There is truly is nothing better than a good road trip! Sure, I don’t have a car, nor do I particularly like to drive, but hey, I make a half-decent passenger if I do say so myself!
So on a crispy January afternoon, this guy and myself, along with this guy and another guy who doesn’t have a blog, piled into the car drove off to scenic Milton, Ontario (I heard it has a Go Train station) to find out if “Halifax Donair and Pizza” are indeed slinging authentic east-coast donairs.
Handmade with secret ingredients
Despite never actually having been to the east coast, I can’t say I’ve actually had an authentic donair before, except for the ones supplied to me by the authentic east-coasters at the Nova Deli. And from every other donair I’ve had, nothing stacks up like the Nova Deli’s. And ever since I’ve moved to Toronto, it’s among one of the things I miss most about my own home town.
So a few weeks ago, I saw the “Halifax Donair and Pizza” during a segment on “Breakfast Television,” (here’s the clip) and from what I saw, it looked like they had potential for an outfit that just might create a “real” donair. Actual east coasters! The sweet sauce! Big sweaty cones of meat! We had to go!
After the 35-40 minute drive to the outskirts of the 905, we found “Halifax Donair and Pizza” in a non-descript plaza off what appeared to be the only street in town (the “parking lot” held about 6 parallel-parked cars). We could smell the donair aroma from the car, so we all knew that we found the real thing. The joint was take-out style, with a trio of stools and a little rail for leading and donair scarfing.
The place offered many of the same items I’ve seen before at the Nova Deli, like the “donair plate” and “donair fries,” but this place’s calling card is the “Donair Pizza,” which is built Montreal (Chicago) style. We stuck with the straight-up donairs (nobody went for the one-pounder), but next time I’m thinking about grabbing a “Newf” sized pizza to bring back to Woodbine Heights for a week’s worth of greasy dinners.
Unlike the Nova Deli, which has it’s meat shipped in from the east coast, “Halifax Donair and Pizza” make their own meat, which you can tell by it’s freshness. The sweet garlic sauce was also top notch, and because we were eating there, the sandwiches were wrapped in a flashy “open” style. After the first bite, I instantly loved their donair: it was fresh, flavourful and juicy. In retrospect I should’ve requested more sauce and less onions, but beyond that, the donair was perfect.
While we were finishing up, we had a great chat with one of the owners, who told us a little about the history of the donair, how it was created by Greeks in Halifax who didn’t have their regular ingredients for Gyros (ie lamb and yogurt), and how his own family was involved in it’s development in the 60s. He also talked about how they’ve only been open for over a year, the difficulty it is for an independent food vendor to get a rental space (landlords want chains!), and how the shop is a culmination of 10 years of hard work. These guys are serious about their donairs (as is anyone who has experienced a really, really good one).
So even though I’ll always love the Nova Deli, I have to admit that they now finally have a provincial contender for best donair in Ontario. If you’re curious, make the drive… you won’t be sorry. And you’ll be back.
Oh, and that lingering “donair” smell in your clothes and on your breath? You’ll learn to love it.