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Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

KITCHEN ALCHEMYGio-Tea--024---Version-2-resized

Downtown at Gio on Market Street, Chef Bee Choo Chair gives traditional recipes an inventive new twist. Her version of poutine includes fried polenta fingers topped with duck confit, red wine jus, and blue “Cheez Whiz.” Open for lunch and dinner, Gio has a curated wine list and a creative mixed drinks menu.


Photo: Timothy Richard

Photo: Timothy Richard

As the weather turns chillier, cozy up in a booth at Stayner’s Wharf Pub and Grill. The menu here has plenty to keep you warm, including steak and chicken dishes, plus local fare like pan-fried haddock and curry-crusted salmon. Most evenings offer live music, too.



There’s a new executive chef in the kitchen at Seasons by Atlantica on Robie Street. Chef Daniel Orovec is passionate about showcasing local ingredients on his new menu, which includes seafood favourites such as bacon-wrapped scallops and seafood linguini with saffron cream. “It’s about supporting local food and letting good ingredients shine on their own,” he says.


Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Photo: NS Tourism Agency

On Lower Water Street, McKelvie’s takes fresh seafood to new creative heights. Try the maple-roasted bacon wrapped scallops or the lobster poutine with hand-cut fries. The crunchy haddock is another top seller, with creamy BBQ sauce and garlic mashed potatoes.

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Specializing in thin crust, New York Italian-style pizza for over 20 years, Salvatore’s Pizzaiolo in The Hydrostone has doubled its seating capacity thanks to a recent renovation. The restaurant kept its signature Italian-style décor and stucco walls, but it now has a sleek bar area serving local brews on tap.

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With chef Renée Lavallée at the helm, The Canteen on Ochterloney Street in Dartmouth serves up a flavourful array of sandwiches, salads, and take-out meals featuring fresh local ingredients. The bread is baked on-site, including gluten-free options.

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Specializing in Chinese cuisine since 1984, Great Wall, located downtown on Bedford Row, boasts robust Cantonese and Szechuan dishes such as Kung Po shrimp and Singapore vermicelli. Owner Patrick Wong also offers tasty Dim Sum on Sundays from 11:30am to 3pm.

Hot Shopping

By Suzanne Rent



Lovers of local art will enjoy the offerings at The Dart Gallery on Portland Street in Dartmouth. Owner Jane MacDougald sources local artwork such as paintings, pottery, jewelry, and collectibles. The gallery also hosts art shows. Art consultation services, installation, and lease-to-purchase financing options available.


Mic Mac Mall

Mic Mac Mall

• With more than 120 stores, Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth offers a variety of high-end retailers and special services perfect for seasonal shopping, anchored by iconic department store The Bay. Three floors of shops includes American Eagle Outfitters, Bath and Bodyworks, Lush, and Forever 21.
• Situated in the West End, Halifax Shopping Centre is the city’s largest shopping mall with 160 stores and services. Shop for a winter wardrobe at Banana Republic, American Eagle Outfitters, or Cleo. Find matching shoes and handbag at Aldo, Naturalizer, or Coach. One-stop-holiday shopping for everyone on your gift list.


Jennifer's of Nova Scotia

Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia

P’lovers, with locations on South Park Street in Halifax and Queen Street in Dartmouth, is the perfect destination for the shopper who likes to make purchases that are sensitive to the Earth. The product line includes eco-friendly art, clothing, books, stationary, home décor, jewelry, and items for the outdoors.
• Since 1978, Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia on Spring Garden Road has been a big supporter of Atlantic Canadian artisans who make unique gifts and works of art. The selection includes pottery, glass, wood, pewter, jewelry, and food; you’re sure to find something special for everyone on your holiday shopping list.




Woozles on Birmingham Street is Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore. It boasts shelves of books that inspire any imagination. Titles include those for baby’s first year of reading to those for young adults. Beyond books, Woozles hosts Battle of the Books, book clubs, book fairs, and more.
• For comic lovers, Strange Adventures, Comics and Curiosities on Prince Street in Halifax is a treasure trove of new and old comics, games, clothing, toys, and more. The award-winning comic book store also hosts Free Comic Book Day.


Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold

For the foodie on your shopping list, find savoury gifts of olive oil and vinegars at Liquid Gold in The Hydrostone and Sunnyside Mall in Bedford. All of the oils in store are ultra premium and made with the best crops in any season. The balsamic vinegars are made in a family-owned facility in Moderna, Italy. Pestos, tapenades, mustards, and confits will help finish off the shopping for any choosy cook.

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For gifts for those with a sweet tooth and a huge sense of fun, visit Freak Lunchbox at its Barrington Street location in Halifax or in Sunnyside Mall in Bedford. This colourful store is bursting with nostalgic novelties such as Pez and Pop Shoppe. Grab a bag of bulk candies in myriad varieties or check out the bobbleheads of cultural icons.


‘Tis the season

By Trevor J. Adams

Parades, live theatre, concerts galore and more—Halifax is abuzz with Christmas magic.

November and December are lively months in Halifax, with dozens of special events to celebrate the holiday season. Read on for our favourites. With an exciting mix of traditional classics and new events, there’s plenty here for the whole family.


Holiday Parade of Lights. Photo: Will Roberts

Holiday Parade of Lights. Photo: Will Roberts

The Holiday Parade of Lights on November 21 marks the unofficial start of the holiday season in Halifax, as some 100,000 spectators line downtown streets to see dozens of floats and musical acts. Also on November 21,

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site hosts its annual Victorian Christmas, sharing Christmas traditions dating back to colonial days. The event continues on November 22.

Victorian Christmas at Halifax Citadel. Photo: Parks Canada

Victorian Christmas at Halifax Citadel. Photo: Parks Canada

Back downtown on November 28, Grand Parade square in front of Halifax City Hall hosts the city’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting, a family-friendly celebration with live entertainment and a visit from Santa. The party moves across the harbour the next weekend, as the park at Sullivan’s Pond hosts the Dartmouth Christmas Tree Lighting on December 5, where the highlights include the Santa Claus Express Train and fireworks.


Back for its 38th year, Christmas at the Forum is one of Canada’s largest annual indoor markets of its type, with some 450 vendors offering art, gifts, antiques, and food. The Halifax Forum on Windsor Street hosts on November 6 to 8.


Alexander Weimann

Alexander Weimann joins Symphony Nova Scotia for Handel’s Messiah

Symphony Nova Scotia offers holiday concerts galore, with Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on November 28 and 29, The Nutcracker (presented with Mermaid Theatre and Halifax Dance) on December 4 to 13, and Handel’s Messiah on December 18 and 19.

A King’s Christmas is back on December 13. A special guest narrator joins the King’s College Chapel Choir at All Saint’s Cathedral on Martello Street for seasonal songs and stories. Paul Halley directs.

The holidays get a Celtic twist on December 20, as the Barra MacNeils perform A Cape Breton Christmas at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

Barra MacNeils

Barra MacNeils


Beloved humourist and storyteller Stuart McLean brings his Vinyl Café Christmas Show to the Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street on November 20. December sees the return of a popular holiday-themed comedy event on December 11 and 12. The annual Ha Ha Halidays event comes to the World Trade and Convention Centre on December 11 and 12, with a lineup that includes Australian funny guy Jim Dailakis and Newfoundlander John Sheehan.


Neptune Theatre’s long-awaited holiday production begins on November 28. A Year With Frog and Toad brings Arnold Lobel’s character to the stage in a Tony-nominated musical. The holiday pantomime at Theatre Arts Guild is another seasonal mainstay. It’s always a lively, rollicking show with lots of audience participation. This year, The Emperor’s New Clothes runs from November 26 to December 12.


