Harbourview – Kitchen Magic

A cheerful family visit. Lots of fun, laughter, joy and bliss. As in the good old days, on the wide, open veranda and a lazy ocean shimmering below. Food and drink in abundance, people smiling, chatting, enjoying the feast on the tables.

March is such a wonderful time in the Cape, when winds die down a bit and the sultry, balmy days arrive before the lovely winter come to passionately take us into spring. We love every day, regardless of weather, as we have learned to dress in the right attitude. And, if you don’t like the weather, just a minute…. see, it has changed already!

So, there we were on a Saturday, late March 2017. We were seated at our favourite spot, overlooking the yacht basin below and the naval harbour beyond.

We sat watching the guests arrive, some in larger groups, others just intimate families. The decibels increased a little as food and drink went past us, to waiting tables. Tall, golden beers with frothy beards to softly kill the thirst of the weary traveler. All served with that array of natural smiles that seem to be the corporate trademark of the Harbourview Restaurant in Simon’s Town. As that is the lovely, close family we were visiting.

Some restaurants have a quicker staff turnover than they can flip over an omelet. Not at the Harbourview, oh no, here they stay! It seems that especially one lady called Noleen comes in when off duty. It is always a good sign to see people who are internally motivated, inspired and happy.

Owner Linda Wiltshire is a most agreeable lady. Linda is a really inspiring person who adores her crew so much. I love seeing a business owner involved, passionate and informed.

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Invited to a frothy cappuccino, made of great gourmet coffee, we extended our conversation until time came to snap some shots of sundry items of interior decoration.

A marine setting it is, with all sorts of military paraphernalia coming together rather nicely. Of course, Harbourview being in Simon’s Town, the legendary Just Nuisance also stands guard at a door. Etched into the glass, that is.

We ordered Dry Lemon and my “darlingmost wificle” selected a roast chicken salad. I settled for a smoked salmon one. As this was for starters, we were slightly taken aback by the sizable portions that arrived, rich in colours, textures and tastes. I have to deviate a little.

At some posh restaurants, supposed “chefs” show off their skills in commercial art by drawing food on one’s plate. People who come laden with money order it, stare at it, sip at drinks, swipe a platinum card and leave the sometimes untouched little Picasso job to the cleaners to dispose of. Haute cuisine is bad language in my home. We are Saffers, we eat for a living. Don’t mess with our food!

Back the salads. Never show fear in the face of adversity, so we assaulted our incredibly picturesque salmon or chicken. Freshest ingredients, all oh so perfect! As in the past, Harbourview’s chef’s team produced something almost magic from the kitchen. In fact, I did hint at Tanaka that his black magic was quite obvious. The large dollop of Danish feta found a welcoming party in me and the first battle was over. The memory will be lasting, as even food we ate upon previous occasions still remain fresh in memory, if not the palate.

Guests at a neighbouring table ordered prawns and I could not resist the temptation to ask if I could photograph it. I introduced myself as a travel blogger and aspiring food reviewer. “Oh so,” the one lady said and introduced herself as a renowned French food photographer and critic! Oh my, I walked into the dragons’ lair in my absolute ignorance. Sensing my apprehension, she soon gave me a few quick hints on how to photograph food. Her husband and other friend were very hospitable and accommodating as well. What a pleasant experience in the end! This was so kind of them and the expert never let me feel uncomfortable. The prawns, as you can see, are top class but I must say that my own photo taken with the flash looked better, so here it is!

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Then our main dishes arrived. My better half had ordered a wild game curry served cutely in a three-legged pot. She later described it as “the best curry I had ever eaten in a restaurant.” Of course, I had to taste a sample (or six) and found it quite to my taste as well.

My own was a 300g beef fillet served with fries and a fresh salad. It also came with a most delectable cheese sauce, which I treated as a side dish so as not to infringe upon the superior tastiness of the fillet. Soft and tender, grilled to perfection, sending my taste buds fighting for position. As I have said, I think there is magic practiced in Tanaka’s kitchen.

All good things come to and end and so did our main course. We greeted our empty plates with a sense of loss but were soon consoled by the ever attentive Noleen who brought my wife a slice of that legendary Malva pudding. Now I need to say here that we as Afrikaners will fight to our very last drop of blood for a spoonful. Any adversary is best advised to not come in between us and our Malva pudding.

I am a brave man and offered my wife half my cheesecake with the unspoken expectation to get a mere morsel of her Malva pudding. It paid off and I had a few crumbs to taste – but the cheesecake, in turn, is the best I had ever eaten. It really was tasty, the texture perfect, the balance between sweet and sour just about divine. (I never order cheesecake but wanted to review theirs. After all, there IS Malva pudding in the house…..) Having straddled six decades, there did come a day when I could say that a cheesecake was more than “nice.” Oh, I can become poetic about this one, wax so lyrical that you may think I get paid to write this. But I honestly do not charge for these reviews, so I was not bribed or influenced. Coming from me, the accolades bestowed upon the cheesecake are “awethentiq.”

Culinary Seductress Noleen appeared like a genie from a bottle and tried to entice us into more indulgence, to which I said that I would order anything with “bed” written all over it. To awaken us from an impending post-dinner sleep, we were soon served with cappuccino to end the day where it started.

We came full circle. Harbourview’s lovely silly kitchen banter, jovial mood and leisurely ambiance will keep the wheel turning, as full circle isn’t full stop.

But why take my word for it, go experience it for yourself!

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A Little Something To Take Home

 

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