Harbour House: July Winter Menu excellent quality and value!


Harbour House Interior Whale CottageHarbour House is one of a collection of restaurants owned by restaurateur Michael Townsend, about whom we wrote earlier this year.  Last week I was invited by Michael to try the new Winter Menu of Harbour House in the V&A Waterfront, and was impressed with the quality of the service and dishes, and the good value that the Winter Menu offers.

There are two Harbour House restaurants in the Harbour House Group, which also includes two La Parada restaurants, a new steak restaurant in Muizenberg, Live Bait, Polana, Sirocco, and a fast growing collection of Lucky Fish outlets. At lunch Michael received a call to say that his offer to lease the Top of the Ritz restaurant had been accepted. Michael plans to list the Harbour House Group on the JSE in future.

Lizaan Nell joined us for lunch, and is Michael’s right hand, in overseeing the running of the restaurants.  She has worked for Michael for 16 years, and is in the restaurant kitchens to check that all is running smoothly, and according to guidelines, being closely involved with this Harbour House branch.  Lizaan spent six months working with Chef Franck Dangereux, who was working at La Colombe at the time.  Her time with Chef Franck inspired her in the creation of new dishes for Harbour House.  She is extremely excited to become the right hand of Chef Andres Condé, who starts at the Harbour House Group today.  He previously worked for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ number one restaurant elBulli, and moved across to owner and Chef Ferran Àdria’s Michelin star Tickets restaurant in Barcelona.  He has joined the Group with a first priority to improve La Parada, the tapas restaurants in the Group, and its food in particular, to make its tapas offering genuinely Spanish.  He will also work on the two Harbour House restaurants.  He has been promised his own restaurant, which will open in one section of the former Constantia Nek restaurant building which housed Cape Town’s oldest restaurant, the other section becoming the third La Parada, as well as a Constantia wine tasting centre.  Chef Andres’ restaurant is unnamed as yet, and will make the location an interesting restaurant destination, given that La Colombe is opening next door at Silver Mists in September, having left Constantia Uitsig.  Lizaan told me that Chef Andres is known to be very strict about hygiene in his kitchen, but that he is very kind to his staff.  So dedicated is Chef Andres that he has said that he will not take off one day from work in the first three months, until he has turned the La Parada restaurants around.  Michael has given him the opportunity to bring six chefs from Spain once he is ready, to work where needed in the Harbour House Group restaurants.

The new Winter Menu is headed ‘Paleo Dishes’, reflecting the growing trend to Professor Tim Noakes’ Banting or Low Carb Harbour House Mushroom Consomme Whale CottageHigh Fat diet, which has taken off to such an extent that it is challenging restaurants to remove all carbohydrates from their menus.  The Harbour House Group will be working with Noakes.  The menu has three starters, three main courses, and two desserts, offering two courses at R 170 and three Harbour House Lamb Carpaccio Whale Cottagecourses at R190.  Michael, Lizaan, and I shared the dishes on the Winter Menu, being served in separate portions for each of us.  We started with a field mushroom consommé, one of my favourite dishes, hearty rich woody broth served with a variety of Cape Mountain mushrooms.  I loved the presentation of the whole mushrooms, especially the ‘posy’ of Shimeji mushrooms which gave the presentation a special touch.   The lightly smoked lamb carpaccio was thicker cut than one Harbour House Pork Belly Whale Cottageusually sees in restaurants, and was plated with shallot purée, shaved fennel, fine beans, and a quail egg, a beautiful looking fresh-tasting dish. The third starter was candied pork belly, using organic honey Lizaan told me as Noakes does not allow sugar in his diet,  which was topped with buttered prawn tails, vanilla apple purée, and Serano ham.

Harbour House Bouillabaisse Whale CottageThe main courses offered are a prime fillet of ostrich, served with oyster sabayon, onion varieties, bone marrow disk, and baby asparagus, a course which we skipped, as Michael had to be at another meeting, because I am not too keen on ostrich, and to leave some space for what was still to come.  Due to a mussel allergy, they were excluded for my portion of the Harbour House Boullabaisse, a deep and full-flavoured soup with calamari and prawns.  The line fish was hake, served with grilled cauliflower, and baby cabbages.  Each of the dishes, with the exception of the soups, was decorated with flowers, an unexpected touch. 
Harbour House Hake Whale Cottage

By the time we got to try the desserts, Michael had left for his meeting.  Lizaan and I talked about Social Media, and I gave a quick overview of Twitter and Facebook.  Lizaan also told me that they had joined First Thursday for Lucky Fish on Long Street, the dynamic art route in the city centre which opens until late on the first Thursday of the month.  (I popped there later that evening, but the artist that was meant to set up his exhibition had sold out his work earlier that day).   She shared that Lucky Fish is doing very well in Sea Point, with its daily offer of half a hake and chips, at a mere R29,50.  They have also just joined Mr Delivery, she said.  She also told me about the trials they have done with potatoes, having originally made their own chips for Lucky Fish, but now outsource the supply.  They focus on preparing the foods at Lucky Fish to be Harbour House Chocolate dessert Whale Cottagehealthy, offering salads, using canola oil for the chips and fish, offering grilled fish too.

The desserts were a yoghurt panna cotta served with a Turkish delight jelly, paleo cookie crumbs, sliced strawberries, and dulche de leche ice cream; as well as salted caramel chocolate delice, coffee iceHarbour House Strawberry Dessert Whale Cottage cream, and chocolate crumbs.  The dry cappucino was perfectly made, and the piece de resistance being the pink rose petal that accompanied it on the saucer with  a biscuit.

The lunch at Harbour House at the V&A Waterfront was exceptional, a surprise as I had not been there since its opening, its selection of dishes on the Winter Menu impressive, beautifully plated, and very Harbour House VA Cappuccino Whale Cottagegood value.  We enjoyed a Vriesenhof Kallista 2009, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc with our meal.  The location of both Harbour House restaurants is exceptional, right at the sea.  Our waitron was very attentive.  The Winter Menu is available until the end of July, at Harbour House in Kalk Bay and in the V&A Waterfront.

Harbour House, V&A Waterfront and Kalk Bay,  Cape Town.  Tel (021) 418-4744/(021) 788-4133     www.harbourhouse.co.za  Twitter: @HarbourHouseSA  Monday – Saturday lunch, Monday – Sunday dinner.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: WhaleCottage

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5 replies on “Harbour House: July Winter Menu excellent quality and value!”

    • Dear Drew

      The Muizenberg steakhouse has not yet opened. I’ll check for you when it is scheduled to open.

    • Apologies for the delay Drew.

      The Muizenberg steakhouse is due to open in November.

  1. Chris, nice to see the “love in ” with Michael is continuing at a pace

    In my opinion if you want safe, unexciting food with inconsistant service then the Harbour House is the place to go.

    There are so many better places to eat in CPT

    • Hi Darren from Hout Bay – long time no hear!

      You are most unfair, and as a long-time reader you know that I would not write what I did not experience.

      I had a similar view to yours about Harbour House, and therefore the surprise about how good it was was even greater. I saw the plating from the flyer, and it was the same for the dishes that we were served at the V&A Waterfront branch.

      Do yourself a favour and try it again. I am very excited about the difference that new Chef Andres Conde will make.

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