October Hot Shopping

By Suzanne Rent

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• Drala on Grafton Street is a favourite spot for those looking for gifts and items reflecting the contemplative lifestyle. Choose from meditation cushions and incense, Japanese teas, and beeswax candles to bring a peaceful energy to your space.
• Located in the recently renovated Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, the Pier 21 Gift Shop boasts unique gifts from around the world, Inuit carvings, traveller accessories, and much more.

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Specializing in head-to-toe service, The Unicorn in Bishop’s Landing caters to the best in women’s style. Locally owned and operated, shop for top brands such as Eliza Caveletti, Laurel, Peruzzi, Riani, and others. Browse the selection of fall and winter styles in handbags, jewelry, and clothing.

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Musicians and music lovers will enjoy a stop into the Halifax Folklore Centre on Brunswick Street. Stringed instruments are available for sale or on consignment. Bring your instrument in for appraisal or repair. The staff are all musicians and knowledgeable about music and the products they sell.

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Carrefour Atlantic and The Puffin Gallery on Upper Water Street offer one-of-a-kind gifts for discerning shoppers looking for something special. Featuring quality gifts such as literature, visual arts, and handicrafts produced in Atlantic Canada, Canada’s North and by First Nations communities.
• The artisans at Amos Pewter in the Historic Properties use traditional practices to handcraft molten pewter into designs that reflect the region’s beauty. Choose from modern and eclectic designs in collectibles, jewelry, home décor, and more.

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• Knitters will love the selection at LK Yarns in The Hydrostone in Halifax’s North End. This shop carries a large selection of yarns, as well as everything else you need for your knitting projects, such as patterns, needles, books, buttons, and baskets.
• Regardless of your skill level, The Loop on Barrington Street welcomes everyone to stop in to browse its selection of items for any project. Find natural yarns, fibres, and tools for crochet and felting projects. Sign up for a workshop to expand on your skill set.
• At Dartmouth Yarns on Portland Street, the motto is “it’s always sweater weather in Nova Scotia.” It has all the supplies you need to get started on your fall and winter sweaters and more. A class on knit therapy or crochet therapy is a great way to spend a blustery fall afternoon.

LOVING LOCALSupportLocal_KellyGreen_BC01-resized
Proud to be local, Dartmouth Clothing Co. has a selection of fun and comfortable t-shirts, baseball hats, tank tops, and posters, all featuring locally inspired logos and designs. Its products are available at Fresh Goods Sneakers and Apparel, Sugar Shok Candy Boutique, Biscuit General Store, Strange Adventures, and The Dart Gallery.


October Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

Held in cities across Canada, the Gold Medal Plates competition showcases top chefs, battling to crown gold, silver and bronze culinary teams. On October 29, eight Nova Scotian chefs will compete in Halifax, including Chef Terry Vassallo of Café Chianti, Chef Bee Choo Char of Gio, and Chef Mark Gray of The Brooklyn Warehouse. Visit www.goldmedalplates.com for tickets.

A TALE TO REMEMBERHall_Sept050017-resized
At Stories, the intimate restaurant located at The Halliburton hotel on Morris Street, Chef Scott Vail’s inspired menu changes with the seasons. His mainstays include local game, lamb, seafood, and housemade charcuterie.

A staple of Halifax’s West End dining scene for more than 30 years, Athens Restaurant on Quinpool Road boasts a menu of flavourful classic Greek dishes, including lamb souvlaki, moussaka and calamari. The space seats about 150 people and is a popular breakfast spot on the weekends.

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Baan Thai on Blowers Street has a fresh menu and colourful furnishings from Bangkok. Choose from any number of curries, Pad Thai or a special all-you-can-eat lunch buffet on Fridays. The delicious menu offers spicy noodles, cashew chicken, shrimp cakes and spring rolls, plus much more.


Photo: Kelly Neil

Photo: Kelly Neil

Chef Andrew Farrell of 2 Doors Down is making his mark on Nova Scotia’s dining scene, creating soulful recipes like deep-fried mac and cheese, and traditional potpie using fresh local ingredients. Find the restaurant in the heart of the downtown on Barrington Street.

