Venues

Harbour House (V&A Waterfront)

Harbour House (V&A Waterfront)
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Cost
R180 avg main meal
Ambience
Classic elegance, Family friendly
Food
Mediterranean, Seafood
Payment
Mastercard, Visa
Corkage
R60

Critic's review

Graham Howe

Food 
This sister restaurant of the original Harbour House in Kalk Bay sticks to a winning formula of fresh seafood served with a gourmet spin. Signature starters tempt with oysters, hot seafood soup or cold gazpacho, ceviche, tian of prawns or plump West Coast mussels in wine, cream, garlic and thyme. Share a legendary sushi, shellfish or seafood platter with calamari, mussels, prawns, crayfish and linefish, or opt for the ever-popular Mozambican-style peri-peri tiger prawns. A chalkboard advertises the catch of the day, which can range from angelfish and kingklip to salmon and yellowtail. The fish is fresh and delicately grilled or steamed and plated fine-dining-style with potato fondant, zesty lemon and aromatic herbal infusions, sauces and foams. Carnivores need not despair that this all sounds way too fishy: the beef tataki with chilli and sesame, or tender rack of Karoo lamb in a thyme and rosemary jus are best sellers.

Drinks 
They offer a good selection of cocktails, craft beers, sparkling wines and still Cape wines to suit every pocket.

Service 
The service can be variable under pressure; it's best to go in peak times in season, when the restaurant is jumping and service runs really well.

Ambience 
Harbour House offers smart but relaxed dining on the wooden deck or inside, with spectacular waterfront views of the tugs and ferries in Victoria basin. It’s a venue for a special night out.

And… 
Build your own seafood or shellfish platter, but make sure you ask for a quote before you order any of the SQ items (especially crayfish and shellfish) as these are expensive.

(July 2014)

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User reviews

  • Being as lucky as we are in CPT to have so many good restaurants to choose from, I must say that I was very let down by choosing to take out of town friends to the Harbour House at the V&A last night. The R210 steak was at most 150g of poorly prepared, tough B grade Sirlion, the R190 seafood pasta was so bad that it could have been a microwave dinner bought at your local supermarket. Not impressed at all! It's ok to pay a premium for good quality dining but I feel that the Harbour house is on the top end cost wise for very mediocre food. Won't be going back there in a hurry...unfortunate because location is awesome
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  • We went through to Harbour House for a drink this past weekend. I ordered a cosmo, which set me back R70 and really was not anything to rave about. Having worked at a bar before where we made great cocktails with fresh ingredients, I could immediately taste how cheaply and poorly the cosmo was made. It tasted more like energade mixed with vodka. My friends were also a bit upset with their order when the waiter suggested a chenin blanc for them to try which came to R80 a glass and was also very average to say the least. I've given Harbour House a try a few times now, all in all I can say they are very overpriced and the quality of the drinks and food doesn't match up at all.
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  • I recently had dinner here with my husband and found the service to be the worst I have experienced in a long time in many countries. It was painfully slow with no offer of water or properly dressed table - we wondered why we didn't get a table cloth when those around us did. When the entree of mussels eventually arrived it was lukewarm with a few dubious mussels that I didn't eat. My husband had a closed mussel in his which obviously you can't eat and the bread for both was stale. The mains were also a long time and lukewarm when they arrived. We both had king prawns which were messy to eat and the finger bath bowls arrived well after we had finished and already needed to clean up. I had wanted to visit for a while but was extremely disappointed with the whole experience bar the waterfront location although we were nowhere near a heater and needed a couple of blankets to stay warm.
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  • I had the most lovely dinner there last Friday. The restaurant was busy but at no time did we feel rushed. The restaurant looked beautiful with the candles and those funny solar lights.
    I had the yellowtail tartare as a starter, my husband the prawn tower. Both were delicious.
    We had the line fish which tasted fresh. There was a little wait as the restaurant was busy but as we had the whole evening we didnt mind at all.
    Would have loved to try a desert but we were both too full.
    All in all we had a great evening and we will definitely be back.

