Monday, January 30, 2017

The Muse offers an alternative, safe-space for students

The Grad House is all grown up

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 12:50 PM

FRANCESCA HANDY
  • Francesca Handy

While microbreweries and craft beer locales pop up all over the city, The Muse Cafe and Pub (1252 LeMarchant Street) is taking a step back from drinking culture, opting instead to fill the role of safe-space.

The rebranded Dalhousie student-owned and-operated venue—formerly The Grad House— launched in September, coinciding with the debut of the building’s renovations. Since, the Muse has purchased an espresso machine and introduced a new menu, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, lower prices (ranging from $5-10) and vegetarian options to accommodate a wider range of students. Suppliers include Java Blend Coffee Roasters, East Coast Bakery and 24 Carrots Bakery.

Brendan Melchin, the events and communications manager, says the decision was part of a greater effort to counter alcohol culture on campus. The window of the Muse looks onto LeMarchant Place, the residence where a 19-year-old student died of alcohol poisoning in November 2015.

The Muse still serves alcohol but Melchin says the Dalhousie Association of Grad Students are focused on making the environment “relaxed, quiet and stress-free”. A dry St. Patrick’s Day event will be held at the venue, along with forums to discuss the drinking practices of on-campus establishments.

Mark Veysey, a server at the Muse, says staff and management have worked collectively to make the space welcoming for students to study and hangout in.

“We’ve had people in here shaky after an exam,” says Veysey. “We’ll talk in a soft voice to let them know that this is a safe space and they can feel comfortable here.”

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Saying so long to Steve Armbruster

Remembering the small business owner, surfer and coffee pioneer behind Steve-O-Reno's

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 2:46 PM

SUBMITTED
  • Submitted

It was more than the coffee.

Steve Armbruster, the Steve behind Steve-O-Reno’s Cappuccino, left an impression on staff and customers that could outlast any caffeine buzz. And after over 20 years of slinging the hot stuff and cracking jokes from three locations, that’s a lot of impressions left.

Armbruster—an adventurous outdoorsman and pioneering entrepreneur in Halifax’s coffee scene—passed away last weekend with his family by his side.

“If there's something I've struggled with most this week it's putting my feelings for Steve properly into words. He was like a second dad to me, and to most of his staff,” says Emily Ross, who worked at Steve-O’s off-and-on from 2007 until the drive-thru closed last spring. “He always trusted me completely and it felt really good to have someone have total confidence in me.”

GREG BALLER
  • Greg Baller

Armbruster’s family-run business has been a Halifax staple since the mid-90s, inspiring quality coffee consumption (and the growth of indie cafe culture) from the flagship Steve-O-Reno’s drive-thru, the toasty Brunswick Street shop and its corresponding farmers’ market stalls.

His coffees have grown a dedicated customer base, and a whack of Best of Halifax readers’ choice accolades —starting with his first Best Cappuccino nod in 1997 (when the photo to the right was taken). Ross says people love what Steve-O’s serves, but it’s not just about what they’re drinking.

“The thing that most people have been talking to me and the family about since his death is just how many people he brought together,” says Ross. “It’s brought a lot of old co-workers back together to reminisce about funny things he's said and what we love about him, and what we all loved about the job.”

Ross has launched a website, remembersteveoreno.com, collecting memories and photos of Armbruster’s life and legacy that will eventually be compiled for a book written by his son, Erik.

“The overwhelming love and support the family he and the family has received during this time is truly a testament to his character, and his impact on this city,” says Ross. “And I'll feel forever blessed to have been a part of his life.”

Tonight, Armbruster's family and loved ones will hold an open reception to honour his life, from 5:30-8pm at the Shambhala Centre (1084 Tower Road).

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Little India’s big plans

After craving authentic south Indian food, two friends to cooked up their own market-based eatery.

Posted By on Thu, Jan 12, 2017 at 4:00 AM

Elakkia Priya Sakthikumar is serving up spicy south Indian cuisine. - LENNY MULLINS
  • Elakkia Priya Sakthikumar is serving up spicy south Indian cuisine.
  • Lenny Mullins

When friends Elakkia Priya Sakthikumar and Thiyagarajan Balamuthuvel couldn't find authentic south Indian food in Halifax, they decided to start making it and selling it themselves.

"We were looking for those foods. So we thought we should just start this. There are only a few Indian restaurants here," said Sakthikumar, who comes from Chennai, India.

There are differences between north and south Indian dishes explains Balamuthuvel, who is from Puducherry. "South Indian foods are more spicy," he says.

After years of frustrations and cravings for her traditional food, Sakthikumar taught herself how to make traditional south Indian food via the internet and asking her mom for recipes.

"After that all these people liked my food, like my friends," says Sakthikumar. "I was like are you guys serious, you like my food?"

The duo launched Little India at the Halifax Forum Farmers' Market just before Christmas and have had a space at the Seaport market for two weeks. With her passion for food and the help and support of friends it is no surprise that Little India is quickly becoming a local favourite.

Current popular menu items include sambar—a mixed vegetable lentil curry that is vegetarian friendly—as well as curry chicken and pepper chicken.

