Though Liz Cunningham had worked in the television industry for more than three decades, her aspirations lay away from the spotlight. She wanted a slice of delicious quiet—a neighbourhood restaurant where guests could retreat from the busy streets and tuck themselves away in conversation. So she set to work, enlisting friends to help her paint and furnish the space that would become her cozy eatery. Then, with the paint drying, the only thing left was the name. Liz and a friend soon landed on _Tess_—an homage to her mother, whose photograph hangs above the handmade bar in a framed reproduction of a 1937 newspaper ad wherein she models a fur-trimmed coat on sale for $29.98.
Liz strives to capture the warmth that radiates from that picture, albeit with more eco-conscious methods such as the restaurant's geo-thermal heating-and-cooling system. She also partners with other area businesses to fill her seasonally changing menu with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. All dishes are made-from-scratch, including crepes wrapped around such savoury indulgences as locally smoked Atlantic salmon, slow-roasted chicken, or sweeter brunch ingredients such as Nutella and caramelized apples. Vegetarian items and an option for gluten-free batter, meanwhile, accommodate common dietary restrictions while leaving those who can only eat freeze-dried ice cream to their own devices. During temperate weather, guests can dine beneath canopies on the outdoor patio, which resides on a peaceful stretch of street away from crowds. A newly built, more intimate patio resides in the back of the restaurant, flooding guests with sunlight or moonbeams during private events.
According to her recent profile in East Coast Living, Sawadee Tea House owner Mie Mie Sein travels to her native Thailand every year to tour plantations and explore new blends of tea. The fruits of these annual trips are on display at her two-level shop along the Granville Mall, where she constantly replenishes labelled jars with more than 250 loose-leaf varieties from regions as far-flung as Thailand, Kenya, and China. The aromas of black, green, herbal, floral, and specialty teas pervade the shop as they steep, luring passersby in for a calming mug or a rejuvenating splash in the face. Sawadee Tea House also serves as a boutique; beside the neatly stacked rows of jars sit accessories such as stainless-steel infusers and glass vessels for storing tea leaves.:m]]
Brought together through a mutual love of the local culinary culture, the staff at The Mindful Mango Cafe uses locally sourced ingredients to craft its soups, salads, wraps, and paninis. Breakfast, which is served all day long, includes organic, fair-trade coffee, whole-grain toast, stone-hearth bagels, and a Mexican egg burrito with fresh salsa, guacamole, and cheddar cheese. A roasted chicken panini makes a hearty lunch out of pesto mayo, caramelized onions, sweet peppers, and mozzarella. Situated in a spacious dining courtyard, the shop's glass cases, loaded with fresh-baked muffins and treats, attract patrons as well as opportunistic stained-glass salesmen.
It’s hard to know where to look first upon walking into one of Jungle Jim’s two-dozen locations. Nearly every inch of wall space overflows with such safari-themed accoutrements as palm fronts, bamboo poles, colored lights, and a tiki bar. Although the restaurant aims to transport families to an exotic tropical wonderland, the huge menu is stuffed with familiar favorites designed to appeal to nearly every kind of diner. Chicken panini wraps and zesty buffalo wings swing quickly from the kitchen, but for more ceremonious occasions there are also a number of upscale, steakhouse-style options. A favorite is the St. Louis-style Rhino Ribs, a heft half-rack made sticky with honey garlic or barbecue sauce. Alongside such decadence, the special Slim Jim menu showcases entrees with 550 calories or fewer, such as pan-seared tiger shrimp and grilled chicken salad. Kids can dig into smaller portions on their own menu—which, once they’ve decided between alfredo pasta and animal-shaped chicken nuggets, they can fold into a tiki-style mask.
Every six months, according to The Coast magazine, Chef Stefan Bruchmann begins updating his menu at Nectar Restaurant and Wine Bar. Those seasonal changes have been met with consistent acclaim, including The Coast's honor of "Best Dartmouth Restaurant" five years running. The ever-evolving menu has been known to spotlight mains such as crispy arctic char with a crusted potato cake, wilted spinach, vine roasted tomatoes and honey mustard vinaigrette and a chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, havarti, and oyster mushrooms served with a red pepper jam. Chef Stefan combines the secrets and techniques that he garnered from his culinary experiences in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland.
Nectar's bartenders match that creativity with a slate of inventive martinis?which includes the garlic-tinged Janes' Bond and the mandarin-kissed Southern Peach?and an extensive wine list. High-backed, white chairs juxtapose the dining room's black floors and tables, creating a striking tableau accented with damask-patterned wallpaper and bright chandeliers. Tucked in the back and upstairs, the patio awaits guests who wish to dine outdoors. Amid this upscale ambiance, the staff hosts themed occasions such as bring-your-own-wine Tuesdays and vegan Wednesdays. On Sundays, Nectar presents live performances from local musicians Daniel Matto, Nadia Moore, and Georges Hebert, who enliven the air with a blend of jazz standards.
Cuisine Type: Fresh fast food
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Fish 'n' chips
Delivery/Takeout Available: Takeout only
Pro Tip: Huge portions—bring a healthy appetite.
When the Chronicle Herald writer Bill Spurr arrived at Sydelle's Deli exactly three minutes after its noon opening, the parking lot was "filled with—I’m going to say— every pickup truck in Bedford. Inside, the half dozen tables were all filled and a line of men in coveralls stretched from the cash register to the door."
But after biting into the fish 'n' chips' perfectly cooked piece of haddock and seeing the extremely large portions and casual, welcoming atmosphere, Spurr deemed the wait to be "worth the effort," unlike convincing a child that broccoli is just a weird-looking piece of green candy. In addition to the fish 'n' chips, which won a trophy for Best Fish 'N' Chips in the HRM at the Fringe Festival in 2010, Sydelle's serves up burgers, smoked meat sandwiches, and a chicken breast and avocado sandwich that Spurr's dining acquaintance called "fantastic."