Tasty seafood and stunning views at Gaaitje in Paternoster

The beach-side charm of Gaaitjie

Today we’re heading up South Africa’s West Coast to the charming seaside town of Paternoster at Cape Columbine. Known for its crayfish and white-washed fisherman’s cottages it’s a picture perfect little spot that appears in the distance as you come over that final hill. More about what to do in this beautiful place later. But first we are getting down to the important business of lunch. After our two-hour drive from Cape Town we were ready for some refreshment so we headed straight for the sea in search of Gaaitjie (which mysteriously means little hole in Afrikaans).

Gaaitje is quite simply the perfect restaurant for me. A basic white-washed fisherman’s cottage right on the beach serving food made using fresh local produce. And no holes in sight. Just expansive beach and ocean views.

Gaatijie: view

Welcome to Gaaitjie, beautiful in shades of blue and white

What’s on the menu

We settled in happily on the verandah with a bottle of Rose to peruse the menu which offered a lot of delicious fishy favourites. The local calamari came with charred corn, pickled red onion and garlic aioli. The prettiest of plates with calamari that literally melted in the mouth. Wow! Calamari will never taste like this again…

Gaaitjie: Calamari

Beautifully tender calamari with a slight crunch

My Saldanah Bay mussels were in a white wine broth with cumin and lime leaves, garlic and onions. I’ve eaten so many mussels in my time in Cape Town I’m thinking of writing a guide to mussel dishes around the peninsular! They are so tasty at this time of year and so versatile. Today’s choice came in a curry-style broth which I’ve never had with mussels before and it worked beautifully. I mopped up all those juices with our wonderful rosemary pot bread.

Gaaitjie: mussels

Plump mussels in a curry-flavoured broth

The special of the day was written up on the board as we walked in – Masala prawns. No need for Terry to look at the menu then, Indian flavours are his favourite. The prawns were enormous, juicy and beautifully spicy and served on the tastiest of savoury rice.

Gaaitjie: prawns

Giant masala prawns with savoury rice

To complement our meal these delightful little pot breads were delivered to our table piping hot from the oven. Soft and delicate, the fresh butter melted in creating little bites of heavenliness – all flavoured with fresh rosemary. It’s almost worth going to Gaaitjie just for the bread!

Gaaitjie: tin bread

Stunning little loaves of tin bread

The food at Gaaitjie is both simple and perfect. The best ingredients wonderfully cooked, a warm welcome and great service and those views! I want to go back there right now!

Gaaitjie: front

Gaaitje in its shades of blue

Gaaitjie: boat

The Gaaitje boat at the front of the restaurant

 

Gaaitjie: interior

Inside there’s a lovely beach-house feel

Today’s price point

Lunch for three which consisted of two starters, a main course and a bottle of Rose cost R565 (£34 at todays exchange rate).

As a general guide starters are around R80 (4.80) and main courses up to R200 (£12).

Gaaitje is off Sampson Street on the beach in Paternoster.

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell on Bree Street

Today we’re heading for lunch at SeaBreeze on Cape Town’s Bree Street. It’s a street on the edge of the City Bowl District (CBD) that I love meandering up and down. It’s home to our favourite pub The Crazy Horse (which sells English bitter to my husband’s delight), and plenty of bars, coffee shops, cafes and restaurants. It seems every year more open, yet none close so there’s even more to chose from. It’s all happening in Bree Street.

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell is up towards the mountain end of the street. Always handy when you have  something as  magnificent as Table Mountain to use as your landmark. It describes itself as “Celebrating the Mother City’s seafood heritage” – bring it on I say.

What’s on the menu

Of course it starts with with oysters. Three kinds in this case – Knysna (from the Garden Route), Saldhana (from the West Coast) and Luderitz (from Namibia). Everyone who loves oysters has their favourites, for me they can’t be too big or too creamy so it’s Knysna every time. They  have that perfect just-from-the sea flavour.

SeaBreeze: oysters

Juicy, saltily delicious Knysna oysters

The grilled prawns came deshelled with red slaw, sesame mayo, chilli nuts and some crispy noodles on the side. The sesame mayo was a wonder, perfect to dip those plump prawns in and add a bit of crunch with nuts and noodles. As we were up for a long lunch we asked if we could finish our starters before we ordered our main courses, our waitress was more than happy to accommodate us. What this did mean is that one of our party liked the prawn starter so much she ordered it again as a main-course portion. Now there’s a good dish!

SeaBreeze: prawns

Tasty, fresh prawns with plenty of crunch

I love fresh tuna but can’t face it if it’s been even slightly overcooked. I don’t know it seems to take most of the flavour out and and also gives it a mushy sort of texture, terrible way to ruin a beautiful piece of fresh tuna. So I was happy to hear the words: “Well done,  medium, rare or blue” when asked how I wanted mine cooked. Blue is the answer obviously. And this is what I got. A perfectly seared plate of delicious tuna served with charred cos, anchovies, quails egg and tomatoes.