Sakthikumar also makes idli, which she describes as rice and dal that is fermented, ground and then steamed, and she plans to add dosa to the menu in the summer.

"Idli and dosa use the same batter but for dosa we make in pan and for idli we steam it so it's healthier," she says. "We will also have some different types of chutney, such as coconut, peanut, tomato and onion."

And for those Haligonians with a sweet tooth, Sakthikumar's mango lassi drink is the perfect smoothie or dessert alternative. The soft yellow drink contains mango pulp, yogurt and milk and is the perfect beverage to wash those spices down with.

"I'm also planning to sell masala chai at the Forum too, not this week but probably in the coming weeks," she says.

"For 23 years I never entered into my kitchen. As soon as I came here, there was no way— I had to cook for myself," says the 24-year-old Sakthikumar. She originally came to Halifax three years ago to do her masters of engineering at Dalhousie, and still plans to pursue her profession Monday to Friday.

As for Little India, she says, "I'm planning to start a restaurant but not right now maybe after gaining more experience. During the summer, maybe next year, I am planning to rent a food truck. We will see how it goes."

Little India
Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market, 1209 Marginal Road, Saturdays and Sundays
Halifax Forum Farmers' Market, 2901 Windsor Street, Saturdays

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Please don’t fire whoever runs the Scotsburn Dairy twitter

#HeavenlyHashtags

Posted By on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 2:49 PM

Too true.
  • Too true.

OK Agropur, you huge bummer, you’re laying off hundreds of Atlantic Canadians who work in the dairy industry, and you’ve just acquired Scotsburn Dairy so I’m sort of scared shitless that you might decide to axe the wonderfully bizarre, borderline offensive person who populates the Scotsburn Dairy twitter account (@ScotsburnDairy, please smash follow with the quickness).

But surely there are other places to cut costs, because the belly laughs that this totally bonkers twitter feed affords us are priceless.

Have a scroll through my top 11 Scotsburn tweets and promptly give this person a raise.

Hey HOUSEWIVES!

Housewives be fat.

Aunts and uncles just don’t get the appreciation they deserve.

Bubba.

UM.

UM?

If you begin to want to vacuum or sweep.

<3

Let's get this hashtag poppin, everyone: #NoTrouble4That

Ow, I bet they hurt their arm with this stretch.

The best for last. The tweet that started it all. A love affair that only grows more passionate by the day.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

7 Peppers Grill brings familiar flavours to Quinpool

Aleppo Cafe returns with a new name and set up

Posted By on Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 5:50 PM

15780745_1200559593314160_3317648303156562599_n.jpg

After four years at its Brewery Market (1496 Lower Water Street) location, unsung buffet hero Aleppo Cafe closed up shop back in March, promising we hadn’t seen the last of its plentiful offerings. The restaurant—which originally opened in 2008 on Quinpool Road before moving in 2012—has reinvented itself as 7 Peppers Grill, and will make a comeback at 6290 Quinpool (the former home of Shawarma Stop).

“It was a bad location because a lot of people didn’t know we were there,” says Hekmat Ani of the decision to close and head back to the busy strip. “When we opened on Quinpool Road last time it was 2008. We came to Canada in 2006 and didn’t have a lot of experience—now we have a lot experience.” Ani, who runs the restaurant with her husband, chef Abdulrahman Jabi, says the new iteration will still serve flavour-filled Mediterranean meals, lots of options from the grill and sweets, daily.

Aleppo Cafe regulars will see some old favourites—like the buffet a couple of days a week—but a lot of new stuff too. Like the name, inspired by the seven spices used in many Syrian dishes. “Not a lot of Canadian people know the history of Syria, or Aleppo. We didn’t want to have any misunderstanding,” says Ani of the re-brand. 7 Peppers Grill aims to be open in mid-January, and Ani says it’ll only take one visit to win you over: “I just hope everyone will come and try it.”

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Tin Pan Alley takes it inside

From food truck to food court, 2017 sees Dutch frites in Scotia Square Mall

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 1:09 AM

A tasty Tin Pan cone - MEGHAN TANSEY WHITTON
  • A tasty Tin Pan cone
  • Meghan Tansey Whitton
This winter, beloved frite-slinging food truck Tin Pan Alley is getting a permanent address—no generators required—and opening up shop in Scotia Square Mall’s ever-expanding food court.

“This past fall we started looking at a couple of bricks-and mortar-places, and it snowballed from there. We saw places all over,” says Karl Warme who will run the new Tin Pan restaurant with his wife, Jill Warme, adding that moving indoors has been a longtime goal for them. “Our background is in restaurants—Jill and I met working at Splendido in Toronto.”

Settling into the currently under-renovations Barrington-side of the court, the stationary restaurant will look a lot like the mobile one—featuring a facade of the truck—and will continue dishing out favourites like its mayo-topped Dutch frites and steak frites. “We’ll also be able to do some things we weren’t able to do on the truck, like a daily special like a taco Tuesday or fish Friday,” says Warme.

As for the truck, he says that opening a sister location doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll be off the roads but for now, it’s a strong “We’ll see.” The new, indoor Alley is currently under construction, and aims to be open for mid-February.

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Vol 27, No 3
June 13, 2019

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