The first time I went to Seabreeze was on a rainy evening in Cape Town when, rather than let me walk the short distance home after dark (I’d been working a little late), my very kind husband came to fetch me in the car. I hopped in and immediately started telling him about the launch of a new restaurant that two of my colleagues had visited the evening before.
‘It sounds great,’ I said. ‘It’s all about fresh seafood, not too fancy, but not too cheap and cheerful either. And they said the tuna burger is amazing.’
‘Where is it?’ he asked.
‘On Bree Street, of course,’ I replied.
‘Let’s go now,’ he said. And with that, we were en route.
We both love fish (and shellfish) and we’ve always bemoaned the fact that there isn’t anywhere to go for simple, unpretentious, eat-here-regularly seafood in Cape Town. So I suppose the prospect of finding just such a place would have made us take a much larger detour than we did that evening.
As it was, we shot up Bree at a fairly rapid rate, parked and dashed through the drizzle to Seabreeze. Inside, there were already several other occupied tables (on a rainy winter weekday evening in Cape Town? Another good sign) and several staff members who quickly ushered us to a table for two, taking coats and issuing welcomes and menus with friendly aplomb.
Because it was chilly, I ordered the fish soup to start, and then the fish pie – both of which were richly flavoured and had clearly been made with house-made stock and ultra-fresh fish. The creamy pie was topped with scrunched phyllo rather than a heavier pastry crust or mashed potato. It was very good, and my side dish of char-grilled Brussels sprouts with plenty of chilli was the perfect accompaniment.
A week or two later I was back, and this time it was all about the oysters. After-work drinks don’t get much better than when one is perched on a stool in the leafiest section of Bree Street on a balmy evening with an ice-cold glass of Miss Lucy (the excellent blended white wine by Springfield Estate) in hand. Until the plates of oysters start arriving, anyway… On the menu that day were both Knysna and Saldanha oysters, and we sampled plenty of both. I might need to make a few more visits to decide which are really my favourite, though. And taste the two signature dressed versions – beetroot, pickled cauliflower and amasi, and chilli nuts, cucumber and soy – both of which look delicious too.
I’ve also since sampled the tuna burger, which featured a perfectly rare seared piece of fish and gloriously light lemon mayo, while watching my equally happy dinner companion hoover up the classic hake and chips. And with the menu divided into ‘Small Plates’ and ‘Big Plates’ and frequently changed according to what’s fresh and in season, there is so much to return for. Kingklip with braaied corn and herb oil? Yes please. A fishcake with prawn bisque? Hello! There’s even a fish bunny chow on the latest menu, I hear – obviously another must-try.
I hardly ever order dessert but have heard good things about Seabreeze’s coconut pannacotta, and I’ve also made a note of the unusual dessert wine option, Simonsig Vin De Liza, which I’m determined to sample next time. That dessert wine is the perfect example of what makes Seabreeze feel so fresh, actually – it’s really unusual to be offered a simple glass of sweet Cape wine (the kind of wine our industry has made brilliantly well for several hundred years, not that you’d know it in most Cape Town restaurants and bars) at the end of a meal that hasn’t been taking itself far too seriously.
The wine and drinks list isn’t lengthy, nor is it pricey, and you can get no less than four MCCs by the flute as well as an additional six by the bottle… If you aren’t tempted by the rum cocktails, that is. Again, it seems obvious as soon as you see it – of course a seafood restaurant should have a rum bar, yo ho ho and all that – but clearly, it wasn’t. Seabreeze offers a choice of eight rum cocktails (get ready to say ‘I’ll have an Admiral’s Ration, please’) and 11 rums that hail from around the globe. And yes, rum is (or should be) the new gin. Obviously.
I’m intending to eat and drink at Seabreeze as much as possible as winter softens into spring – because once summer comes, I won’t be surprised if it gets so busy and so popular that Capetonians actually queue for a table here. That’ll be another first of many for the best new seafood restaurant in the Mother City.
Visit seabreezecapetown.co.za for more details or to make a booking.