SeaBreeze: tuna

Perfectly seared blue tuna

And now for something different – fish bunny chow. Bunny Chow (or Bunny) was originally a fast food dish of a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry that was created in Durban, where there’s a large Indian community, in the 1940s. According to Wikipedia was also sold in Gweru, Zimbabwe during World War II and is still sold in Kadoma, Zimbabwe which is where I was born and grew up. Now there’s a bit of a surprise! Can’t say I saw any of those sort of bunnies around town in my childhood.

SeaBreeze: Bunny chow

Bunny chow with creamy Malay flavours

The bread was beautifully light, kind of brioche-like and the curry was Cape-Malay style, so mild and creamy. A delightful dish, one that makes me want to return purely so I can have one!

SeaBreeze: Bunny chow

Taking the lid off the bunny chow

SeaBreeze has a lovely chilled atmosphere and as befits its name has a seaside feel to it even though you’re not that close to the beach. The menu is all about things from the sea, though there is a steak choice available. But really you need to go there to celebrate the flavours of Cape Town’s choice seafood.

SeaBreeze: interior

The beach-style interior in blue and white

Today’s price point

Lunch for two including two starters, two main courses and a bottle of wine comes out at R655 (around £39 at today’s exchange rate).

SeaBreeze Fish & Shell is at 211-213 Bree Street.

A fishy feast at Harbour House

So I’ve headed south to Cape Town for a bit of Southern Hemisphere summer and family time. And of course a chance to sample all the delicious food. Cape Town’s restaurant scene is fabulous, the range of great produce available is mind-blowing from delicious seafood, the freshest of fruit and veg, flavoursome meat and of course a wine industry to keep even the most demanding of wine lovers satisfied. How could I not share all of this with you? Welcome to Cape Town.

First up, an old favourite in the lovely V&A Waterfront. Harbour House has wonderful fish options and my advice to you would be don’t spend too long pondering the menu which is packed with delights, until you have been told the day’s specials. You’re bound to change your mind several times – this is one tough decision-making challenge. One I’m more than happy to take on.

An updated version of a classic, the avocado ritz is a plate of beautiful greens and pinks with plenty of prawns and beautifully creamy avo.

avoritz

A pretty plate in pinks and greens

My tuna tartare was the absolute freshest, beautifully tender chopped tuna with a spicy mayo. A wonderfully light starter for a hot summer’s day.

tuna

A fresh tower of tuna to savour

The tempura prawns comes with an aubergine and avocado tian. A wonderful creamy combination to go with the fishy, crunchy prawns.

prawns

Tempura prawns with creamy avocado and mayo

There are also a selection of meaty dishes on the menu which the restaurant does really well. Their prime beef carpaccio is served with parmesan and parsnip crisps, parsnip puree and mini aragula. A great mix of flavours and textures.

carpaccio

A meatier option to tuck into

Also on the starter menu is this tasty plate of gnocchi garnished with roasted butternut, grilled artichokes, mushrooms, roasted pine nuts and a truffle parmesan sauce.

gnocchi

A perfect portion of gnocchi

Another meaty option is the steak tartare which comes topped with raw quails eggs and a rocket salad on the side. Another beautiful plate of food.

steaktartare

The steak tartare is a great carniverous option

The seafood specials board offers a selection of whatever’s fresh. I couldn’t resist a couple of langoustine simply grilled. Sweet and satisfying.

langos

Sometimes you simply have to treat yourself

I’m always happy to spend a few hours at Harbour House indulging in a seafood extravaganza. And I believe there’s a new one opening up soon. Oh well, I’d better plan to test it out.

Harbour House is at Quay Four, Ground Floor, V&A Waterfront.

Seafood beach-style at Harbour House

There’s something totally magical about eating lunch while the ocean waves crash up against your restaurant. I’m a total beach baby, and as soon as I walk into Harbour House, I feel like I don’t want to leave…ever.

Aside from the waves and the stunning view (the restaurant is surrounded by glass), the whole place is decorated in shades of blue with lovely wooden furniture, such a beach-house feel. It’s what my ideal home would look like.

When you go to Harbour House you simply have to eat fish, as much of it as you possibly can. Seriously, stay away from the meaty menu options as you can be sure the fish will be so fresh and perfectly prepared. Oh, and don’t focus too much on the menu, rather take a look at the blackboard where the day’s specials are displayed. I always end up ordering from there.

