pizza freaks this Friday, but that's no longer the case. You'll have to wait a little longer for your 'za, but we'll update you on the goings on. Hey, good things come know the rest.
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Kelly Neil, photo win

Art meets food at the Economy Shoe Shop

Posted By on Fri, Aug 16, 2013 at 11:52 AM

The most beautiful ice cream sandwich I've ever seen - PHOTO BY KELLY NEIL
  • The most beautiful ice cream sandwich I've ever seen
  • photo by Kelly Neil

Local food stylist, blogger, photographer and creator of cravings, Kelly Neil, opened a solo show of her work this week at the Economy Shoe Shop (1665 Argyle Street, 423-8845). It's stunning stuff that might have you wondering how to make your food more photogenic. Or how to get Neil to make you dinner.

You can feast your eyes on the hunger-making photo collection—which includes shots Neil’s taken around town, in her own kitchen and backyard— for two months, and these babies (already framed) are for sale, too. Talk about the ultimate inspo for your culinary adventures.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Ratinaud's manic Monday

Slow start to the week? Not these guys.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 12, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Ho ho, hey hey it's
  • Ho ho, hey hey it's

Maybe I just have a case of the Mondays but, MAN Charcuterie Ratinaud French Cuisine (2082 Gottingen Street, 446-8222) is on it today.

Not only did it launch its brand spanking new website today (drool over all the meaty food porn here), but today also marks the completion of the shop's renovations, the release of its Sausage Sampler Pack and the announcement of the next 20 Kitchen Table dinner dates.

AND Katie Tower made a lovely video about the lovely ideas behind the Kitchen Table that's very worth sharing. Thanks Ratinaud, for inspiring me to get more on the ball today.

Ratinaud ~ The Kitchen Table from Katie Tower on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Flip for Field Guide

Gottingen gets another local-inspired resaturant, and oh boy it sounds great

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 11:05 PM

Ceilidh Sutherland and Dan Vorstermans outside the soon-to-be Field Guide
  • Ceilidh Sutherland and Dan Vorstermans outside the soon-to-be Field Guide

Meld Ceilidh Sutherland and Dan Vorstermans’ entrepreneurial spirit, food and drink chops and love for nature and you’ll get Field Guide Restaurant and Bar, their casual restaurant with quality food, opening this fall at 2082 Gottingen Street. Like the field guides to birds and flowers, this one will be a “guide to everything edible in Nova Scotia” with a ever-changing menu of seasonally-inspired dishes intended for sharing. And good drinks, too. The pair are working with bartender extraordinaire Jeff Van Horne to design the bar and cocktail list.

“Field Guide is a small restaurant dedicated to bridging the gap between diners and their food—where it comes from, who grew it, why it tastes the way it does—through passionate service, an open concept kitchen and a chalk board menu,” says Sutherland, who’s currently a manager at Just Us!. She’ll run the front of house while Vorstermans, a sous chef at Morris East, takes the helm in the kitchen. “We both feel that eating locally-produced, high quality food makes sense so you can expect the menu to be a constant reflection of what is being grown and produced in Nova Scotia.”

Adding to the growing north end dining scene, Field Guide will boast 35 seats—12 of which will be at the bar. “We want to encourage people to eat at the bar; to watch and talk to the bartender and cooks,” says Vorstermans. “It's about breaking down that barrier between front and back of house; and between guest and employee.”

Study the Field Guide for updates and sneak peeks on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at fieldguidehfx.

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Dividing the Dome

Renovations will make room for The Auction House, a bar targeted at the 25+ crowd

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 6:19 PM


Editor's note: Neither The Dome OR Taboo Nightclub are closed or closing. A small portion of the current Dome space will be renovated to make room for the new pub, The Auction House. We apologize for any confusion or misunderstanding caused by this article.

Downtown Halifax’s famous late-night haunt The Dome is growing up. It was announced today that food and drink industry kingpin, Grafton Connor Group (which also owns Cheers, Taboo Nightclub and Five Fishermen), is renovating a part of the nightclub and re-opening it as a more adult-friendly (er, 25 plus) pub in October.

The pub will be called The Auction House because the over 200 year old building was once just that. It will take over a portion of the club (but fear not, The Dome will still operate during construction).

“The Auction House will be something totally different to the Halifax Pub scene. Corporate chef Don Walker, executive chef Jeff McInnis and the ultra-tenanted culinary team have been working on a menu that will offer many unique twists on classic pub fare,” said VP of operations for GCG, Gary Muise, in a press release.

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The croissnut, a stand-out among baked goods and the answer to your dreams

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2013 at 3:07 PM

Heaven in a place on earth - MARITIME PASTY CO.
  • Heaven in a place on earth
  • Maritime Pasty Co.

Sweet tooths at the Seaport Farmers' Market have croissnut fever, thanks to baker Leah Jones and her Maritime Pasty Company (1209 Marginal Road, 877-4144).

It's a mouthful of a name, an addictive treat, and it's Halifax's only take on the cronut™, the trademarked delicacy made famous by New York chef Dominique Ansel.

Delving in into the world of croissant-donut hybrids was a suggestion from 2 Doors Down's Andrew Farrell, a regular purchaser of Jones’ also delicious Cornish pasties.

