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Hout Bay’s finest fish are found on plates


We arrived in Cape Town at mid-day on 14 November 2014 on a sunny afternoon. We had left Johannesburg Park Station at 6pm the previous evening by coach, on the InterCape inter-city bus service. My wife and I, our seven year old son and our 3 month infant, were on a budget Christmas holiday. The one you take before the official holiday rush begins. So we expected that there would be no crowds or queues. We would get to see all the juicy sights and spots in Cape Town without the hustle and bustle of the official Christmas rush that starts on 1 December each year.

On the way to Cape Town we managed to arrange for a decent 3 day car hire with Wise Wheels using the internet on our mobile phones. We had also arranged decent sea-front accommodation at the Premier Hotel Cape Manor on Marais Road in Sea-Point. Everything went smoothly and we found ourselves in our hotel room by 1pm on a bright Friday afternoon. Ready to explore the mother city.

Hout BayThe sole object of this article is to unashamedly showcase the absolutely delicious fish and chips shop that we accidentally bumped into at Hout Bay, a suburb approximately 60km from Cape Town CBD. It ruined our day in a deliciously delectable kind of way. It was on our third day of a very nice relaxed holiday that we decided to head out to Hout Bay in the hope of sighting a whale or two in the bay waters. I had been there 5 years previously, and I had seen some whales in the bay, spouting a mix of air and water into the air, with the innocent abandon that they have.

We arrived at Hout Bay at about 10am on a Sunday morning. The atmosphere was laid back. The sea was calm. Tourists were starting to arrive. In fact it seemed we were at the head of the morning arrivals that increased soon after we arrived at the Bay. We parked next to the “Fish on the Rocks” fish and chips shop by accident. We proceeded to walk up and down the jetty, enjoying the fresh morning breeze and the easy conversation and chatter drifting amongst the tourists and the locals. A dangerous cape cobra had been seen on the beach and had swam out into the sea sometime that morning, a huge mystery as this was a rare and undocumented event, which sparked a lot of wide-eyed conversation that morning, even between strangers.

18021520141108_142000 (2)On the Jetty was a temperamental coloured lady who had built a “special relationship” with a seal. She kept feeding it a morsel of fish every ten minutes or so. And so the seal stayed around, always expecting to leave after ten minutes should there be no more fish…. The coloured lady had her act polished to a T. If you came to try and see the seal, in the water by the entrance to the jetty, she would kindly demand a kind “tribute”. In her tribute tin, there were no coins. Just green 10 rand notes and higher notes. If you obliged, you were welcome to stay for about ten minutes. If not, she gave you such a look of death that you either left or you obliged. It was teamwork. The seal even did a few tricks in the water, if it seemed that there was a likelihood that it would get a morsel of fish before the standard ten minutes. Like I said, teamwork.

After an hour of this lazy existence waiting for the whales, which did not come on this fine morning, we then decided to have a late breakfast cum early lunch at the nearest establishment. No one had warned us. We sat down in the “Fish on the Rocks” fish and chips shop, somewhat annoyed that it was already so full, the queue was already stretching out. I don’t like queues. I almost suggested we leave and go elsewhere.

x180215shopfront (2)But hey buddy its holiday time. Relax. I made conversation. And I bought a bottle of wine when my turn came. And I ordered fish and chips for my family and a curry and rice for myself…. The waiter almost fainted. She said in a funny mocking kind of manner that they only did fish and chips. I had no choice. So I ordered the fish and chips for everyone, wondering what the fuss was about. And that was the best thing I ever did in that town.

When we started eating, it suddenly dawned on me, the eerie silence in the shop. Everyone was engrossed in their meal. My son was beside himself, sucking his fingers and gulping the fish!!. Which he does not normally eat at home without clear and unambiguous threats of bodily harm. And he even uttered the magic words. That the fish was nice. That’s when I also noticed that in fact the fish and chips were VERY nice. And that my wife was silently devouring her portions without much conversation. And so I also shut my mouth and attacked my portions with much enthusiasm.
x180215meal2 (2)
We were not the only visitors who were blasted out of our minds by that meal. We ordered take away portions and the take-away queue was just as long as the eat-in queue. We left that same evening on the late afternoon coach headed for Johannesburg. The only queue that we experienced in Cape Town was in that Hout Bay fish and Chips Shop. To this day, I still wonder what was in that meal?. Was it in the sauce, or in the chips?. Or maybe it was in the fish!. Maybe that’s why the seal never left… Wise seal.

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