Local

Review: Local New Brunswick Wines

I drove and stayed in Saint John for a few days for work- while I was there I figured I would indulge in some local wines.

Local New Brunswick Wine review

I headed for NB Alcool and grabbed the first store clerk I could find to direct me to the best local wines available. That poor girl didn't know what was coming....

1) "Verger Belliveau" a pear wine from Memramcook, NB.

Verger Belliveau

The wine was sweet. smooth and fresh tasting. It went down like fruit juice without any issues. You could very easily enjoy this as a treat, with dinner, or at an event.

2) "Richibucto River" from Mundleville, NB

Richibucto River

This wine was much more dry than my first choice, and also much more tarte. Better for someone who prefers their wine a little stronger and not with the personality of juice (I can be in the mood for either sometimes).

I found this was best combined with a meal, it's not sweet enough for a treat and a bit strong to sip on at an event.

3) "Dunhams Run Long Reach" made with honey from Kingston, NB

Dundams Run Long Reach

This bottle was SWEET I would even place it as more of a dessert wine to be frank. It has a very strong honey taste as was quite dry. I recommend one glass at a time as a treat with this one- it can get over powering very quickly.

The verdict:

3 nights, 3 bottles (I'm sure the hotel cleaners thought I was a lush... But after my experience with the hotel I'm not overly concerned of what they thought of me. My favorite of the 3 was definitely the Verger Belliveau- it's sweet and smooth personality made it perfect for a relaxing evening.

Halifax Burger Week 2018

One of the reasons I love my city.. It's BURGER WEEK. Every year in Halifax The Coast and other sponsors put on a wonderful event to raise money for Feed Nova Scotia. It's also a great opportunity to explore the local talent of the Halifax restaurant scene.

Burgers

If you want to take a look at the burgers from last year click here for the 2017 Halifax Burger week review.

This year goes from March 22nd to the 28th, I cleared my schedule of all non-burger related events for the 22nd and the 23rd to take in as much as I could of the 126 restaurants that are participating.

I also have some appropriate apparel for the event.

Halifax Burger week 2018

Day 5- Back to work

Well the dream couldn't last forever, had to head back to the office to pay off my Visa bill. So I needed to get a little more creative with my burger choices, thankfully the burger week lineup has a lovely take-out option to take advantage of!

I did realize very quickly however that consuming that much beef and sitting for 7 hours is NOT a good combination.

The first burger I had was a pleasant surprise! I choose to go to Redwood simply for convenience.. It's right across the street it just made good sense! However I've had sub par food there before so I went in not really sure what to expect. 

It doesn't look like much here but I assure you it was to die for.

It doesn't look like much here but I assure you it was to die for.

The burger is called Maple Mania: A handmade burger patty topped with Canadian cheddar, onion tanglers and bacon. Finished with a pour of their delicious creamy maple sauce. I'm not a big lover of sweets HOWEVER the combination of the syrup and the bacon was absolutely delicious! The bun was also soft and had a hint of sweet, more than likely a brioche bun.

maple2.jpg

My only critique for here was that they clearly don't do take out very often, the phone is not manned and when I finally gave up (after 4 tries) and attempted to leave a message, their voicemail was full... Thankfully we were able to put in the order in person.

My Second burger of the day was from Bubba Rays. No issue calling in my order or having it ready in a timely manner! Amazing service all around. 

Also, look how adorably they wrapped my sandwich!!

Also, look how adorably they wrapped my sandwich!!

Bubba Ray's made a "Fat boy burger": 6oz patty, montreal smoked meat, Swiss cheese, house made coleslaw and thousand island dressing served on a unique butter-styled bun.

bubba2.jpg

This burger had unique qualities, I was especially excited for the Montreal smoked meat! Unfortunately the coleslaw was the dominant flavor in this sandwich and not much else had a chance to shine. This was a heavy load to take in and I didn't finish it in one shot, interestingly enough it was a bit better cold!

