Friday, March 29, 2019

Who's behind the mysterious Beverley Taco Service?


Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2019 at 5:21 PM


Have you seen this poster? If so, between scratching your head and wiping the drool from your chin you may have wondered who Beverley is and why she wants to feed both your curiosity and your belly.

Turns out mysterious masa-loving taco maker, Beverley Taco Service (which has plastered telephone poles as of Friday), comes to us from Highwayman chef Blair Clarke and his beer buds at Stillwell. A longtime taco fanatic, Clarke has been researching the handheld Mexican meal for years and after a trip to Oaxaca this winter with Stillwell's Chris Reynolds, he's ready to debut his own.

"It was pretty eye-opening. You can read and research all you want but going and experiencing—it kind of re-instated that simple is always better," says Clarke, who says his tacos will be all about freshness and flavour, but its the tortilla itself that will be the star.

That's because Beverley Taco Service has its own custom-built corn mill. The
 beloved contraption means Clarke's taking heirloom corn from Oaxaca and grinding fresh masa on the daily at a downtown prep kitchen he and Reynolds affectionately call The Masaplex. "Once you’ve had a tortilla made with fresh masa, it kind of sets the bar," says Clarke. "It did take some leg work"—or a couple of years of searching—"but 600 pounds later here we are."

If you haven't already called the poster's taco hotline and are wondering when/where/how you can taste the "life-giving salsas," Stillwell-quality drink selection and those fresher-than-you corn tortillas—we're here to tell you BTS will make its entrance via pop-up.

The first appearance is slated for Friday, April 12 at Cafe Good Luck (145 Portland Street) from 6pm to 10pm and the second goes down Saturday, May 4 at the Mayflower Curling Club (3000 Monaghan Drive) from 7pm-11pm. But you should still give that number a call. It's a treat.

The pop-ups will continue through the summer as Clarke and the Stillwell gang nail down a permanent location for their soon-to-be restaurant (which will be downtown). And even better? BTS will spend the summer serving up its best stuff at the Stillwell Beer Garden (5688 Spring Garden Road).
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Thursday, March 28, 2019

Tako Loko takes the north end by storm

Life is but a dream for Vicky Ruiz, who opened her Mexican restaurant to a surge of hungry Haligonians.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2019 at 1:18 AM


Tako Loko (3248 Isleville Street) opened its doors last Wednesday to a hungry crowd of north enders. Keeping the menu simple, the 20-seat restaurant offers seven types of tacos: Chicken, carne asada (grilled steak), chorizo, carnitas de Puerco, suadero (brisket), fish and veggie. Customers can also choose between beans, rice, quesadilla and guacamole and chips.

"This is my language, my meat, my flavours, my colours," owner Vicky Ruiz says.

Tako Loko has labelled itself an authentic Mexican restaurant in order to let people know they won't find Tex-Mex tacos—you know, the ground beef, cheese, lettuce and sour cream kind—here. In Mexico, a taco is a soft corn tortilla with meat, onions, cilantro, lime and salsa.

Ruiz and her children, José, Daniela and Enrique, moved to Halifax from Mexico more than 15 years ago. Minus a few exceptions, like Mexico Lindo in Fairview, they were hard-pressed to find restaurants that served the food they loved and missed.

In an effort to make sure Tako Loko had a look as representative of Mexico as possible, she chose all of the restaurant’s vibrant colours and decorations. Green and yellow walls are adorned with a chalkboard menu and yellow coat hangers that look like garden spigots. Four lights are suspended from the ceiling with knotted hemp rope. On a shelf behind the cash, a rainbow donkey piñata relaxes – just out of reach.

As we sit in the restaurant, four separate groups of people knock on the door. Each time, José tells them politely, "We open at five tonight."

Apparently, this has become a common occurrence. Ruiz isn't sure how word has spread so quickly—she's already gone through 1,500 tortillas. She says several people have been by twice, and often stay for more than one round of food.

Luckily, service is fast-paced as tacos are easy to prepare and quick to disappear.

"This has been my dream for many, many years," Ruiz says.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

DRINK THIS: Boxing Rock’s 14 Carrot Gold pale ale

The Shelburne brewery and Square Roots turned ugly carrots into something beautiful.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2019 at 1:22 PM


It may not count towards daily vegetable intake, but who cares? Boxing Rock Brewing Company just released a beer made with carrots.

