One of my favourite things about this time of year is participating in Downtown Halifax Business Commission′s Big Day Downtown. A wide array of local bloggers and writers are given a pre-paid credit card to enjoy what downtown Halifax has to offer. Each time there’s a twist, and this year we were challenged to ask our social media followers where to shop, sip, snack and have fun downtown.
My friends and followers came back to me with a plethora of their own personal favourites (think Stillwell, The Press Gang, Biscuit, Urban 30, Spirit Spa and more). So, on my big day (downtown, that is) I wandered with all these amazing suggestions bouncing around in my head. Although I was keen to try something new, I was inevitably drawn to Biscuit General Store; I think that this is an intriguing testament to this not-so-little boutique that could.
I’ve been visiting Biscuit since it first opened in Park Lane way back in the ’90s. At that time, it was one of the only independent boutiques around. Today, I still shop there for frocks, housewares and gifts and it’s the friendly service and wide selection that brings me back year after year. To be honest, I could have spent all my money here but I managed to show (some) restraint and walked away with a wine coloured rose print dress that would work perfectly for an evening out, but also be suitable for a business meeting. Plus, I snapped up a hilarious Star Wars-themed thumb wars game for my nephew that includes the tiniest light sabres. Since he’s about to turn four and absolutely refuses to wear or play with anything not Star Wars related, I know that this creative gift will be a home run.
After working up an appetite while shopping, I decided to meet my friend Sally for a light lunch and I was determined at this point to try something new. Sally had suggested The Auction House on Argyle Street and we found ourselves a nice patio spot. Aside from their tantalizing menu, I was intrigued by the unique concept behind The Auction House. Earning its name, they auction off specific menu items to raise money for charities and have bidding panels neatly tucked into each table.
Happily, we started with two 1726 cocktails (The Auction House address) made with Tanqueray gin, lemon thyme sage simple syrup and prosecco, which we both agreed were light and delightfully refreshing. Served with a sprig of thyme and a lemon curl, the cocktail has a sophisticated yet quintessentially summer flavour. Since Sally was visiting, she wanted to indulge in Nova Scotia seafood and ordered the pan seared haddock. This turned out to be more of a hearty stew with a healthy portion of seafood and vegetables with a light, favourful broth (see video). Meanwhile, my super food salad was also memorable as it was brimming with greens—kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, green cabbage, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts. I followed our friendly server’s suggestion to go with the maple dressing instead of poppyseed and this nicely complemented the crispness of the salad. We even had enough in our budget left to bid on a classic Irish coffee with the proceeds going to the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.
Combining an old favourite haunt with discovering a new-to-me creative restaurant with a twist made for yet another memorable Big Day Downtown. Although Biscuit is a staple for me, they are still always surprising and the fun of bidding on delicious drinks or dishes for a good cause at The Auction House was contagious. My friends and followers gave me so many amazing suggestions but these two destinations are sure-fire crowd pleasers with a little something for everyone.