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• Downtown on Prince Street, the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse is a large, three-room pub with live entertainment nightly and no cover charge. A great place to relax with friends, the Old Triangle has a classic pub menu and serves weekend brunch.
• Celebrating one year on Halifax’s brewpub scene, Gahan House is a popular destination in the picturesque Historic Properties. Choose from a range of Gahan’s own handcrafted beers on tap, including blueberry ale and Sir John A honey wheat ale.

Musical collaborations

By Trevor J. Adams

Rising stars and beloved veterans join forces for a fiery month of music in Halifax.

This month Symphony Nova Scotia’s new season is going full swing, seeing some remarkable collaborations between local stars and touring talents. The excitement begins on October 2 and 3, as hip-hop artist Buck 65 (AKA CBC Radio host Rich Terfry) returns home to Nova Scotia. The Symphony promises fans “a mind-blowing mash-up of symphonic electronic hip-hop.” The Dalhousie Arts Centre on University Avenue hosts the show.

Buck 65

Buck 65

Up next, the Symphony welcomes back Giora Schmidt. This concert is a must for classical purists. The violin virtuoso has wowed audiences on previous visits with his classical mastery. This time, he turns his considerable talents to Sibelius, marking the 150th anniversary of the conductor’s birth with an in-depth exploration of his music. See him on October 15 at the Dalhousie Arts Centre and on October 18 at Alderney Landing—where the Halifax Transit ferries dock—in Dartmouth.

On October 23 and 24, the Symphony returns to the Dalhousie Arts Centre for one of its most popular concerts of the year: the Halifax Pop Explosion collaboration. This year, it shares the stage with indie rocker and Halifax native Rich Aucoin. A critically acclaimed master of indie rock, indie pop, and experimental music, Aucoin is sure to take audiences on an unforgettable trip.

Giora Schmidt

Giora Schmidt

And that concert is just a taste of what the Halifax Pop Explosion offers. Running from October 20 to 24, the festival celebrates the best in alt and indie music, with accomplished veterans sharing stages with rising stars.

Rich Aucoin. Photo: Vanessa Heins

Rich Aucoin. Photo: Vanessa Heins

Venues include public spaces like Government House and Saint Matthew’s United Church, plus traditional nightspots The Carleton, The Marquee Ballroom on Gottingen Street, the Seahorse Tavern on Gottingen Street, Gus’ Pub on North Street, the Company House on Gottingen Street, Olympic Community Centre on Hunter Street, and Reflections Cabaret on Sackville Street.

With 150 performers at 15 different venues around the city, this is the East Coast’s biggest celebration of alternative music. This year’s lineup includes Travi$ Scott, Purity Ring, Stars, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Black Tiger Sex Machine, and many others.

Leonie Rettig

Leonie Rettig

And on October 29, the Symphony wraps up its busy month with another gem for true classical aficionados. Hailed by Symphony Nova Scotia’s Maestro Bernhard Gueller as “an extremely talented, wonderful player,” German virtuoso pianist Leonie Rettig makes her Canadian debut with Ravel’s breathtaking Piano Concerto in G, a fantastically colourful work famed for its brilliant melodies and heartbreaking slow movement. Then, the orchestra performs Beethoven’s Second Symphony, brimming with energy and temperament. See her at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.

East meets West

Dean Brody

Dean Brody

By Trevor J. Adams

Halifax goes a little bit country as the city celebrates some of Canadian music’s top talents.

The Canadian Country Music Association Awards come to Halifax for only the second time in the event’s history. In addition to the gala awards show, the celebrations include Country Music Week, jam-packed with special events for music lovers.

First on the calendar is the CCMA Songwriters’ Series, beginning on September 10 and continuing through September 13. The Schooner Showroom at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street hosts, as artists explore the songwriter’s craft. Industry veterans and rising stars will share the stage for an intimate acoustic performance series.

