Tuesday, December 3, 2013

X-MAS AT-MOS: December music, events, & closures

There is so much happening in the next few weeks! 

We love this time of year - winter is just descending with its early evenings and light dustings of snow (or lashings of  cold, wet rain), everyone is coming home to visit their families and see old friends, and good food and drink is in incredible abundance. We're hoping you'll get a visit in over the holidays - meet a friend for a pint of our cask conditioned, house-brewed bitter, grab a hot toddy and maybe get right cozy with a Fisherman's Pie. But definitely mark your calendars for a few of these stellar events!

Dec. 3 - X-Ring night, while we have one large group in at 6pm, we're still open for walk-in traffic, and with lots of room!

Dec 8, 15, 22, 29 - Irish Music Sessions every Sunday night!    Probably our favourite night of the week here at The Townhouse - if you haven't taken in the tunes yet, try to catch them one of these nights. No cover.

Dec. 7 - bar/lounge area open, Private Function at 6pm will be taking over the dining room, limited seating available from 6-9!

The Modern Grass getting in the mood - photo credit: The Coast.ca

Dec. 12 - The Modern Grass - Swinging' around the Christmas Tree
The Modern Grass was born in early 2011 in Halifax, NS and have since released 5 albums and toured the nation extensively and relentlessly. The groups latest award winning album, High on the Mountain, (Music Nova Scotia country/bluegrass album of the year & roots/traditional album of the year) explores new territory in folk, roots, and bluegrass music alike. Climbing high up into the Appalachians, rolling and tumbling all the way down, rising next to an East St. Louis diner under dim streetlight, down to the Banks of the Mississippi and south to New Orleans; The Modern Grass Be - bops, doo- wops, and yeehaws it's way through roots music freely, setting the mood for real life rambling, gambling and heartbreaking storytales.
" The Chieftains of newgrass "    - Glen Meisner, CBC

Dec. 19 - Antigonight Spoken Word & Poetry fundraiser event - More info to follow!

Dec. 21 - The Sin and The Swoon

 Antigonish native Michelle Tompkins returns from Montreal with her partner,  Michael James O’Brien. The music they play pays tribute to the sounds of old time country music and harmony singing of the Louvin Brothers and the Everly Brothers, along with the occasional nod to George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

See more at: www.sinandswoon.com

Dec. 23-26 Closed for Christmas

Dec 27 - 29 Open for the awesome in-between-Christmas-and-New-Year's weekend! Lots of food and beer specials and general good fun to be had!

Dec. 31 - The Townhouse's New Year's Eve Bash - a multi-course, fancy-dress celebration of Local Food paired with Maritime Craft Beers, with Karaoke and Open-Mic Confessional! More details to come very soon! Tickets will be sold in advance.

Jan 1 - 2 Closed for general recovery!

But don't slow down too much - there's still lots to come in the New Year !!!

Jan 11 - The Minnikins, Ruth and Gabe are getting together for a string of shows, sibling revelry? More here

Jan 23 - Fiver, Simone Schmidt, previously of country duo One hundred Dollars, and currently touring as part of country-psyche group The Highest Order comes down to play you some of her eerily beautiful tunes - all the way from Toronto! More here.

Feb 8 - Tracy Philippi of Experience Craft Beer is coming down to lead another guided craft beer tasting! Tickets will be sold in advance, details to come in January.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Tracy Philippi, co-founder of the LBL

Hey folks,
Just wanted to share a few snaps form the recent Ladies Beer League Cask Fest, hosted by The Stubborn Goat, a new gastropub in Halifax, and take the opportunity to talk a bit more about cask conditioned ale. As many of you will know, Terry has had his own Best Bitter on tap now at The Townhouse for almost two months. Or you may have noticed the rather large wooden tap handle that recently appeared at the end of our bar... Terry's beer is cask conditioned, and we are among a small number of pubs east of Montreal that regularly serve cask ale. The first place was The Granite Brewery, started by Kevin Keefe. He still produces excellent cask beers for the same pub, now under new management and known as  The Henry House in Halifax. He also supplies The Spitfire in Windsor, and as of this past Saturday, Bar Stillwell, also in Halifax.

What is cask conditioned ale?

