Owner Frank Sykes is a Springbok fisherman, translating his passion into a commercial initiative that has swiftly become the neighbourhood’s go-to fishmonger for knowledge and freshness as well as the restaurant recognised for its seafood, platters and vibey buzz.
Fresh fish, shellfish, calamari and mussels accompanied by chips and/or salad or vegetables are the anchor dishes for this restaurant. Specials can change daily depending on what fish Frank has secured via his fishing contacts – and if tuna is available, the starter course tuna chevise of finely chopped tuna, red onions and tomatoes has locals-in-the-know arriving in droves.
While there is a formal menu presented on the table, the more popular choices are on the specials blackboard or the whiteboard where patrons can build their own dish. There is a basic dish – seafood platter with hake, prawns and calamari as an example – and then addition of starch and/or vegetables becomes an add-on, effectively limiting the costs. The salads are mouth-watering combinations of fresh ingredients and seafood because they present the best of everything this restaurant offers.
Desserts are not a feature here with ordering a Dom Pedro or Irish coffee being the best options.
The Fat Fish is not licensed so bring your own drinks and ask for a bottle opener. Non-alcoholic soft drinks are available.
Despite being tiny, service can be erratic with an over-harassed waitress sometimes not being aware of which table next deserves service. However, when pointed out, every measure is made for rectification.
Booking over weekends is essential. The restaurant is literally the size of a small retail outlet and the tables fill swiftly. An alternative is ordering take-away or buying fresh and cooking at home.
Casual, fun-loving and honest to its representation of the sea, The Fat Fish is unpretentious with its faux fish models and fishing nets as décor and blue and white colour scheme reminiscent of Greek holidays. This is the neighbourhood’s local fresh fish haunt that never fails to deliver on expectations.
Undoubtedly known for its fresh seafood, The Fat Fish will suit a private function like a surprise birthday party or year-end celebration.
Eat Out critics dine anonymously and pay for their meals in full. Read our editorial policy here.
A few questions to welcoming owner-host Frank Sykes and the reason this buzzy place attracts seafood lovers from far and wide makes sense. Sykes is a long-time commercial fisherman with many records to his name. He previously ran a successful restaurant in the area. On top of that, he trained at the erstwhile esteemed Christina Martin Culinary School. This is likely the reason the veggies, when served with any dish, are perfectly julienned and cooked to luscious perfection.
Those here for the seafood might start with the spicy Thai fishcakes or the Tekweni tuna taco, where the fresh, light tuna cubes are piled in a mini-mountain on your plate atop slim and crunchy taco chips. The avo, toasted sesame seeds and peri-and-lemon mayo add texture and flavour.
Ask about the fresh line fish special of the day, which comes with julienned veggies, a potato rosti and creamy lemon sauce. An alternative — and good to share — is the ocean platter, where you can have your choice of the line fish but in this case plus succulent calamari tubes and four perfectly cooked prawns. Depending on what’s come in, Sykes might recommend a special such as giant Mozambique prawns served on rice and a choice of lemon, garlic or peri-peri sauce.
Meat-eaters are well catered for under the menu’s “turf” section. There’s fillet and aged-to-perfection T-bone plus, this being Durban, half a peri-peri chicken infused with intense flavour. Vegetarians would be wise to consider pescatarianism to enjoy a meal here since even the summer salad, with its base of garden greens, comes with fresh grilled fish, calamari rings and prawns.
The most popular dessert is the comfort food-style malva pud that walks out of the oven and onto tables with its accompanying custard and ice cream. Expect reasonably priced generous portions.
BYO until they get a license. No corkage charged. The big café-style fridge is stocked with soft drinks.
Friendly, helpful and unobtrusive.
Buzzy yet relaxed. Guests are families and parties of adults enjoying life and well-prepared food. One of the décor features in the restaurant, where the walls are painted sea blue and the art comprises fibreglass trophies of some of Sykes’ more spectacular catches, is the creative takeaway chalkboard of items one might order.
This is a fishmonger as well as a restaurant. Fresh fish and other seafood are sold from a small side room. In this space you can also browse framed award certificates and pictures recording Frank Sykes’ fish that did not get away.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.