    They have a nice upper deck where we had delicious sushi last time we visited.
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  • Really poor service and food, not rescued by the location. Plus they must have the most incompetent and obnoxious PR lady in all of Cape Town - a disgrace to the service industry
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  • We booked at the Harbour House Waterfront on Friday 30th May 2014. When I made the booking I was told that they have two sessions- one at 6pm and another at 8pm. I opted for 8pm. Upon arrival we were welcomed and had to wait a while for our table. There were 7 of us. Our waiter was not the most efficient or friendliest of waiters. Our table wasn't even properly laid. (no linen). When ordering our starters we were told that there was no more parma ham and melon, nor was there any Gazpucho left. Not good. We had to ask our waiter if we could have extra drinks as well as ask for him to take our main order. I have no issue with slow service as it is quite nice to relax and enjoy the company of your group. I had a HUGE issue when at 9:45pm the staff started making a noise of cleaning up and staring at our table and being ever so busy with packing everything away. We had not even been asked if we wanted dessert. We called the waiter over to place some dessert orders who by now was not amused. The creme brulee was the worst I have had and the Lemon tart which sounded so delicious on the menu was completely tasteless. By now most of the staff were surrounding us and making us feel uncomfortable. I understand that people need to get home. This restaurant is by no means cheap and I expected a completely different level of service. Do they just cater for the tourism industry-quick in and out. If so let the locals know. I won't go here again as I cannot rate this restaurant at all. It is quite sad as they have the most lovely website and yet they don't deliver. Very disappointed.
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  • We adore Harbour House Kalk Bay and hoped the Waterfront branch would live up to it - we were sadly disappointed. I booked a table outside, and upon arrival was barely acknowledged by the gentleman manning the reception desk. A lady then asked a waiter to "show them to table X", after struggling to find our names on the list. Table X was occupied and the waiter stood around apparently incapable of deciding whether to seat us at the next table. We sat ourselves down and waited nearly 10 minutes for our drinks order to be taken - a bottle of white and a bottle of sparkling mineral water. We received a bottle of still water. The food took quite long to come out, and was utterly forgettable. The tempura batter of the tian of prawns tasted of old oil and the prawns were cold. The mussels themselves were lovely, but sat in a measly couple of tablespoons of sauce with 1 slice of crostini. The grilled calamari main had no real flavour, other than lashings of smoked paprika. The tiny portion of Angelfish was garnished with what tasted like warm mayonnaise and, at R129, was exorbitantly priced - even at Woolies 2 large sides cost around R30 - this couldn't have been more than R12 worth. We didn't bother with dessert. The setting is the only real winner here.

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  • A sister to the Harbour House in Kalk Bay, the new Harbour House Restaurant on the V & A Waterfront is beautifully situated on Quay 4. It has all the makings of a fantastic dining experience and I want to note that our dinner on the night of September 29th 2012 was just that. The food is simply outstanding, better than I have tasted in some of the restaurants nominated in the top 10! Our waitress, Lindsey, was a real star and the manager, Geraldo went out of his way to make sure our evening was memorable. My only negative comment is the tables are a little close together and on a chilly evening when the glass doors are closed the place is rather noisy . That however would definitely not keep me from going back, I think during the day or on a warmer evening sitting outside would be a great experience too . Maureen Stanier. PS our reservation was made using the Eat Out Website and their team were very efficient, what a great way to make a booking!

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  • When I booked at Harbour House I referenced the poor service complaints on various websites and were told that was probably from the bar upstairs. Well, from the time when we arrived we experienced poor customer service from our arrogent blonde haired waiter, who later claimed to be a "six or seven star service waiter from cruise liners" - well he has to get the basics right. We had to move from our sea facing table because the heaters were on full blast and it was like baking in a sunbed, could not be turned off as the table next to us didn't want them off. Then we waited about an hour for our one course of 2 plates of food. Waiter at one stage told us it would be "one minute" but he was mistaken. Problem I have here is that he did not communicate with us at all during this wait and rather avoided eye contact. Food was good though. I complained after our meal to a member of staff who took my phone number down. The final straw was blondy asking us when we paid if we would like to add a gratuity! A big no no.
    I have yet to receive a call from anyone. Fine if your kitchen is slow but, just communicate to your customers!

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  • During a recent visit to South Africa I had dinner at the newly opened Harbour House restaurant in Cape Town’s Waterfront. Upon arrival we were faced with a short(-ish) queue as the restaurant was seated to capacity and in full swing. We were greeted by a charming dark haired lady who graciously, and rather miraculously, changed our table for two (which we had reserved) for one that could accommodate a third person.

    She seated us and handed out clean, leather-bound menus. The tables were covered in clean, freshly laundered linen, the table - and glassware were immaculately clean and polished. She offered a generously filled bowl of ciabatta while pouring olive oil and balsamic vinegar onto a central communal dipping plate. The bread (baked on the premises) was exceptionally good – open textured, soft and chewy with a light crisp crust. Our first disappointment of the evening was the inferior quality of both oil and vinegar. The oil was harsh and bitter; the vinegar too acidic.
    Our waiter arrived immediately and introduced himself as Gabriel. We ordered a bottle each of still and sparkling water but declined his offer of pre-dinner drinks. The water (“Karroo” brand, in elegant glass bottles) arrived promptly. The sparkling was acceptable, while the still had an unpleasant metallic taste.
    Our waiter then brought two large boards upon which the daily specials were chalked. One was neatly written, the other an untidy scrawl with a spelling mistake, which he corrected. His descriptions of the specials, especially the fish, were informative and entertaining.
    For starters we chose gnocchi, the fish tartare and a dish of tempura prawns with tomato, avocado and aubergine. For main courses two of us chose fish (kingklip and yellowtail), the third opted for the Mozambican prawns.
    Our waiter helped us select a suitable wine and we were impressed by his knowledge of both local and international wines. We decided on Sauvignon Blanc and chose a bottle of Springfield ‘Life from Stone’. The wine, when it eventually arrived (delivered and poured by a different waiter), did not disappoint. The wine’s temperature was perfect and the waiter served it flawlessly. The ice-bucket was rather novel – a sturdy transparent plastic bag, called a ‘Cool-de-sac’.

