Hidden gem: Shaw's Landing serves superior seafood with a side of stunning Nova Scotia views
The Peggy's Cove-adjacent spot is a delicious reprieve from the tourist rush too
You see, the thing about Nova Scotia is that seafood is everywhere. It's practically always lobster season somewhere off its coast, and you can find an abundance of restaurants offering up the typical seafood menu to tourists hungry for not only fish and chips, but that authentic Nova Scotia seafood restaurant experience.
However, often the touristy places aren't the best places to get your seafood – the can be crowded, disappointingly run-of-the-mill, and the fish served may not even necessarily local. It would be easy to fall into that trap five minutes from Peggy's Cove, one of the world's most photographed places, but Shaw's Landing doesn't.
Maybe it's the sign promising "beer and lobster" that catches your eye, or perhaps it's the hunt for the authentic Nova Scotia seafood that lures you into Shaw's Landing in West Dover, Nova Scotia. Whatever made you pull over off the winding coastal roads, you'll soon realize you're in for the real deal. Located only five minutes from the iconic Peggy's Cove, dining at Shaw's Landing certainly offers its diners a quintessential east coast experience.
Nestled literally on the shores of a fishing cove in a tiny inlet called French Village, Shaw's Landing serves up some delicious seafood worth taking note of. If you're looking for fresh fish, this place will impress. They use only fresh, local seafood and refuse to freeze it.
The menu consists of the usual fare – fish and chips, lobster dinner, seafood chowder, all available with local beer and wine. The most popular item on the menu? Not surprisingly, it's the fish and chips.
Nova Scotians take their fish and chips pretty seriously, and a recent blog post from Halifax food blog, Eat This Town, declared Shaw's Landing's fish and chips the best around, going so far as to say they're better than the continuously top-rated fish and chips in Halifax. High praise. Theirs features battered haddock, crispy fries, and a side of homemade tartar sauce and coleslaw. Their batter got a slight change this season and in my opinion, is crispier and lighter – and more delicious – than ever.
And it's not all glorious seafood, the menu includes another nod to Nova Scotian cuisine – the donair burger, a take on the famous Halifax donair. Don't bother asking for the recipe for that perfectly seasoned donair meat though, it's prepared by the co-owner's father from an old family recipe that many have tried to get out of him, and failed to.
Robert and Karen MacQuarrie took over Shaw's landing in May of 2014 — two 28-year-olds with no previous restaurant experience.
It wasn't exactly their goal to open a restaurant though says Robert, "we never really had a plan to go into the restaurant business at all, Karen was looking online for a house, and she came across Shaw's restaurant for sale and said wouldn't that be fun. With neither of us having any experience in a restaurant, we figured we better give it a go."
One might say it was a bit of a risk, but it also factors into why it feels like such a Nova Scotian experience. You know that stereotype of East Coasters being super friendly? You're guaranteed to always find one of the owners in the kitchen while the other is in the dining room chatting with guests. Looking for good diving stories? Ask Robert. He's lived in Nova Scotia all his life and dives off the shores of Nova Scotia for fun and can recommend dive sites of old shipwrecks that once carried treasure. Not into diving the frigid waters of Nova Scotia? The restaurant serves as an amazing place for launching your sea kayak or stopping by after hiking the rugged coastline. Happen to work up a hunger while you're just casually sailing your boat off the shores of Nova Scotia? Don't worry, you can even dock your boat at their restaurant and grab some supper.
So you've got your lobster, and you've got your friendly East Coasters, but it's the patio that makes Shaw's Landing quintessentially Nova Scotian. The interior of the restaurant feels homey and is decorated with works by local artists, but the best seat in the house is practically anywhere on the patio.
On a nice day, you can sit outside and eat your seafood dinner overlooking the most Nova Scotian views you could imagine – the cutest, most quaint, fishing village. A sea breeze, postcard-worthy fishing boats, and a delicious plate of seafood – this place curates some serious East Coast vibes. The whole experience will leave you thinking that they're onto something with their slogan. "Beer and lobster. Enough said."
Shaw's Landing, 6958 Prospect Rd, West Dover, Nova Scotia B3Z 3S8