Basically it is unpasteurized, naturally carbonated beer. Instead of forcing CO2 or beer gas into the keg of beer (the usual mode of carbonating), cask ale, or  "real ale," as it is often called, goes through a secondary fermentation process in the cask from which it is then dispensed. They can be dispensed directly from the cask by gravity - as in the popular Firkin Fridays or Cask Nights recently started up in Halifax by Garrison and Propeller. There the cask (or firkin or pin, depending on the size of the vessel) is often set on the bar and a spigot pours the beer directly into your glass. This works well for special events where they are drained almost immediately, because the cask is not refrigerated and oxygen gets into the cask as you pour, the beer will spoil fairly quickly. 

Our hand-pump or beer engine, is the other traditional method for dispensing cask ale. Here the pulling motion of the tap handle literally "pulls," or pumps, the pints through the lines and into your glass. This way the cask can be refrigerated, and you can set up some beer gas to form a blanket on the surface of the beer to prevent contact with any oxygen, without any of the gas actually dissolving into the beer.

So what's the point of all this ?

Well, the best way to find out is obviously to come in and try a pint for yourself. But I'll try to convey a bit of it here...

Ladies of the League! Enjoying some seriously tasty cask ale.

Cask ale is delicious. In an interview with the Coast, Ladies Beer League (LBL) co-founder, Tracy Phillippi, highlights the more natural flavour and softer mouthfeel, "It's usually smooth and really clean." You don't get the prickle on your tongue that you get from the CO2 in other beers and which can mask some of the beer's more subtle flavours. It also doesn't leave you feeling full or bloated, so you can drink quite a bit more!

There's also something unique about each cask, due to the organic development of the beer in the very cask from which it's dispensed - no two will ever be exactly the same. There's something a little special about drinking cask ale - much in the way there is in popping the cork off a bottle of champagne. "If you watch someone tap a cask, it's celebratory," as Phillippi says in the interview with the Coast. "Someone always gets a beer shower. It's always different. It's always an adventure."

So, cask beer is a bit of a specialty. It is far more common in Britain, where Terry and I first tried it, and where the revival in interest began decades ago. But here in North America,  more and more of the breweries as well as the beer lovers are getting curious about it and starting to try it out.  Although festivals have been going in Toronto and Vancouver for several years now - the LBL event last weekend was the first of its kind in the Maritimes. A few of the breweries, like Bridge Brewing from Halifax and Boxing Rock from Shelburne, were serving the first cask ales they ever produced!

So, the event was a huge success. At least from our slightly inebriated perspectives. The beers were remarkably good, especially considering the novelty of the process for many, and the venue was lively, warm, and filled with beer lovers! Plus we had a chance to catch up with a few old friends and with all the new friends we've been making in the industry. So far, my unscientific survey seems to point to the fact that people who like good beer, tend to be good people...

Oh, and the food we sampled was quite tasty! Queso fundido, coconut shrimp, and a lovely cheese board complete with one of the strangest cheeses I've yet tried, the brown and incredibly creamy Ski Queen made from cows whey...

Terry, Jeremy & the cask of the year!
Big Spruce's Glenora whiskey-spiked stout was declared the Cask of The Year, and it certailny was rather tasty,  although we'd also like to make special mentions of Boxing Rock's Brown Ale, Hell Bay's Dark Cream Ale, and Bridge's very interesting (and thankfully not too sweet) Apricot IPA. It was the first time we made it to a Ladies Beer League event, and I strongly encourage any of you to try to make it to their next one. They are making waves as the first organization of it's kind in the country, and really boosting the profile of craft beer in the region by hosting excellent events focused one craft beer, beer education, and usually involving local food too! 

As if that wasn't enough, Bar Stillwell, one of three beer focussed bar/resto just opened in Halifax in the last week or so, was just in it's second night of existence so we swung by to check it out. There we had the Granite's Best Bitter Special - ant toasted it's brewer, Kevin, the Godfather of the Cask" Keefe! It's a nifty little spot, nice design, great beer selection, delicious hand-cut Tokyo Fries, and a cozy little arcade downstairs mimicking a subway station- complete with a real pinball machine!

All in all an excellent weekend for beer lovers in the area - and inspiring us to look into hosting a mini cask fest of our own... stay tuned for more details as they unfold...

Terry, in some sort of heaven.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November/December Update: Parties, gigs, and a few changes

New season, new menu, new hours

We are starting to switch up our menu for the wintry seasons. There may be a few stages in the switch-over, so bear with us. And while we'll have to bid adieu to green bean-dependant Totnes and Nicoise salads, ther will be new items added. We'd love to hear from you if there were any wintry dishes from the past you'd like to see come back... (We're thinking about Fisherman's Pie, Bangers 'n Mash, etc.)