The aptly named 14 Carrot Gold is a collaboration with Square Roots, a social enterprise formed by Enactus Saint Mary's, working toward reducing food waste and increasing food security. For example, Square Roots buys imperfect produce (or "seconds produce") that would normally be thrown away, then sells it in inexpensive 10-pound bundles. Boxing Rock's 14 Carrot Gold contains locally supplied seconds carrots.

When Boxing Rock owner Emily Tipton first met up with Square Roots, she was unsure how to tackle the key ingredient. "Vegetables are not normally an ingredient that you would put in beer," she says, because "they don't actually have a lot of usable sugar." But 1,100 pounds of carrots (and some help from The Juice Press) later, the team made it work. The result is a mild, earthy pale ale with herbal hops, honey malt and just a hint of carrot flavour. Tipton says the Square Roots folks "were so incredibly enthusiastic and really got involved with the whole process" and she's hopeful Boxing Rock will be able to donate some of the beer proceeds to Square Roots' token program.

Sehmat Suri, the director of strategic partnerships for SMU's Enactus groups, says it's been a fulfilling experience for everyone involved.

"It was just so important to start that conversation about food waste and about looking at the amazing ways that you can turn food that you think you can't use—not just nutritional aspects," she says, "but also something fun."

The beer is expected to be on the shelves of most NSLC stores by April 1. On April 2, Boxing Rock will be hosting its monthly beer tasting and food pairing—featuring 14 Carrot Gold—at its Halifax bottle shop inside the Local Source Market (2530 Agricola Street).

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Do your weekend feasting at the Pakistan Food Festival

The annual event is back on a grander scale

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2019 at 5:01 PM

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“I was fascinated with the Greek Festival, I loved to go there and see the culture,” says Anila Najaf, president of the Pakistani Canadian Association of Nova Scotia and organizer of this weekend’s Pakistan Food Festival.

She was the woman in charge of the first iteration of the celebration back in 2016, an event that drew in 700-plus attendees–over double the number of people she expected. “That was the incentive behind it, we thought ‘People actually have an appetite for this.’” After a couple of years in transition, this year’s festival will take place on a much grander scale, Najaf says.

On Saturday, March 23, vendors, entertainers and food stalls will take over St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church (38 Purcells Cove Road) from noon to 6pm.

“I think we have a lot of offer, a lot of show off and we just love to eat. In Pakistan every recipe, every problem, the solution is food. Why not show that to people?” says Najaf. “We don’t actually have a Pakistani restaurant here. This is a great advertisement for small businesses that don’t have the money to invest in publicity for themselves.”

On top of Pakistani food vendors, there’ll also be some Indian food to cater to vegetarians and vegans, plus henna, jewellery, performances and fun stuff for the kids, too. “There’ll be a lot of unique stuff,” promises Najaf, “things people from Nova Scotia have never seen.” 
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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Tom's Little Havana is re-branding

After 22 years, the bar signs off to become Sura Lounge

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2019 at 1:11 PM

The OG Tom's on Doyle - SAMSON LEARN
  • The OG Tom's on Doyle
  • Samson Learn

It might not feel that surprising to hear that Tom’s Little Havana (1540 Birmingham Street) is saying goodbye. The adored Halifax watering hole’s been through a lot of change in the last stretch of time—most notably when it moved from its (loveably) dank hole in the wall on Doyle Street back in 2015.

Entrepreneur Deeksha Bhaskar took over Tom’s and The Fireside in 2017 and flipped the latter to become Rasa Flavours of India. She says the writing was on the wall as soon as Tom’s namesake Tom Wile wasn't on the scene.

“It was no longer Havana, that was pretty clear,” says the business owner. “It was getting complicated running two very different establishments and not being able to do justice to Tom’s as it was. It wasn’t our strength anyway, it’s better to run something that represents our strengths.”

Like Sura Lounge, the new concept for the bar, which Bhaskar says will offer tapa-style small dishes, and Indian-fusion cuisine. It won’t be an extension of Rasa, just a better complement.

Tom’s signs off officially on March 27, after 22 years of offering a tucked away spot for Scotch-soaked heart-to-hearts and intimate first dates. With beer galore and an auction of Tom’s memorabilia, Bhaskar hopes it’ll be more celebration than mourning.

