Thursday, January 28, 2010

business time

Tuesday past, I was in North Sydney for part of the afternoon. I had about an hour to kill, and decided to pay a visit to a restaurant that's recently opened on the main street of the town, The Black Spoon Bistro (320 Commercial Street, North Sydney, 902-241-3300). I had been there once before, and taken away a mango fish burger for my dinner later that evening. It was delicious and now I wanted to try something else on the menu.

The weather was blustery, wet and cold. When I got to the Bistro, after only a short walk, I was soaked to the skin through my jeans and jacket. But the ambiance inside was warm and cozy. (And, they seated me next to the heater, bless them.) They manage to perfectly balance "down home" and "stepping out".

I ordered a decaf coffee and the Roasted Vegetable Panini, which comes with either the garden salad or the soup of the day. The panini was grilled and warm, with roasted zucchini, portobello mushroom, red onion and red pepper, as well as Swiss cheese and basil mayo. The flavour was incredible, the texture a great blend of crunchy and cheesy. And though usually I'm not a huge fan of garden salad (it's too easy to get it wrong), this one felt fresh and lively, even on a dreary January day. They julienne the carrot and zucchini, which gives the salad a "dressed up" feeling, yet it's also abundant with tomatoes, croutons and fresh greens. The coffee was tasty, and felt right in a basic white mug.

The waitstaff were friendly and helpful, and chatted happily with their tables as they worked. Though it was quiet this particular afternoon, I overheard the hostess tell two women that the upcoming six-course Valentine's Day dinner was already completely booked. And the restaurant had that hustle and bustle of a place that knows how to be busy.

After my meal I snapped some more pictures. The artwork on the walls is beautiful, as you can see. And the furnishings are simple, classic and comfortable.

This is a light fixture near the front door that won my heart! How cool is this?

I got talking with the owner, Monica Black, when I was paying my cheque. When I asked her who did all the wonderful art, she replied, "Me!" The above shot is the lovely Ms. Black with a gorgeous piece. The art is not yet for sale, but perhaps one day soon. Hopefully!

All in all, I will definitely be going back to The Black Spoon. Apparently their dessert of Peppered Strawberries is not to be missed. Description from the menu: "Freshly sliced strawberries flambeed in a benediction butter sauce with freshly ground peppercorns and served warm over a white cake with vanilla ice cream." Yes please!

If you live in Cape Breton, I strongly recommend getting yourself to North Sydney and checking out this place. If you're "from away," what are you waiting for? Come visit!


In other "local business and art" news, I'm helping some friends of mine start a blog! He is Burland Murphy, a local artist mostly known as "Murf," and she is his wife Linda. They have been friends of my family since I was a little girl. He has a storefront on Baddeck's main street, Chebucto St. I'm really excited about this project because I have always loved Murf's art - Cape Breton wildlife, so well-observed and finely detailed. In his first blog post, Murf writes about his "little Kestrel friend" and you can tell in his work that Murf really is a friend of all that he sees in nature.

Check him out at this blog:

I'll be writing more about him in the future, for sure!


Local business - what does it take to create a truly awesome business? A business that, as Kal Barteski says, "Gets it!" A business that truly works within its community, that brings fresh air to the street it is on, that makes people sit up and take notice, like the two listed here? Especially in a place like Cape Breton, where the prevailing sense is that people with energy and verve are leaving, it can feel so awesome and inspiring when you hear of a business that is really kicking butt on so many levels!

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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