“We looked it up and we couldn't believe it. You feel so stupid,” laughs Jones, who promptly started experimenting with her croissant dough the next day.

Since then Jones has perfected her croissnut, frying them very carefully (only two at a time) in grape seed oil, creating chocolate and lemon varieties. And weekend market-goers (including me) have gone mad for them. Last Saturday she sold 100.

“That's the joy of baking,” says Jones. “When you feel you're giving something to people and you know they'll be really happy.”

Maritime Pasty Co. sells croissnuts Saturdays and Sunday, and its other goodies—Cornish pasties, croissants, Eccles cakes— Wednesday to Friday, 10am-4pm.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Good news, it's Agricola Street Brasserie

Here comes the neighbourhood!

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 5:53 PM

Coming soon!
  • Coming soon!

"It's pretty simple," says chef Ludovic Eveno. "We went through so many different names and Agricola just ended up making sense." He's talking about his new bar and restaurant, Agricola Street Brasserie (2540 Agricola Street, next door to the also brand new enVie) a project he and partners Mike Hase and Rachel Knox have been brainstorming for three years.

But, it's not as simple as naming the venue for the street it sits on. It's also a nod to the pen name of John Young, an advocate for Nova Scotia's agriculture in the 1800s. And the Latin meaning of Agricola is farmer, well-suited to the resto's plans to work closely with local products and the people behind them. It's straight-forward but smart, clever but unpretentious, kind of like what Eveno, Hase and Knox have planned for the soon-to-be hangout.

“My friends, we love good food. We love going out and love making food,” says Eveno of the inspiration for the spot. “We always make big dinners for our friends. That’s what started the project, what we wanted to do was basically get all of our friends in a restaurant.

"Food is important, service is important, but it's about having friends around to share that good food and atmosphere. We want people to be comfortable.”

The 120-seat restaurant will include 15 seats at the bar, and 10 at an open concept kitchen bar, offering up plenty of room for casual, drawn-out, social eating and drinking. The cuisine coming out of Eveno’s kitchen will be home-made, locally-sourced, slow-cooked and, of course, French-inspired. Born, raised and trained in France, he’s worked in Europe, the UK and across eastern Canada but has been living and cooking in Halifax for nearly a decade.

The trio behind the Agricola Street Brasserie says it won’t be “fancy”, or “pretentious”, just a welcoming place to share great food and great drinks with great friends.

“Everybody feels more comfortable to laugh and share dishes in a set up that’s not too upscale,” says Eveno, “But you can recreate the ambience. And, as a chef you can share the same kind of food.

“We want every night to be special, whether it’s Saturday night or Tuesday night,” says Eveno.

And sights are set on late October for those nights to begin.

Keep your eye on Agricola Street Brasserie here, we know we will be.

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A Caribbean Twist of fate

The restaurant's closed, but the eats are still available

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Caribbean Twist is now available at South Park Catering
  • Caribbean Twist is now available at South Park Catering

Back in May Caribbean Twist (3081 Gottingen Street) posted a ‘Closed for Renovations’ sign in its window. With the promise of re-opening within a week-and-a-half lovers of its Jamaican flavours didn’t make much fuss.

The renos—which were being done by Caribbean Twists’ landlord—were a belated follow-up to some zoning issues you may recall, which made the news three summers ago. Remember that?

“After the petition, the city turned around. And the city’s been extremely helpful,” says owner Lyndon Hibbert. “The problem has been with the landlord.” So two weeks passed with no sign of Caribbean Twist, then three and then, on July 1, Hibbert took to Facebook to announce that unfortunately, the Gottingen Street location had permanently closed.

“It was no longer feasible to open up, I had debt and less than a half a year left on the lease,” says Hibbert, blaming costs incurred during the month without revenue for forcing the closure.

There’s a silver lining, though. The jerk chicken, roti and Jamaican patties you’ve got on your mind are now available at recent northender South Park Catering (3619 Novalea Drive, 453-8161). The flavours and cooks haven’t changed, but the Twist’s become a subdivision of South Park. And with no plans to re-open his own restaurant in the future, Hibbert says he’s more than happy to have the food stay put on Novalea Drive for the time being.

“Truthfully on my end, I’m setting it up here and putting everything in order but I’ll be managing not working,” he says, adding he'll be getting back into his former field in social work. “I started Caribbean Twist as an opportunity to hire other people, give people a chance.” And he's done that, and much more, for the community.

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Hot reads! Halifax chefs, the next generation

Get the goods on 10 stovetop stars doing their thing in Halifax

Posted By on Thu, Aug 1, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Competitive chef and Atlantica superstar, Brenan Madill
  • Competitive chef and Atlantica superstar, Brenan Madill

Too many cooks in the kitchen? Impossible. This week we dished on 10 of the city's hottest chefs, what inspires their cuisine and why they're on our watch list. Let me tell you, these folks are PASSIONATE about their craft—it's refreshing.

Read Melissa Buote's super profile on 2 Doors Down's superman Andrew Farrell plus nine others who've worked their aprons off to get where they are, here.

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In Print This Week

Vol 27, No 34
January 16, 2020

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