Wallace, Nova Scotia's Whirligigs Cafe certainly is memorable... but is it for the right reasons?
Some of my most memorable travel meals have rendered me speechless; I barely manage a breathless "wow!" if I can say anything at all. Therefore, it threw me for a bit of a loop (or is that a whirl?) when my only reaction at Whirligigs Cafe was "odd!" It seems like a funny choice of word, but it's the best one I can think of to describe our visit to this colorful, funky, and rather peculiar seaside café in Wallace, Nova Scotia.
First, let’s start with the good stuff. The inside of Whirligigs is painted in bright pastels, features cheerful tiled tables and mismatched furniture, and our table provided a great view of the Wallace harbour. Whirligigs has lots of art on the walls and there’s also a small book exchange/used book table that raises money for good causes.
My fishcakes eggs Benedict were very good. The fishcakes were fresh and flavorful, the eggs perfectly poached, and the smooth Hollandaise tasted homemade. Similarly, Ryan’s classic eggs Benedict were delicious and the side of potatoes were actual fresh breakfast potatoes, not those bland, frozen squares. In true Maritime culinary tradition, the fishcakes came with a little side dish of ‘chow chow’, a kind of mustardy relish/pickle concoction traditionally served with fish. The only downside to the food was that my side biscuit was small, hard, and whole wheat (and we all know how I feel about whole wheat biscuits!) and Whirligig's coffee was average at best.
You’re probably thinking this sounds like a pretty good breakfast, but we were actually there for lunch! A whiteboard beside the cash displays all the food options and there were 7 all day breakfast options but only 3 lunch options. Now, I’m a big fan of all day breakfast but this isn't a dive diner next to a dingy bar – it’s a charming café! I also couldn't quite figure out why so many of the breakfast items were not easily converted into lunch items (like fishcakes with salad or soup). It's possible that they were sold out of some lunch options which were erased from the menu board but it wasn't quite 1:00 pm when we visited.
Inside the cafe, there was a big sign inside stating that they would only accept debit (with NO credit option) for transactions of $10 or more – hardly the kind of policy that encourages the spontaneous purchase of coffee and treats. I understand that many small businesses feel the pinch from debit service charges but this was hardly a not-for-profit joint. Our breakfast (um, lunch?) for two came to $34 for tax and tip and, while it was an adequate and tasty meal, much better and bigger portions can be found elsewhere (heck, even in Toronto!) for much less – and at full service restaurants at that.
The final aggravation was that the service was less than friendly. I got a cold look when I asked if there was a separate lunch menu that I had missed and Ryan got a look that was decidedly frosty when he asked for the Wi-Fi password (but they had a visible and branded network!)
My final verdict? Chances are that you’ll love Whirligigs if you have a hankering for all day eggs or if you’re looking for some creative breakfast combinations. But this isn't the place to go for a classic lunch fare or even an inexpensive, simple breakfast. If you're in Wallace, give Whiligigs a whirl and let me know if you agree with my assessment!
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