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Go local on Quinpool Road

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This Saturday, September 19 is the Quinpool Road Fall Fair, running from 10am to 2pm, a family event to feature an inflated bouncy pirate castle, food, games, costume contests face painting and the like, with crafts provided by The Clay Café (6413 Quinpool Road, 429-2994). Quinpool has a lot going for it at the moment. Besides being an essential western artery to and from downtown Halifax, it offers all the shopping amenities vital to neighbourhoods down into the south end and up through the north. Not to mention the region’s last great single-screen cinema, The Oxford (6408 Quinpool Road, 422-2022).

If you’re a film fan, the Oxford isn’t the only essential place to know about on Quinpool. The other is Video Difference (6086 Quinpool Road, 425-3029), a three level film lover’s paradise. The smart folks who run the place have a couple of new-ish displays that will make any cineaste slaver. One is the collection of Criterion films, some of the greatest movies ever shot available in pristine DVD editions, and another is the selection of films that have appeared at the Atlantic Film Festival over the years, a testament to the stellar programming at the annual event, just starting up again this week. Check out features from local directors Andrea Dorfman (Parsley Days, Love That Boy), Chaz Thorne (Just Buried) and Michael Melski (Growing Op), amongst others. AFF tickets are also available at Video Difference.

Nearby, get your skateboards and equipment at Pro Skates Uptown (6070 Quinpool Road, 406-4006). You’ll know it from that distinct logo as well as the wooden ramp leading down to the sidewalk from the front door. Also right there is the new location of make-your-own-jewellery place Beads R Us (6082 Quinpool Road, 405-1100), unmistakable by its green and purple exterior colour scheme.

Scanway Catering and Pastry Shop(6088 Quinpool Road, 425-0683) offers those Alice in Wonderland-esque cakes on display in the window, and next door Freeman’s Little New York (6092 Quinpool Road, 429-0241) is a popular spot for late-night eats, but did you know it’s also open for breakfast?

Visual feast

Draped across the east-facing wall of Vogue Optical (6132 Quinpool Road, 425-2020) is an enormous new mural, an impressionist look at the Halifax waterfront, with at least one face staring out between the buildings. VO manager Roxanne Rosere has been wanting a mural for some time, to discourage graffiti. “And to attract attention. Everyone is coming in saying how much they like it.” The artist is Zeqirja Rexhepi, and his mural joins imagery painted on nearby King’s Palace (6140 Quinpool Road, 423-1247) and Key Lime Pie Salon Spa (6148 Quinpool Road, 425-4247), enlivening this stretch of Quinpool.

Oh, how we wish we could similarly flatter the other side of the street. Quinpool Centre, we have a love/hate thing for you: While we love your amenities, including Atlantic Superstore, Canadian Tire, Bramoso’s Gourmet Pizza, Robyn’s Dairy Bar, the Star Trek vibe in the new NSLC, all so essential to the ’hood, it’s never any fun as a pedestrian or a cyclist travelling along your exterior access lanes, designed so entirely with the automobile in mind.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other distractions nearby for those who enjoy moving by foot, fin or cycle. Cyclesmith (6112 Quinpool Road, 425-1756) has all you need for high- and medium-end bicycles, though the friendly staff won’t sniff at you if you roll in on a clunker with a flat that needs fixing. Therapeutic Approach Yoga Studio (6156 Quinpool Road, 429-3303) offer classes, workshops and teacher training, while Nautilus Aquatics and Hobbies (6164 Quinpool Road, 454-4296) are specialists in scuba, snorkeling and model car and airplane kits. Aerobics First (6166 Quinpool Road, 423-1470) is in the midst of a 50 percent off sale of summer stock, with winter stuff expected over coming weeks. AF specializes in shoes, socks---everything for the keen runner---as well as wetsuits, which are 30 percent off right now. The Trail Shop (6210 Quinpool Road, 423-8736) is also seeing new stock arrive on shelves daily. The business is in the midst of launching a new location in Wolfville. And Bhavana (1-6252 Quinpool Road, 423-3335), the yoga lifestyle boutique above Heartwood, is celebrating a year in business. The shop carries yoga gear, books, music and jewellery, and hosts workshops in aromatherapy and meditation. As owner Krista Watters explains, it’s “how to live yoga off the mat.”

Trinity Jewellers (6226 Quinpool Road, 431-7900) has revamped its interior in stylish white and black, and is building its watch line, with brands including Dolce and Gabbanna and Accent of Scandinavia. A popular alloy in wedding bands these days is tungsten, which Trinity currently has in stock. You heard it first here, folks. And stop by Zephyr Rug & Home (6232 Quinpool Road, 446-4622) for more than just rugs: home accessories and furniture for your living room, dining room and bedroom.

