Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Weird Harbour makes waves on Barrington

The itty-bitty espresso bar is slated to open in September

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 5:47 PM


Two-hundred and fifty square feet is all the space Dan Weir needs to make his small business dream a reality. After spending a decade “catching the coffee bug” working in cafes in Toronto and Montreal, the Moncton native has settled on Halifax for his very own Weird Harbour Espresso Bar, which will be cozied up in a nook of the space that used to house Sam the Record Man at (1656 Barrington Street, next to Urban Outfitters) in September.

“It’s an amazing job and you get to interact with good folks every day,” says Weir. “I have a long good history here and always had really good vibes in Halifax. And it’s all about the people—they’re so lovely, so nice, so excited about new things happening.”

He hopes to create an intimate spot for people seeking shelter or a strong shot of espresso in the unique little space, where he’ll pour Toronto’s Detour Coffee to a take-out crowd. “My thing with coffee is that it’s a universal entity, I like my coffee open—but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good,” he says. “I want to serve the best coffee I can, but I want to serve it to everyone.”

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Cortado Tasting Room's coming soon

A taste of coffee culture for Bedford West

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 5:54 PM

  • via Facebook

Alex Lee loves a good cortado. To make it right, the seemingly simple drink— two ounces of espresso and two ounces of milk— requires precision pouring. “If you mess up on any variables the drink turns really bad really fast—every single aspect has to be perfect,” he says.

That attention-to-detail is something Lee and his business partner Joe Dunford hope to capture and showcase their coming soon cafe, Cortado Tasting Room (50 Gary Martin Drive, across from the BMO Centre)—an idea dreamt up after the pair met and were wooed by java while working at Starbucks.

“I learned more about coffee and realized what I was taught was not the best thing,” says Lee, who's since been researching the ins and outs of the drink—from beans to barista.

And he hopes that will shine in Cortado’s tasting room, single serve bar and expertly trained staff. Slated to open in early September, the cafe will use Java Blend beans (as well as the wisdom Java Blend’s owner Jim Dikaios has imparted on Lee and Dunford) and a variety of brewing methods, from Aeropress to French press to siphon.

“We don’t want to be just another cafe,” says Lee, “we want to really say something.”

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Riot Snack Bar opens this weekend

Farm-to-table fast food for Quinpool Road

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 1:46 PM

Gillies-da Mota (left) and Tufts in front
  • Gillies-da Mota (left) and Tufts in front

It’s been a long summer of renovations for Nicole Tufts and Sonia Gillies-da Mota but they’re finally ready to debut their farm-to-table fast-food joint, Riot Snack Bar.

This weekend the restaurant will open at a barely recognizable 6293 Quinpool Road (the former Garden of Eat’n, which has undergone some major TLC) serving up quick but healthy meals and craft beer via casual counter service. Tufts is turning the traditional, greasy snack bar menu on its head, with a focus on fresh, local and organic ingredients in every dish—from burgers, to wings to hot boxes and salads— as well as vegan-friendly options aplenty.

Peep the menu, complete with pictures, here.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

10 years of suds at Seaport Beerfest

The festival’s co-founder, Brian Titus, chats about how it all began.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 12:16 AM

Boxing Rock will provide a few of the 300+ beers on tap this weekend.
  • Boxing Rock will provide a few of the 300+ beers on tap this weekend.

When Brian Titus answers the phone, he politely says this might not be the best time to talk. Outside at Pier 23, near the Cunard Centre, he's hard at work ripping open the many flats of beers arriving for the 10th annual Seaport Beerfest. The loud thumps and bangs from this effort reverberate through the call.

"As I'm going through the beer I'm sort of fondling different bottles, thinking, 'Oh I'm going to come back to you,'" the event co-organizer (and half of the duo behind Garrison Brewery) says, laughing.

The Seaport Beerfest is an annual two-day festival that transforms the Cunard Centre and surrounding pier into a craft beer mecca. For $49 (and tax), beer lovers get to sample what Titus estimates to be 326 brews—from hoppy IPAs to rich, layered stouts.

