My favourtite week of the year is most definitely Restaurant Week.
Fashionistas get Fashion week, I get Restaurant week.
If you live in South africa and you have not participated or been part of Restaurant Week SA, you’ve been missing out. Provided you live in the 3 large cities of course, Johannesburg in Gauteng Province, Durban in KwaZulu Natal Province and with double dips; The Western Province with Cape Town and the Winelands as a separate showcase.
All things food and delicious are served with class, elegance, flair, passion and theatre. It’s truly amazing. But this means it can truly be disappointing too.
But the ultimate frustration for me is when the hosting restaurant does not even make an effort. This happens very often with top restaurants that already have a big clientele base and have all the 5 stars and can’t be bothered to make an effort. The arrogance grinds my gears!
Anyways, my first #RestaurantWeekSA experience this year began at Harbour House restaurant Constantia Nek between Constantia and Hout Bay.
I’ve been a big fan of this chain of restaurants for a few years now. My ultimate favourite being in Kalk Bay. I wanted to try this new branch, wanting to compare the food, service and standards . Seeing that it’s closer to my house as well. So if it measures up, there might have a patron for life.
Findability– rated 9/10. This restaurant would be easy to find for anyone. You actually won’t even need GPS. Located right on top of constantia nek, right by the circle.
Decor and Reception rated at 7/10. It boasts an elegant, but typical of fine dining decor with minimal effort. Crisp white linen with quality table setting as I would expect. Nothing that stands out, just good enough.
As much as cutlery and cockery gets taken for granted, it really does resonate well with me. There’s nothing worst than drinking a good wine from a large rimmed, low quality, poorly shaped glass!
The location of the bar in the corner of the restaurant, hidden, takes away from the flow of the restaurant; the energy. You would not be able to comfortably come into this restaurant for a quick drink at the bar, so much foot traffic and noise from being near the kitchen.
Ambience: It felt cold, not sure if this could have been attributed to the restaurant being so empty with only 2-3 tables occupied. But there was something missing, something I’ve experienced at other Harbour House restaurants before. I couldn’t feel the passion for food, the love, the energy. Not in the talk about the menu nor the delivery of.
Menu: this was very disappointing, it didn’t feel well thought out. I’m given way too many menus and the menu I’m here for, well, no one knew about it. I had made reservations for a restaurant week dining experience, through the Restaurant Week SA website. You would assume that when I rock up at the restaurant they would know i’m from Restaurant week.
But nope. I get there, they acknowledge my reservations and I get seated. Then the waiter gives me about 4 different menus, I mean 4 menus! A bit of over kill, don’t you think? Then none of them turn out to be the right menu, the Restaurant Week menu I’m there for!
As much as I’m frustrated I decide to give a closer look to these million and one menus, and they do indeed have my kind of good food. From sushi, oysters to prawns, lobster and crayfish. All coming in at a very swifty price.
The waiter runs around not knowing what I’m talking about when I ask for this special menu. He goes to the manager and the manager seems clueless as well. They both disappear to the back and 15 minutes later they come back with a piece of printed ‘menu’ that looked like it had been stuck at the back of some door, hand written ‘restaurant week dinner’. This long awaited menu comes with only the main ingredient listed per course. No details whatsoever, not really sure what I’ll be eating, which might be a big problem for people who are selective of what they eat or have food allergies.
Yes, this was the first day of Restaurant week but you would expect proper briefing and training of staff for such an occasion, especially from a reputable restaurant like this.
I swallow my disappointment with a gulp of Durbanville Hills sauvignon blanc that goes down very smoothly. Let’s get to the food.
Starters: 2 Oysters. One fresh and one spawning. I had waited for so long to even get served a drink, I’m afraid complaining would delay my dinner even further.
Mains: As listed on the menu: Grilled Line fish( hake) Salsa verde. On presentation of the food, I get a juicy hake fillet on a bed of delicious, smooth, creamy mash and crunchy green beans, Japanese mayo topped with an over poached egg. Not sure what makes the Japanese mayo, Japanese. The waiter can’t tell me what makes it Japanese either. All he can tell me is, it’s imported from Japan. Very good mains, nonetheless.
Dessert was my ultimate favorite dessert, one of the few deemed worth the calories from my ‘is it worth the calories?’ list: Creme Brulee. And it was truly and amazingly delicious. This is the second best Creme Brulee in town. It’s definitely redeemed this restaurant. If it wasn’t for the Creme brulee I would not have considered going back ever again.
Last time I tasted a Creme Brulee this good was Autumn Restaurant Week SA 2016 at Marc’s Table in Green point.
Definitely 10/10 for dessert.
So final total score for the food, I would say 8/10
I’m left with mixed feelings about this restaurant. The mains and desserts were amazing but starters were very disappointing. So was the reception and the ambience or the feel of the restaurant.
Overall score will have to be 7/10.
Would I recommend it? Not particularly. If you are in the area and you have some money to burn, by all means pop in and have a meal. But I wouldn’t recommend someone to go out of their way to dine at this restaurant. Quite honestly, I would rather drive a further 20 minutes to the Kalk Bay Harbour House.