Recently I got to guinea pig a bunch of Local Tasting Tours’ pre-season tours, including the brand new HFX North Craft Beer and Food Tour! In case you haven’t heard of Local Tasting Tours, they are Halifax’s only culinary walking tour company – led by former waitress/actress and long distance walker, Emily Forrest. It’s a great way for both tourists and locals to discover Halifax neighbourhoods. The slow pace of walking allows for socialization and capturing the vibe of the city. It’s a great way to discover new restaurants and get the inside scoop on local businesses – as well as lots of tasty samples!
I was pretty stoked to hear that Emily has added a North End tour this year. In this case, North End = what I call “North Central” as opposed to “NONO” (North of North) – and it’s like, my favourite Halifax neighbourhood. The tour begins at the Prince George Hotel, and moves up to the Town Clock before heading down Brunswick Street, Gottingen Street and finally to Agricola.
The first tasting was an amuse-bouche at Gio.
Next we walked up to the Town Clock and towards Brunswick Street. Emily stopped several times along the way to discuss some local fun facts and history. I learned, for example, that the Little Dutch Church is the second oldest building in Halifax, constructed in 1756. The oldest building is St. Paul’s Church, in case you were wondering.
Our next food stop was Ratinaud French Cuisine, where we got to chat with co-owner, Tom Crilley, while admiring the charcuterie, cheese, oysters and sausage that make up the tantalizing wares of Ratinaud.
Our sample at Ratinaud was some lovely charcuterie:
Not even a block away, The Nook on Gottingen was our next stop. This was our first beer sample – a little jar of Propeller IPA. We also enjoyed a beet, bacon and hard boiled egg wrap with a brownie. I haven’t spent much time at The Nook, but I love the atmosphere and the fact that you can chill with a coffee OR a pint. Or both, of course. It’s always good to be caffeinated AND socially lubricated.
I am absolutely in love with this area of Halifax. So many vibrant new businesses and such a community feel. There is gentrification amidst ghettoization but this is the struggle that makes it so ambivalently lovable.
We walked up Cornwallis Street to Dee Dee’s Ice Cream – (which also happens to have some of the best burritos in town). In this case, we were there for the ice cream: mint chocolate chip, which is one of my favourites.
We made our way to Agricola Street, stopping to peep into the Armoury which had its doors open. Then we stopped for a hefty snack at Hali Deli.
Hefty indeed! We received a quarter sandwich of their smoked meat, piled high and served with coleslaw, pickle and French fries. Hali Deli makes the meanest smoked meat in town. Previously I hadn’t given them this much credit, but my sandwich was utterly delicious. The French fries weren’t bad either. I found myelf ogling the menu, as per usual, drooling over items like borscht and breakfast hash.
I was pretty excited for enVie because I’ve always had good experiences there and I love the idea of fancied up vegan mimicry. In this case we were served “bacon wrapped scallops”, which, of course, involved no bacon or scallops. Instead, this was a creative take using king mushrooms and smoky tempeh. Neat-o! We also enjoyed our second beer sample: Garrison Raspberry Wheat.
We continued on to Local Source next door. This neighbourhood grocery has a strong local emphasis, and staff were nice enough to tour us around and give us samples of fresh local veggies. Let me tell you – the baby tomatoes were out of this world! If you have never had a real tomato, the time is now.
Again, right next store (because this block of Agricola is awesome) we entered Lion & Bright for our third beer sample: the Belgian IPA from North Brewing (also located just down the street!). This was accompanied by a grilled cheese sandwich of goats cheese, apple, and rhubarb purée on Local Source bread! Yum!
The tour ended appropriately with dessert. FRED. beauty food art is a hair salon and café owned by the Halifamous Fred Conners. We were given cute and decadent mini chocolate cupcakes.
This tour is not your conventional Waterfront/Citadel routine, but a great way to be immersed in North End culture (or “North Central”, if you insist). We covered a good distance, ate lots of grub, and had some good conversations. It’s totally worth the price ($40 all-in).
This tour runs Thursday to Saturday at 1:30pm, and takes approximately 2.5 hours. Please note that tastings may vary, so your experience may not be exactly the same as mine. I was a guinea pig, after all.