A landlocked fishing boat sits alongside a small motel along the Sunrise Trail in Wallace, N.S., halfway between Pugwash and Tatamagouche. The Chip Ship is cute, but probably wouldn’t elicit a second glance unless you were on the hunt for fried roadside eats. As luck would have it, our group of journalists and bloggers, part of a Nova Scotia tourism press trip, was angling to find the best fish and chips on the island’s Northumberland Shore.
There’s something special about a crispy-battered filet of white fish slathered in tangy tartar sauce perched on top of a mound of fresh-cut fries. The dish first made menus in mid 19-century England and has since captivated taste buds. As Winston Churchill famously said, fish and chips are “the good companions.”
Our quest for the best fish and chips started in Pictou at an unnamed fry shop on the waterfront. The small inconspicuous blue building seemed like an unlikely place to find great eats, but that order was gobbled up faster than you can say haddock. The tempura batter, fresh fish and good fries, though not hand-cut, were great, but the fish tacos here were the real star. If you make it to this area, be sure to stop in and get an order of each.
Another glimmer of fried heaven was my order at the Chowder House Café in Tatamagouche, which as its name suggests, served up equally yummy seafood chowder as well as fish and chips. The batter on the fish was more traditional English-style and a little heavier than that of the shop on the waterfront. If you’re in Tatamagouche, this is the place to go to satisfy a classic fish and chip feeding frenzy.
The Chip Ship was at the end of our tour. The light, crisp and not at all greasy batter shrouded a thick filet of fresh haddock and the hand-cut fries were the perfect compliment. Truly, “the good companions.” We ate it at a picnic table right by the roadside. This place was my personal favourite.
A far cry from the super food du jour, fish and chips isn’t prized for its nutrient-rich qualities. But for me, it’s as comforting as food can get, reminiscent of summer afternoons by the water and family vacations. And there’s no better place to sample this treat than Canada’s ocean playground.