Sometimes you come across a restaurant that’s so giddyingly good that you can’t help yourself – the superlatives spew and the alliterations arise so absolutely awfully that all you can do is shake your head and wonder how you could’ve let yourself sink so steeply.
But it’s true: it happened to us last Thursday.
We were on our way to an evening of talks on research into the marine environment of the Garden Route presented by the Plett Hope Spot, and we needed a (very) early supper – and, as our recommending pal said when I called him to ask – “Ah, then you want go to The Fat Fish, friend. It’s fantastic.” (See what I mean?)
So we did.
Now look, although I’m the exception, most South Africans love their meat – so with starters like Haloumi & Black Forest ham, Pork dumplings, Biltong croquettes, and Calamari and chourizo (oops, sorry, seafood), and with at least two vegetarian dishes – Wild mushroom arancini (I have NO idea) and a Meze platter – there was plenty for everyone to test.
For my main course, though, I had to try it: ‘The Fat Fish Grilled.’
“Grilled hake served with caper and lemon butter sauce, thyme-steamed baby potatoes, and butter-tossed vegetables of the day.”
Full disclosure: I eat hake wherever I go, and as often as I can – it’s a lovely fish that flakes fluffily fork-wards (STOP IT NOW, MARTIN!) – and its flavour doesn’t overpower everything else on the plate.
But this was one of the most outstanding hakes I’ve ever tasted.
Odd I know, but I’ve never had capers with fish before. My education must have been lacking.
But I could have gone wild with that menu – Burmese seafood curry; Norwegian salmon on egg noodles; Panko hake with Gruyere potato bake – or, if I was a meat-eater, Beef fillet with harissa potatoes & bone marrow jus (urgh!), or Rump or Sirloin steak, or even a Butter chicken curry.
Lotsa salads, of course, and Char-grilled vegetable bake or Black mushroom linguine.
Also – why can’t I hear the word ‘Linguine’ these days without thinking of that Ratatouille ratamovie? (Aaargh! Sorry! But – you know – Ratatouille.) Which only reminds me – the Fat Fish has a kid’s menu, of course, and here was my only but:L every dish for children comes with chips.
Huh? (Although in the chef’s defence: they can get a kid’s portion of veggies or a kid’s salad as a side order.)
We didn’t have time for desserts, so I’ll spare you the gory details of things like the Smoked chili chocolate mousse or the Vanilla vodka cheesecake (eish! even the menu alliterates…) – but I will tell you that the service was friendly enough to be workmanlike without overpowering us with any forced bonhomie (which bores me). So, in a way, we did leave with a sweet taste in our mouths.
But lemme tell you about the moonrise!
The Fat Fish looks out over Piesang River Lagoon in Plettenberg Bay, and onto the Beacon Island Resort, so it doesn’t have an uninterrupted view of the sea. But as we were eating, a hearty harvest moon began rising over the Island (you can see it there in the picture – the circle just above the little pyramid of trees on the left hand side of the building).
And even if I hadn’t had such a lekker meal, just watching the moon come up like that would’ve made our visit worthwhile.
The Fat Fish, Plettenberg Bay
- Hopwood Street (Central Beach parking area)
- Telephone 0027(0)44 533 4740
Reviewed by Martin Hatchuel: martinhatchuel at gmail