Posh nosh

Quinpool has plenty of places to eat, from one end to the other. One of the city’s most stylish hotel bar/restaurants is Seasons Bistro & Wine Bar (1980 Robie Street, 490-3331) situated in the Atlantica Hotel, and at the other end of the strip you get a stellar all-day breakfast at the ever-popular Ardmore Tea Room (6499 Quinpool Road, 423-7523), which currently offers organic fair trade coffee and take out orders. If you prefer vegetarian, drop in at Heartwood (6250 Quinpool Road, 425-2808). On the cafe front, the minimalist, intimate Carlitos (6220 Quinpool Road, 444-7555) is a sure bet. If sushi is your thing, you can try The B-Well Sushi and Café (6184 Quinpool Road, 428-4019).

And that’s just for starters on the international flavour front. Quinpool covers your choices for Chinese, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Caribbean. (And, of course, fish and chips!) Well represented is Greece, with Hellenic menu items featuring prominently at It’s all Greek To Me (6196 Quinpool Road, 406-3737), Greek Village (6253 Quinpool Road, 405-3750), Spartan (6403 Quinpool Road, 429-6858) and Athens (6273 Quinpool Road, 422-1595), though each establishment has its own approach. Athens is currently going old school, reintroducing menu items from its old location down the street and expanding the size of the menu with many more options (breakfast, dinner, dessert and wine lists) in the immediate future.

Steamy’s (6300 Quinpool Road, 405-8855) isn’t all about hotdogs---though in Quebec, the slang term for a hotdog is a “steamy”---there’s also a good business in poutine, fresh cut fries, smoothies, burgers, ice cream and smoked meat on Wednesdays. And the newest place to nosh on Quinpool is The Central Grill (6303 Quinpool Road), a stylish burger, fish and steak house open for dinner. “Having tested out the menu over the last couple of months, we have decided to offer a more dedicated menu to the street than the one that we are currently running,” says owner Evangelos Panopalis. “A new wine list is being built with 20+ wines to choose from, with six to 10 wines being offered by the glass. Five types of steaks are being offered as regular menu items ranging in price from NY striploin for $12 to a porterhouse for $24.”

Xxx-cellent choice

Feeling horny? Visit X-citement Video, (6260 Quinpool Road, 492-0026) a Quebec-based chain with a few locations here in town. Popular right now on Quinpool are the bachelorette novelty items, discount DVD purchases, and plenty of toys. Shoptalk briefly considered the cockrings and vaginal pumps before moving on. Check out the store’s local blog for more product info at xcitementhalifax.blogspot.com.

Across the way, Amber Thorpe, proprietor of Adept Tattoos (6265 Quinpool Road, 405-4009) has her hands full with the students all back in town. “We torture them, we tease them,” says Thorpe. “They’re spending their student loans in here.” Even with six artists in house, everyone’s busy. Shoptalk notes the vampire imagery in the front foyer. “Gory stuff is always popular,” Thorpe reports. “Especially chick-on-chick.” She’s finding that traditional tattoo styles are beginning to morph as new artists ink new generations, and customers are choosing artists as much as designs, depending on what they want to have done. Next door, Outside the Lines (6265 Quinpool Road, 422-3544) is seeing students stroll in looking to fill their course text requirements for poli-sci and philosophy classes. Owner Bob Haywood says the recent move to a more visible location from just a few doors down has benefited the bookstore. “People come in who’ve never been in before.”

Past the cinema you find a few more useful services, including Quinpool Shoe Repair (6424 Quinpool Road, 423-6592) for all your cobbling, skate-sharpening and key cutting needs, just next door to food royalty, King of Donairs (6422 Quinpool Road, 421-0000) and King Wah (6430 Quinpool Road, 423-2587). You have two choices for dog grooming, food and care on this section of the road, House of Dogs (6448 Quinpool Road, 492-3647) and the Halifax Veterinary Hospital (6485 Quinpool Road, 422-8595), next to a great source for organic produce and goods, Planet Organic (6487 Quinpool Road, 425-7400).

If you require corrective lenses, Gaudet Optical (6465 Quinpool Road, 423-6255) is where you need to be. “We don’t tend to follow trends,” says Doug Gaudet, who took Shoptalk’s specs away and straightened them free of charge before submitting to an interview. He admits that amongst his excellent spectacle collection he has noticed some frequent choices. “Large frames are popular,” he says, pointing out pairs that would thrill Kanye West. “These are a bit more specialized. Not your average.” By the time you read this Gaudet will have visited Paris to attend a trade show, with new styles to arrive in store in the months to come.

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