Meaghan Blanchard

Meaghan Blanchard

Also on September 10, the World Trade and Convention Centre hosts the CCMA Discovery Showcase. The event brings together six finalists from the association’s Discovery Program for up-and-coming talents. Beverley Mahood hosts, while each artist performs separately for the secret panel of judges.

The finalists were selected through a rigorous, nationwide jury selection process. Since then, they’ve learned in-depth, about the music business and artist development through industry-led information sessions and seminars, performance and vocal coaching, and styling.

The roster includes Meaghan Blanchard (Hunter River, P.E.I.), Raquel Cole (Vernon, B.C.), Ray Gibson (Maple Ridge, B.C.), Maddison Krebs (Okotoks, Alberta), Katia Zuccarelli (Port Credit, Ontario), and Sykamore (Calgary, Alberta).

Up next is the CCMA Legends Show on September 11 at the Dalhousie Arts Centre. Beverly Mahood hosts this special
tribute to Canadian country hits of the past by pairing young talents and industry veterans.

Gord Bamford

Gord Bamford


Ridley Bent


Brett Kissel


The lineup includes Gord Bamford, Tim Chaisson, Patricia Conroy, Tracey Brown, and many others. The same night, the Cunard Centre on Marginal Road hosts a rollicking Kitchen Party.

Return to the Cunard Centre on September 12 for FanFest, a free afternoon show featuring back-to-back live performances by a collection of fan-favourite artists. Attendees will have the opportunity to get their picture taken with these country music celebs at the CCMA FanFest photo wall.

The celebrations continue back at Casino Nova Scotia that night, as the CCMA All Star Band Awards honours the hardworking musicians who spend hours perfecting their skills and supporting artists both on stage and behind the scenes.

Finally, the Scotiabank Centre on Duke Street hosts the eponymous awards show on September 13. The finalists are a who’s-who of Canadian country music scene. Gord Bamford and Nova Scotia’s own Dean Brody lead the pack with six nominations apiece. Following close behind are Brett Kissel and Dallas Smith, with four nominations each.

Tickets are available at ticketatlantic.com. The show airs on CBC and CMT.

September Concierge Q&A

Angela-OBrien-byAMacPhotography-webAngela O’Brien is an executive host at Casino Nova Scotia. She graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Commerce and has a true love for the city of Halifax. She says that being part of Les Clefs d’Or as a professional affiliate has been a great complement to her position.

What’s your favourite spot in Halifax for a romantic dinner for two?

I would have to choose The Prince George Hotel. Their restaurant Gio is an amazing culinary experience and the patio
area at The Level Bar is a great place to relax with a drink after dinner. This patio is a hidden gem in the middle of downtown Halifax. Make sure you order the “Tuk Tuk,” created by their
talented mixologist.

What’s the best place to find a unique Halifax souvenir?

The Uncommon Group have a few locations onthe Halifax Waterfront that have unique Nova Scotia products. Choose from a selection of vintage-logo tees from Lost Cod Clothing to the whiskey glazed Glen Breton Rum Cake at Rum Runners.

What’s the best way to spend a rainy day in Halifax?

I suggest a tour of the newly renovated exhibition at Canada’s Immigration Museum at Pier 21 on the Halifax waterfront. Immerse yourself in the past and experience what it was like to immigrate through Pier 21. Next stop would be the Halifax Central Library with its 180-degree view of downtown. Its unique design and environmentally sustainable five-storey building have been shortlisted for World Building of the Year 2015.

What’s a great spot to experience live entertainment in Halifax?

Neptune Theatre, located downtown Halifax, is the largest professional theatre company in Atlantic Canada. I look
forward to seeing the upcoming performances, especially Great Expectations, when the season opens on September 15.

What’s your favourite spot for a weekend brunch in Halifax?

Edna Restaurant on Gottingen Street knows how to do brunch! They showcase a delicious menu with an emphasis on local ingredients. The space has a cozy, urban feel and the service is friendly and attentive. Very popular and well worth the wait.