"We started this festival back in '06 because there was no gathering or celebration around beer. The festival didn't start the craft beer revolution, but it certainly helped fan the flames," says Titus.

Because, while the fest is a chance for all suds lovers to sip to their heart's content, for Titus it's also about community. As he explains, small breweries from across the country (and even a few international offerings) congregate at Beerfest to share problems and victories while pouring brews.

"We all share the same kind of issues, right? We all have packaging lines that break down at the worst possible times, and we all have to deal with different regulations with provincial liquor boards," he says. "One has a problem in one area and another has a problem in another area so we can all kinda commiserate."

For festival attendees, it's a chance to meet fellow booze hounds and encounter some new brews you won't find anywhere else: "On the local side, we're at almost 80 different brands of beer," he says, adding that the number of Irish beers at the fest has nearly doubled this year. Some of these Irish options are "only a few months old" and have "never even shipped outside of Ireland."

With palpable excitement, Titus remembers how Beerfest has grown over the past decade. What started as a small event with only a handful of beers became the mammoth swill-a-thon it is today through Titus and his co-founder, Bruce Mansour, adding a handful of new offerings each year. "This year we have 48 brands, two full pallets, of fresh BC craft beer. This now means we got representation from pretty much all across Canada. We're missing Saskatchewan and Alberta, and maybe that's a Year 11 thing we gotta work on," he adds.

Soon, it's time for him to return to the docks, because there's a lot more of those 326 brands to be unpacked.

"We really want to make sure that whoever goes to this knows that they've been to something really unique in Halifax, on the waterfront," says Titus, "that it's not like any other beer festival that they'll be able to go to."

Seaport Beerfest
August 5-6
Cunard Centre, 961 Marginal Road

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tapping into public water

These guys started an app to help you find spots to fill your bottle.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 4:00 AM

The cofounders of Tap want to say goodbye to plastic bottles. - SUBMITTED
  • The cofounders of Tap want to say goodbye to plastic bottles.
  • Submitted

Have you ever been out on the town and had your reusable water bottle run dry? Sometimes it’s awkward, or even considered rude, to walk into businesses and ask for a refill, notes Stephen Flynn, cofounder of a new app called Tap.

Flynn and his business partner Mike Postma hope you will swap plastic for a more sustainable option. Their new app makes it easier to do so, by mapping dozens of businesses in the city where people can access water for free.

The two had been working together on side projects for a while, one of which was focused on bringing awareness to the environmental harm of single use plastic. About a year ago when Flynn was travelling, he found himself almost at the brink of buying a bottle because he didn’t know where to fill up. “I thought, 'well this is stupid,'” he says.

That’s when the idea sprung, and nine months later the two launched the Halifax-based free app on July 26. It’s currently focused on the metro area, but the plan is to expand throughout the HRM, and then beyond. For the moment, it includes fast food and casual restaurants, as well as coffee shops—places where dropping in for some water won’t be disruptive to the business’ workflow.

A window sticker at Heartwood on Quinpool Road. - SUBMITTED
  • A window sticker at Heartwood on Quinpool Road.
  • Submitted

According to Brendan Elliot, a spokesperson for HRM, Tap is actually the only map of this kind that the city has. Last year, Coast feature writer Lezlie Lowe investigated the city's "drinking problem," namely, the lack of public tap water access in the municipality. Since then not much has changed, except for a public fountain recently installed on the North Park roundabout by the Common.

Because public access to water isn’t blatantly available, people often buy plastic bottled water either out of convenience or dehydrated desperation—or both. Flynn and Postma aim to change that, by utilizing taps that are already present inside businesses, rather than pushing to install new infrastructure.

Business owners can apply online to become a partner, and will receive free stickers to put on their door advertising their business as a “refill station.”

You can learn more about the Tap mission here.

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Vol 27, No 17
September 19, 2019

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