Fisherman's Cove is little fishing wharf dotted with a row of shacks that sell knick-knacks, artwork, souvenirs and ice cream. It's a colourfully bland experience in the middle of a naturally beautiful waterfront vista, a tourist trap that's meant to evoke the stereotypical Nova Scotian experience. There's a boardwalk and a small beachy area where dogs can roam in shallow water. There's also a building with a shark bursting out of the roof.
Boondocks is the definition of kitschy, with an over-the-top nautical theme that starts with a wooden fisherman at the door and ends with treasure chests, ropes, ship's wheels and booths upholstered with tiny ships. It's basically The Frying Dutchman.
Stephen and I head into the restaurant just as the heat is starting to break and the sun starts its downward dip. There is a slight breeze off the water, so we decide to sit on the sprawling deck.
The menu is long and lifeless, a series of fryer-friendly family fare and pub favourites, with a few fancier items thrown in. With Chef Peter Boudreau, formerly of The Fish Shop, running the kitchen I had really hoped to see passion and point of view in the menu instead of the bottom fishing study in neutral demographics that it seems to be.
On the plus side, there are local ingredients being used: beef from Getaway Farms, Sweet William's bacon and chow from Pat's Preserves. And there is a lot of local seafood, from clams to Arctic char.
Our server swings by and gets our drink order---I get the Gaspereau Seyval Blanc ($7.50) and Stephen gets a Propeller IPA ($6.25). It takes awhile for her to return, but it's busy. When she does return, we order the Captain's seafood platter ($22.95) and the bacon and lobster mac and cheese ($16.95) to share.
The seafood platter is a jumble of golden brown dollops and globs. A bright yellow lemon wedge and a purple pile of sweet coleslaw stand out in stark relief to the brown fish fry. The platter is made up of battered haddock and clams, a skewer of breaded shrimp and scallops, and a fishcake. A little cup of housemade tartar sauce finishes off the plate.
The battered fish is well-cooked, flaky and tender. The fishcake is flat-out great, the best part of the platter. The crisp outer shell gives way to a tender mix of salt cod, haddock and potato. It's nice with the mild tartar sauce, but I'd love to try it with the chow they serve with their fishcake platter.
The scallops and shrimp are both slightly overcooked. The clams are worse, small and rangy with barely any meat in each bite. Stephen gets an unfortunate mouthful of grit and shell in one of his oily morsels. They are the only utter disappointment in terms of seafood. The French fries, though, are miserable. They are wilted and soggy, and the side of gravy ($1) we ordered has the saltlick, boullion cube flavour of a packaged sauce.
The fat soup bowl of mac and cheese is hot to the touch. A sprig of rosemary shoots pointlessly out of the top, tucked into the breadcrumbs. There are some big chunks of tender lobster, but not much bacon; it's missing any of the smoky flavour I was hoping for and falls a little on the bland side when there is no lobster on the fork. We both add hefty shakes of black pepper into the mix.
Boondocks is a pretty average restaurant that benefits from a heck of a view. The kitsch has some charm, and the food is just good enough to make it worthwhile to hang out and enjoy the scene.
Write your won review for Boondock's Dinning Room here
200 Government Wharf Road, Fisherman’s Cove, Eastern Passage 465-3474
Mon-Fri 11am-9pm Sat-Sun 10am-9pm