Last burger for today was a much needed break from beef. For meatless Monday we set sail for Cheese curds to have their vegetarian option. 

cheese2.jpg

The burger was a black bean patty wrapped in a spring roll wrapper dressed with carrots, cilantro and sweet onions. I asked for the pickles as I am a fiend for pickles (also note the side of deep fried pickles). This was the first burger I wasn't able to finish- too sweet... I can't do a sweet overload and this was just too much for my little mouth. The deep fried pickles were awesome though.

The service was top notch as well, all the staff is friendly and effecient. I was expecting a huge line when we arrived but it was very manageable and we received our food in record time. It wasn't the best place to go with a party of 15 as the seating area is a bit small but we all found room to sit and enjoy our food.

Day 4- Finishing off the dark side

Sunday we took it easy and stayed close to home. We visited Big Leagues in Cole Harbour for the Italian Job burger: 6-oz Angus beef chuck patty with mozzarella cheese, bruschetta, house-made marinara and lettuce, topped with a balsamic glaze and served on parmesan garlic toast.

The Italian Job

The Italian Job

This burger was very enjoyable, you could taste every ingredient in every bite. Nothing was over powering and nothing got lost in the mix. I'm very happy we stopped here, this was a very pleasant burger. I am also obsessed with the garlic toast, I'm going to be using this in lieu of regular bread and buns more often!!
The service here was very friendly and quick (but not as scary quick as the lions head) I definitely enjoyed everything about this burger.

Day 3- I'm starting to feel full.

My stomach is starting to hate me for all the red meat. For lunch I took a little break and gave my poor gut some chicken.

Mezza has a chicken shawarma burger that was definitely worth trying when you need that breathe of fresh air.
 

Rotisserie-roasted, thinly sliced all-white chicken, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, house-made pickled turnips and Mezza’s signature garlic sauce.

Halifax burger week 2018

I met a friend and her sister at Mezza downtown Halifax... Thanks to construction and just poor availability of parking it took 20 minutes of driving and cursing before I gave up and ended up in an underground paid parking lot. I was just happy to be over it by that point!
This was a nice break but not without some challenges. The chicken is pre-made and sitting in a tub to dry out, but the tasty garlic sauce and pickles help you forget. You do lose a lot of it in the consumption process.

Halifax burger week 2018

I also had to laugh at the 1/4 head of lettuce that was on my burger! No cares were given when they were chopping baha. I had to grab a fork for this dry extra in my plate.

For dinner I headed to a local establishment. SEAMUS DAVID’S PUB is just a hop skip and a jump from home- I wasn't feeling the restaurant scene after a long few days so I called to see if they'd offer take-out. I was in luck they were very willing to cater to that request.

Halifax burger week 2018

8-oz burger topped with bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, pickle, spicy mayo and a fried egg, served on a sourdough bun. This was a pricier option.. Almost $16 for just the burger but the ingredients they chose were delicious.

Halifax burger week 2018

Although not overly spicy there was a delicious amount of flavor! This was a delicious combination of breakfast favorites. Although my fingers were sticky I certainly recommend thsi burger.

 

Day 2- Lions Head

I dropped the ball on Friday, there was some adulting tasks I had to take care of that limited my burger adventures. I did however make it to the Lion's Head between commitments. This burger is a juicy Angus beef patty on a sesame bun, topped with nacho chips and mild chili, finished with zesty cheese sauce.
The service was incredibly efficient, they definitely has the patties pre-made as the burger came out in under 5 minutes.

Halifax burger week 2018

This burger was satisfying, the chili added great flavor plus a spicy kick. Unfortunately the burger did not stay with me long (I blame that on the pre-made patty).

Day 1- Dartmouth!

I started hitting the joints at 11am, to my disappointment my first stop (as it's just a hop,skip and a jump from my house) Monte's was not yet serving food... They open at 10am and will serve you liquor but lunch? Pffft no way too early... I'm debating trying again but that experience left a sour taste in my mouth and confirmed Monte's reputation of a slimy dive bar.

Dave Dolittle's Burger week burger

After my disappointing start I headed to Dave Doolittle's on Tacoma Drive for their Delicious Diablo burger. This burger is a 6-oz local lean ground beef with Cajun spices, served up with red onion marmalade, jalapeno havarti cheese, banana peppers, lettuce and tomatoes.