Also, starting this week - the kitchen will be closing at 9pm every night except Friday, when it will stay open until 10pm.

And, in case you haven't tried it yet, Terry's beer, a Best Bitter, is in steady supply these days - and we're really pleased with what we feel is a particularly delicious example of a traditional British style ale. Cask conditioned and on hand-pump. We're welcoming descriptions for our menus... We've also introduced a few other new beers to the draft line up - Uncle Leo's IPA, Propeller Pale Ale, and from NS's newest micro-brewery Boxing Rock's Temptation Red - a uniquely hoppy and delicious one - check it out! 

Upcoming Events

Quiz night: This month will be on Wednesday, November 13th

Music galore! I'm very excited about the line-up we have booked for the coming months.
Details to come closer to the dates, but mark your calendars folks - we're really lucky to have some of these excellent performers in our region, and to have others coming from rather far afield. These shows are not to be missed!

November 23: Mary Beth Carty and Donald MacLennan (Antigonish!)

December 12: The Modern Grass Quartet (Halifax)

December 21: The Sin and The Swoon, (Michelle Tompkins) Montreal 

January 11: Gabriel and Ruth Minnikin (Dartmouth)

January 23: Fiver, (Simone Schmidt) (Toronto)

The Sin and The Swoon 

Christmas Parties!!!!

As November and December things start to slow down a bit, and as it is such a festive season, we have decided to break our no reservations rule, and host a few Christmas parties. If you have a group of 10 or more, we will reserve a table/rooms/the whole darn place and organize a set menu with 2-3 options for  appetizers, mains, desserts and tea/coffee at a set-price per person.

We can accommodate a limited number of Tuesdays, (some) Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, in November and December.

If you'd like to get your friends, family or co-workers together and maybe even see who does the best Rob Ford impersonations, please e-mail me to to discuss things further!

Thanks! Hope everyone's cozy out there this evening...

Rose & Terry

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Gabe Minnikin was part of the fabled Halifax folk supergroup The Guthries (along with Matt Mays, Dale Murray, and his sister Ruth Minnikin) famously championed by legendary BBC radio DJ John Peel. Recently repatriated to NS, the singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with the deep and unique voice called Manchester, England, home for the past several years. 

He cites Lucinda Williams, Steve Earl, Ron Sexsmith and The Band as major influences and has shared the stage with alt-country heavyweights Calexico and The Handsome family. Minnikin's most recent album, Parakeet's with Parasols, is a bit of a departure from his country roots, and has been described by one reviewer as "Tom Waits meets The Wizard of Oz."

Check out some streaming tunes here: http://music.cbc.ca/#/artists/GABRIEL-MINNIKIN

Don't miss this wonderful songwriter and performer!

Saturday, Sep. 21st, 9:30pm start. $10 at the door. 

Come early and grab a bite to reserve the best seats!

Coming up soon:
Blues Night with Morgan Davis, October 5th - This dude is not to be missed! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Autumn news / Upcoming events

It's been a little while since our last post. The summer never fails to be a whirlwind of frenetic social activity. The Townhouse has been wonderfully busy, Seabright and MacLennan's Glen have been bringing in the most beautiful fresh produce, and we're all trying to squeeze in a few late summer revels before the season is well and truly finished. Most recently this has included attending our wonderful server Justine's wedding, a blueberry picking work party at farm and the fields of MacLennan's Glen with Carin and Scott, dancing some of the wildest reels SW Margaree has witnessed at The Peters' benefit concert and auction, and Terry and I sneaking away on a quick little camping trip to sleep by the beach and get in a long overdue visit to the Big Spruce Brewery in Nyanza.

But here we are, nonetheless, in September – the students are returning, the evenings are getting cooler, the harvests are getting bigger, and there is all sorts of great stuff coming up!

Jacob, Didi, Lani and Jody. Tough stuff.
Just a few announcements first - We are very pleased to introduce Jacob Buckley as the Townhouse's new head chef! He trained in St. Andrew's, New Brunswick, and worked there at the Fairmont Algonquin and the Kingsbrae Arms. He has been with us in the kitchen for about three months now, during which time he has proven himself to be an excellent addition to our great core kitchen crew of Lani Vidad, Jody Fanning, and Didi Duffy. He is a true foodie, a hard working, talented, and innovative cook, and, as it turns out, quite a talented musician! Just don't get him started on jazz history or the joys of bacon unless you've got the better part of an hour to spare.... (just kidding, Buckley!) You may have noticed he's been putting out some great local seasonal specials (eg. kale lasagna, chanterelle risotto, home-made ravioli), and you can look forward to some special chef's nights once the fall harvest is in full swing!

