Bree Street can now count a dedicated seafood spot among its restaurant options with the addition of SeaBreeze Fish & Shell. Owners Alex and Ruth Grahame previously owned and operated Hornblowers seafood restaurant in Gourdon, Scotland, which won the Best Chippy Chips in Scotland award in 2015 – an award given by the National Potato Council. We took it upon ourselves to check if the chips are still all that.
Price: Average main course for R125
Best for: oysters and bubbly, and alfresco lunches on Bree Street
Star ratings out of 5: Food 4, service 3, ambience 4
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.
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