The Fat Fish
Where: Shop 27, Westville Junction, 7 Westville Road, Westville
Open: Monday to Saturday 11am to 9pm, Sunday noon to 5pm.
Call: 061 238 5868
I hadn’t been into Westville since pre-virus days and saw first hand some of the devastation Covid has caused to our restaurants and retail outlets.
Favourite little eateries had long closed, others had become glorified takeaways or chain outlets, whole malls seemed to have every second shop plastered over with paper in the windows ‒ empty.
Needing a quick lunchtime pick-me-up we settled on the Fat Fish in Westville Junction, the simple homespun seafood eatery where good value for money has kept the doors open. It’s one of those blue checked-tablecloth eateries tarted up with some Mediterranean-inspired murals of sea scenes. On one side is the deli where you can buy fresh fish and seafood. It’s a humble space, but we were hungry.
We looked at the starters which included the likes of squid heads, cheesy prawns and salmon bruschetta, along with conventional offerings like chicken livers in a creamy sherry sauce, grilled button mushrooms, and garlic rolls.
I was tempted by the prawn cocktail, pink sauce being a lovely 1970s hangover, but would be having prawns with my mains. Instead, we shared the salmon carpaccio (R129) served with red onions, capers and béarnaise sauce. This was an enjoyable, if perhaps not exciting, dish that we tarted up with a good sprinkling of black pepper and a glug of olive oil.
Predictably the menu is a feast from the sea, although land lovers can have dishes like peppered rump, lamb chops or even a burger ‒ chicken or beef. While on the subject of burgers, a hake burger served with slaw sounds interesting. There’s also a selection of curries. I was tempted by the fish curry except we knew it wouldn’t photograph well. And there’s a prawn variety as well as lamb, chicken and veg. I should imagine the surf and turf would prove popular.
The catch of the day was kingklip, Norwegian salmon or tuna. This might be served Moroccan style with spinach, onion, mushrooms, garlic butter and olive oil, or as a “chef’s delight” in a creamy tomato-based sauce with langoustines, baby crayfish, calamari and prawns. It could be topped with a creamy lemon sauce and served on a potato cake. Spiced snoek on a bed of couscous sounded interesting.
I chose the kingklip thermidor (R209) topped with mussels and prawns and a creamy garlic sauce and gratinated with cheddar. I enjoyed it, a good piece of fish nicely cooked, the cheese not overpowering everything. It came with a fairly conventional vegetable mix of butternut and spinach. I should have asked for chips.
Hake and chips are available in all sizes, with a pensioner’s version an extremely reasonable R59. It can also be combined with any number of other seafood in a variety of platters or single plates. In fact, their prestige fisherman's platter for two probably offers good value at R590 with hake, catch of the day, calamari, squid heads, mussels, six king prawns, 12 princes prawns, langoustines, coleslaw, rice, chips and three sauces. All that food might serve more than two I suspect.
The Glass Man wanted something light and opted for the seafood linguine (R139). There’s also a mussel, calamari, chicken and a mushroom pasta option. He really enjoyed it. It was packed with seafood and the linguine was correctly cooked and wasn’t the main ingredient. The light garlic sauce also didn’t overpower.
We skipped desserts which looked decidedly of the bought-in variety, in favour of getting back to the office. We were surprised the spot wasn’t busier with so many office blocks and shoppers around. But we enjoyed our quick lunch.
Food: 3 ½
Ambience: 2 ½
The Bill: R435
The Independent on Saturday