Secondly, the beer.... it's coming. We promise. Very, very soon. But we can't say exactly when, because we don't know yet... The final okay from the Powers That Be could come at any moment. So prime your palates and get ready to charge your glasses with Terry's (as of yet still un-named) English bitter!

Next, this week's events:

QUIZ NIGHT is back Wednesday, Sep. 4th. 

Your host Katie E. will have you twisting your brains into little knots, there will be desperate competition and trash-talkery, and someone will win a pile of free beer!

BLUES SHOW this Friday, sep. 6th!

We're pleased to be welcoming back Doc MacLean and his guest, Libby Rae Watson, for some low-down, laid back, steel guitar and delta blues. Anyone who caught the show last fall will tell you Doc's not to be missed! Show starts at 10pm, tickets $10 at the door.

From their press release:

Libby Rae Watson and Doc MacLean  have each had their own shares of good luck and bad. Katrina destroyed much of Libby Rae's home, while Doc's world was shaken by a spectacular car crash on last year's Tour. But both of these delta songsters celebrate more good luck than bad. True to the music and culture which have shaped their lives, they each picked themselves up, stomped down those troubles, and moved forward down the Blues Highway. This fall that highway leads to Maritime Canada.

Both artists spent their formative years exploring the rural south– learning their craft at kitchen tables, on front porches, and in little juke joints. While MacLean built a career on hard travel and performance, Watson stayed closer to home– rarely venturing beyond Mississippi. "I'm really pleased that Libby Rae has agreed to be on the National Steel Tour this year," said MacLean. "She's a pioneer  one of the only women to cross what were difficult racial and cultural boundaries  exploring, documenting, and learning from what's now a lost generation. She's a songster-storyteller in the delta tradition– part of an unbroken chain."  The tour will celebrate the restoration and release of Watson's latest cd, "Sweet 'N' Salty," long thought to have been destroyed by Katrina.

The 8th annual, National Steel Blues Tour includes more than 80 shows across nine provinces. Watson will join the Tour for three weeks in the Maritimes. 

See Doc's website here: http://www.docmaclean.com/

Also coming up, details to follow:

FOLK SHOW - Saturday, Sep. 21st - GABE MINNIKIN

BLUES SHOW - Saturday, Oct. 5th - MORGAN DAVIS

Cheers to Justine and Eddie from the whole Townhouse Crew!

Jacob's blue cheese & onion ravioli with kale and a jalapeno tomato sauce.

The kale lasagna special -  stuffed with fresh tomatoes, basil, and goat's cheese.

Monday, July 22, 2013




Katie's got a visiting co-host for this special edition– her cousin Aimee from Vermont,  a former Jeopardy contestant! 

She won 3 nights in a row!

How cool is that???

Usual rules apply.

Teams of 4, 9pm sharp start time, no cell phones. 
Come a little early to reserve your table and fuel up for a serious quizzling!

P.S. We're trying out home-made ice-creams today... look for it on the menu soon.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Current Menu, Summer Hours

Pub Hours:

Tuesday 4pm - 12am
Wednesday 4pm- 12am
Thursday 4pm - 12am
Friday 4pm-12am
Saturday 4pm - 12am
Sunday 4pm - 11pm

Last call is generally at 11:30pm, 10:30pm Sundays

Kitchen hours: 
Tuesday 4pm - 10pm
Wednesday 4pm - 10pm
Thursday 4pm - 10pm
Friday 4pm - 10pm
Saturday 4pm - 10pm
Sunday 4pm - 9pm

After hours, we also offer the Townhouse Tapas Board, the Ploughman's Lunch, a few other snacks, and 2 of our desserts-the Chocolate Almond Torte and Chocolate Amaretto Bread Pudding.

The Townhouse Kitchen

We are developing our new summer menu as more and more great food comes into season here! Please, bear with us!

The Townhouse kitchen makes almost everything we serve from scratch–pickles, chutneys, breads, desserts, patés, etc.– using the best natural ingredients. The few things we don’t make here, we source from excellent local suppliers; The Pork Shop’s smoked sausages & bacon, organic baguettes from Kingsville Farm, Knoydart Farm’s organic cheeses, and pita bread from The Fancy Lebanese Bakery. We buy Antigonish and Guysborough Co. beef from Vacheresse’s, our fish and seafood are all Nova Scotian (excepting the tuna when out of season here), and whenever possible we feature local produce sourced from small local producers like Seabright Market Gardens, MacLennan’s Glen, Eastern Sun Farm, & Admiral Bayfield’s Gardens. Our food takes a little more work, but we feel it’s worth it and hope you do too!

