When I'm looking for a quick fix of salt air, beachy vibes and summertime snacks like fish and chips and soft serve in a classic, postcard-perfect Nova Scotia atmosphere, Fisherman's Cove is my go-to afternoon trip. The boardwalk is a never-ending delight with squawking soaring gulls chased by soppy-pawed dogs, scrappy fishing boats and sunny benches.
It's a gorgeous day, so all of the little tourist shacks are crawling with people. What's the Scoop, the little ice cream stand near the restaurant, doesn't have a line as much as it has a herd corralled on the deck, children grazing on cones as adults stand ready to lock horns to get to the order window first. A dog perched on the passenger seat of a fisherman's truck barks at each person he sees as they rumble up the road to his boat tied on the dock; the dog never stops barking.
We are greeted at Wharf Wraps by a sandwich board leaning into some shrubbery. The word CLAMS is scrawled on in chalk, half rubbed off. We go inside and after a few minutes of standing awkwardly in front of the counter as various staff talk amongst themselves, we're finally greeted. The decor is all black, gloomy for a summer lunch, so we opt for seats on the deck that wraps itself around the building. The tables are plastic trompe-l'œil wicker. The weave of the plastic chairs glistens in the sun. As we sit, the wind picks up off the water, and the tall umbrellas shake in the wind.
Again, it takes a while for a server to pay us any more notice, and that doesn't change as the meal goes on. It takes a while to place our order, it takes a while to get a drink, it takes a desperate wave to get salt and pepper as she tries to speed by and it takes another while to get the bill. It's a few whiles too many.
As I always had the intention of ordering the fish and chips, it isn't until after we leave that I realize what a mess the menu is. There is a ½ lb cheeseburger ($14) with "local fresh ground beef chargrilled served on a toasted Julian's Bakery Kaiser w/ old cheddar, lettuce, tomato & onion straws" and a ½ lb Wharf Burger ($18) which is "local fresh ground beef char grilled served on a toasted bun, with bacon, cheddar, lettuce, tomato & onion straws." Other than the spelling and an embellishment or two, what the hell is the difference? I have no idea. But after we left we realized we were charged $16. I guess that makes a crazy kind of sense.
The cheeseburger is fine, by the way. And that's the long and the short of it.
The fish is another story. The fish is actually fantastic. A one-piece fish and chips platter is almost ludicrously expensive at $18, with a second piece adding another $10 to the bill. The fish itself is almost worth it. It has a cornflake crumb coating—crunchy, crisp and dry, no greasiness at all. The fillet is long and lean, still tender and flaky, light as a feather within the crackling heft of the batter. Lemon and vinegar add a tangy zing without dulling the crispness at all, which is a pure delight.
Nothing else lives up to the fish, though. The only way you can say the French fries are hand-cut is if McCain has named their potato-slicing machinery "hand." The coleslaw is forgettably creamy, as run-of-the-mill as the burger, and the tartar sauce tastes like it is fresh from a Kraft bottle. It's fine. But those aren't the side dishes of a $20 lunch.
It'd be great to see this restaurant tighten up their menu and the service. As it is, the fish at Wharf Wraps is a just a memorable lure in a forgettable tourist trap.
104 Government Wharf
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