To start I had this amazing yellowtail tartare. The yellowtails seem to be jumping out of the ocean at the moment so they are fresh, meaty and just beautiful.

yellowtail tartare

The freshest of yellowtail, a masterpiece on the plate

The tian of prawns (also on the blackboard) offers a tower of aubergine, tomato and avocado, surrounded by tempura prawns.

prawn tian

Juicy prawns surround the tian

Focusing on the fishy side of the menu I decided to go for langoustines for my main. You can order as many (or as few) as you want, two seemed to fit the for me bill today. Beautifully sweet and meaty and served with the most delicious savoury rice.

langos

Love the langoustines

There were three line fish specials today, one of them being…yellowtail. Served with an orange beurre blanc, artichokes and spinach.

yellowtail

The yellowtail’s unbelievably fresh and citrussy

Of course, if you’re in a seafood restaurant there’s always the ultimate dish…the seafood platter. Crayfish, prawns, mussels in a deliciously creamy sauce, spicy calamari and fried linefish. A veritable feast!

seafood platter

Tuck into a feast of seafood

I wandered around snapping happily with my iPad when I arrived to try to capture the beachy feel of Harbour House. How beautiful is it? Just to say it’s empty because we arrived at noon, for an early lunch…it soon filled up.

interior

There’s also a beautiful deck outside where you can chill out before (or after) lunch…again this is for my dream house. Blue and white all the way, it’s the perfect lunch venue!

deck

Soak up the sunshine on the stunning deck

Harbour House is at Kalk Bay Harbour, Kalk Bay, Cape Peninsular.

Our newest local in Sea Point: NV-80

It’s always a joy to have good restaurants on your doorstep. And in Sea Point in Cape Town, the main road is buzzing with a range of places to eat. Five minutes walk away from where we’re staying is a newly completed shopping centre called The Point. Gleaming tiles and shiny windows welcome you and there are plenty of shopping opportunities, most significantly one of my favourite shops in the world – Dischem. It’s a discount chemist (South African shops often have the most literal of names, just so you’re not confused about what’s going to be on offer). I can (and do) spend hours in there and never come out empty handed!

Almost directly opposite the wondrous Dischem is a sparkling new restaurant called NV-80. Our friend Heath, who lives locally, described it as having the best steaks in Cape Town, rather a large statement and one that simply had to be put to the test.

It’s called NV-80 after the Goncalves brothers Naldo and Victor (NV, see) and 80 is a reference to the 80s when the duo began in the restaurant business. The venue is sleek and contemporary with a lovely, large balcony.

The Thursday night we dined there, the place was heaving. Obviously this new addition to Sea Point’s restaurantland has been enthusiastically welcomed by the locals. As well as all manner of steaks, the menu offers a range of seafood and salad dishes.

Large, juicy king prawns came in a delicious sauce of chilli and garlic – the sort of sauce you want to spoon into your mouth when the prawns have been polished off.

prawn starater

Stunning prawns make this starter a delight

A large plate of carpaccio came scattered deep fried shallots and parmesan and drizzled with truffle dressing.

carpaccio

Tender carpaccio to savour

Bearing in mind that we were here for a serious steak sampling, most of the table tucked into steak in various forms. It’s aged Chalmar beef – choose your cut and how you like it cooked and a glistening (and substantial) steak is placed in front of you.

ribeye

A substantial piece of ribeye

There’s also an impressive range of seafood available like this lovely platter of prawns.

prawn mains

If steak’s not your thing, tuck into seafood

And then there’s the sirloin on the bone. Amazingly flavoursome and tender, the ultimate carniverous treat. Okay, it’s rather large but no one said you had to eat it all at once. When I’d had my fill, I happily carried the remains home and in fact I’m having it for dinner tonight in a spicy Thai salad I’ve created (watch this space for the recipe).

sirloin

Sirloin on the bone, a serious treat for meat lovers

You’ll also find tasty salads for the non-meat eaters, like this caramelised pear and gorgonzola combo with honey and mustard dressing.

salad

If meat’s not your thing there are tasty salads to tuck into

I was also aware of the freshly shucked West coast oysters on offer. I’m thinking of a Champagne and oyster extravaganza on the balcony for a lunchtime treat. You’ve got to plan ahead, that’s part of the pleasure of eating, after all.

Welcome to your new Sea Point home Naldo and Victor. And thanks Heath for the local knowledge.

NV-80 is at 76 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town.

Amazing Asian prawn salad

I recently made this delicious salad when we had friends round for dinner. With a lovely base of herbs and zesty dressing topped with quickly fried juicy prawns, it’s the perfect light, fresh starter.

Tempting juicy prawns rest on a zesty herb bed

Tempting juicy prawns rest on a zesty herb bed

Serves 4

12 large prawns, shelled but with tail still on

1 cucumber, peeled into ribbons

2 handfuls basil leaves

2 handfuls mint leaves

2 handfuls coriander leaves

6 spring onions, chopped

2 handfuls peanuts, dry fried

For the marinade and dressing

1 stick lemon grass, trimmed and thinly sliced

Half a cup of freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tbsps vegetable oil

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsps fish sauce

2 small red chillies, deseeded and sliced

Mix the marinade ingredients together. Pour three quarters of the mix over the prawns and leave to marinate for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Save the rest of the liquid to dress the salad.

Mix all the salad ingredients together, pour over the remaining dressing and toss.

Fry the prawns in a little olive oil in a hot pan for about 3 to 4 mins until they are nicely pink.

Place on top of the salad. Sprinkle with the peanuts and serve.

I got our Mozambique prawns from our local fish shop in Sea Point. Oceans Edge at 84A Regents Road sells all sorts of lovely fish and seafood, both fresh and frozen. Find out more about them at www.oceansedge.co.za