For Old Faves, Duck Into The Kove From Seafood, To Huge Steaks & Tasty Desserts

Posted: November 12, 1997

The toasty fire burning in the main dining room of the Fisherman's Kove restaurant was a welcome sight the evening of our mid-week visit.

It was one of those raw and rainy nights that seemed to beg for a burning fire and a hot toddy to warm the old bones. The weather had kept away all but a handful of stalwart diners, and a raucous bunch of sports fans at the bar, giving my friend and I free run of the dining room.

Our server led us away from the crackling fireplace, which is in the smoking section, and sat us at a table by the window. If it hadn't been dark and stormy, he informed us, we could have craned our necks for a glimpse of the Rancocas Creek.

Fisherman's Kove, located on a lonely stretch of highway not far from Mount Laurel, was Kelly's Fish Inn until new owners took over about two year ago.

The restaurant does a brisk early-bird-special business - it's mostly an older crowd that comes in for entrees such as fried flounder and veal parm between 3 and 6 p.m., priced between $10.95 and $12.95.

We decided to stick to the restaurant's claim to fame and ordered seafood from start to finish. Our appetizer, captain's bourbon barbecued shrimp ($7.95), delivered six plump shrimp, basted in a tangy bourbon barbecue sauce, then wrapped in bacon and grilled. The result was most satisfying.

The menu's other starters included whole based clams casino ($5.95), oysters Rockefeller ($5.95) and the popular fave, mushrooms stuffed with crab meat ($8.95).

I thought that a variety of fresh fish would be on the menu but I was wrong. A pan roasted salmon Excalibur ($17.50), paired with lobster and asparagus in a white wine and butter sauce, sounded rich to me.

My friend ordered the Maryland crab cakes ($18.95), which turned out to be a smart choice. She was served two large crab cakes full of lump crab meat, along with green beans almondine and salad doused with a commercial-tasting Italian dressing. The twice baked potatoes, for which she paid an extra $1, tasted like they were beefed up with instant mashed potatoes. My regular baked potato was a better choice.

The Kove specializes in tableside flambeing, so I ordered the King Neptune ($18.95).

Our friendly waiter rolled a burner-equipped serving cart up to our table, and put on quite a show for us. He sauteed chunks of lobster, shrimp, large sea scallops and a serving of crab meat in a garlic, butter and wine sauce. Then, with a flourish, he doused the works in brandy and lit a match, giving us the roaring fire we'd been yearning for since our arrival. The blend of butter, wine and garlic was an ideal match for the seafood - this was dunking material for sure.

Seafood lovers may want to consider the Kove's ongoing special - for $14.95 you can mix and match three small orders of stuffed imperial soft shell, jumbo stuffed shrimp, stuffed lobster tail or flounder stuffed with crab meat. Entrees included soup or salad, potato and a vegetable.

If you prefer meat to fish, there are plenty of options, including chicken marsala ($13.95), veal scallopine ($19.95) and New York strip steak ($16.95).

Although flaming desserts, like bananas foster ($4.95) and cherries jubilee ($4.50) seemed to be going over big with the diners in the next room, we opted for a creamy slice of cranberry spice pumpkin cheesecake ($3.95).

Fisherman's Kove isn't the kind of place to go for culinary innovation - most menu items seemed a throwback to the days when platform shoes were popular the first time around.

But since the restaurant has thrived in its out-of-the-way location for nine years, it seems not everybody is looking for innovation. Sometimes the familiar is a more comforting prospect.

Fisherman's Kove, 1910 Marne Highway, Hainesport; 609-261-8778.

Hours of Operation: Tuesday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 3 p.m.-10 p.m.

Price Range: Appetizers, $2.95-$8.95; entrees, $13.95-$21.95.

Credit Cards: All major.

Nonsmoking Section: Yes.

Facilities for Disabled: Yes.

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