East Coast Eats: Halifax

by byn on March 8, 2011

in Bakeries & Restaurants

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In 2008 I spent two weeks in Halifax, and it was amazing for so many reasons. My family is from a tiny town in Nova Scotia, but this was my first time in the city. I had so much fun, and my best work friend Paulette was with me the whole time. We worked hard during the day, and walked around the city at night and on the weekend, eating our way through a lengthy list of restaurant recommendations from Barry as well as Nicole’s friend who went to Dalhousie.

Last week I made a not-so-triumphant return. I was only in town for four days and unfortunately work got in the way of my ambitious eating goals. It was really cold at night, which made it hard to feel like venturing out of the hotel.  I’ll have to get around to a retro-blog post about those fantastic two weeks, but until then, I have a few notes from this trip.

Durty Nelly’s

This spot was recommended by a cab driver, and I was skeptical based on the name. Then someone in the office told me it had been on a TV show, so that got me curious. I assumed it was on Restaurant Makeover, but when I asked our waitress, she said it was actually The Opener, and I’ve totally seen this episode.

Turns out Durty Nelly’s is an Irish Pub, but it was actually built in Ireland, and the whole thing was shipped over to Halifax. The food is typical pub fare, with an emphasis on local ingredients, especially (of course) seafood. I had the Nova Scotia lamb stew, mostly because it came with a cheddar and green onion biscuit which was calling my name.  It was also served with something called Irish colcannon on top, which my co-worker googled on her phone to find out it’s mashed potatoes with kale. It was so hearty and warm, perfect for that cold night.

Il Mercato

This is Barry’s favourite restaurant in Halifax, and unfortunately Paulette and I missed it last time. I brought my group of co-workers here for dinner on our last night, and they thought I was a superstar. I had risotto croquettes for dinner, on another former co-worker’s recommendation, and they were perfect. They had a dark, crisp crust on the outside, and the inside was filled with creamy rice, mushrooms, and oozing with cheese, and they were on a dish of rich, delicious tomato sauce. I ate all three, about the size of tennis balls, and promptly lost interest in my entrée, which was fine, because I didn’t really like it anyway.

And then dessert. They make everything in house, and the waiter had me at Butterscotch Cream Pie. Where has this been all my life? Is this an East Coast thing? Why have I never heard of this before? So many questions, with one answer: it was the best piece of pie of my ENTIRE LIFE. The crust was perfectly buttery and flaky, and filled with what Danielle and I have determined must have been like a butterscotch pudding or custard.  This was topped with about two inches of slightly sweetened whipped cream, and finally sprinkled with little crunchy bits of burnt sugar. And I didn’t have my camera! *sigh* I think I need to take a day off work dedicated to re-creating this at home.


On my last trip to Halifax, I went to the cutest little coffee shop called Uncommon Grounds. The scone of the day was mint chocolate chip, and I remember thinking that this would either be absolutely amazing or totally disgusting. I loved it! Last week I was googling to see if the locations were still the same, and found the link to their sister store, Sugah.

I took just about the most depressing, bleak walk down to the Halifax Harbour, and found Sugah there. They have hand-paddled ice cream (not the best idea in the middle of February), but also hand-crafted chocolate bars. I was really excited by the ones that had Nova Scotia sea salt mixed in, and picked up a few to take home. They also had the cutest little line of retro bars, and I bought a bunch to take with me to St. John’s to eat with Danielle. The girl working there told me she makes all the bars herself and recommended the shortbread one, which I would not have picked up otherwise, and Dani and I ended up liking that one the best. You can also order all of their products via their website, in case you want to check it out!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristine March 9, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Thanks for my treats! I loved both chocolate bars.. especially the chocolate pretzel one. I’ve also been thinking about a visit to the east coast to have all the fresh seafood for quite some time now… Lei… let’s make it happen!!!


Leianne @ yummy belly March 9, 2011 at 10:53 am

Oooh! Love it! I’ve been wanting to visit the East Coast purely out of my love for seafood. But swanky Italian and handcrafted chocolate on top of that? Might have to get there sooner than later!


Danielle March 9, 2011 at 5:51 am

I never realize how much we geek out over food until I read posts like this and realize our reunion consisted of analyzing your pie and taste testing chocolate bars! I would have it no other way!!


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