“So many people are connected to Tom’s and we wanted to make sure to try our best not to hurt anyone's feelings,” she says, adding that much of that attachment comes thanks to the beloved staff—who will be staying onboard at Sura Lounge. “We completely respect the connection people have, and we have gotten to know those regulars. We want to keep that connection going if we can.”
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Monday, March 18, 2019

Yeah Yeahs Pizza is coming to Halifax


Posted By on Mon, Mar 18, 2019 at 6:57 PM

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If you're a Yeah Yeahs Pizza fan you're probably willing to go to the ends of the earth (or at least across the harbour) for your fix, but brilliant news—soon Haligonians won't have to.

Co-owners of Dartmouth's highly addictive pizza joint, Josh Nordin and Dean Petty, have just started the renovation phase of their new location, which will call the character-filled 1663 Barrington Street (AKA the former Little Mysteries book shop, across from Stillwell and The Barrington) home later this spring.

"We always had been toying with the idea of opening a shop in Halifax, but doing Dartmouth first made sense for us," says Nordin. "Every day I run into someone who’s like ‘I never get a chance to get over there.'"

The stand-alone pizza shop will offer the same relaxed vibes and aesthetic as its Dartmouth counterpart, a mostly identical menu (with a few additions) and is aiming to serve both beer and wine to wash it all down with. There'll also be space for 40ish people to sit down and stay awhile. And delivery? It's not off the table.

"If we can make it work, we’d love to make it work," says Petty. "If we can’t offer delivery and keep the quality high, we won’t do delivery."

For now, the business partners—who opened a Yeah Yeahs in Toronto in collaboration with Boxcar Social just over a year ago—are focused on taking the character-filled Barrington Street space and building a place folks want to hang out, pig out and doodle on their paper plates.

You can be one of those people, slice in hand, in mid/late May.
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Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Ville Caffeine Bar opens on Sackville Street

Taking over one of the former Smiling Goat locations, the cafe offers rotating coffee roasts, buttery baked goods and fresh-to-order sandwiches

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2019 at 9:49 AM

Jenna Oosterholt is The VIlle's owner - KYLEE NUNN
  • Jenna Oosterholt is The VIlle's owner
  • Kylee Nunn
“I was done working for a boss and I wanted to do something on my own,” says Jenna Oosterholt, owner of the newly opened The Ville Caffeine Bar (5146 Sackville Street).

The Ville offers a rotating bean, cycling through various roasters from around the world to provide a diverse selection of coffee. To start off, Oosterholt is featuring Shock Coffee from New York, which is known for containing 50 percent more caffeine than the average roast. For those looking for something more consistent, The Ville also has a regular supply of Java Blend’s organic Colombian medium.

With baked goods from Michelle MacDonald’s Buttered Bliss, customers are invited to pull up a stool at the 18-foot live edge maplewood bar that wraps around the cafe as they bite into almond bourbon pecan tarts and lavender blueberry doughnuts.

“I’m basically just made out of Buttered Bliss and coffee now,” Oosterholt says, laughing.

Sandwiches are also available and made fresh-to-order. The sunriser, crafted for the morning breakfast crowd, consists of applewood smoked ham, spinach, tomato, mayo and old cheddar on a croissant or English muffin that is grilled with an egg wash. Other sandwiches include the vegan clubhouse and the BTM (basil, tomato and mozzarella—the sandwich version of a Caprese salad).

Oosterholt, 24, has been in the restaurant industry since she was 12. Originally looking to open a gourmet coffee cart at Bishop’s Landing, she upgraded her idea from cart to cafe upon noticing the empty space that used to house Smiling Goat’s Sackville Street location.

A strong believer of simplicity, Oosterholt furnished The Ville in industrial textures, such as wood and metal, and decorated with praying plants and vines that dot the black and white walls. The bathroom, Oosterholt’s favourite place, has a collection of framed quotes, similar to scribbled notes left on bathroom stalls, except these notes are words of wisdom she has gleaned from family and friends over the years.

“‘Trust your gut,’” Oosterholt says. “That one’s mine.”
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In Print This Week

Vol 27, No 17
September 19, 2019

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