Food + Drink » New Restaurants

Dear Friend wants to get as cozy as COVID will allow

The new downtown Dartmouth bar only has room for 17 patrons at a time right now.

by

comment
Dear Friend also serves non-alcoholic cocktails like this homemade rhubarb sparkling water with Seedlip spirits. - ANISA FRANCOEUR
  • Anisa Francoeur
  • Dear Friend also serves non-alcoholic cocktails like this homemade rhubarb sparkling water with Seedlip spirits.
Portland Street is now home to another stylish new place to drink. Dear Friend Bar opened on July 9, with a small but curated menu of cocktails (both boozy and alcohol-free), wine and beer.

Co-owners Matt Boyle and Jeff Van Horne also run Clever Barkeep, but the events and catering business had seen a downturn due to COVID.

“With our events business grinding to a half, obviously because people weren’t allowed to be in groups, it allowed us the time to put some focused effort into building his place, and putting the time into the details, making sure everything was just in line,” says Boyle.

Dear Friend (69 Portland Street) is open Thursdays to Sundays 4 pm until midnight for drinks, as well as a limited menu of snacks like warm olives, oysters and chilli oil with focaccia bread from neighbouring Café Goodluck.

Boyle says opening the restaurant in Dartmouth just felt right, and has been the plan for a while. The co-owners finally found the right spot about six months ago.

“We’re both from Dartmouth so it made a lot of sense to open something here. We’ve kind of always had our eyes on this area, on Portland Street, and we finally found the right place. It had the right vibe, it was small and cozy and that’s kind of what we were looking for,” he tells The Coast.

But the small spot was a pre-COVID find, and the experience of dining out has changed a lot in the past six months.

"We built it with the concept in mind of having people be comfortable with being close to one another. And then COVID kind of hit,” Boyle says.

With a European-inspired long and narrow bar, there’s room for just 17 guests right now. But Dear Friend is building a patio that will add an additional 25 seats, set to open at the end of July.

“I think people are kind of ready to start to go out again, they miss that kind of sense of hospitality, community, and go to a place where they can feel safe and have a drink with their friends. It’s something that I think people miss quite dearly,” says Boyle.

The Inflatable Pool (left) and Alpine Breeze are two of the eight cocktails on Dear Friend's first menu. - ANISA FRANCOEUR
  • Anisa Francoeur
  • The Inflatable Pool (left) and Alpine Breeze are two of the eight cocktails on Dear Friend's first menu.
The pink and gold colour scheme is reflected in featured cocktails like the Inflatable Pool (house watermelon and roasted red pepper cordial, Cazadores Blanco tequila, infused vermouth, lime), and the Alpine Breeze (Grey Goose Vodka, cucumber, lime, celery, Black Pepper Genepy, burnt honey).

Most evenings, Boyle says there’s a waitlist for a table. But with the sun in the sky (hopefully), the waterfront steps away, and Portland Street experiencing a resurgence like never before, there’s plenty to do while you wait.

“There’s so many great places to go check out in downtown Dartmouth nowadays,” says Boyle, “There’s a plethora of places you can go in the interim.”

Add a comment

Remember, it's entirely possible to disagree without spiralling into a thread of negativity and personal attacks. We have the right to remove (and you have the right to report) any comments that go against our policy.