Nova Scotia. Home to many a quaint fishing village and fish and chip shop. Where one takes for granted being able to get fresh fish practically right off the boat. I raise my hand to being guilty of this, never realising how lucky we were to be able to get fresh fish at our beck and call and the difference it makes to fish and chips. Also our custom of having fish and chips made to order which I found wasn’t always the case abroad. Heat lamps seem to be used an awfully common so that your dinner is instantaneously ready. I will never forget the look of the chippers face in Scarborough, England when I asked for them to make it fresh opposed to having the ones that were waiting in the glass case. “But you will have to wait 5minutes?!” “That’s okay” I replied and patiently waited.
However, saying all that I have particularly high expectations for fish and chips as do probably the majority of East Coasters in fairness. We are surrounded by a lot of great fish and chip shops. One of my first jobs was as a cook and waitress at a small neighbourhood fish and chip diner, Phil’s Fish & Chips. We’d have queues out the door every Friday and was jammers over the summer. There I was spoiled with fresh haddock, fried, grilled or panfried in a breading opposed to the traditional beer batter, fries made to order or a large salad on the side with their home made honey mustard dressing and coleslaw on a regular basis. So when I had my first fish and chip abroad experience in England during university, in the birth place of beer battered fish wrapped in greasy newspaper I was a little surprised that it didn’t hit a 10 on my scale of wows. Since that day I have had some pretty good fish and chips abroad after I learned that the reason I didn’t like the one in Scarborough was also due to it being made with Cod. I never realised I didn’t like cod nor did I ever think they would use a different type of fish than us. So naive eh? So in England Cod is traditionally used in Fish and Chips while in Scotland Haddock was the more traditional fish to use way back when. As I suppose, Nova Scotia was settled by an awful lot of Scots the tradition of using Haddock instead of Cod continued on here.
So when I came home from Ireland every Christmas to get my fix I would always make a trip back to Phil’s, now known as Phil’s Seafood, found on Quinpool. This time round, my friends suggested that I branch out a bit. So yesterday afternoon Kathryn and Sarah picked me up to take me out to Eastern Passage to try the Wharf Seafood Restaurant. A stone’s throw from Devils Island and amidst a jumble of brightly coloured fishing shacks turned tourist shops. The Wharf, is a large newly renovated wooden shingled old fishing shanty with an equally dark but friendly and cozy interior. I asked the girls what they were going to get, Kathryn was torn between their fish and chips and their fish club and Sarah gave me a look of “obviously one piece fish and chips Lia. That is their speciality.” The first time they had gone there they were about to order two pieces of fish and chips when the whole restaurant turned around and quickly informed them that this was not a good idea. They would never be able to finish two pieces. And they were right. The portions are not lacking in any sense with a full fillet of fish, a healthy helping of home made cut chips, coleslaw and tartar. I decided on their speciality and had one piece of fish and then exchanged my regular fries to their sweet potato ones. It was a good decision. They were crispy and delicious. I couldn’t decide on which sauce to use for them though. The tartar, ketchup or the cinnamon mayo which comes with it. I adore cinnamon in everything and will occasionally put it on my sweet potato fries when I make them but I still found it strange eating it with mayo. It made it almost like a dessert. The fish is like a hybrid of Phil’s breadcrumbs and Fries & Co’s beer batter with a crispy panko or cornflake topping. I didn’t ask what it was but it was light, crispy and golden brown and the fish was as fresh as it comes, flaking beautifully and practically melting in your mouth.
Phil’s still holds it’s place in my heart but this place is so different that I didn’t feel like I was cheating on them. Not to mention, an extra bonus, is that once you are properly stuffed you can take a turn on the boardwalk and take in the waterfront. I know that I will definitely be back this summer after an afternoon beach trip to Rainbow Haven joining the throngs of tourists on a hot Nova Scotian summers day checking out the quirky coloured shops, maybe having an ice cream and stopping by The Wharf Seafood Restaurant to sit on their deck and enjoy some Nova Scotian Fish and Chips.