Dine Around Halifax returned to the city on Feb. 1, as restaurants and bars around the city kicked off a month-long cuisine celebration — with the addition of several new establishments and the absence of a familiar favourite.
Held every February, Dine Around is an event organized by Discover Halifax in partnership with the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia. Participating locations showcase special menu items at predetermined prices, in a celebration of Halifax’s culinary scene.
The items’ prices range from $10 to $50 and include a variety of drink, appetizer and meal combinations depending on where they fall on the price scale.
Helping the business flow
Holly Chessman, Discover Halifax’s director of marketing and member services, says the event helps to support local restaurants during the slower winter months.
“February is typically a quiet month for restaurants coming out of the holidays. People this time of year tend to hibernate and stay at home more than they normally would in other months,” says Chessman. This event “helps the restaurants in the sense that we try to get people through the doors and bring in some new customers that haven’t been there before.”
Dine Around is set to see its highest levels of restaurant participation this year. Discover Halifax says more than 115 establishments are taking part this time around.
Drift, Café Lunette, Bar Sofia and Peacock Wine Bar in downtown Halifax, along with Ori Foods in Dartmouth, are among the new additions to this year’s event.
One restaurant that will be missing from Dine Around this year is Grafton Street gastropub Stubborn Goat. The popular downtown restaurant announced that it has temporarily closed its doors following a fire at the restaurant on Jan. 30.
Following last February’s Dine Around, where COVID-19 restrictions limited groups to 10 people and required businesses to close by 12 p.m., this year’s event aimed to help restaurants get back on their feet.
The executive director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, Gordon Stewart, says Dine Around is a unique support for restaurants because there is no cost to participate.
“For this event, there is no cost to the restaurants whatsoever. There are many other promotions that cost restaurants, but this doesn’t,” says Stewart. “It supports what our purpose is, which is to try to help restaurants.”
With the variety of restaurants taking part, it’s a unique opportunity for everyone living in Halifax — newcomers and locals alike — to discover their new favourite menu item. We at the Dalhousie Gazette tried out a few of the participating restaurants’ Dine Around menus and here’s what you missed.
The Cheeky Neighbor Diner – $10 lunch menu
The Cheeky Neighbor Diner on Quinpool Road is bright and modern, with colourful posters and furniture. Their $10 breakfast meal consists of crunchy waffle fries dressed with creamy, hot melted cheese, green and red onion, as well as tomatoes with Tex-Mex seasoning along with a lime wedge.
The dish is essentially the ultimate comfort food. The idea of mixing brunch with nachos manifests itself in this dish as a mixture of textures. It is a filling and cheap meal for anyone looking for a budget-friendly treat.
Sea Smoke Restaurant – $20 lunch menu
Situated on the waterfront, the Sea Smoke $20 lunch menu included a bento box with battered shrimp, a roll of Sea Smoke signature sushi roll, edamame, teriyaki chicken and rice along with a mango and crab salad.
The shrimp was buttery and warm in perfect contrast with the salad, which was cool and refreshing. The Sea Smoke fusion roll, arguably the star of the box, featured soft scallops with creamy wasabi aioli and unagi sauce combo.
The patio, when open, is a beautiful place to sit by the fire and take in the ocean. The inside is minimalist and dimly lit with large windows spanning most of the walls. The Dine Around deals are great ways to try out one of the somewhat pricier restaurants in Halifax’s sushi scene.
Kyo Kitchen and Bar – $50 dinner for two
Kyo on Barrington Street specializes in ramen, so it is no surprise that their ramen was the star in their two-course $50 drinks-included meal for two. The cocktail was a creative spin on a whiskey sour: fresh and strong with citrus highlights.
The two-person deal includes two appetizers. There is a choice between creamy, warm mushroom gyoza, crunchy lotus root chips, or salty, chewy fried chicken skins.
The ramen was warm and smooth with pork, a perfectly cooked, creamy yolk egg, cabbage and noodles. The portion was smaller than their regular size but was filling enough after the appetizers.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was dark, with industrial-modern string lights, greenery and exposed brick walls. This deal would be great for a date night downtown.
Brooklyn Warehouse – $50 dinner menu
The Brooklyn Warehouse, located across the street from the Halifax Forum on Windsor Street, is a quaint restaurant decorated in industrial fashion with a variety of plants and big windows to brighten up the space.
Its Dine Around menu is a three-course meal including ricotta gnudi, braised beef and chocolate mousse. The first course was the most memorable on the menu, as everything on the plate went together so well. The dish seemed familiar and comforting, yet also original. This curated menu is substantial enough to split between two friends and still be filling.
Whether you are looking for an intimate date night or an excuse to dress up and have a night out with your friends, the Brooklyn Warehouse and its Dine Around menu is a choice you don’t have to think twice about.
Black Sheep Restaurant – $50 dinner menu
Located in the Brewery Market on Lower Water Street, the Black Sheep Restaurant is tucked away but definitely worth the visit. The interior is dimly lit with whimsical individual lamps on every table. When seated upstairs the display of hanging plants create dimension and bring life into a restaurant that is decorated more on the industrial side.
Their Dine Around dinner menu consists of three courses. There is a variety of options within each course to choose from — the white bean and sweet potato soup, calamari, mussels and fried chicken for the first course, lobster ravioli, steak frites, pork chop and cod for the second, as well as your choice of dessert accompanied by coffee or tea for the last.
The calamari was perfectly crispy and paired so well with the creamy sauce. The lobster ravioli, along with the house-made focaccia, was buttery and bright from the lemon and truffle cream. The tiramisu had bourbon undertones without being too heavy and felt homemade in all the best ways. Similar to the Brooklyn Warehouse, this menu was also substantial enough to be split between two people and still be filling.
Cover: Discover Halifax