The Shop talk guided tour:

Halifax’s waterfront

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The Waterfront is Halifax; you can’t talk about this town without talking about the harbour, our maritime history, our naval bases, our shipping... our casino, our bars, our tourists. It’s hard to believe now, but back in the 1960s the powers that be wanted to bulldoze everything interesting on the waterfront and replace it with a highway; thankfully saner minds prevailed, and now we have the wonderful pedestrian friendly boardwalk, the perfect city/harbour interface, an interesting mix of tourists and office workers. And of course, a vibrant retail scene tying it all together. Here are some of the highlights:

The Battered Fish
Queen’s Wharf, 488-9342

Fish and chips are of course a Halifax staple, so it takes some doing to gain a reputation for having among the best. And that’s just what Ryan MacIsaac and Jason Bourgoin have done with their tiny waterfront stand. Having opened just last year, The Battered Fish is already a destination for not just tourists but locals as well. The recipe for success? “Always fresh, always to order, says MacIsaac. “We don’t pre-cook our fish like a lot of places, so it might take a little longer, but it’s worth it.” Yes, it is.


El Gallo
Seaport Farmers’ Market, 453-0642

No offence, Canada, but you’ve got a real Mexican food problem: you don’t have much, and most of that doesn’t really qualify as true Mexican. So, it’s with delight and joy that I find El Gallo, upstairs at the market, and talk with Ivonne Rios as she makes tortillas. “This is the most authentic way to make Mexican food,” she says, pouring more corn batter on the griddle. There’s no outrageous concoctions on the menu, just the basic tostada, burritos and tamale, but finally, finally, honest jalepenos. And El Gallo is hitting a chord, having just celebrated the eighth anniversary since the stand was opened.


Garrison Brewing Company
1149 Marginal Road, 453-5343

“They talk about beer sales being down, but I’ve never seen it this busy in the five years we’ve been here,” says Garrison president Brian Titus as we sit with a beer on the brewery patio, which looks on to the Seaport Market to the north. The small brewing industry is a game of innovation: Craft beer drinkers are ever on the lookout for new product, and successful breweries have to pump out new ideas on a regular basis. Titus’ latest is the “Mash-Up IPA,” a joint brewing project between Garrison brewmaster Daniel Girard and Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewing in British Columbia.


Getaway Meat Mongers
Seaport Farmers’ Market, 582-7721

There’s perhaps no better indicator that the Seaport Market is settling in as an institution than the success of Getaway. Starting as a simple stand at the market, Getaway has expanded into the permanent space right next to the market entrance to operate a full-service butcher shop. The Meat Mongers sell beef and pork from Getaway Farm, with chicken and other meat from other local providers. “The industrial food system is screwing everything up,” says Gateway’s Chris DeWaal, explaining his dedication to properly raised fresh meat, cut to order.


Halifax Seaport Beerfest
Marginal Road, 221-0111

And of course this weeked on the Waterfront is “Beer on the Pier” Beerfest, the fifth annual. The Beerfest has solved its growing pains and settled into something of a routine---a wonderfully beer-soaked routine. Find nearly 200 craft beers from around the world, with food provided by local caterers and restos. This year’s highlights include a Quebec pavillion and a focus on “nano breweries.” Tastings are Friday, 7-9:30pm and Saturday, 2-4:30pm and 7-9:30pm. Get tix via ticketatlantic.com, but hurry! The evening sessions especially will sell out early.


I Heart Bikes
1325 Lower Water Street, 406-7774

Sarah Craig’s new venture on the boardwalk is adorable; bikes for rent line up outside the stand, which contains helmets, locks, picnic baskets and flower arrangements, maps of suggested routes and the delightful Craig herself. With a fresh degree in commerce paired with a minor in environmental studies, and having worked at the provincial Climate Change Directorate, Craig is both practical and inspired. Her bike rental biz is a huge success already, and she’s expanding her fleet from 10 to 15. She has unapologetically targeted the cruise ship crowd with her $9/hour rates, but she’s using that income to capitalize an expansion next year to three more locations around the city with rates geared toward locals.


