Hook, line and sinker

I can smell vinegar wafting through the offices at New Media; someone has just ordered lunch from Lusitania around the corner. It’s pouring outside and I’m wondering what to write about this week.

Now I just have to pop out for a bite too (food always gives me some inspiration): a piece of battered crispy hake and slap chips wrapped up in paper, with extra vinegar and salt. As I unwrap it, piping steam escapes and I hear a murmur of order-envy from the rest of the team. “It’s called research,” I say.

As I love to search for all things tasty – pizzas, curries and gnocchi – so too do I enjoy the hunt for the best fish and chips. As far as Cape Town goes I have a few secrets to share. (And there’s no polystyrene packaging; only paper is allowed.)

I still maintain that the crunchy battered hake at Fish Hoek Fisheries on the Main Road is perfect: the batter is light and encases a perfectly steamed piece of fish, and the chips are always soft inside (I have never found a dud one). The wraparound queues are testament to this outstanding local establishment.

Down the road from Harbour House, Live Bait and Polana is Kalky’s, who come second in my book. Then, third place goes to a spot in Simonstown, also at the harbour, The Salty Sea Dog. It’s a bit pricier than the other two, but the calamari is simply the best.

If you’re after something a little fancier I reckon that the Jack Black beer-battered hake at Societi Brasserie in Constantia is like no other: light, crispy and crunchy all in one.

Hake has always been known as the cheap fish that’s only really good enough for the deep-fryer, but as consumers, chefs and restaurateurs become more conscious of our depleted fish stock, it is inspiring to see and taste some very innovative pieces of hake on menus.

A stand-out example can be found at The Roundhouse. They serve the most delicately prepared portion with an ultra fine, smooth and sweet carrot purée.

So let’s celebrate the chefs that do support SASSI and enjoy the more common fish in a new way. And if you have any suggestions of best fish and chips up north, please do drop me a line.

Happy fishing!

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