SeaBreeze Fish & Shell serves scrumptious seafood in a stylish but relaxed space. A visit here almost feels like taking an – admittedly, very short – seaside holiday.
A bite when the weather’s sunny – be it with colleagues for a work lunch or a lingering sit-down over the weekend. Start with some oysters and take it from there.
Seafood is the name of the game here, and a very good job they do of it, too. You’ll want to start with some fresh oysters, naked or dressed – and it’s a great opportunity to improve your shellfish education: order a Saldanha and Knysna oyster side by side and compare. They do a popular half-price oyster happy hour twice daily (12-1 and 5-6), which only adds to the appeal. But the starter menu also offers items like hake ceviche, an oyster po’boy, and a tangy little anglefish taco to whet the appetite.
Mains range from accessible items like the (very popular) hake and chips, a couple of seafood curries and a SeaBreeze Caesar salad, to more exotic dishes like whole grilled bream, as well as grilled swordfish with a fresh green herby pesto, new potatoes and broccolini. The dessert selection holds a cheesecake and a chocolate and lemon tart, but if I were you, I’d head straight for the pina colada panna cotta: a dreamy little mould of coconut-flavoured panna cotta is served with a piquant sauce of poached pineapple and, of course, a shocking pink cherry on top. It shouldn’t work – it sounds absurd! – but it does. A light, frothy little pudding to lift the spirits.
The wine list offers plenty of variety both in terms of origin and price point and – always a good thing – loads to order by the glass. There’s a good selection of MCC as well, but what makes SeaBreeze unique is its selection of rum. Apart from a whole range of signature rum cocktails, they’ve got quite a selection of different rums, arranged according to country of origin, which makes for interesting reading (who knew France produces rum?) even if it’s not your particular poison.
Relaxed but efficient.
Fittingly, the décor has a maritime feel, but not in a cheesy way. The white, blue and light wood accents, combined with the spaciousness of the venue, instantly creates a relaxed atmosphere. The outdoor tables make for some nice people-watching over Bree Street (which is hipster central, after all); you can grab a seat at the white oyster-and-bubbly bar inside, and there’s even a small private room at the back. Plus, a lovely little hidden terrace which would be perfect for sundowners. Overall, use of the space has been very well-designed.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their way in full. Read our editorial policy.
Katharine Jacobs, Linda Scarborough and Nikita Buxton
The one-page ocean-themed menu kicks things off with oysters from three different venues: Knysna, Saldanha and Luderitz. Both the Knysna and Saldanha Bay options come plump and fresh in a bowl of ice with a shallot vinaigrette and all the usual trimmings.
The small plates section is ideal for tapas-loving diners, or as a starter portion. The wild langoustines are beautifully cooked and served with an avo puree and a very garlicky chilli mayo, which were lovely accompaniments – though even a simple drizzle of lemon butter would have been perfect. If shellfish isn't your thing, there's also an interesting-sounding hake ceviche with cream cheese, or a seared tuna niçoise.
For mains, the squid-ink pasta with prawns packs a punch of deeply concentrated flavours, with dark strands of slightly too al dente tagliatelle twirled up alongside beautifully cooked pink prawns, chilli and pine nuts in a glossy sauce. While just enough for lunch, the portion size suggests it’s intended for lighter appetites.
The humble-sounding fish pie comes with shards of phyllo in a modernist landscape on top. Underneath are chunks of hake and angelfish in a creamy sauce generously seasoned with thyme – satisfying even without the traditional, comforting mash topping.
The real winner, however, is the classic fish hake and chips. Gloriously golden and airy batter encases a beautifully cooked piece of fish that is opaque yet delicate. The chips are just what we're after with a pleasing crunch and a fluffy centre. They're great when doused with some vinegar and the next-level tartar sauce.
For dessert, there’s crème brûlée and lemon tart on offer. While the brûlée had a sweet and pleasant taste, the caramelising process seemed to have partially separated the custard. The lemon tart’s base was a touch on the dense side, but the creamy lemon filling was refreshingly tart, and had us going in for another spoonful.
The one-page wine list is cleverly curated for pairing with seafood. There are nine different local MCCs to choose from, with five offered by the glass at R60. White wines include easy-drinking Steenberg sauvignon blanc and popular blends like Springfield’s Miss Lucy. Rosés and reds are also on offer as well as some local craft beers.
The staff here are friendly but seem a bit unsure at times. With time, though, there’s promise of things running like a well-oiled machine.
The interior section of the restaurant is a calm oasis, with soothing blue walls, pale wooden tables, and tasteful ocean-inspired accents. The crockery used is also suited to the sea them with beautiful handcrafted bowls and plates in hues of blues and greens.
In warmer weather, opt for one of the wooden bench tables outside. There are also high counters with stools lining the Bree Street sidewalk. These are bound to be popular come summer with their clever ice troughs for keeping drinks and oysters chilled. (The melted water is collected via a tap underneath for watering pot plants, according to staff.)
Keep an eye out for their great lunch specials and Friday oyster happy hours.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay their own way. Read our full editorial policy here.