    With its high ceiling, use of pale wooden beams, and glass ‘walls’ which slide away, the restaurant’s design deconstructs notions of ‘inside’ versus ‘outside’. There is an emphasis on spaciousness, and even though the restaurant is packed and buzzing, one gets a sense of the tranquility of a beach house. Unfortunately our waiter could tell us neither the name of the architect, nor the type of wood used in the construction.

    Of the three starters the tempura prawns looked most appealing, although the batter was not nearly as light and crisp as a tempura. The taste combination of prawn, aubergine, tomato, avocado and basil mayonnaise worked well. The only disappointment was the aubergine base which was hard and unseasoned. The gnocchi (made on the premises) was superb. It had a delicious wood fire taste which did not overwhelm the other flavours. The Parmesan sauce was a winner. On the down side, the abundant garnish of curly slivers of fried/oven-dried butternut squash were tough and tasteless.
    The fish tartare looked the least impressive, a small shaped mound in the centre of the plate surrounded by circles of mayonnaise sauce. It was, however, delicious. The flavours worked exceptionally well together and the only criticism I could deliver was that it lacked a bit of zing. Perhaps consider adjusting the lemon juice?

    There unfortunately was a longish wait between courses. Our waiter explained that the restaurant was particularly busy at the moment and asked our patience. He was so polite and charming that we could not refuse. We were further impressed with the standard of service when the manager/hostess (?) who seated us also stopped by to inquire about our evening. After assuring us that our food would not take too long, she disappeared towards the kitchen. Our main courses arrived within minutes.

    In terms of appearance, our main courses were less exciting than the starters. The plating of the prawns was particularly neglected, they arrived on a plate which in turn was carried on an unnecessarily large wooden plank-like board (utterly out of place and jarred with the upmarket, ‘urban-chic’ character of the restaurant). The prawns were accompanied by an entirely uninspired tomato salad which remained untouched. The prawns themselves were good though. Cooked to a turn and deliciously sauced with butter, garlic and chilli.
    Both the fish dishes were perfectly grilled, and arrived on warm plates. The kingklip was accompanied by a rustic potato dauphinoise and vegetables cooked exactly al dente. The basil sauce accompaniment was tasty although perhaps too intense and rich for the delicate fish.
    The yellowtail came with mashed potatoes (disappointing), and slightly underdone green beans. Best on the plate was a creative combination of Japanese mayonnaise and salsa verde, a harmonious foil for this fish.

    Deciding to head off to our second destination for the night, we declined dessert and coffee.
    Portion sizes were neither too small nor overly large, a three course meal would satisfy a good appetite. Except for the two main fish dishes, the prices (according to our Capetonian), were a bit steep. However when considering the ambience, the spectacular setting and excellent service, I felt it was money well spent. I shall certainly recommend Harbour House and look forward to another visit.
     

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  • The food is always perfect! Best fish in Cape Town! We always receive excellent service! The service at the bar area is slow though.

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  • What a disappointment it was! Arrogant service, totally overpriced. They won't see me or my friends again. I will not recommend the place.

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  • Overpriced, service slow. Won't go back or recommend.

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  • Menu is very limited and overpriced. They do not have a kids menu and were also reluctant to compromise. It was suggested by the manger on duty that I buy a R138 line fish for my daughter! After much bickering we finally agreed on a R75 Calamari meal without the spicy seasoning. Overall the experience was rather ordinary and there are far better options at the V&A - I guess we are paying for their prime location.

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  • Stunning venue, the service was very professional and the wine list and food is the same as at the original in Kalk Bay. All the dishes are tasty and fresh.

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  • Sat upstairs at sushi bar. Waiters were slow and nonchalant. Took about 45 minutes for drinks to come to table. Sushi not the best.

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  • Had dinner there last night and all very dissapointing even though unprofessional service was willing.

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  • I was in awe of the scenery. Service was okay, nothing special; however, I am used to 5 diamond service. Everything was fine up until our main was presented. I must say for a seafood restaurant, I was most disappointed by the Mozombique prawns. The prawns would have been delightful had they not been over cooked, to the point that that they were grilled to their shell. It was my partner's birthday and I was wanting to make an impression. We're visiting from London, England and I asked his Capetonian sister to book here because we thought that of all places , they would get it right - seafood wise. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I did mention 'the problem' to the waitor (while my partner was in the loo); however, he did nothing but 'pass info on to chef' - hardly what I call service. I will not be going back nor will I be recommending Harbour House to those who want anything more than a drink.

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Facilities

  • Accepts credit cards
  • Alfresco
  • Beer served
  • Booking required
  • Child friendly
  • Dinner
  • Food
  • Licensed
  • Lunch
  • Parking
  • Serves food
  • Vegetarian

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