September Hot Shopping


By Suzanne Rent

Outdoors is in

Hit the great outdoors this fall in style with attire from Patagonia on Lower Water Street. Besides jackets, shoes, and shirts and pants for men and women, there is also gear for fly-fishing, diving, and camping. Get the kids suited up in their own right-sized gear, too.


  • Tea drinkers will love the assortment of loose tea at World Tea House at its two locations, on Argyle Street and in Sunnyside Mall in Bedford. All of its teas are fair trade, organic, and sold in biodegradable and recyclable materials. In stock are fresh teas such as black, green, herbals, white oolong, and rooibos. Teaware such as tea makers, tea presses, and tea infusers will help complete your collection.
  • Sawadee Tea House on Granville Street carries more than 375 premium teas from around the world. Owner Mie Mie Sein uses her vast knowledge of tea to create special blends for clients looking for tea for medicinal purposes. Sawadee’s loose teas are of high quality and fair trade. Many of the teas here come from Mie Mie’s own farm in the Annapolis Valley.


Editor’s ChoiceScreen Shot 2015-09-02 at 12.49.51 PM

If you love the mystical side of life, visit Into the Mystic on Cole Harbour Road in Dartmouth. Shop for gemstones, jewellery, herbal teas, pendulums, and tarot cards. If you can’t find what you want in store, the staff will help you order it in. After you shop, stay for a cup of tea and psychic reading, infrared treatment, aura scan, astrology, or numerology report.


Shop ’til you drop

Located in the heart of Bedford, Bedford Place Mall on the Bedford Highway is a community centre with more than 60 shops and services. A mix of anchor stores includes fashion retailers such as Suzy Shier and Tan Jay. Newly renovated with a fresh look and spacious food court area.

Just off the major highways connecting Dartmouth and Burnside, Dartmouth Crossing is an accessible one-stop-shopping destination for everyone in the family. In the centre are the Village Shops, a unique mix of boutiques, restaurants, and complete with a playground and amphitheatre, this space has a main street feel with plenty of parking.

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A mainstay of designer fashion in Halifax, Foreign Affair on Barrington Street and Spring Garden Road, has the hottest fall fashions for women. Find all the latest brands, including Paige Denim, Mackage, Rebecca Taylor, and Vince.

Samuel & Co. in Park Lane, Halifax Shopping Centre, and Mic Mac Mall, has the best in casual, career, weekend, and evening styles for women. Brands include Silver Jeans, Mexx, Tribal, Frank Lyman, The North Face, and Helly Hansen.Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 1.09.28 PM

August Hot Dining

By Janice Hudson

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Perched on the top floor of the new Halifax Central Library on Spring Garden Road, Pavia Espresso Bar & Café has incredible panoramic views of downtown Halifax and the harbour. There’s ample seating in the café or you can take your coffee outside on the terrace and check out the sedums growing on the living roof. Modelled after a European espresso bar, the café features locally roasted coffee, Italian espresso and gourmet paninis, plus fresh-baked treats.

Suds of summer

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Photo: Tammy Fancy

The Henry House on Barrington Street is the go-to-spot for a relaxed night out with friends. Park yourself on the sunny patio and pick from an extensive list of beer, including craft ales from the award-winning Granite Brewery.
•Chill out with a cold brew at Rogue’s Roost, a second-level brewpub tucked away uptown on Spring Garden Road. Pick from a variety of beers made on-site, including a popular Russian imperial stout.
•Downtown on Grafton Street, head to The Maxwell’s Plum for the city’s largest selection of draft beer. The 60 beers on tap include top East Coast brews from Moncton’s Pump House Brewery and Cape Breton’s Big Spruce.

Editor’s choice

Photo: Tammy Fancy

Photo: Tammy Fancy

One of Halifax’s busiest Thai restaurants, Talay Thai is enjoying its new digs on the corner of Hollis and Morris streets in Halifax’s South End. Now wheelchair accessible, the refurbished space boasts the same flavourful Thai cuisine that built the restaurant’s loyal following. The inexpensive lunch menu features many signature dishes like masaman curry and pad thai.

