The quiet suburb of Pinelands in Cape Town might be the last place you’d expect to find top-notch fare (Hoghouse Brewing Company in nearby Ndabeni being the exception). Enter Saltwater Grill, a small seafood bistro located just outside Howard Centre.
Average price: R90 to R120
Serves: Great seafood and burgers
Best for: Casual weeknight dinners
Star ratings: Food 4, service 5, ambience 3
The adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” has never been truer than at an establishment like Saltwater Grill – the food is simple and delicious without the window dressing.
I try the rather generously sized seafood arancini (one of my all-time favourite nibbles) as a starter. They’re packed with rich flavours, which work harmoniously with the tasty marinara dipping sauce, have a gooey centre thanks to the mozzarella, and are fried crisp on the outside. The grilled prawn kebabs also prove to be a great choice, basted in a spicy Portuguese sauce for some kick.
For mains I choose the line fish of the day, a whole salmon trout (eyes included), which hits all the right spots. Pan fried to achieve a perfectly cooked fillet, it sports slightly crisped skin on the outside and comes doused in a lemony butter sauce. Choice of sides include roast veg, crispy chips or rice. I nibble at a friend’s seafood paella, of which he considers himself a connoisseur. It’s lightly spiced and chock-full of flavour, starring all the ocean favourites including fresh mussels, calamari, prawns and fish.
A second visit to the bistro reassures my tastebuds of its food’s deliciousness. This time around, the menu is beefed up with an ultimate deluxe burger. The pure beef patty is mixed with imported parmesan cheese, topped with melted camembert, caramelised red onion and all the frills, and is sandwiched between gorgeous brioche buns. Two words: simply delicious. (It also comes with crispy bacon, if that’s your thing.)
The new menu also has a shakshuka burger, inspired by the traditional North African breakfast dish. The signature filetto al limone is an absolute must-try – tender Botswana beef fillet, thinly sliced and grilled, and served with a creamy lemon-and-rosemary sauce.
I satisfy my sweet tooth at the close of the meal with a beautifully presented cookies-and-cream cake, but it lack in both texture and taste. A bit stodgy for my liking – nothing to write home about. The classic New York cheescake, however, is everything it ought to be: decadently rich and fluffy.
A range of warm and cold beverages is available, but they currently have no liquor licence, so BYOB. No corkage fee applies.
Friendly, efficient, attentive.
If you’re looking for swanky, Saltwater Grill is not for you. It’s a humble and unpretentious venue set near the Howard Centre, and despite this, is pretty quiet. No frills, simple and fuss free. It has a great outdoor seating area.
For bigger groups or families, try the seafood platters – they offer great value for money. Also, the salads are anything but boring. Their take on Caesar has anchovies, parmesan, croutons and all the trimmings.
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