Happinez: “a little bar with lots of wine”

happinez3Happy. How ridiculously hip is this place?? Another clever channel located inside our lovely Brodie Building on Princess Street. Step inside this building’s foundation and you will find yourself surrounded by a glorified wine cellar; a New York, Fifth Avenue calibre glorified wine cellar.

The drink: featuring hand picked selections of reds and whites from owner/operator, super-charming sommelier and Netherlands Native, Peter Smit.

The features: from within these classy cellar walls are special events ranging from an evening of Port and Truffles to an Introductory Wine Course, hosting your own private functions as well as a Wine of the Month, chosen just for you.

The seating: cuddled into the raw stone of this building’s foundation, is super alluring and thoughtfully arranged clusters of socially enticing semi-circle banquets. Subtle tables in-between offer you a place to set your glass while you nibble on palette-cleansing pretzels. Or, sit at the bar and allow Peter to sommelier-his-way into your heart as he describes the fruits and body (or whatever, just keep talking) of wine in-hand as you sip away.

Wines by the glass range from $6-$10 (drinking buddy, there is liquor and beer here too). Private and subdued, yet impressively chic. An ideal venue for gathering a group of good friends, or even for finally meeting that mysterious online date: You could sip wine over candlelight for hours (be wary of purple teeth and dis-inhibitions), or call it a night after just one glass for the unassuming price of two Big Mac combos (and an unforgettable meeting with Freakshow Magee).

The downfalls: Doors are only open as of 4pm Wednesday through Saturday (until midnight and 1am respectively).  For those of you who crave an exotic piece of cheese, or melt in your mouth french pastry with your vino, you will not find it here. Management did introduce a small ‘eats’ menu of select thai hors d’oeuvres from Lemongrass (see below) upstairs.

Watch Peter Smit at work: “The Etiquette Guy” promo from Hemmings House Pictures on Vimeo.

happinez wine bar
42 Princess Street
Saint John, NB
E2L 1K2
t 506.634.7340
e info@happinezwinebar.com

www.happinezwinebar.ca

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Lemongrass and Suwanna

Lemonwanna. I want these two Saint John Thai restaurants to get married and produce a baby that has Suwanna’s food quality and Lemongrass’s ambiance.

Lemongrass, located at 42 Princess Street, a fine piece of real estate, is nestled in close with Happinez Wine Bar and Peppers Pub in the ever-so charming Brodie Building. Right next door is O’Leary’s Pub and across the street, Sebastian Martini Bar. So, no matter where you stumble when you fall out the door, you will find civilisation (or lack there-of, depending on the time of day).

Inside, the lights are dim, candles flicker, the music is eclectic and gentle. Bamboo placemats are carefully placed on the tables which are spread into 3 partitioned rooms on the main level of what seems like a used-to-be heritage home. The walls are painted warm and cozy shades of orange, and you cant help but look up at the intricate-gold crown moulding 12 feet overhead. Satin throw pillows and gold-detailed fabrics fall elegantly in all the right places. Sigh.

The food, unfortunately, ranges from bland, to pretty good for-a-food-court, to omigod I think my digestive system is blistering! I do recommend the red curry fish cakes when you go. The wine selection is ok; you really can’t go wrong with a bottle of Wolfblass Cab Sauv, but $43 a bottle is just a little wrong. Also, if you’re looking for proper wine serving etiquette, go downstairs to Happinez.

I want Suwanna to move in with Lemongrass.

Suwanna, located a little off the beaten path on 325 Lancaster Avenue, West Side, is indeed located at grannies house at the top of the hill. This brightly lit pad has all of the features of a tacky old-lady’s decor, complete with what-the-heck table clothes and dishware.

Off to the side of the main hallway is a small table, cluttered with abused old CD’s. As you sit studying every clogged pore of your dinner companion (due to the excruciatingly bright lighting), from the distance you can enjoy some rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Greatest Hits (I do enjoy John Fogerty, but for every good rock tune there is a campfire and an 8-pack of Bud).

Then comes the food.

For a split second or two, you forget where you are. The food is THAT good. I really can’t go on too much here, as every person has individual food preferences, but let me suggest for the spice lovers the Green Curry (bring kleenex) is full of flavour and just the right amount of hot. Not-so-spicy lovers can enjoy a nuttily, mouth-wateringly, selubriously, ridiculously delicious Masaman curry.