Cold comfort

•The made-local trend hits ice cream at Halifax’s two Humani-T cafés: on Young Street in the North End and uptown on Spring Garden Road. Both make small-batch gelato on-site, including milk-free sorbettos. Flavours change daily but always feature fresh local ingredients.
•Visit Sugah at Bishop’s Landing on Halifax’s Waterfront or in the Halifax Public Gardens for hand-paddled ice cream. Choose a base ice cream flavour and then add in mixings (try the brownA sugar fudge—the candy here is made on-site). And then watch staff paddle it all together on a frozen marble slab.

Photo: Janice Hudson

Photo: Janice Hudson

•The sweet smell of fresh-pressed waffle cones will lure you to Cow’s Ice Cream on the Halifax waterfront in the Historic Properties. Don’t be put off if there’s a line—it’s worth waiting. Choose from over 30 ice cream flavours, many with playful names linking back to the company’s P.E.I.’s roots.

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A staple of Halifax’s West End dining scene for more than 30 years, Athens Restaurant on Quinpool Road boasts a menu of flavourful Greek specialties like lamb souvlaki, moussaka, spanakopita and calamari. It’s also a popular breakfast spot on the weekends.

Summer explorations

By Trevor J. Adams

Whether you’re soaring above it all, watching history come alive, or sampling a fine wine, Halifax is perfectly located for day-trip adventures


Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Discover Nova Scotian wines in the Annapolis Valley. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Over the last few years, Nova Scotia has become Canada’s hottest new wine destination. Vintners around the province are producing outstanding wines in a variety of styles, to international acclaim. Conveniently, you’ll find several of those wineries in the Annapolis Valley, about a 90-minute drive northwest of Halifax. The friendly wineries, many in spectacular natural settings, include Avondale Sky, Benjamin Bridge, Gaspereau, L’Acadie, Blomidon Estates, Grand Pré and many others. Recently, the province’s wineries joined forces to launch “Tidal Bay,” Nova Scotia’s first wine appellation. A crisp, aromatic white wine, it pairs perfectly with fresh Atlantic seafood. To use the Tidal Bay designation, a wine must be made from specific grape varieties (all Nova Scotian grown), follow a strict set of standards and be approved every year by an independent blind tasting panel. Pro-tip: Leave the car behind and book a tour with a company like Grape Escapes or Ambassatours Gray Line.  winesofnovascotia.ca


Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Explore the past at Memory Lane Heritage Village. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

A 50-minute drive east of Halifax on Highway 7, the Memory Lane Heritage Village brings Nova Scotia’s past to life, re-creating a typical 1940s Nova Scotian fishing village. The 17 restored buildings include a mill, barn, mine, general store, church and homestead. History buffs will love the Archives Research Centre (but book an appointment in advance). The village hosts special events throughout the year; take in the sounds of the Atlantic Canada Harmonica Festival on August 15. There are lessons for beginners, masterclasses, concerts and more. www.heritagevillage.ca


Race the waves on the Shubenacadie River. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Race the waves on the Shubenacadie River. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

With each cycle of the tides, the mighty waters of the Bay of Fundy surge back into the Shubenacadie River, offering a unique opportunity to go tidal-bore rafting. Few areas in the world are blessed with the high tides necessary to offer this unique adventure. Numerous companies take daily tours from the Shubenacadie and Maitland areas (a 45- to 60-minute drive north of Halifax). On high-powered Zodiac boats, you’ll race out to meet the rushing waves and crest over them, splash around and experience the power of nature firsthand. Pro-tip: Plan your visit around the full moon for the highest tides and wildest ride. www.novascotia.com


Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is a must-see for visitors. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is a must-see for visitors. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Explore Nova Scotia as few do with a helicopter tour from Vision Air Services. Narrated tours will zoom you to the Bay of Fundy, Peggy’s Cove or the Eastern Shore. Custom itineraries available. Or you can waft along at a slower pace with East Coast Balloon Adventures, departing from the heart of the Annapolis Valley (usually near New Minas, a 75-minute drive northwest of Halifax on Highway 101). Flying daily (when conditions permit) at dawn and dusk, the hot-air balloon soars as high as 610 metres above the ground, usually travelling three to 20 kilometres, depending on winds. The ride costs $275 per passenger, with the balloon carrying four passengers plus the pilot. www.eastcoastballoonadventures.com

Drive about 45 minutes west of Halifax on Route 333, and you’ll find one of Nova Scotia’s most-photographed sites: the iconic lighthouse, perched on the rocks above the Atlantic in the fishing village of Peggy’s Cove. In fair or foul weather, this is a must-see destination. There’s lots of space to clamber around the shore and take in the ocean’s beauty, but stay well clear of waves and slippery rocks. After you putter around the working fishing village, visiting shops and galleries, enjoy a slice of the signature gingerbread at the Sou’wester restaurant.


Historic Lunenburg is renowned for its distinctive and well preserved historic buildings. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Historic Lunenburg is renowned for its distinctive and well preserved historic buildings. Photo: NS Tourism Agency

Continuing west, the Lighthouse Route wends its way to the picturesque village of Lunenburg, an hour’s drive on Highway 103. This historic community with its lovingly maintained architecture is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Great dining abounds, including the Old Fish Factory Restaurant and the Knot Pub. See Nova Scotia’s world-class sailing ambassador, the Bluenose II. Lunenburg is the iconic schooner’s home port and after extensive renovations, the vessel is again open to the public. On the waterfront, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic tells how life on the sea shaped generations of Maritimers. museum.gov.ns.ca/fma



August Concierge Q&A

Stephen Morris has worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, starting out in Lake Louise, Alberta as a bellman. In the past nine years, he’s returned to the role of concierge and has been an active member of Les Clefs d’Or, Atlantic Region. He sees himself as “an ambassador” for the Prince George Hotel and the city of Halifax.


What’s your favourite way to spend a summer afternoon in Halifax?

My idea of a great summer afternoon in Halifax is head to the waterfront and the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. Grab a wrap to go at Wrap So D and head out to one of the many sit-down spots and enjoy the sun. Then I would move on down the boardwalk and enjoy a sweet waffle cone from Sugah. Your stroll along the waterfront will burn off all those tasty calories, unless you head back for a second scoop.

What’s the best place to find a locally made Halifax souvenir?

My go-to place for my guests is Amos Pewter in the Historic Properties on Lower Water Street. So many handcrafted gifts and souvenirs that truly embody Nova Scotia. You are sure to find something to take home with you.

What’s your pick for this month’s can’t-miss events?

If you like live music and outdoor fun you won’t want to miss the Dutch Mason Blues Festival happening in Alderney Landing in Dartmouth from August 7 to 9. Located right on the waterfront, it’s a short ride from downtown on the Halifax Transit ferry.

If you had one day in Halifax, how would you spend it?

I would wake up and head over to Steve-O-Reno’s on Brunswick Street and grab a coffee and a bite then head up towards the Halifax Public Gardens and enjoy a nice stroll, a breath of fresh air and take in the beautiful scenery. I would then head over to the Halifax Citadel and watch the firing of the Noon Gun… As I make my way to the waterfront I would grab a bite to eat at Durty Nelly’s on Argyle Street and enjoy a cold beer on the patio. After that I would head to Murphy’s The Cable Wharf where I would get on the Harbour Hopper and enjoy a fun, fact-filled tour of the city and harbour. To top the day off I would relax with a glass of wine and some excellent food at The Bicycle Thief, located in Bishop’s Landing on the waterfront.

What’s your favourite spot for a romantic dinner for two in Halifax?

My recommendation would be The Press Gang on Prince Street. It offers an excellent menu and the lighting is dimmed for a truly romantic ambience. If you are dining on a Friday or Saturday, you will be treated to the jazzy Mike Cowie Trio as you enjoy your meal.