Maps & More—The Travel Store
1601 Lower Water Street, 422-7106

Formerly at Historic Properties, M&M moved to its present site---the old Daily News building---precisely to attract more traffic from locals, says manager Valentina Oulyanova. “Our store is not for tourists,” she says, and “business is booming.” The biggest seller is travel maps and travel guides not found elsewhere in Metro, but I also find it an invaluable resource for topographic and backwoods maps, and I’ve got my eye on some of those attractive globes for my office.


NSCAD Seeds Gallery
1099 Marginal Road, Suite 116, 494-8301

For students, presenting their wares at Seeds Gallery is “the first step in establishing themselves as an artist,” says gallery manager Natalie Boterman. The gallery space is available only to NSCAD students and alumni, but of course anyone can come in to purchase the art. Boterman says most of the business is from local residents, although the proximity of the cruise ship terminal helps things along. Currently, there’s a mix of art in all media, from paintings to textiles, jewellery, drawings and printed matter, much of it produced as graduation products. The gallery commits itself to a higher split for the artists than most galleries, “to set a benchmark for what’s appropriate,” says Boterman.


Tall Ship Silva
Queen’s Wharf, 429-0151

The Silva is of course geared towards the tourist trade, with one- to two-hour tours from $12 to $20, but I have a secret: I buy a season pass most years, at just $35 ($99 for the family pass), because if I cut out of work 15 minutes early I can get on the 6pm trek around George’s Island, enjoy a gin and tonic from the Silva’s on-board bar, sit in the sun on deck and enjoy views of the city and the island from a rare harbour perspective.


MORE LOCAL BUSINESSES

FOOD/DRINK
44 North Seafood Co. 1919 Upper Water Street, 428-7852
The Bicycle Thief Bishop’s Landing, 425-7993
Bishop’s Cellar Bishop’s Landing, 490-2675
Caffe Ristretto Bishop’s Landing, 425-3087
Cheelin Restaurant 1496 Lower Water Street, 422-2252
City Deli Restaurant Brewery Market, 425-3495
CUT Steakhouse and Urban Grill 5120 Salter Street, 429-5120
da Maurizio 1496 Lower Water Street, 423-0859
Dragon Buffet King 1668 Lower Water Street, 431-8588
Gourmandises Avenue Seaport Farmers’ Market, 463-9138
Historic Farmers’ Market 1496 Lower Water Street, 492-4043
Hamachi Steak House Bishop’s Landing, 422-1600
The Hart & Thistle Historic Properties, 407-4278
Java Factory 1113 Marginal Road, 468-2326
Lower Deck/The Beer Market Historic Properties, 425-1501
Red Stag Tavern Brewery Market, 422-0275
Ristorante a Mano Bishop’s Landing, 423-6266
Salty’s 1869 Upper Water Street, 423-6818
Waterfront Warehouse 1549 Lower Water Street, 425-7610

ET CETERA
Amos Pewter 1751 Upper Water Street, 1-800-565-3369
Del Sol Marginal Road (next to Seeds Gallery), 429-2261
Hair Factory 1475 Lower Water Street, 492-5343
House Warmings The Brewery Market, 425-1777
Mahone Bay Trading Quality Footwear Historic Properties, 444-7454
Maples Gallery Bishop’s Landing, 405-7050
The Mar Cable Wharf, 420-1015
Mary E. Black Gallery 1061 Marginal Road, 492-2522
Nova Scotia Crystal Queen’s Wharf, 1-888-977-2797
One Stop Wood Shop Bishop’s Landing, 209-2731
108 Yoga 1496 Lower Water Street, 449-0108
Studio 21 1223 Lower Water Street, 420-1852
Turbine Boutique Bishop’s Landing, 429-0986
Unicorn Bishop’s Landing, 423-4308

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