YOU can’t get much closer to a meal at the water’s edge than at On The Rocks, unless you’re actually having a picnic on the beach.
The outside deck at the Bloubergstrand restaurant is literally a stone’s throw from the waves (there really are rocks too) and the view across the bay to Table Mountain is one of the most famous in the country, if not the world. It’s the perfect setting to enjoy a seafood meal from the new menu created by chef Charl du Preez in collaboration with Masterchef SA judge Pete Goffe-Wood, who’ve had a long foodie relationship.
The guys say it was indeed the view from On The Rocks – which has been around for more than 50 years – that inspired them. “The new menu is a fantastic change from what our clientele experienced in the past. The waves of the Atlantic Ocean are literally breaking right on our doorstep, so what better way to complement that than with fresh, local seafood fare, among other meat and vegetarian options?” says Charl. “We both agreed the menu should reflect the view, in that it’s not complicated, but beautiful to look at and most certainly something for everybody to enjoy.”
So yes, there are other things besides fish – like meaty or vegetarian options – but given the setting, and the strong slant towards the jewels of the ocean, I decided to stick with that when my dear friend Peter took me there for lunch last week.
We were on a clock, and communicating that to the kitchen meant our meal was served appropriately and there was even time for Charl to come out and say hello. I didn’t manage to finish the whole bottle of Haute Cabrière chardonnay pinot noir, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made.
Peter had already eaten from the new menu a few times, so I was happy to go along with his recommendations, beginning with the smoked snoek fishcakes with tomato and cumin jam, cucumber ribbons and marinated fennel. “It has almost a bobotie flavour to it,” said Peter, and he is right. His starter was steamed black mussels with white wine, cream and fennel, and they were delicious.
Other options include oysters (natural or Japanese-style), salt and pepper squid, west coast fish soup, and for the rest, peri peri chicken livers, ostrich carpaccio, salads, and a “Sunset Platter” with olives, feta, hummus, pickles, preserves and pita. I can think of few places better for the sundowner hour.
Moving swiftly along to main courses, I had the fish tacos, once again recommended by Peter. The shells were filled with fried hake fillets, tomato and coriander salsa, and sour cream. Yummy, and definitely to be eaten with the hands. What kind of monster would try it with a fork? Peter had butternut rotolo, which looked fabulous and tasted even better.
If I didn’t have time to drink my wine, I certainly didn’t have time for dessert. If I had, and was in possession of a sweet tooth, I could have had baked cheese cake, vanilla crème brûlée, or flourless chocolate cake. A cheese platter takes care of the savoury palate.
A new addition to On The Rocks is the Seaside Coffee Hatch, which offers speciality coffees and pastries from 7am for cyclists, runners, leisurely strollers and anyone else who happens to pass by at that hour. The restaurant is open daily from 9am until 10pm, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.