Live Bait is the newest restaurant to open in the Harbour House Group, owned by Michael Townsend. It has an iconic view over Muizenberg Beach and its colored beach cabins, and is a Greek-style seafood restaurant.
Live Bait opened a week ago, on the first floor on Beach Road, above Easy Tiger in Muizenberg. The buildings along the beachfront have been renovated, with different colour exterior tiles offsetting the white of the double-storey buildings. Townsend has Tiger’s Milk and Easy Tiger on the beachfront strip too. The blue tile exterior of Live Bait suits its Greek theme perfectly. Signage for Live Bait is minute, and one should look out for Easy Tiger instead, the entrances of the two restaurants being next door to each other. The staircase to Live Bait is dedicated to the restaurant only, and promises a fresh clean modern design. Parking is very difficult to find, surfers taking forever to meet up with friends at their cars while they tie their surfboards onto their cars, or change alongside their cars, taking all the time they want! The car guard was very rude, implying he had found the parking bay in which I parked, but I had seen it before he came to me.
A host stood at the top of the staircase when I walked into the restaurant, but was not up to his job description, asking with uncertainty who I was or if I was meeting someone. As I was a walk-in, neither option applied. He seemed uncertain as to what to do with me, and I took my photographs before I chose a window-facing seat. Surprisingly the host did not offer a menu, nor did the waiter who organized a Greek-design jug of water. It was a surprise to see (Spanish) Eva de Jesus again, whom I had met when she worked as a chef at La Parada when it opened on Bree Street, who is now the Manager of Live Bait.
Pine tops are used for the tables and the counter tops. Mine felt a little rough, and could do with some extra planing. On one side of the restaurant a wall is decorated with fishing rods, apt for the name of the restaurant. On the other end of the restaurant the wall is a rough brick Greek-style wall, behind a raised seating section. White moulded plastic chairs add a modern touch, while large woven basket lampshades are rustic and unusual. Each table has a plate with a material napkin (a nice surprise, given gauze serviettes everywhere), Fortis cutlery, glass vases with Strelizia leaves, as well as a candle in a glass holder. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar are in unbranded bottles, as are salt and pepper grinders.
The menu is a (skew) photocopied page, which does not look professional. The waiter told me that everything on the menu is sourced fresh. I had to call a waiter to come and take my order! The menu is Greek-style, but the pasta dishes, sushi, and desserts are not Greek. I ordered a garlic and herb flat bread (R22), with fresh rosemary, which I ordered with tzatziki from the mezze section (R22). It would be better to share a flatbread, it being a generous portion, and the tzatziki was not enough to have with it. I sat next to an American tourist, and he came back for his second visit before flying back home, and allowed me to photograph his flat bread with slow-roasted lamb, dukkah, slaw, and tahini yoghurt (R59), a much more attractive dish.
Starters include oysters (R20 each), deep-fried calamari (R59), grilled calamari (R62), prawns (R105), and fish goujons (R65). Basic mezzes cost R22, while those with cheeses and artichoke cost R35. Two prawn croquettes cost R22, and spinach and feta ones R18. Salads cost R45 – R75. The Greek salad correctly does not contain lettuce, and has capers, tomato, green pepper, feta, cucumber, and olives!
Pastas are on the expensive side, from R85 for green linguine to R120 for seafood pasta. From the coals one can order skewers (R35 – R55), sardines salsa verde (R55), 200g lamb rump (R160), 200g sirloin (R110), and whole fish (R130).
Seafood options are manifold, and include fresh line fish (R110), battered hake (R69), deep-fried calamari (R89), grilled calamari (R92), pan-fried prawns (R165), and sole florentine (R125). I ordered the grilled calamari but changed to the deep-fried option, which was offered with a side of Greek salad, chips, rice, mash, or vegetables, as well as a sauce, but my dish arrived without the creamy lemon butter sauce, ordered as per the menu. This caused some confusion amongst the staff, as the menu also promises a (not so nice) garlic aioli, lemon, and rocket. The calamari could have been crispier and served hotter. Twelve sushi options are offered, ranging from R22 for sashimi to R 290 for a platter with 26 items.
I sat next to a delightful couple, Michelle Bloem and her partner, whose name I did not write down. Michelle is the sister of Pieter Bloem, who owns the Bootlegger chain of coffee outlets as well as Ou Meul Bakkery, and formerly Col’Cacchio in Cavendish Square. He has not taken kindly to my feedback to Ou Meul Bakkery’s service, responding rudely on Twitter, so I stopped buying from them! I loved Michelle’s description of our setting, saying ‘Muizenberg is the new Clifton‘! Michelle allowed me to photograph her attractive Seafood Ceviche, listed in the salad section (R75), as well as her dessert of cheesecake and cinnamon ice cream (R55). One can also order almond crème brûlée (R40), ice cream and chocolate sauce (R35), and a trio of sorbet (R45).
The Liquor license is still awaited, and patrons are offered a complimentary glass of wine while they wait to receive it, the American tourist told me. He was blown away not only by the inexpensive meals, but getting his wine for free too!
Live Bait serves good quality food, and most of it is reasonably priced. The waiters need training, my waiter interrupting me while I was talking to Michelle, and at no stage proactively topped up my water or checked up on my satisfaction with any of the dishes. He incorrectly charged me for the calamari. The view from Live Bait is unbelievable, and will be even more perfect on a sunny day.
Live Bait, Beach Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town. Tel (021) 788-2705. www.livebait.co.za. Twitter: @LiveBait_ZA
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage Facebook: click here