Walking in you get a great local vibe from this place, the server was super friendly and we had a little fun setting up the burger week table topper. While waiting for the burger I over heard a young lady come in and sit at the bar, without skipping a beat one of the bartender's said "your usual hun?" and she immediately responded yes. I thought that was absolutely adorable and so much friendlier than the interactions I saw between the bartender and the drunks at Monte's... This place gets lots of points for service! Also... People actually frequent a bar often enough to have a usual outside of a TV show?! Amazing.

The burger was a spicy delight! The bun was soft and the patty was definitely hand made. The only critique I have is the bun was a bit larger than the patty, creating an excess of bread at the end of the meal. The marmalade was a delicious combination with the banana peppers. It was spicy but not over the top. This was a good start to the day.

The meal came with some interesting chips. Still can't pin point the flavor...

The meal came with some interesting chips. Still can't pin point the flavor...

My next stop was to Trendz Cafe and Wine Bar. I'm not going to lie I had no idea this restaurant existed as it's hiding in a little corner between Dartmouth Crossing and Burnside. I walked in and immediately felt under dressed, it is a very well put together restaurant.

The service however rather disappointing... The first impression for me was " wow I'll be coming here again!" but after the sub par service I'd be hesitant... The server was polite enough but didn't really take any time for me. Took my order, brought the order, brought the bill. I don't expect a server to be all over me but it would have been nice if she asked how the food was... Or asked if I wanted my bill... Or offered to refill my small glass of water as this burger was quite rich.

The featured burger is Trendz Spicy Peanut Butter Thai Burger. Oulton's Nova Scotia beef, Napa cabbage, grilled scallions, crispy noodles, cilantro, spicy peanut sauce, and tandoori yogurt served on a toasted kaiser. So this burger was not spicy at all, the peanut sauce was still delicious but peanut sauce is like my frank's hot sauce.. I put that $*** on everything! Everything else on this burger was.. flavorless with a hint of sweet. Overall it wasn't great... The pickle on top was tasty I guess.

Trendz Burger week burger
Trendz

I also couldn't help but notice there was a bit of a contrast from the official burger week photo and the burger that I received.. I mean maybe I'm being a little harsh but c'mon at least try to fold my pickle all the way.

 

 

 

 

The last stop of the day was Parkside Pub and Smokehouse on Highfield park drive. This was the only place I grabbed a side, figured I'd treat myself for supper. The burger was the Up'n Smoke burger: 6-oz certified Angus beef on a sesame seed bun. Topped with bacon, slow-smoked pulled pork, crispy pickle fries, tomato smoked relish and sweet-and-spicy pimento cheese sauce.

Parkside burger week burger

This burger was my favorite overall, my only critiques would be that the bun definitely looked like a Ben's bun.. and the place was not overly clean... I ordered a glass of wine and when it arrived it was clear the glass had just been "washed" at least on the inside, the outer parts of the glass were stained with probably condiments or something of that variety. There was also a couple of fruit flies kicking around... The positives to this burger do thankfully outweigh the cons and the dirty glass. The pulled pork was perfection and was definitely the dominant flavor along with the deep fried pickles made to look like fries, those were great I could eat those like popcorn! (Disclaimer: I love pickles like a pregnant woman) I also enjoyed the relish and the server was very sweet, my boyfriend asked for a few changes to his burger and he got everything he requested. Last stop of the evening set the tone for the day and this is currently the one to beat!

Burger week passport 2018

I feel it was a great start to burger week given the obstacles of staying close to home, some not serving food and the awful weather. I'm sitting with a full stomach feeling accomplished. Now to decide where I will visit tomorrow!

7 days.. 10 Burgers... And that barely put a dent into it! I have a new strategy for next year: Quality over quantity. If I only hit 3 joints next year but I hit all the overly unique and over the top burgers I'll be so happy! The countdown is now on.

Review: Vernon's Diner

Every Wednesday I take some time to review a product, place or experience in hopes I'll inspire someone to try something new! 

After running some Sunday morning errands we found ourselves hungry in Hammond's plains so what better time to finally get to try out Vernon's cafe for some breakfast.