I need to stop here as I am salivating on my keyboard. The food is so good though, you will be lucky to get a seat without booking well in advance. Once fork meets mouth, the fear of being exfoliated with your partner’s eyes is quickly replaced with the fear of becoming full.

Both venues will run you about $18 per curry dish, which can comfortably feed two people, or 1 person and take home tomorrow’s lunch. Both places provide infinite rice and relatively good service for casual dining. A good date with a wine buzz will run you $70-$80, tip included.

Suwanna Restaurant and Inn
325 Lancaster Avenue
Saint John, NB E2M 2L3
(506) 637-9015‎
Lemongrass Thai Fare
42 Princess Street
Saint John, NB E2L 1K2
(506) 657-8424

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Sweet Pea Boutique

Sweet. The next time you visit Halifax, this venue is the product of a fashion obsessed young university student. Tucked away in the lower level of a used-to-be heritage home on Queen Street in Halifax (a stone’s throw from Spring Garden Road) lays a hidden treasure chest.

The space has a quaint living room feel: creeky hardwood, a splash of white lighting, a large store-front window, original fireplace, and most importantly an eclectic collection of ridiculously affordable dresses for every age, occasion and body type.

Owner/operator of the two-year old business, a twenty-something Johanna Galipeau, treats you like a long-time shopping mate from outside of the fitting room. She hand picks her inventory, emphasis is on Canadian designers, but also brings in selections from Denmark, Holland, New York and L.A. The majority of her collection will not rack you more than $100, but for those garments that do, you will only ever find one in each size.

“If you’re spending that much on a dress, you don’t want to be duplicated” says a humbly frugal Johanna from behind the counter.

My three purchases, ranging from an originally designed ‘little black cocktail’ to a pink printed ‘meet the parents’ ran me $97 after taxes. It felt like stealing.

Guys: it would make a truly impressive gift, but remember if you don’t know her size, UNDERESTIMATE. Gift certificates are always a safe bet.

Appreciating the environment, if you purchase a linen shopping bag which sports a hip yet subtle ‘SP’, you will save an additional 5% off your purchases each time you bring it.

Downfall: if you are of average size and not ready at the door with your SP bag on inventory day, the best dresses in XL will only tease you.

Sweet Pea Boutique

1542 Queen Street, Halifax, NS B3J 2H8
Telephone : 902-423-0975

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Sense of Tokyo.

Sensible. This place is a true diamond in the rough-esque Waterloo Street. Certainly no offense is intended to the neighbouring triple X Adult retailer, or the pizza/diner on the corner, as I am sure they are equally charming in their own way (consumersj review to follow). For Sushi lovers and Sashimi amateurs, you have got to try this place! The rolls are tighter than tigers, and the white clad chef’s are super endearing.

The decor is simple and once inside you will feel like you are being warmly welcomed into the home of a Sushi slashing friend. Sit at the high top bar and watch the guys at work, or find a place at a table and enjoy a bowl of Miso while you browse a non-overwhelming variety of menu selections. Roll prices average $7, and are made fresh to order – food court sushi, eat your unagi out!

Guys, a great date here will run you about $60 (tip included) and Sapporo is a pleasantly superb Japanese beer that will make you look refined (tip: learn to use chopsticks). A bad date: $30 because you suggested going halvsies.

With it’s small capacity, friendly service and above the bureau quality… you will soon need to take a number to be seated here. Get while the going’s good!

Sense Of Tokyo

13 Waterloo Street
Saint John, NB E2L 3P5
(506) 632-4000‎
(506) 652-6027‎

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because the customer is always…

Opinionated. I realize I am behind the times in the blogging world. In fact, the first time I heard the word ‘Blog’, I politely waited for the speaker to excuse themselves. Until only very recently I learned that blogging is an avenue to expose your mind, not your indigestion… so for those of you who should choose to see within: ‘Scuze me!

The intention of this Blog is essentially to report on mentionable money spending encounters and the holistic experience returned to the payer. This will include everything from a basic retail purchase, to a vacation spot, cell phone providers (don’t get me started), and fast food to fine dining. I will provide my take as a real-life individual living in Saint John – spending my hard earned dollars.

Hopefully, if you are investing your non-refundable time to read what I have to say, you will become a satisfied customer that learns some benefit, or at least a lesson from my consumer-related mistakes and successes.

… and let the consumer-isms begin!

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