Joe's Food Emporium boasts on its website that its menu has "everything you'll ever want to eat," and it's hardly an exaggeration. The menu spans countries as well as continents—though the kitchen prizes locally grown vegetables as well as healthful doses of extra-virgin olive oil and pure canola oil. North American starters of Cajun chicken and cheese quesadillas work their way up in longitude, eventually settling on poutines that can incorporate cheese curds, chili, or donair meat. Mediterranean recipes yield plates of falafel, pesto pizza, and seafood penne, and stir-fries toss veggies and curry tiger shrimp in flavorful Asian sauces. The selection of oven-baked subs is an atlas all its own, ranging from the hawaiian to the Old English, whose turkey, ham, mozzarella, and vegetables are served atop a page of the Charter of Cnut. Adults belly up to the old-fashioned wood bar to watch the game, whereas diners of all ages enjoy cheesecake and banana splits on the open patio.
In 1976, Glen and May Young established the first May Garden Restaurant?a tiny take-out restaurant fixed along Beaverbank Road in Lower Sackville. Just under two decades later, Glen and May's nephew, Eric, bought the restaurant, and has since reproduced the success of the original mom-and-pop shop at two other locations.
Eric quickly expanded May Garden to a second location in Bedford, then a third in Dartmouth. Even with that continued growth, the original restaurant sticks to its roots. When Eric bought the first May Garden in 1993, he retained the original open-kitchen policy so diners could watch chefs tangle with dancing flames as they fry Dop Woey Almond Ding or do the moonwalk after they form the perfect eggroll. Guests get a front-row seat as the varied menu blooms into colourful dishes, including curries, Szechuan offerings, and chef specialties.
John Shippey received Nova Scotia's first Governor Cornwallis-approved liquor license on July 17, 1749. He promptly opened a pub, affectionately nicknamed the Split Crow, where mariners and travelers could stop for a hearty meal, mugs of ale, and a room for the night. No longer a lodging house, Split Crow Pub has moved on from its original location six times over, and now offers its traditional take on pub food throughout Nova Scotia.
Split Crow's cooks top poutine with barbecued pulled pork, cover baked haddock in a seasoned crab crust, and crown beef burgers with seared ham, bacon, pepperoni, and house-made aioli. A generous helping of domestic, imported, and craft beers accompany meals, as do the dulcet tones of live musicians who take the stage several nights a week.
At Resto Urban Dining, chefs reinvent classic recipes with a combination of foreign seasonings and unusual twists on presentation. Plates of shrimp and prosciutto spaghettini, baked crab and quinoa-crusted haddock, and espresso-braised New Zealand lamb shank soar out of the kitchen. Many of these dishes are gluten free, and all can be paired with the 33 bottles on Resto's international wine list. These modern dishes also complement a contemporary design aesthetic. In the dining room, servers sidle up to blond-wood tabletops and plush, black booths nestled between the cream-coloured walls.
Panda Buffet is a haven of possibilities. Several aisles of glass-topped buffet tubs contain over 100 traditional Chinese dishes, from sweet-and-sour chicken to crispy wontons. The eatery, led by manager Vincent Wong, also features a selection of sushi, and diners can seal in all-you-can-eat meals with a layer of ice cream for dessert.
Kababji Restaurant whisks taste buds to Lebanon with a menu of spit-roasted meats and tahini-flavoured snacks, such as hummus and falafel. A resident kababji, or shish-kebab cook, marinates top-grade beef and locally sourced lamb in oil and spices, accentuating their natural juices. Groups can also gather around shareable mezza platters that contain a chef's selection of appetizers, such as grape leaves, aged cheeses, and skewered shish taouk and kafta. Guests may dine on this cuisine in the restaurant or have it catered to a venue of their choice.
Uncorking fees vanish like microwaved ice sculptures on Monday and Tuesday evenings, when diners can bring their own wine or sample Ksara, a traditional Lebanese vintage. To cultivate a celebratory atmosphere, the restaurant hosts Saturday-night belly-dancing performances and special events such as weddings and birthday parties.