Restaurant Review

'TIBS' buttery croissants worth the harbour trip

Customers can’t resist the decadence of Two if By Sea Café sweets

Butter Croissant (Photo: Vanessa Chagljevich)

It's a busy, rainy afternoon at Two if By Sea (TIBS), with almost every table in the café full.

As loyal customers already know, there are good reasons to get a little wet and make the trek to this charming café .

The best route to TIBS, and my preferred choice, is always the ferry. The harbour route is a nice alternative to the often traffic plugged Macdonald bridge.

You can find the shop by walking just three blocks up the street from the Dartmouth ferry terminal.

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TIBS in Dartmouth (Photo courtesy: Two If By Sea Bakeshop)

Two if By Sea Café Bakeshop

66 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth

1869 Upper Water Street, Halifax


It may seem risky for a small bakeshop to operate in an arguably less popular area of the Halifax Regional Municipality. With coffee bars such as Starbucks and Second Cup littering the Halifax downtown, it would seem like an unlikely choice for a start-up business.

This past November marked the two-year anniversary of the café opening.

Three years ago, Tara MacDonald, one of the co-owners of TIBS, recognized that the baked goods were developing a strong customer loyalty at the Saturday morning farmers' market in Dartmouth. It was then, after a year, that she decided opening a café could be successful.

If anyone knows about Two if By Sea, it is because of their sweets. Their croissants are the most decadent pastries I've ever had. So rich in butter; it is difficult to eat the very ample croissant in one sitting.

The croissants, which are almost always sold out by mid afternoon, are available in:
plain butter ($3.00), pain au chocolate ($3.50), almond ($4.00), prosciutto & cheese ($5.00), and the Croissant of the Week ($5.00) which usually is the most decadent of them all.

Crisp on the outside, and flaky in the inside, with a variety of rich fillings, these croissants really should be an occasional dessert.

The café offers a variety of sweets, aside from its famed croissants; the cookies ($2.25) are also a delicious treat. The glass jar displayed on the counter holds large, thick oatmeal raisin cookies that have a nice chewy consistency, with a hint of cinnamon. For anyone who doesn't care for raisins, the chocolate chip cookie is the available alternative.

Of course, for anyone who has less of a sweet tooth, TIBS makes a daily assortment of scones, which are fairly light in overall richness and in flavour. The scone I tried was made with cheddar cheese and green onions. The flavour of onion was strong, but I enjoyed it.

Beware, depending on the time of day when you stop into the shop, you may only have the option of takeout, as you will be hard pressed to find an available table around the lunch-time rush. The café doesn't offer a breakfast or lunch menu, so it comes as a surprise how busy it is for a good portion of the day.

TIBS has an interesting interior style - a touch of industrial, when you look at the open empty loft upstairs, compared to the main sitting area with wooden tables and chairs, that provide an inviting vibe. Some of the tables have the charming centerpieces of a single flower in a recycled glass bottle.

Co-owners Tara and Zane just recently opened their second location of Two if By Sea on the Halifax side of the harbour, located in the Historic Properties. It is located across from Subway and a communal seating area where downtown employees gather for lunch.

The vibe is considerably different, with the smells of Subway permeating the air. But the drinks, sweets and the employees (travelling between the two locations) are the same.

As one customer, Haley Stevens says, "For me going to Two if by Sea is always about two things: the croissants and the journey on the ferry to get there."


Comments on this story are now closed

Great story Vanessa! Totally made me hungry haha - can't wait to try this place out - very soon!!!! :)

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