Review-Vernon's Diner.jpg

 

This 50's style diner is a work of art. You can tell the owner spared no expense with this design. Everything was planned out to the tee. It's been a while since I've been to a brand new building with a brand new restaurant (While we frequent new establishments often- there's something about a fresh building) There wasn't a thing out of place, a scuff on the floor/ walls. No rips in the seats or chips in the table and the place was CLEAN, it was an absolute breathe of fresh air!

Showcased on the roof and in the main entrance as you come in is 2 beautiful vintage T-bird cars.

Vintage car at Vernon's Diner

We arrived at 9:30 and was immediately greeted by a smiling host and were seated at a clean booth. Shortly after being seated we were greeted by another warm and smiling waitress who promptly got us some much needed coffee! (Some tasty local fair trade coffee.)

Vernon's diner review

The breakfast menu is a one pager, and prices are good.

Vernon's menu

 

I got myself a breakfast poutine and Mike grabbed the cinnamon roll french toast (which he devoured so fast I never got a photo of- it looked like a diabetes paradise)

The breakfast poutine is essentially a skillet with cheese curds with hollandaise sauce poured on top like gravy. That to me seemed a little bit of a rich overload so I got the hollandaise sauce on the side (it was a good idea)

Breakfast Poutine

 

The food came very quickly and was very tasty. I would have loved there to be more spices on the potatoes but that is really my only critique.

The waitress made her way over to check on us multiple times during our visit.

 

The Verdict...

Overall Atmosphere: 10/10

The space was new, clean and well lit. There was fun music which was low enough that it wasn't annoying but you could still hear it. Nothing negative to say about the overall atmosphere.

Service: 10/10

The host was on point, the server was on point. My coffee cup was never empty for long and the server wasn't afraid to give us recommendations. Bonus points for the fact that everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there.

Food Quality: 9/10

I would have really liked some spices on the potatoes but other than that everything was great.

Timing: 10/10

We were in and out within 30 minutes from when we sat down and left. The food was fast and hot and the server checked up on us many times.

Price: 10/10

Cost in ratio for quantity and quality was great. 

Location: 8/10

It's not exactly a hop skip and a jump from our house in Dartmouth but for anyone in Tantallon/ Bedford area this is an easy stop for a good meal. Parking was awesome. Lots and lots of parking.

... 57/60

We'll be back.

Review: Antonio's Italian & Canadian Cuisine

I’ve been driving on Hwy 101 literally my entire life. My family is from Meteghan River which is almost as south as you can get in Nova Scotia. Completely unaware this entire time I’ve been driving by a little hidden gem of a restaurant.

Antonio’s Italian & Canadian Cuisine can be found right off Hwy 101 just after the Digby exit (coming from Halifax) They’ve been in business for 22 years (so literally I’ve been passing this place almost all my life) and it’s owners are the only cook and server in the place.

Coming home from a long weekend my boyfriend and I found ourselves starving around 3pm and just happened to see the fish and chips sign on the side of the road… So we decided to stop!

Full disclosure: it looks like a hole in the wall when you first get there BUT within seconds of arriving we were welcomed by the owners, and were just made to feel so at home! You can tell they invest in their service and their food as opposed to the décor but I’m perfectly ok with that.
Known for their FRESH fish and chips that's exactly what we ordered and it was amazing, the batter on the fish was incredibly light and flaky. Portions were large and price was great. 
They've been in business for many years and the pride this couple has for their restaurant is amazing. I even had a conversation with the cook about his recent potato order. 
You need to stop here! Just watch their hours, on weekdays they only open at 4pm-8pm (understandable considering they manage and run it themselves) but on weekends they're pretty much open all day! (12pm-8pm)

You need to stop here, it’s worth it if you’re in the area! You’ll feel so at home.

They have a great reputation on Trip Advisor, some amazing reviews and photos can be found there. If you do end up there, make sure you give them a great review. They will really appreciate it!

 

I also wanted to take a little space to showcase one of my cakes this week. With the theme of fish and chips here is a blob fish birthday cake!

Said to be the ugliest fish in the sea!

Said to be the ugliest fish in the sea!

A real blob fish!

A real blob fish!