***We try to offer gluten free (GF) options, but please let our servers know if you have any allergies. As we do bake our own bread and desserts with flour in a small kitchen, we cannot guarantee everything is completely free from trace amounts of gluten.

Filipino Ceviché  fresh NS haddock, cured in lemon/lime juice with fresh ginger, coconut milk & chiles (GF) -            10
Bacon Wrapped Scallops  with maple-lemon cream sauce (GF)            15
East Coast Mussels steamed in beer, with garlic, bacon & parsley (GF = in wine )            13
Portugese Salt Cod Fritters potato, parsley,  zippy cucumber-lemon relish (GF)            13
Ploughman’s Lunch rustic pork paté, apple chutney, home-made pickles, Knoydart cheese, soda bread (or GF crackers)    13
Spanish Tortilla  a hearty wedge potato & onion fritatta, served warm (GF)            4
Townhouse Tapas  spanish tortilla artichoke & olive tapenade, aged Knoydart cheese, fresh greens, baguette (or GF crackers) 12
Mexican Pizza, chorizo, black-bean spread, old cheddar, salsa & greens, on tortilla               12
Soup & Chowder
Red Chowder our iconoclastic tomato & tarragon chowder, with smoked cod, fresh haddock and scallops, and topped with whipped cream & arugula oil               8, 10
Lobster Chowder rich, creamy  & full of lobster meat (when available)                         13
Soup of the day always made from scratch, usually vegetarian, gluten & dairy free     6, 8

Hearty Salads a full meal, add side of soda bread $2
Roasted Pumpkin Salad Caramelized onions, feta cheese, marinated lentils, smoked bacon, arugula, balsamic vinaigrette (GF)  15
Tuna Tataki Salad Seared fresh tuna, vermicelli rice noodles, red cabbage, bell peppers, cilantro, & greens, citrus-sesame dressing (GF)  (when available)  19
Herbed Lobster Salad NS lobsters, with tarragon, chives, & lemon, local greens, cucumber, potato focaccia & garlic butter (GF) (when available)               19
Quinoa, Corn & Black Bean Salad lime & cilantro dressing (GF)             12
Add Feta Cheese   2,   Add grilled chicken   4

Townhouse Specials     
Shawarma Plate  thinly sliced, locally raised beef in whole-wheat pita with fresh greens, pickled onion & radish, tzatziki, and side of roasted potatoes  15
Falafel Plate  spiced chickpea patties in whole-wheat pita with fresh greens, pickled onion & radish, tzatziki, and side of roasted potatoes  14
The following come with either seasonal veggies, green salad, or pickled veggies:
Catch of the Day  fresh locally caught fish, steam-roasted in parchment paper parcels with fresh herbs and veggies–ask your server for today’s, herb roasted potatoes on side            19
Lani’s Curry  made from scratch, boldly spiced, but not too hot, changes daily               19
Grilled Bratwurst, 2 smoked sausages, boiled in ale, then grilled, with sauerkraut, chutney, & grilled/roasted potatoes (GF)       15
Steak ‘n Ale Pie  locally raised beef , carrots, potatoes & mushrooms in savoury broth made with Keefe’s Irish Stout, topped with puff pastry crust                        15
Green Chile Mac & Cheese  rich, creamy & cheesy with a nice little bite from the sautéed chiles and garlic, but really not too spicy!                          14

Polish Cheesecake  a Syperek family tradition!
Vanilla cheesecake in light pastry crust, served warm                        6
Chocolate & Amaretto Bread Pudding  with salted caramel sauce                6
Chocolate Almond Torte  moist and rich, with whipped cream (GF)                        6
Dessert Special   Ask server for todays!            6

Surely Temple, gingerale & natural pomegranate syrup, fruit garnish               4
Dave Henry, cranberry, orange & soda                        4
Seasonal Spritzer, home-made seasonal fruit/herbal syrups & soda               4
Yuppie Water filtered water with cucumber, mint and citrus            2
Propeller Sodas Spicy Ginger Beer or Root Beer                        3
Perrier             3
Juices Cranberry, grapefruit, orange, limeade            2
Pop Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Club Soda                         2
Tea Black, green, herbal                        2
Coffee Fresh ground organic, fair-trade, from Javablend                         3